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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A recipe for cous cous

I'd been meaning to share this with you, as it may come in handy if a large number of vegetarians visit, expecting to be fed. This meal is not too expensive to buy for and can be made in large quantity if required. I ate this first at a friend's house, and she has now become a professional caterer and she says it is a frequent choice of her clients.

Last Friday evening we were joined for dinner by friends - a vegetarian and her husband. They'd come to us straight from taking their beloved cat to the vets (the creature's last visit), so you can imagine the mood was sombre. However, we made efforts to turn the event into a celebratory wake, with our guests remembering joyful and tender highlights from the deceased's life, and us extolling the virtues of dogs as pets and companions. Our own dog did not promote the cause much by scratching noisily throughout the meal from the confines of her makeshift sleeping bag which she has created out of her pillow/pillowcase; this gave way to the even more disconcerting audio accompaniment of her licking her smallest corners with much loud gurgling and spluttering.

Anyway, with that preamble - let me tell you that the recipe can be found in Delia's Summer Cooking. I know some people turn their noses up at this lady but I won't hear a word against her.

This dish is in the style of salad nicoise - a cold confection served all in one big bowl.

Put some cous cous (I think 6oz is enough for four) that you have soaked and steamed, in a large serving bowl. On top of that put a quantity (however much you fancy) of cooled vegetables that you have roasted in olive oil with garlic and basil leaves for 20 mins at 200degrees. I use ratatouille-type ingredients - ie aubergine, onion, tomatoes, peppers, chopped not very small. Sprinkle over some cubes of goats' cheese - that is sold in blocks and looks like pale cheddar. I also add whole black olives. For the very top layer put some salad leaves (lettuce, spinach, rocket etc, whatever you've got). Oh yes, and there is a "harrissa-style" dressing, to serve separately, which is the juice of two limes, olive oil, tomato puree, dried cumin and chile powder.

And for the inquisitive, we enjoyed a pavlova made with raspberries from the garden for dessert. A few minor things went wrong with this but what it lost points for in presentation it made up for by being jolly tasty.


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