I was lucky enough to provide a home for a brand-spanking-new DSLR camera this past June after I’d been rigorously saving up for months and months in advance.
(No, of course, not really. I’ve never been able to save up for anything. I’m more of a ‘wing it and spend it before they catch ya’-kinda girl. Tax return money, baby. They disappeared that same day and are now living a long and happy life with Canon Inc).
Anyway, I have a healthy (?) obsession with food blogs, and you wouldn’t believe the way the planets aligned for me perfectly that month…
- New fancy camera.
- Lots of free-time (and what felt like free money at the time) to try out recipes.
- Staying at home = Mom’s gorgeous kitchen.
It was like I was kid again playing dress-up and pretending to be a Disney princess!
Except, I’m an adult now, guys, so instead I was having the time of my life playing with my alternate personality as a wannabe-protogé-fancy-food-blogger. No Disney princesses here. I took it seriously too; my family would be lucky if they got to dig in while the food was still warm. I would even cook stuff even if I wasn’t anywhere near hungry just so I could take pictures with my camera like a professional. Ah, those were fun times….
…which resulted in lots of picture like these:
Well, guess where I am now? In student accommodation. Sharing an old and over-used kitchen with three other people who may or may not be less inclined to cook things from scratch than me. They may or may not de dependent on a spotless kitchen for their general well-being and/or sanity like I do. (I’m not suggesting anything here. Just sayin’.)
- New camera ➤ my trusted iPhone (it’s a little bit over-the-top to bring out my fancy camera to snap photos of my food… Even I can acknowledge that there would be some eye-rolls and whispers around the apartment).
- Lots of free-time and free money ➤ I’m gonna go ahead and state the obvious: I’d like to meet the full-time student living abroad who’s rolling in free-time and money. So I can steal their identity and go on with my/their life.
- Mom’s gorgeous kitchen ➤ this one…. “It’s charming, it’s part of student life, it’s well-stocked, I have every single thing I need, all is well” = things I repeat in my head daily.
This is what my food pictures look like now:
Oh well, we can’t all be food bloggers.
I hope I haven’t scared you off, though, because this dish is actually one of my staples and I promise you it’s delicious.
Before I joined the other side and became a vegetarian, it was a chicken casserole. If you do eat meat, I highly suggest you make this with cutlets of bone-less, skin-less chicken; you can easily skip the broccoli and carrots then. I call it “Moroccan”, and that’s really just because me and one of my dearest friends – who is half Moroccan – used to make some version of this all the time when we were living together in Egypt. She claimed her family used to make this kind of food all the time and her grandmother taught her how to make it, but really, I have no idea if she’s a credible source. She’s a bit cooky, that one – like me – so it might just be some idea she had in her head. Either way, here’s the recipe for…
Minty Moroccan Vegetable Casserole with Couscous
1 head of broccoli
2 medium/large carrots
1 yellow onion
1 red sweet pepper
1/2 cup sweet corn
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh mint // personally, I prefer the minty fresh flavor, but you could skip the mint and use fresh coriander (cilantro) instead. My cooky Moroccan wonderful bestie would usually choose this route
1/2 jar of tomato sauce
450 ml cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 – 1.5 cup couscous // brown rice or quinoa would also be good
1 teaspoon of butter (optional)
- Get ready: Roughly chop up the broccoli, carrots, onion into bite-sized pieces. De-seed your chilli, peel your garlic cloves, and cut them up finely. Wash the mint (or other herb) and chop it up.
- Make the couscous: Take double the amount of water as the amount of couscous you plan to use, and bring it to a boil. When boiling, add the couscous and stir it with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper (the butter is optional, but I find it just makes the fluffiest, best couscous). When stirred, cover it with a lid and let it rest for 10-15 minutes or until the couscous has absorbed all the water.
- Make the casserole: Start with frying your garlic and chilli in a some cooking oil (whichever you prefer); then add the onion. When the onion is soft, add all other veggies and give them a good fry-up. At this point, add the mint and be generous with salt+pepper. Add the tomato sauce first and stir it in with all the veggies. You want to then add the cream, little by little, stirring as you go. When it starts boiling, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Taste it now and then to see if it needs more flavor.
- Serve: …immediately and with a green salad, of course 😉 Gotta eat your greens!
…I’m not going to pretend I don’t miss playing around in Mom’s awesome kitchen…
But at least, there’s always chocolate in the world.