Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vegetable couscous

The other day I was working with some kids on the simple present tense. I think one of the easiest ways to do this is to have them talk about their daily routines. Here is what was said in one class.
Me: What time do you eat breakfast on Tuesday?
Boy: For Fridays I take couscous.

So then I spent the rest of the day thinking about couscous. I decided to make couscous for dinner. The problem is (as I have said before) that we have a poorly stocked kitchen. Plus spices here are ridiculously expensive. So while I found recipes that looked better, this is what I ended up making because I had at least 3/4 of the ingredients. :) It was good, and I am anxious to try other couscous recipes after I am back.

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
• 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
• 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 tablespoon Penzeys Turkish seasoning mix or see recipe below
• 1 can (14 ounces) fat-free chicken broth
• 3/4 cup whole wheat couscous
• salt and pepper to taste
• 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped, optional
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, optional
Turkish Seasoning Mix*
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon sharp paprika
• 1 teaspoon oregano
• 1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
In a large heavy skillet, heat oil. Add onion and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent. Add pepper, zucchini, garlic, and seasoning mix. Cook 2 -3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and cook over medium heat for 3 - 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Stir occasionally. Add couscous and stir to mix. Remove from heat and tightly cover skillet. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with a fork. Add additional seasoning mix or salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped tomatoes and fresh mint if desired.
*To prepare spice mixture, combine all spices in a small custard cup.
Serves 6

Sunday, March 22, 2009

what to do with around 8 strawberries from a 2 kilo box

Strawberries are in season in Spain, and therefore everywhere here. Yesterday at the Saturday morning market my roommate and I bought 2 kilos of strawberries. We weren't exactly sure what to do with them, until my roommate came across this recipe. It didn't really use that many strawberries, but it was sooo yummy that it made our outlook on life positive enough that wasted strawberries did not seem like much of a problem. We came across several issues when making it-no mixer (really hard to make a cake and buttercream frosting with no mixer or even a good whisk), butter comes in blocks weighed in grams not conveniently measured half cup sticks, we did not learn until we were getting ready to add the powdered sugar to the frosting that "sucre en poudre" is not powdered sugar, it is regular sugar, which we used anyway. Despite these setbacks, these were so good and tasted like summer! Not awesome for the diet I am supposed to be on though...

Vanilla cake with strawberry frosting
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat a medium-low speed just until blended after each addition. (batter will be thick)

For two 9 inch pans, cook for 32-36 minutes.

Cupcakes bake for about 20 minutes.

Strawberry Vanilla Buttercream

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar
1/2 cup of fresh strawberries, chopped

Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with strawberries, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.