Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Friday, May 3, 2013


A dichotomy exists upon the advent of the internet… not only has the world expanded with the wealth of information floating around the internet waves, but it has also shrunken – to an extent – in terms of building connections and interactions.

If you ever find yourself running into an individual in person, with whom you are Facebook friends, you may exclaim, “wow – small world!” and you will know of what I speak.

One of my precious friends, I would consider a sister to me, lives in Tunisia. We speak daily and share recipes. Souzi just recently shared a plethora of Tunisian recipes… one including Harissa, which is a hot chili sauce composed of chili peppers, serrano peppers, spices and herbs, as well as couscous.

Harissa – traditional, with a few “sb modifications”

2 tablespoons olive oil
10 dried red chili peppers
½ red bell pepper
1 small shallot
½ Serrano chili pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp smoked sea salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp herbs de Provence
2 tsp fresh cilantro
Juice of ½ lemon

In order to rehydrate the dried chilis, soak them in hot water for at least 30 minutes. Drain and remove all seeds and stems.
Dice the shallot and red bell pepper – saute in olive oil until tender
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend into a smooth paste.
Store in an air-tight container and drizzle with olive oil in order to maintain freshness. Will keep for up to one month in the refrigerator.


Couscous is a traditional Berber dish that is actually semolina (durum wheat). While many recipes call for the couscous to be cooked in water, I will gravitate more towards chicken stock, vegetable stock or beef stock. Intention being to impart more flavors into the grain during the actual cooking process.

1 small shallot
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cups couscous
2 ¾ cups stock (chicken, vegetable, beef, etc).
1 tsp smoked sea salt
2 Tbsp herbs de Provence
2 saffron threds – bloomed (simply place two threads of saffron in 2 tsp hot water and allow to permiate – water will turn bright yellow and attain the flavor of saffron… generally takes about 2 hours for the threads to bloom appropriately)

Sweat the shallots in olive oil until tender, then add stock and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and herbs/seasoning, then remove pan from the heat and cover with a lid. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, as the couscous absorbs the liquid and flavors. Couscous should be fluffy and light – not gummy.

Couscous is generally served with different varieties of meats: lamb, beef, chicken… seafood may also be an option, or any type of beans as well (chick peas, etc).

In terms of presentation, I focused on the colors. I combined the Harissa with some couscous on the bottom of my plate, then piled a mound of couscous in the middle. Around the edge, I also used yellow bell pepper, beets, micro greens, edible flowers and a few saffron threads.

Souzi, thank you for teaching me about Tunesian flavors and traditional recipes. I will absolutely add more Tunesian influences into my cooking repoitoire!

“When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.” - Molly Wizenberg

Love y’all dearly!
sb ♥

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