Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Delia Smith''s Summer Collection" - Roasted Vegetable Cous-Cous Salad with Harissa-style Dressing - Farewell, Summer!

Date I made this recipe:  September 25, 2016 – in honor of the passing of summer and the start of fall (Thursday, September 22, 2016)

Delia Smith's Summer Collection – 140 recipes for summer by Delia Smith
Published by BBC Books
ISBN: 0-563-36476-9; © 1993
Purchased at Barnes and Noble (Used Books), Roseville, MN
Recipe:  Roasted Vegetable Cous-cous Salad with Harissa-style Dressing – p. 108

Well this is hilarious:  I've cooked from two of Delia Smith's Books – Winter Collection and now Summer Collection as a nod toward seasonal beginnings and endings.

I used Delia Smith's Winter Collection cookbook in 2015 to celebrate the beginning of spring, a season I am not especially fond of but it's better than fall or winter.  Since winter officially ended on March 20th that year, I thought I'd sneak in one more winter recipe before calling it a day.  I am humored by the fact that it snowed in Minneapolis on March 22nd that year showing us once again that Mother Nature has her own timetable.  (PS—I made a "Black Bean Chili with Avocado Salsa" from that cookbook and wrote the blog on March 24, 2016.  Hopefully, I posted it shortly thereafter as I sometimes fall behind:  www.collecdtiblecooking.blogpsot.com – Label:  Delia Smith)

Apparently, I was thinking on the same lines this year as I made a dish from Delia Smith's Summer Collection a few days after summer officially ended (September 22, 2016) and autumn began.

I do not like autumn, or "fall," or whatever you want to call it.  I do not like it at all.  And I am already sick and tired of pumpkin "everything."  And when the leaves start to turn, so does my mood as I experience – annually – what I call my Fall Funk.

But summer, dear, sweet, warm summer, is my favorite season and if I could bottle up all the hot summer days for use later, I would.  I would also be very rich. 

This summer was not especially hot or humid, nor was it a miserable summer – in fact, it was okay.  Actually, let's call it "satisfactory," shall we?  It was generally sunny so that was good, with temperatures that pleased most of the residents of this state but not necessarily me as the warmer, the better.  If I had a dime for every person who said "Oh, I love this weather.  It's 75 degrees, not too hot, and there's a breeze," I'd be as rich as if I bottled up sunshine.

Look, summer in Minnesota is short. Sure, it runs you classic three months, but those three  months go by in a flash and then the minute Labor Day is upon us, we head into what I consider "chilly" temperatures – 60's and 70's.  I'm greedy.  I want "plenty of  sunshine coming my way, Zip-ah-de-doo-dah, zip-a-de-ay." (From the song, Zip-ah-de-doo-dah, featured in the 1964 Disney movie, Song of the South.)  But plenty of sunshine has been replaced by plenty of rain as we are now being treated to rain deluges on almost a daily basis.  I am tired of being under a raincloud all day long.

And so I am pretending that summer has not ended and so decided to make a summer dish from Delia's cookbook.  But hilariously – or maybe cosmically – today's recipe includes roasted vegetables, something I associate with fall.  I guess I'm straddling both worlds with this one.

Many of Delia's recipes though, contain roasted "something" and I came very close to making her "Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagna" (she spells it "lasagne"—what is with the Brits and their pronunciation and spelling?) but came screeching to a halt when I realized the sauce was a white sauce instead of tomato sauce. 

As a general rule my people (my Sicilian family) do not "do" white sauce. Do not.  And so I didn't.

Other recipes that got bounced were a "Strawberry Granita" that is best reserved for hot summer days when a cooling refreshment is needed, nor did I make any of the ice cream recipes even though they sounded delicious.

I might have made one of her main dishes had they not included curry paste and chilies, (Yes, I am a wuss when it comes to heat) or fish which I generally do not like but I know others who do, so please feel free to roam about the cabin of this cookbook.  And if you want to stay loyal and true to the book's titled "Summer Collection" and want to wait until next summer to do so, who am I to tell you no?

But if you are like me and are hanging on to summer with all fingernails, then give this book and this recipe a whirl.  It sounds more complicated than it is and you will need to roast the vegetables, the recipe for which is included on page 110 of the book with the lasagna recipe, but which I will break down for you.  After the vegetables are done, the next steps are really easy.

A word though, about the salad dressing:  if you don't tone it down like I did, it will be super hot.  Scorching, in fact.  This dressing is used in North African cooking and is made with chili peppers, paprika and olive oil.  This recipe uses a few other ingredients but then I tweaked them some more.  One can never be too careful.

I also decided to add some protein and poach a chicken breast and it was a delicious addition although you don't have to follow suit if you don't want to. 

So that's it for summer and I am counting the days already until we meet again.  Although summer does not start until June, I'm hoping we see signs of spring/summer (our spring here is incredibly brief) around May 1st.  And so with high hopes, I have marked off my calendar and will have you know that as of today, September 26, we have 217 days to go until May 1.  Works for me.

Roasted Vegetable Cous-Cous Salad with Harissa-style Dressing  - serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a starter
For the roasted vegetables (full recipe)
1 lb cherry tomatoes, skinned (Ann's Note:  I peeled one tomato before calling it a day.  Too much work, folks, too much work!)
1 small aubergine (eggplant) (Ann's Note:  I substituted a very small Japanese eggplant for this recipe and it worked great.)
2 medium courgettes (zucchini) (Ann's Note:  the author is British thus the "aubergine" and "courgettes.")
1 small red pepper, de-seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
1 small bulb fennel, cut into 1-inch squares
1 large onion, sliced and cut into 1-inch squares
2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the Cous-cous
10 oz medium cous-cous (Ann's Note:  I used "regular" cous-cous.  I hope that was okay.)
18 fl oz vegetable stock (Ann's Note:  I don't keep vegetable stock on hand but did have chicken broth so I used that instead.)
4 oz firm goat's cheese
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the salad
1 large bag of mixed salad leaves.  Ann's Note:  the author suggests a salad mix of lettuce, coriander leaves, flat-leaf parsley and rocket.  I used mix greens that had none of the above—and lived to tell about it!)

For the Dressing 
4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 rounded teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 heaped tablespoons tomato puree (Ann's Note:  I put a few of the roasted tomatoes in a Cuisinart – ta da!)
1 tablespoon lime juice (approximately 2 limes)

To garnish
1 tablespoon black onion seeds

Ann's Note:  I made half of the salad dressing recipe but even then, ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper was too much.  To offset the heat, I added some brown sugar.  I also cut down on the cumin and then added lemon juice which I had on hand, rather than the lime juice which I did not.

Okay, so to pull this thing together, first roast your vegetables.  The author set her oven to 425, I made mine 400.  The only difference was that I had to cook them a little longer at the slightly lower temperature.  I also kept an eye on things as the last thing I wanted was for my half-batch of vegetables to become charcoal briquettes!  My total cooking time was about 60 minutes.  Let the vegetables cool a bit before making the salad.

To make your cous-cous, boil the stock (microwaves are great for this) and pour over the cous-cous.  Add some salt and pepper, stir with a fork, and then let it sit for about 5 minutes or so until all the stock is absorbed and the cous-cous softened.

Next, cut your firm coat cheese into sugar-cube-sized pieces and then make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Ann's Note:  the author's method of assembling is as follows:  cous-cous, followed by cheese and roasted vegetables, salad leaves on top, then drizzle the dressing and then sprinkle some onion seeds on top.  My method was to place the salad leaves at the bottom, then cous-cous, then vegetables and cheese cubes and then dressing.  Go with whatever makes you happy!

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