Today I get to introduce you to someone I doubt you’ve met before. She’s Bridget Sandorford and she’s a freelance food writer for culinaryschools.org. If you’re a food lover and you’re looking for professional training, I think you’ll find it on that site.
I met Bridget online and she seemed so nice that I said, “If you’ll write a family recipe for me including photos I’ll add a guest post from you” and she agreed. At this time of year I think a “hands-off” meal is a good thing to have, especially when it looks this good. Here’s Bridget’s post:
There was once upon a time that I enjoyed cooking so much that I explored and made new, exciting, healthy recipes for every meal. Every. Damn. Meal. And then my parents made me get a job. (I suppose I can’t blame them.)
I miss good food but with a busy job I don’t have time to cook without a good bit of planning. Most days I’m so frazzled between my multiple jobs that I can’t fathom planning a week’s worth of recipes. That’s why I love my slow cooker. Contrary to many peoples’ experience with slowcookers, every meal that comes out of it doesn’t have to be the same-flavored mush. This is one of those recipes that stand out in hands-off cooking. Not hands-off like it’s only easy. I mean that too, but I literally mean, “HANDS OFF THAT IS MINE.”
We make a lot of curry in our house. – a whole lot. We love traveling and pretending that we travel more than we actually do so cooking ethnic recipes helps us maintain that blissful illusion. I therefore insist on arming my kitchen with a mason jar full of mixed spices I grind up myself in the coffee grinder. The usual suspects are cumin, coriander, paprika, ginger, garam masala, and salt. (Garam masala is often made of black and white pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom, although there are endless varieties of ingredients.) It’s a handy jar to have, especially for this recipe because it cuts measuring time.
Now, if you want legit couscous—fluffy rather than sticky—you’ll have to do it on the stovetop according to directions on the package. You can still cook the onions, chickpeas, and vegetables in the spices for some excellent flavor while adding the couscous later, but this morning, I didn’t have time for that today!
Here’s why I love this recipe so much: you literally chop, measure, and toss everything into the crockpot at the same time, stir it around a good bit, cover, and walk away for a few hours. That isn’t to say a certain degree of planning doesn’t come into play. If you use raw chickpeas like I did, for example, you’ll have to soak them overnight in plenty of water and an optional dash of apple cider vinegar. These babies take the longest to cook, so it’s best to be sure they’re plenty soft before they go into the cooker (hence the vinegar).
Moreover, I took the easy route and avoided putting in any root vegetables. This makes for a less nutritious meal, but sometimes, a girl’s gotta pay the bills. If you do use vegetables, I advise cooking them with some broth with the chickpeas before tossing in the couscous and more broth.
Me? I’m just happy to have something substantial to remedy the shakes from my Moroccan coffee which is also tasty. Which you should probably make, too.
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat couscous
- 1 ½ cups pre-soaked chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
- ½ cup currants, raisins, or chopped apricots
- ⅛ cup honey (thoroughly mixed with broth)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp chopped mint
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped green onions
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 1¼ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp ground paprika
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- Optional: up to 3 root vegetables like turnips, potatoes, squash, carrots, or leeks
- ½ cup whole coffee or espresso beans
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- Optional: ¼ tsp each of ground ginger and black pepper
- Optional: if you’re feeling particularly luxurious, throw a few saffron threads in there.
- If using dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soak overnight in water with a dash of white vinegar and precook any root vegetables.
- Chop, measure, and toss everything into the crockpot at the same time, stir it around a good bit, cover, and walk away for a few hours.
- Grind up the ingredients in a coffee grinder and brew as usual
- Serve with a little milk and a spoonful of maple syrup.
If you’re interested in professional culianary training, check out culinaryschools.org and tell them Bridget sent you.