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Romany Stew (Unicorn)

Best idea so far in the ongoing local-food-all-winter project: Frozen mirepois on hand anytime you need it, day or night, no chopping, hallelujah. Just when the carrots and onions bulked up, the celeriac root came in. The celeriac greens make better mirepois than regular-celery-aka-cheez-whiz-delivery-vehicle* because of the heavy aroma, so 1/2 as much celeriac top to usual degree of celery. (N.B. I tried lovage as a replacement as well, but it's a hammer—way too distinctive an aroma). Breakfast-lunch for the past few days: Any onions that have sprouted, chop up the greens separately, fry the sliced onion in sesame oil until caramelized with a half-handful of mirepois, add viet fish sauce, water or stock, and maybe a slice or two of seared tofu or beef, five spice powder (make your own, it's worth it), salt, kimchi, pour over rice noodles. 7 mins prep max. Add a dab of hoisin sauce and sembal olek and you're set until dinner. Total cost: $0.90 a big bowl, $1.15 with beef.

Other assertions department. This:

is the one true harissa. I don't care how "authentic" your recipe is. I don't care how lovingly you toasted your pimentos, I don't care how fresh your garlic is. I don't care if you turn up your nose at adding tomato paste. This is the one and only harissa. Everything else is a pale substitute. Especially on couscous. It's like Heinz-57 to a baseball hot-dog. There is no comparison. There, I've said it.

*which nobody will grow locally, anyway.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 4th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
Never had harissa.

Feb. 4th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
Then if I ever have the chance to cook for you again, I'll be sure to make a couscous like we used to make at home. Without harissa, it's basically just a lamb stew with extra cumin and allspice. It's the harissa that gives it a really distinctive taste, and you work it into the couscous while you eat it. Kind of like chutney to a curry. For me, that childhood imprint of harissa and couscous and lamb just can't be duplicated without this particular kind of harissa, which really is just cheap mass-market stuff with tomato paste in it to make it can properly.

By the way, I found a quick way to make couscous with what we have here. I use hard bread flour, egg, and a little salt in a food processor, balancing the ratio until it forms tiny balls, then I cook it in the way both my parents' families used to finish boiled rice: by steaming it in a colander. I always associated that with southern cooking: boiling the rice for fifteen minutes, pouring it out into a seive, and then putting the seive over the pot with just a little water at the bottom to steam it. Did your family do rice that way?
Feb. 5th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
No, we never made rice that way. We always made rice by boiling water, putting rice in, putting the lid on, and leaving it on low for 20 minutes.
But Marc says that the ladies at work (at the group home - we're talking about middle aged rural African American ladies) made rice that way.

I sincerely hope that one day you'll have the chance to cook for me again, even if it's just a grilled cheese samwich.

Feb. 5th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
That would be nice. Remember... Whole rooms of turkish delight. WHOLE ROOMS!
Feb. 6th, 2010 01:25 am (UTC)
Keep talking like that and you'll have a houseguest who won't leave.
Feb. 6th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
Heh. Bus seriously, I know there's demand for SW up here. The hours are long but the pay is better, and without the private-insurance tax, the health care's cheaper (no drug coverage without supplemental insurance, and that's a tough one for y'all).

Then again, it is always Winter and never Christmas. And TO is now too expensive for anyone.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )