Delicious baked puff pastry stuffed with Moroccan couscous

I’ll begin by telling you that this dish is not only quick to make, delicious and crusty and filled with yummy surprises that make you ask for more, but it’s also original, really. I mean, how many people do you know stuff pastry with Moroccan couscous?

But first, let me share something with you before we continue. I just have to let it out. Do you ever get panicked? I mean some things in life can get me panicked like..hmm let me think…….o.k. maybe I don’t get panicked but my blood heats up every now and then, depending on the occasion. Like last Friday night, we had friends over for “see you later alligator” dinner (we are going on vacation and they stay here), and I worked very hard to make a memorable evening (they will watch our house while we’re gone). So we sat down, started with the salads while waited for the appetizer to finish baking (about an hour). I went into the kitchen to check on it…are you ready for this? when I opened the oven door all I saw was…nothing. nada. zip. not a thing baking, no smell. What??!!

I, a person who dislikes “lateness” in any form, shape and color no matter what the excuse is, forgot to put the food in the oven. It never happened before. Top that with very hungry crowd and you could hear the bubbles in my blood start boiling. Panicked? Naaah.

playing a guitarMy daughter entertained our very patient guests.

But accidents sometimes turn into a major success. Yes they had to wait longer. Yes, they laughed at the situation (or maybe at me). And yes, they raved about the first course that disappeared in 30 seconds flat. Yes, they asked for more. And yes, they even went home with appetizer goody bag. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Moroccan couscous stuffed in puff pastryThe winner.

So go ahead, forget but don’t panic (unless you insist). Keep your cool, laugh at yourself and share your late arrivals no matter what. You’ll be glad you did.

So, shall we:

ingredients:
1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 pkg plain instant couscous (10 oz)
1/2 cup dry cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds (unsalted)
1/2 cup chopped whole nuts
handful chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red hot paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 pound ground turkey or chicken breast (cooked)
1 orange zest
1 egg (mix for egg wash)
3 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

preparations:

Preheat oven to 400º. In a bowl filled with boiled water soak raisins and cranberries for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Prepare instant couscous following instructions on the box (eliminating the salt).

In a large bowl combine prepared couscous, dried fruit, nuts, orange zest, spices and cooked turkey or chicken (if desired. I added cooked and seasoned turkey breast). Mix all ingredients until well combined. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Moroccan couscousOn a clean lightly floured surface roll out pastry dough into square shape about 1/4 thick and cut into squares, depending the size of your sheet (mine was about 5″x5″ each). You can cut into 9 equal squares if you prefer smaller ones. Place a heaping tablespoon of the couscous mix in the center of each square.

puff pastry stuffed with moroccan couscous

Take one corner of a stuffed square and fold it over to the opposite corner and pinch/seal edges with the tines of a fork.

puff pastry stuffed with moroccan couscous

Place stuffed pastry on a parchment paper keeping space between them for expansion, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake between 30-40 minutes or until deep golden color is achieved.

Serve warm with fresh salad(s) as an appetizer (like I did) or, if you didn’t use meat have it for breakfast with hard boiled eggs on the side and fresh sliced tomatoes – you have no idea how delicious this it! until you try it.

Reheating it in the microwave is a no-no.

Any other “stuffy” suggestion for puff pastry?

I’m all ears.

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Delicious red-hot Moroccan fish tagine

There are only two words that when I hear at any given moment I get all excited (besides other two words o.k.). Words that make me feel all warm and cozy inside, make me imagine rich colors, exotic spices, velvety sauces, table filled with hungry mouths. Well, that’s just me – Moroccan food. Yes. Yes.

It’s rich, hot and sexy and nutritious but most of all it’s unforgettable. Authentic Moroccan food is never an unhealthy bunch of spicy ingredients thrown onto something and cooked. No no. Moroccan food is simply pure fresh ingredients with one main star – fish, chicken or beef and lots and lots of love.

moroccan fish tagine

So today we are focusing on love = Moroccan fish = love.
Ever since I remember myself my mother cooked fish every Friday for Shabbat table. She would start her cooking on Wednesday, preparing a juicy marinade for the fish. Then she would dip the slices of fish in the marinade, making sure not even a tiny spot is uncovered. She would lay them perfectly in a large pot on a bed of fresh vegetables and refrigerate it for two days – until Friday noon. Then she would place the big pot on the stove, first high heat and a few minutes later I would hear bubbling and the house is filled with this CRAZY aroma that drove us all nuts we wanted to eat each other. Patiently while humming in her beautiful voice mom would then turn the heat to low and let the fish cook until it’s tender almost falling off the bones, the sauce is thickened and redder than ever. My juice buds are going bananas now. My mother is simply a Moroccan food genius.

I’m hopelessly inspired by her so I’ve developed my way of re-creating my mother’s fish tagine. Let me tell you – when we have guests they always wipe the plates clean. I don’t even have to wash the dishes 😉

moroccan fish tagine

Now let’s impress some people shall we:

ingredients:
Note about fish: I use whole fish clean inside and out and cut to 2″ thick. You can use fillet if you like: red snapper, halibut, white fish – it’s a personal preference.
Here I use 2 medium whole Trout
6-7 peeled garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
2 heaping tbsp of good quality sweet red paprika
(optional) 2 green chili pepper sliced diagonally
(optional) 5 small red-hot dried chili peppers
3 medium carrots peeled and sliced diagonally
2 celery stalks sliced diagonally
1 medium size red bell pepper cut to strips
1 small lemon thinly sliced
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped parsley
preparations:
In a medium pot arrange vegetables except for the bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Set a side.
In a medium bowl combine herbs, oil and spices and dried chili peppers. Mix well into the oil. Coat pieces of fish with the spice mixture or dip each piece in the mix. Arrange fish on the vegetables, top with red bell pepper. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least two hours. You can leave it to marinate in the fridge for a full 24 hours if you’re planning to eat it the next day.
Turn stove on medium/high, pour 3/4 cup of water in the pot, leave uncovered and let fish get the first boil. When boiling turn to medium/low, cover and cook while reducing liquids, about 25 min or so. Keep an eye making sure sauce does not dry out. The smell is going to drive you crazy. Be patient it cooks quickly.

To serve: get your best dish out why wait for a special occasion? this is it. Gently lay a slice or two of fish on the plate, arrange some cooked juicy vegetables around it and spoon some of this rich red sauce on top. If you have fresh bread don’t hide it. The first bite with the bread dipped in the sauce and you transfer yourself to the land of spicy dreams: Morocco.

You don’t have to say a word…but I can’t promise you keep silent for long…