…..Where 'La Gourmandise' is not a sin!

Side Dishes

Side dish recipes

You might have noticed in the past few weeks that I am posting a lot of quick recipes and dishes made with frozen ingredients and dried condiments. The reason is twofold.

First we are actively looking for a place to move where we could give all of our courses in-house instead of renting space for each course or series of course. So we are trying to go through our supplies and frozen reserves to make the move easier on us. To achieve this we are buying a lot less and using what we already have in stock.

Second, in the area where we are currently living the availability of many ingredients we consider staples that we normally count on having in every grocery stores and on a regular basis are no longer available. Due to the very hard economic downturn of the past 18 months here in Mexico, and the high devaluation of the peso, the major grocery stores in our area are not stocking things that are not sold on a regular basis. Since the area is one of lower socioeconomical status this means what is not part of the daily diet is difficult to get. Case in point I have been trying to find for the past month some simple black peppercorns as I ran out, and they are not on the shelf anymore. I will have to make a list of basic things we cannot get anymore in the area, and the next time we go in town proper I will go shop for them. It is a real pain…

Getting back to the task at hand, I was not sure today what I would be serving with the thawed pork chops. I did not want to spend much time in the kitchen so I made one of my favorites, a simple couscous that takes about 10 minutes to prepare. I used some of last reserves of precooked couscous, which reminds me I should be adding that also to the list of things we will need to buy when we next go to town.

The simple ingredients for the couscous

Couscous is one of those things that makes a very satisfactory and very tasty side dish. It can be prepared in about 10 minutes if you use the precooked type and I plain love it. There are essentially 3 steps in preparing it. First, you boil some water and flavoring.

The water and flavorings

Second, when it starts boiling you just shut the burner and mix in the couscous.

The couscous added to the water

Third, you put the lid on the pot and wait 5 minutes for the couscous to absorb the water. You then add some butter and mix it in and server. It cannot be simpler.

I had a craving for nuts today, so I prepare a walnut couscous that was simply stunning. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

1 cup water
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 tbs dried onions
1 tsp dried garlic
1 tbs hazelnut oil
1 tbs chicken broth powder
1 cup precooked couscous
1 handful of hand-crushed walnuts
1 tbs butter or margarine

Preparation

1. Put the water, oil, onions, garlic, chicken broth powder and herbes de Provence in a small pot.
2. Bring the water to boil over high eat.
3. When it starts boiling shut the burner.
4. Add the couscous and nuts and stir them in.
5. Put the lid on the pot and let rest for 5 minutes until the water is all absorbed.
6. Add the butter and mix in, then serve.

Lucito

Yesterday I posted one half of this great combination I like so much, and today it is only normal to post the second half, a wonderfully divine potato recipe. I have always been a potato lover, and this brings my love of them to another level. It is not an everyday dish as it involves using truffles and truffle oil, but it is nice to indulge ourselves once in a while. I normally use the cheaper Italian black truffles in jars and Italian truffle oil, a combination of olive oil and truffle flavor. I have not found a ready supply of the around here, and I am still looking around. The Padrino used to bring us some when he visited in the old days, but lately he has been forgetful about this <wink, wink>… The recipe is simple to make and yields wonderful results. If you really want to be fancy you can carve your potatoes in cylinders around 1.5-2" in diameter before slicing them to get uniform slices, but I normally do not go to this trouble as I prefer my potatoes with the skin on. Enjoy them with a nice juicy piece of bavette…

Ingredients

2 pounds medium potatoes
2 medium Italian black truffles
3 tbs Italian truffle oil
1/4 pound clarified butter
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Preparation

1. With a mandoline or a very sharp knife cut potatoes into thin slices.
2. In a large pot of boiling water add the potato slices and blanch for 3-4 minutes.
3. Place the potato slices in cold water to stop the cooking, and then pat dry.
4. Cut the truffles into very thin slices or shavings.
4. Butter a 10" round cake mould and place a layer of the potato slice in it, carefully overlapping them slightly.
5. Pour a bit of the melted butter on the potatoes, add a few truffle slices, pour a bit of truffle oil and salt and pepper to taste.
6. Repeat the layering process until you use up all the potatoes.
7. Press down firmly on the potatoes so that they stick together well.
8. Place in a preheated 400F oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a nice brown crust develops.
9. Turn the pie mold over a serving dish and cut into portions like a pie.

Lucito