Recipe Source: Luke Ehler
I have a confession for you all. A grave sin has been weighing on my soul. The sin is an irrational fear and hatred of couscous. See, I fear and hate cabbage, but there's a perfectly valid reason for it. Cabbage smells bad. Couscous, on the other hand, are nothing but inoffensive, harmless little pieces of pasta. They're easy to cook, have very little flavor of their own - there is nothing about them that should cause such a strong reaction in me. And yet here I am, shuddering to even glance at the word on my screen. You see, when I was a much younger woman - we're talking twenty years ago here - I went on a school field trip to - well, I won't say it because this is a food site, but suffice it to say it was not someplace where food should even be contemplated. I saw a lot of things in this laboratory that turned a lot of stomachs. While I didn't think much of it at the time, the first time I saw couscous they looked exactly like something I saw in that lab, I don't even know what it was. To this day, though, I cannot comprehend what would make someone eat that.
I did tell you it was an irrational hatred, right? Anyway. I'm going to be cooking a lunch for a very large group of people in a couple of months. There is a certain theme to the event, and of course there's a pretty tight budget. I was looking for a starch dish that I could serve. Rice is my usual starch for this type of event, but rice prices have gone up and I don't want to be known as That Lady Who Only Serves Rice. Couscous are in synch with the event theme, and it would be a good opportunity for me to work through this lunatic aversion. My friend Luke has served this dish a number of times in the past, and while I've always declined it's always gone over pretty well. I figured that I would give it a shot and see what the cost per serving looked like. I whipped up a batch and served it to my in-laws, who thoroughly enjoyed it. Even I managed to choke some down, and while the dish was sweeter than I would normally like it was pretty good.
I did make a couple of changes. I omitted the almonds, because I was really pressed for time. I also used Herbal Broth in place of the chicken broth, because I prefer the milder flavor and because the cost per serving of the Herbal Broth is half that of chicken broth. That's really it. I really want to thank Luke for the recipe. I haven't decided if this is what I'll serve in September, but it's definitely something I'll serve again.
Seffa (serves 6, approx. $0.58/serving)
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
1 cup Herbal Broth
6 threads of Spanish saffron, crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon raisins (plumped)
4 dates, pitted and chopped
6 dried apricot halves (plumped)
- Saucepan with lid
- Plump dried fruit by soaking in warm water. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter.
- Add shallots and saute until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add broth, saffron and remaining butter. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in cous cous and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5
- Transfer to bowl and fluff. Stir in remaining ingredients.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.