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Tagged With: Harissa

Equinox Detox- Autumn Spice Overhaul!

Ready for Fall!

Ready for Fall!

The Autumn Equinox brings many things around the Pacific Northwest: our infamous drizzle begins anew, the few maples and oaks color aflame in between the miles of evergreen, the oysters are firm and plump again, garden kale stems grow thick and tough in preparation for wintering over, and, perhaps less famously but no less excitingly– my spice cabinet gets its quarterly makeover! Fall is when my cooking gets hearty, and I rely the heaviest of blended spices to warm my belly and my soul through the short, grey days, and the long, cold nights. It should come as little surprise to anyone who follows my blog-y musings that I delight in the unexpected, so here I’ll share a few of my top, must-have-on-hand blends that add cheer, color, and interest to my standby fall dishes.

Hearty Things: 

Whole Harissa

Whole Harissa

The man who shares my life also shares with me an almost unnatural love of Harissa. At once familiar and unexpected, Harissa adds such depth and warmth to everything it touches. Instead of the traditional thyme and rosemary, I rub harissa on a chuck roast before sealing it in my dutch oven and slow-roasting it overnight. The juices from the meat mingle with the exotic spice, and makes the most sumptuous little pan sauce- after you’ve pulled your tender roast, just reduce the liquid by half, and add a pat of butter.  Our cous cous with roasted vegetables and Harissa sauce is a year-round classic in my house, too.

My family is a bit “leftovers-challenged,” which is a nice way of saying that even the meals that get raves on night one, die slow deaths in the refrigerator if not re-imagined in to other things. When I make our Turkey Mole, the first night I’ll use the meat to make enchiladas or tacos, while the second, I’ll thin the sauce with chicken stock until it’s just thicker than broth consistency, and add chopped tomatoes, white beans, corn, and onion, and simmer for half an hour to make the world’s fastest and most delicious chili. Soul satisfying, and infinitely more interesting that your traditional “bowl of red.”

Roasted Things:

Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Kabocha, Spaghetti, Turban… Gardens and markets abound with scores of winter squashes — to say nothing of the dozens of pumpkin varieties — all delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and begging for a roasting. A dash of cinnamon, a grate of nutmeg- fine, I suppose, but who settles for “fine” when “amazing” is available? I stock Kashmiri Curry and Besar for just these occasions. Both have the toasty, sweet spices that bring out the inherent sweetness of the squash, but add so much more, whether you’re roasting whole to mash, or cubing and caramelizing your gourds.

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The easiest side dish at this time of year is roasted root vegetables. Heat a sheet pan in a 450 degree oven, toss a sampling of carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, and onions in a bit of oil, spread in an even layer on your hot pan, and roast until tender and golden. It may be natural to reach again for the rosemary, or even the Italian Herbs, but I prefer the savory crunch of Svaneti Seasoned Salt. This eastern European blend is so versatile that I find it pairs no matter how I’ve seasoned the main dish — European, north African, Middle Eastern, or Indian. I go through quarts of the stuff, I just can’t get enough.

Sweet Things:
I have to preface all of this by saying that I do not consider myself a baker. I usually find the excessive measuring and strict orders of operations stifling, and too math-like to be enjoyable to my free spirit. However, creatively spicing puts the joy back in. Pumpkin pies abound at every gathering this time of year, and though I love them, I do grow weary. I prefer this pie, adapted from a very traditional Southern recipe, using sweet potatoes and Sri Lankan curry. Deeply toasted and just a bit spicy, this warm, sweet blend has all but replaced Pumpkin Pie Spice in my kitchen, for sweet potato and pumpkin pies.

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This Apple-Carrot pie has also become a standby in my kitchen. When I first posted it, great Seattle food blogger cook.can.read commented that “Cinnamon is the gateway drug. Chinese Five Spice is the destination.” I couldn’t agree more! Try using Chinese Five Spice anywhere your autumn baking calls for cinnamon- I’m talking pumpkin or zucchini breads, muffins- even toss it with sugar to coat the outside of your snickerdoodles!

So, if you’re open to any advice from your humble spice merchant,  although nature may be hunkering down for the chilly months ahead, use this time to re-awaken your spice stash. Grab a few unfamiliar and exotic blends, and turn over those spices that have been languishing for six months or longer. The bright flavors of fresh spices will all but erase the dreary skies from your psyche. We’ve got an entire display dedicated to these blends and a few other fall staff favorites, (as well as a bunch of new books!) so drop by for a sniff and a chat!

Categories: Curries & Masalas, Eastern Europe, Global Cuisines, Hot Topics, Indian Subcontinent, Main Meals, Middle East, Recipes, Sides, Spice Notes, Sweet Somethings, Tools of the Trade | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harissa and Vegetable Couscous

This recipe has been a long time coming. Hardly anyone who comes in to the shop — spice masters and novices alike — can pass over the North African section without some long, lingering sniffs. The spices from that region are so exotic, in their perfect union of sweet-spicy-aromatic. “How do you use the Harissa?” is one of the most common questions following the exclamations of delight, and though my fellow merchants and I have written versions of this recipe on many a business card, envelope, and scratch paper, it’s about time it took its place among our favorites here on the blog.

The tender-crisp vegetables and fluffy cous cous are a perfect vehicle for this sumptuous sauce; our version of the traditional Tunisian red pepper condiment that is so ubiquitous in Northern Africa. The cumin, coriander, and caraway add complexity and depth, with the guajillos lending just enough heat to be interesting without being overwhelming. You can also try the Harissa sauce on grilled meats or eggplant — or even on halibut!

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Harissa and Vegetable Couscous

Ingredients

For the Harissa –
 
6 ounce can of tomato paste
12 ounce jar roasted peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Harissa, ground
1-1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 green onions, sliced thinly
 
For the couscous –
 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
2-1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 small acorn or butternut squash (cut into ½ inch cubes)
1 small cauliflower, florets cut into small pieces
1 medium zucchini (cut into ½ inch cubes)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
¾ cup fresh or thawed green peas
½ cup chopped cilantro
1-1/2 cups couscous

Instructions

  1. To make the Harissa – In a small saute pan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When hot, add the chopped red onion, and saute until it starts to get a little color. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the tomato paste, roasted peppers, Harissa, garlic granules, 1/3 cup olive oil and red wine vinegar. Pulse until it’s still a little chunky. (You can also puree it until it’s smooth.)
  2. Transfer to a bowl and add salt to taste. Add the sauteed red onions and green onions and mix well. (You can prepare this ahead of time – let it get to room temperature before serving. If you have any leftovers, it will keep well in the refrigerator. This works well as a condiment to any meal.)
  3. To make the Couscous – In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over low heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add stock, dried apricots, squash, zucchini, cauliflower florets, chickpeas, turmeric, ginger powder and Aleppo pepper, stirring well. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Place the cover on the pot, reducing the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are tender, but still a bit crispy. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Then mix in the diced tomatoes, peas, cilantro and couscous. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. (This will cook the couscous.)
  5. Remove the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle some of the Harissa onto the couscous, serving the rest of the Harissa on the side.
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/harissa-and-vegetable-couscous/

Categories: Africa, Main Meals, Mediterranean, Sides, Snacky Bits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment