28 April 2010

Tea for two (or five...)

I've cooked tonight for two locations.  One kitchen, two dining rooms.  Sound complicated?  It could have been, but it wasn't.  Basically it came down to finding something that could be (a) cooked ahead of time and then warmed back up when people were ready to eat it, and (b) transported.  Jim, Ros and Fiora will be eating late, due to sporting commitments, so need something that can be eaten once they get in and I'm taking some with me, to eat with friends.

So, drumroll please..... braised chicken with pinenut couscous, the recipe courtesy of Gourmet Traveller magazine.  Basically it's a chicken casserole, with a slightly middle-eastern flavour.  Yum!!  The couscous can be prepared in advance, but to be honest I've left it, for each party to prepare when it comes time to eat, as couscous is so quick.  To round the meal off we have individual chocolate mud cakes, which can be eaten cold with some yoghurt (or reheated in microwave, but I think that tends to make them go a bit dry or rubbery, neither of which is really what you want). 

1.8 kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water
3 coriander roots with stems, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbsp ras el hanout
2 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
200 g fresh dates, pitted and halved
chopped coriander leaves and harissa, to serve

400 g instant couscous
20 g butter
2 cups boiling chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
80 g (1/2 cup) pinenuts, lightly toasted
  1. Sprinkle chicken pieces with 1 tsp ground cumin.  Heat oil in large flameproof casserole and brown pieces, in batches, over medium heat.  Remove and set aside. 
  2. Add onion, garlic, saffron and coriander roots to same pan and cook until soft.  Add remaining cumin and ras el hanout and cook for further minute.  Return chicken to pan, stir to coat in spice mixture. 
  3. Add hot chicken stock, bring to simmer and cook, covered, over low heat for 1 1/4 hours, or until chicken is tender.  Stir in dates and cook for further 5 minutes.  At this point, serve (sprinkled with coriander leaves and harissa) or set aside, to be warmed through later. 
  4. For couscous - place couscous and butter in bowl, add boiling stock, stir well and cover for 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork, stir in coriander and pinenuts, season and serve.  Serves 4. 
110 g flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa, plus extra, for dusting
125 g butter, chopped
75 g dark chocolate, chopped
220 g caster sugar
2 tbsp Tia Maria (or similar)
1/2 cup hot water
1 egg, lightly beaten
yoghurt or cream, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius. 
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into large bowl. 
  3. Combine butter, chocolate, sugar, liqueur and hot water in small saucepan.  Stir over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is well combined.  Cool for 5 minutes. 
  4. Stir chocolate mixture into flour mixture, with egg, until smooth.  Divide evenly among 6 150 ml capacity ovenproof dishes (can use greased muffin tins, if needs be). 
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cakes are firm to touch.  Stand cakes for 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.  Serve dusted with cocoa, and yoghurt or cream on the side (and maybe some berries, if they're in season!!). 
NB: I doubled the chicken recipe, as was cooking for 6 people, but was still really easy to make.  Just used 2 casseroles.  :) 

For ras el hanout - you can either buy it, or make your own, as the blend of spices is by no means set in concrete - check out what wikipedia has to say about it. 

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