(did anyone just get that play-on-words movie reference? Please say Yes.)
Recipe time. I’ve gotten off of that path for a few days and I’m twitching to share some good food talk with you all.
So, Valentine’s Day. Some of you will be going out for the evening. Many of you (with smallish kiddos, particularly) will probably be staying in. Add to that the business of this holiday falling on a weekday this year and the numbers just climbed.
Let’s Rock the Casbah (gotta love the 80s). Moroccan-Style Roast Chicken and Spiced Couscous with Raisins and Almonds. Yes, real food. I’m actually not handing you another recipe for a dessert, can you believe it? This one is easy, kids and adults like it, it’s just off-the-beaten path enough to feel interesting, but not enough that your kids will pick it apart and stare strangely at it. And you know-or may not know yet- but I’m all about theme-ish-meals, as totally geeky as that sounds. By this I do not mean that the guests are sitting around in sombreros sucking down margaritas. I’m about the little details that make a dinner unique…adding the exclamation point instead of just stopping with a period. Helter-skelter is one thing that does not work for me at a dinner table, though. That is precisely why I don’t frequent pot-lucks, or at least, pot-lucks without some assemblage of a plan. I’m a planner. I like organization. Especially in the kitchen. At some point, I will tell you all about the Southern meal I cooked with some friends that resulted in a fiery tower of almost-death in my kitchen. But that’s for another time. For now, back to Morocco. First, get thee-self to itunes and look for bellydancing music (yes, I tried bellydancing for a spell. Trying to expand the ol’ horizons whilst whittling the ol’ waist. Great workout, fabulous music AND you get to wear a hip scarf with little jingles all over it. Husbands love it. Hell, I loved it.) and you will find some of the greatest music out there. Middle eastern, Moroccan, Egyptian music…it’s amazing stuff and talk about creating some instant atmosphere. Love it! Love it! Next, whip up this chicken and couscous. Thirdly, light some candles that flicker and dance and make everyone around the table look 10 years younger, brew some mint tea and ka-pow!, you have yourself an unusual Valentine’s Day. You can even share it with the kids. And how nice, you didn’t have to kill yourself over it and it will be memorable for sure.
Chicken…(thank you Bon Appetit)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. groung cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 (4.75-5 lb. whole chicken, rinsed, patted dry. Go organic. We don’t need extra hormones on Valentine’s Day. There are enough coursing through the air)
Position rack in bottom third of 400 degree oven. Whisk butter, honey, cinnamon and turmeric in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/4 cup honey butter (could that sound any better?) to small bowl. Reserve.
Place chicken on rack in roasting pan. Brush with some of remaining honey butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast chicken until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165-170F, brushing occasionally with honey butter and covering loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to platter. Serve with reserved honey butter.
Couscous (also courtesy of Bon Appetit)
Note: I like the Isreali couscous. Bigger, more fun.
2 cups hot water
3/4 cups raisins
4 Tb. butter, divided
3 Tb. dry white wine
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1 cup couscous
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1.5 cups, just enough to make you cry)
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Combine 2 cups hot water and raisins in small bowl. Soak raisins until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain water into large saucepan, reserve raisins. Add 2 Tb. butter, wine and saffron to pan. Bring to boil. Stir in couscous. Cover, remove from heat and let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 Tb. butter in medium skilled over medium low heat. Add onion, cover and cook until translucent and tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Mix onion, reserved raisins, almonds and cinnamon into couscous. Season to taste with salt and pepper.