Blackened Salmon with Feta-Yogurt Sauce and Golden Couscous

This recipe was particularly fun to make, and especially fun to photograph.  For some reason I ended up putting it on my floor, taking a photo of it there, and then sitting in the same spot and eating the whole dish.  There is a small window of time, usually around 2pm, when sun manages to find a small crevice between all of the tall New York City buildings and floods into my second floor apartment, and therefore onto me.  I love sitting and eating under the sunshine during this brief moment, which is what I was able to do today.

The truth is that I just got back from a relaxing and much-appreciated vacation with my mom and sister in Barbados, and I’ve got fish on my mind in a major way.  Almost every meal we ate there featured grilled fish – usually mahi mahi, snapper, or dorado – lightly seasoned and served with plenty of Scotch bonnet hot sauce (my new favorite hot and slightly sweet sauce, in case you’re wondering).  For this reason the only recipe ideas that were swimming in my mind were fish, spicy, and sweet.  Thus was born this recipe which I am delighted to share with you!

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>Couscous et Poulet aux Pruneaux et Raisins Secs (Chicken Breast and Couscous with Golden Raisins and Prunes)

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(Version anglaise d’abord, version française immédiatement après)
It took me about two days to figure out how I wanted to bring this together – I knew it had to be according to the credences of this blog – tasty, easy, healthy.  After about two days of reading various chicken and couscous recipes and toiling with the ingredients I wanted to use, I finally had my “epiphany” moment – I’ll cook the couscous in the same broth/sauce in which I poach the chicken – cooking made easy, all in one pot on the stove! 
I’ve certainly developed a new appreciation for couscous since living in France - a fact that many people may not know is that couscous is now considered a national French dish (although I have to admit that I’ve heard this fact from many people, both French and American, but I have yet to find hard evidence proving this to be true).  In any event, I personally have been slow to welcome it into my diet since I didn’t grow up eating a lot of couscous and have never been inclined to choose it over other forms of wheat or grains.  However, I’m thankful that living in France has changed my outlook on this particular ingredient, as it tastes like few other grains, with the exception perhaps of quinoa.
Instant couscous (that’s what’s usually sold in supermarkets) is fun because it fluffs up by absorbing whatever hot liquid it is put in; when it’s soaked in a rich and aromatic sauce, as is done here, it develops a very moist and intense flavor. This dish couldn’t be easier, requiring only one pot – the most amount of work is probably chopping up the onion and garlic in the beginning.
Merci et bon appétit!
Chicken Breast and Couscous with Golden Raisins and Prunes – serves 1
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pinch each turmeric, ground ginger, cinnamon
1 chicken breast
About 1 1/2-cups chicken broth
4-5 prunes, pitted and quartered
1 handful golden raisins (~ 1/4-cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3-cup couscous
1.  Sprinkle chicken breast with salt and pepper.
2.  Heat olive oil in a small saucepan (but big enough to fit a chicken breast!) over medium heat; add the garlic and onion, sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
3.   Add spices, and sauté until fragrant, ~30 seconds.
4.  Raise heat to med-high; add chicken breast and cook until browned on each side, about ~3-4 minutes/side.
5.  Add enough broth to cover breast, about 1 1/2-cups, along with tomato paste, prunes, and raisins. Bring to a boil, then simmer until chicken is cooked through (this depends on the thickness of your chicken breast, but it should take about 8-10 minutes)
6.  Remove chicken and put it on a plate, along with about 1/3 of the raisins and prunes, and enough sauce to leave about 1 cup in the saucepan.  Cover with foil to keep warm.
7.  Bring remaining sauce in saucepan to a vigorous boil.  Add couscous with a pinch of salt, and stir together.
8.  Remove from heat, cover, and let couscous absorb the liquid until fluffy, 6-7 minutes. 
9.  Serve couscous on a plate, and place chicken breast on top.
maintenant en français:

J’avoue que cette recette représente un mélange du poulet aux prunes, la version qui fait le titre de la bande dessinée de Marjane Satrapi, d’une version de mon père, qui est un peu plus épicée, et de ce qui m’a inspiré ici à Paris, c’est-à-dire le couscous.  Depuis mon arrivée en France, j’ai développé une nouvelle appréciation pour cette graine aromatique, délicieux, et bien absorbant des sauces et liquides, et qui (au moins il me semble) et beaucoup plus utilisé ici qu’aux etats-unis.  Dans cette recette le couscous est plongé dans une sauce riche et épicé, pour qu’il devienne doux, tendre, et plein de goût.

C’est un repas facile à préparer, car ca n’a besoin qu’une casserole, dans laquelle tous les ingrédients peuvent être directement mis, sauf la gousse d’ail et l’oignon qui doivent être d’abord hachés.  En tout cas j’espère que cette recette va vous plaire, bon dimanche et bon appétit!

Couscous et Poulet aux Pruneaux et Raisins Secs - pour 1 personne

1 c.s. d’huile d’olive
1 oignon, haché
1 gousse d’ail, hachée
1 pincée de curcuma, cannelle, et gingembre moulu
1 poitrine de poulet, salée et poivrée
1 boite de conserve de bouillon de poulet
4-5 pruneaux, dénoyautées et coupées chacune en 4
1 poignée de raisins secs
1 c.s. de double concentrés de tomates
80g de couscous

1. Sur feu moyen, faites chauffer l’huile dans une petite casserole (mais assez grande pour une poitrine de poulet!); ajoutez l’ail et l’oignon et faites cuire jusqu’à ce que légèrement ramolli, environ 3 minutes.  

2. Ajouter les épices, et faire revenir jusqu’à ce que parfumées, ~ 30 secondes.
3. Augmenter la chaleur à moyen-haut, ajouter la poitrine de poulet et faites cuire jusqu’à coloration de chaque côté, à environ ~ 3-4 minutes par côté.
4. Ajouter le bouillon suffisante d’eau pour couvrir sein, environ 350 mL, avec concentré de tomates, les pruneaux et les raisins secs. Porter à ébullition, puis laisser mijoter jusqu’à ce que le poulet soit cuit (cela dépend de l’épaisseur de votre poitrine de poulet, mais il devrait prendre environ 8-10 minutes)
5. Retirer le poulet et le mettre sur une plaque, avec la moitié de raisins secs et de pruneaux, et assez de sauce pour laisser environ 240 mL dans la casserole. Couvrir la poitrine avec d’aluminium pour garder au tiède.
6. Amener la sauce restante dans une casserole à ébullition vigoureuse. Ajouter le couscous avec une pincée de sel et mélanger.
7. Retirer du feu, couvrir et laisser le couscous absorber le liquide jusqu’à consistance légère, 6-7 minutes.
8. Mettre le couscous sur une asiette.  Servir la poitrine au-dessus.