Tag Archives: couscous


Our Sunday family dinner triggered by Sarah’s barley tabbouleh turned into a festive Mediterranean-influenced evening. Carol brought an elegant tray of vegetables and a delicious spread of butternut squash and tahini. She had used a recipe from the beautiful cookbook, Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2012).

I had thought about making pita bread, but instead I found some at the market. Home made will have to wait.  The main attraction was a lamb and chick pea tagine. The purists will insist that it is not a real tagine: I browned the lamb; I used chicken stock; I used big chunks of onion so they could be picked out by the onion deniers; I braised it in the oven for hours; and I used a heavy pot instead of a classic tagine. In spite of all of that, the lamb was fork tender with Moroccan smells and tastes; served with couscous it was a big hit with everyone.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Many of them are herbs and spices that you probably already have in your pantry. You can easily find the others at the grocery store. Or you can just leave out one or two. Probably nobody but one of the purists will notice.


Lamb and Chick Pea Tagine


  • 1 cup dry chick peas
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder steaks, bone and heavy fat removed and cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and root trimmed but intact, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into obliques
  •  ½ cup dried apricots cut into 1 inch squares
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch stirred into 1 tablespoon water to make a slurry


  1. In a saucepan, cover the chick peas with at least 2 inches of extra water and let stand overnight. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the lamb, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, garlic powder, coriander, and salt. Mix until the lamb is completely coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night, stirring occasionally.
  3. In the morning, place the chick peas and marinated lamb in a heavy oven-proof pot. Add the chicken broth and bring to the boil over a medium-high flame. Stir in the garlic, ginger root, lemon juice and zest, tomato paste, and honey. Cover and transfer to the middle of an oven preheated to 200°F. Braise for at least 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. About 3 hours before you plan to serve the tagine, add the onion, carrots, and dried apricots.
  5. When you are ready to serve, correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer the meat and vegetables to a large serving platter. Place the cooking pot with the cooking liquid over a high flame and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until thickened. Serve in a gravy boat alongside the tagine.



Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes


Our family birthday celebration was a multi-day affair with the culmination being dinner for all of the adults at Rich Table. In the meantime we had other meals together, and our other daughter, Carol, had volunteered to cook for children and adults on the night before the party.

Talk about bravery! Have you ever tried to cook for seven adults and five kids, all of whom have their own food hang-ups – “The sausage touched my scrambled egg, and I can taste the sausage!” “I don’t like pasta.” “The only thing I like is pasta.”

In spite of similar premonitions, Carol took on the challenge and prepared a wonderful meal that everyone enjoyed. There was nothing left.

Shortly before dinner time, Carol went shopping at the local farmers market and a grocery store. She brought home some beautiful heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, home-made mozzarella in little balls, raw shrimp, and fresh mushrooms.

The first course was a sort of caprese salad made from the variously sized tomatoes, mozzarella balls, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

For the main meal, Carol cleaned and shelled the shrimp with a little help, cleaned and sliced the mushrooms, and began to cook. I forgot to mention she melted a half pound of butter. Then she guessed at the amount of couscous, erring on the high side since both pasta-lovers and pasta-haters averred to liking couscous. She served this with a side dish of broccoli roasted in butter, lemon, and garlic.

Things were cooked up in a flash, and before anyone could even think of complaining about being hungry, the meal was on the table.

There was enough food for seconds, and soon dinner was over, plates were clear, and the serving bowls were empty.

That’s what I call success.


Heirloom tomato caprese salad


  • 2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, various sizes
  • 2 packages (12 ounces each) marinate small mozzarella balls
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Wash and cut the tomatoes into large chunks. Leave cherry tomatoes whole.
  • Combine the prepared tomatoes and mozzarella balls
  • Chop the basil leaves coarsely and add to the mixture
  • Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve

Shrimp and mushrooms with couscous


  • 2 pounds crimini or white button mushrooms
  • 3 pounds unshelled raw shrimp
  • ½ pound butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 branches fresh rosemary
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 packages couscous


  • Clean and slice the mushrooms. Set aside.
  • Peel and clean the shrimp. Set aside.
  • In an oven pre-heated to 400°, melt the butter in a large casserole.
  • Add the minced garlic and  rosemary.
  • Add the mushrooms to the melted butter. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the shrimp to the mushrooms and bake, continuing to stir occasionally until the shrimp are pink and have lost their translucency, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the rosemary, stir in the fresh lemon juice, and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • In the meantime, prepare the couscous according to directions on the box.
  • Serve as a generous helping of couscous topped with the shrimp and mushroom mixture.
  • Serves 12


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes