After missing last month's challenge, the deer eaters are back in the Paper Chef business! In July it was Sijeleng of Javaholic who did the best cook-up of the ingredients chicken, almonds, corn and fish sauce, and now got to pick the ingredients for Paper Chef #43: couscous, fresh chilies, peaches and rosemary.
Lovely picks! We decided to go sweet this month, and make a desert couscous dish. This took on many transformations in our brain before we settled on this version. First, the idea was to just make sweet couscous (using fruit juice instead of water as liquid for the couscous) to be served with peaches poached with rosemary, chili and maybe some vanilla. But the peaches were too hard for poaching and there was no suitable poaching liquid in the house (simple suryp = too boring), so I decided to bake them instead, and use the chili and rosemary in a honey glaze.
While pondering the creation over loads of laundry, I thought that it could need some sort of added tang and freshness to balance the heat and sweetness. My mind went to plain Turkish yoghurt, and the idea of a trifle was born. A normal trifle has sponge cake, custard, whipped cream and fruit, this one would have sweet couscous, yoghurt and baked peaches - hey, we've taken liberties with falafel before, so why not with trifle now?
Markus came up with the quite brilliant idea of caramelizing the couscous in order to make it less grainy and more crunchy. The end result turned out more yummy than we had hoped for. The caramelized couscous especially was a big hit that I can see us making again. The crunchy, caramel flavored couscous, the smooth and creamy yoghurt and the soft, honey-sweet peaches, still warm from the oven, with the punch of the hot chili and the fresh forest flavor of rosemary. Delicious!
Trifle of Caramelized Couscous &
Baked Peaches with Chili-Rosemary Honey Glaze
For the caramelized couscous:
1 dl peach-raspberry juice*
1 dl couscous
1 tbsp butter
1 dl brown sugar
Bring the juice to a boil. Stir in the couscous grains, cover with a lid and remove from heat. Let it stand until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. You can do this part well in advance. For the caramelization, heat up a frying pan, add the butter and let it melt. Add the sugar and give it a good stir. It won't melt like white sugar does (and won't splatter either), you will get more of a soft brown butter mixture. There might be some lumps, but that's no biggie. Add the couscous and stir constantly for a minute or two. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn. Spread the couscous out on a plate (this way it will get more crunchy) and set aside until you are ready to serve.
*The only decent peachy juice the store had was a peach and raspberry blend. If you have plain peach juice, that's what you want to use.
For the baked peaches:
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp fresh red chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp honey
Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Place them in an oven proof dish, and top each peach half with a a quarter of a teaspoon of butter. Bake in a 225°C oven for about 15 minutes, or until the peaches are going soft. In the meantime, mix the honey with the chopped fresh chili and rosemary. Drizzle the honey over the peaches, and bake for five more minutes.
6 tbsp plain thick Turkish yoghurt
You can get two big deserts out of this (one peach/person) or four smaller ones. Serve in individual transparent bowls or glasses - you want to be able to see the different layers. Layer the trifle starting with couscous in the bottom, then yoghurt and top with a peach half. Repeat if you're making two big deserts. Garnish with a small sprig of rosemary.
Note: the chili made this quite hot, so another idea would be to infuse the honey with a whole piece of chili and a whole rosemary sprig that you fish out before pouring it over the peaches.