Friday, January 07, 2011

Couscous and the Importance of Mis en place

I'm big on organization. Huge in fact. My closet is color coordinated, my books are arranged by size and color, the bills in my wallet always face the same direction. So, naturally, my cooking methods are very organized. I rely on this organization to keep me on task when I'm cooking. Something is bound to distract me when I'm in the kitchen so having my mis en place prepared (French for "everything in place") ensures I don't forget anything for a recipe.

In praise of the mis en place, I prepared and photographed my fixings for a couscous dinner the other night. A riff off a traditional Moroccan tagine, I sauteed zucchini with diced green olives, dried apricots, dried cranberries and preserved lemon and added the mixture to my prepared couscous.

Couscous basically cooks itself so the zucchini sizzled in the pan while it steamed in a pot, once combined it made for a yummy middle eastern style meal.

Oh, and those preserved lemons? Made them myself. Uh huh, yes I did. And it was incredibly simple. You could easily pay $12 for a jar at a specialty store or just do it yourself by investing in a $1 mason jar and lid, a few lemons and some salt. Here's a simple recipe you can make at home. If you get your mis en place all ready before you can your lemons, you're well on your way to becoming an organized home chef as well.

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