Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sweet and Warm / Douce et Chaleureuse

Berber Couscous with Spicy Glazed Onions

Less than a year ago, when we moved into our new house, I made a wish. I walked my daughter to the hallway of our house and made a wish: I wished for this house to be warm, to be caring and to always see people lined around the kitchen table. I wanted this house to bring old and new friends together. I wanted this house to be filled with laughter, love, couscous and mint tea. I wanted this house to feed us. To feed people; and to feed our hearts.

Our wishes came true. Our wishes come true every single day. And for that, we are thankful to be looked after and to have a warm shelter above our heads.

Our kitchen brought old friends and new friends together around the table a couple of weeks ago, when celebrating Earth Day with some local bloggers. Blushing cheeks and awkward silence (especially me) quickly faded away with espresso beans stories and some crostinis. The picnic table was set. The sun was out. The couscoussier was steaming its last batch of couscous. Cameras were clicking (thanks again Christine for these lovely photos). Plastic wraps, banana leaves, and paper bags were unwrapped to reveal Uruguayan savory rolls, a refreshing mix of greens with fennel and orange segments, luscious mango and pastry cream tart, and an olive loaf.


The couscous was mixed with steamed raisins and served in my mothers’ wooden “gassaa”, to which I added a lamb and vegetable broth made with green peas, zucchinis, carrots, and a dollop of sweet and deep, spicy and delicious glazed pearl onions. The couscous was good, spicy and sweet, although I would have liked the broth to be thicker. But a mysterious sous-chef turned off the burner without my knowledge and without my permission.

These glazed pearl onions are just what you would expect from any caramelized onions and so much more. The bath of chicken broth, butter and warm spices, like cinnamon, ginger and turmeric, turned these babies into an exotic delicacy that I didn't see possible in an onion. I can olnly imagine how scrumptious they must be with roasted vegetables, winter squashes, stews, rice, pasta, grains, sandwiches, as a side dish to roast chicken, lamb, braised veal shanks, and how they will take mashed potatoes to another level of sophistication.

After lunch, we headed back to the kitchen to share a cup of mint tea, talk about life and family and feast on Christine’s Mango tart. We feasted indeed. Just before my last sip of mint tea, I raised, secretly, my cup and made another wish: I wished for this life to always be as sweet and warm as friends and home sweet home are.


Spicy Glazed Pearl Onions

Recipe: Adapted from here
- 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup black raisins
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- A pinch of sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, and cook over a medium-low heat, covered, 1 hour, then remove cover and continues cooking, stirring from time to time, until liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency and the onions have a glazed appearance, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Making Couscous

Oignons Grelots Confits aux Epices

In Français Please: adaptée d'ici
- 280g de petits oignons grelots
- 500ml de bouillon de volaille
- 100g de raisins noirs
- ½ c.c de curcuma
- ½ c.c de gingembre en poudre
- 25g de sucre en poudre
- 25g de beurre
- 1 c.c de cannelle en poudre
- Une pincée de sel marin
- Du poivre noir fraichement moulu

Mettre tous les ingredients dans une casserole et faire cuire sur feu doux, couvert, pendant 1 heure, puis découvrir et laisser réduire jusqu’a ce que le jus ait la consistence d’un sirop, en remuant de temps en temps, et que les oignons aient une apparence caramélisé, pendant 30 minutes. Servir chaud.


Gigi said...

Great post, very touching! And another wonderful couscous recipe. (whoo-hoo!)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Lovely post, and you know the sight of the beautiful couscous (and your lovely tagine in the background) warms my heart.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

That couscous sounds very special indeed. I wish I could have been there! And mint tea - well, that's always a delight for the taste buds.

browniegirl said...

Aaaaaah Warda-Rose, how much I would've loved to have been there that day........you are a delight and I just know I would feel so comfortable and welcome in your home. Such a special post. Thank you xx
PS The photos are beautiful, that wooden gassaa (does that mean bowl??) is stunning, as is the magnificent teapot....and the tea....and the food....OH MY!!!!

Warda said...

- Gigi, thank you very much! Glad you like it.

- Lydia, Your tagine is way cuter than mine ;)

- Aforkfulofspagheti, if you happen to be in the area one day, you're welcome to my house. I'll make you some couscous...and mint tea of course :)

- My dear Colleen, I would love, love to have you one day in my house. My door and my arms are wide open for you. We call gassaa any "bowl" of this size. It is much bigger than the regular bowl, and less deeper. For these reasons,I didn't want to call it bowl. And Gassaa is more authentic ;) Hugs .xoxo. W

Anonymous said...

Wow, look at that photo of you making the couscous. Like many traditional Asians, Vietnamese notice and pay a lot of attention to hands and feet - weird but true. Lucky for you, you have such elegant hands! My mom would love you just because of that!!! (if she met you, she would undoubtedly turn to me afterwards, and say, "that Warda has such nice hands...she must be a good person." And I'd reply - bah, oui :)

But enough of my silliness... it was such a feast. Yours was the most tender and fluffy couscous I've ever had, hands down. I'll always remember that meal and the warmth and charm that was all around. The tea was so exquisite, both in taste and in presentation. I loved the prizes you gave out - I know everyone was jealous of mine - Who doesn't want to own a book called The Wild Man? :)

Anonymous said...

hey !!!! they are glazed :)))))) glacés donc, et pas confits :op
I know somebody who had a mint tea overdosis translating her recipe in french ;)
It's lovely, as usual !
I'd love to share a cooking lesson with you :)

Anonymous said...

This sounds all familiar to me. I can almost smell the couscous...

Bon appétit! :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love couscous, Warda, and I only tried it for the first time a year or so ago!
Beautiful photos and beautiful thoughts. Keeping a positive and thankful attitude makes our family a better one.

Karen Baking Soda said...

What a wonderful post, love the picture -and the bowl :-D)

So true, it's all a house and family can wish for.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

a lovely post warda and the onions sound lovely. i certainly will have to try them out!

Anonymous said...

I love couscous! I like your post a lot... wonderful photoes!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, it was truly touching and your wishes made my eyes well up...fantastic recipe as well.

May you always have a happy home and plenty of mint tea!

egeli said...

bonjour Warda,j'ai adorais tes recettes et ton blog,quel courage d'ecrire tes recettes en deux langues !! et si j'avais le meme courage aussi !!!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Sigh, how I wish I could have joined you, too...if you would have had me, of course....