The Couscous Chronicle.

You’d think this wasn’t a cooking blog, like I somehow schemed you into believing it was then just stopped cooking. My cooking has been placed o hold by a vicious allergy attack. Injections, inhalers and super harsh antibiotics and I’m back. Sorta.

It’s almost time for the next round of entries to be submitted for the Top Chef It Yourself challenge. For a few days there I thought maybe *I* wasn’t going to submit anything. But I’m here, I cooked, I’m posting.

I selected the ingredients. I should’ve picked something easy, familiar, but nooooo. I had to push myself. Go where no Anamaris had gone before. Glad I did.

But first, let me tell you what I found out about couscous. It’s tricky. I had never cooked it before. It was easy enough to prepare, but someone should warn you that it grows and multiplies like, like… I dunno. Like in the cartoons when they drop a droplet of fertilizer and suddenly a whole backyard is full of grass. Like that. I had beucoup couscous! I used the instant-ish kind, no real cooking required (not that I knew there was a different kind).

See? I started out with 4 cps of water and 2 cps of couscous. NOBODY needs that much couscous!

Then there were dates. My only experience with those was from my mom’s fruit cakes, those are usually rum-soaked and generally not my favorite. I found these Medjool dates at my local Middle Eastern grocer. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but it worked out quite nicely.

Here’s my entry:

Couscous Fritters with Date & Ginger Sauce

For the fritters:
2 cps water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 cps couscous
1 egg
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil for frying

In a microwaveable bowl, heat water, garlic and salt for about 2 minutes, then stir in the couscous and cook for about 1 more minute. Remove the bowl from the microwave and cover with a plate or plastic wrap and let it sit for 15-20 minutes or so.

Uncover the bowl and fluff the couscous with a fork. Check the seasoning. Allow it to cool before mixing in the egg, parsley, salt & pepper if necessary. It will be a bit sticky, while still seeming dry at this point. Don’t worry, it works out.

Pat the dough into patties, this is easier if your hands are slightly moist. Make them into patties that are 3-4 inches wide and 1/2-in thick. Put them on a tray or plate and cool them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a medium-sized skillet and add 1-2 tbsps of oil. Brown the patties on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side if your skillet is over medium high heat.

Date & Ginger Sauce
1 cp dates, peeled and seeded
1/2 cp ginger, coarsely chopped
2 cps water
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Add the dates, ginger, water and salt in a small saucepan bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Once it boils, lower temperature to medium, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the dates cook down, it will become thick, like a paste. Turn off the heat and pass the paste through a strainer. I added a bit more water to help the paste strain, about 1/2 cup.

Rinse the saucepan, return the strained paste to it and add the vinegar, oil and pepper. Cook it over medium low heat until it thickens, about 10-15 minutes. I have to say I think I needed to cook my sauce a bit longer to keep the liquids from separating (see photos). All in all, it still tasted awesome!

Serve the sauce alongside the fritters and enjoy. I made this for dinner, it was the side for some pan seared salmon. Can you say Yum!?

The salmon is delicious and OOH so easy. Check out the recipe here.

Cookingly yours,