Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sunday, Sep 26th - Memories of Brick Lane - Cous Cous

Memories of Brick Lane Cous Cous
When most people of think Brick Lane memories, 99.99% will think of Curry.  I have indeed had the best curry of my life on or around Brick Lane...probably closer to White Chapel, but you know.  But when I nostalgically think of my time in London, I think of Market Days on the weekends on Brick Lane or late nights out which ended on Brick Lane for a nosh.  My sister O was living in England at the same time, doing a Master's up at Cambridge and she used to come down on the weekends.  She loved the markets of London.  There is nothing like a vintage market anywhere in North America like those around Brick Lane and Portobello.  On those days or nights, I would most often find myself at Cafe 1001.  Well, that's what it's called now anyway.

It's about mid-way along Brick Lane just south of the overhead crossover.  You'll see.  Heading south, to your right you'll see what looks like a dodgy alley.  It's called, wait for it.... Rough Trade.  Don't be scared, if you are there on the weekends, the line up for the grill is around the corner.  O liked to wait in line while I went inside and grabbed a table with a couple of the mis-matched chairs.  Inside, there are heaps of lovely salads which you can get on a mixed plate or pre-packed in 1l containers.  Probably the best deal in town.  They are super fresh and healthy.  So light years of where the rest of England was at the time before Jamie's crusade.  I gravitated to the Cous Cous.  It was the simplest of Cous Cous but something about it had depth and 'meatiness' though it was entirely vegetarian.  I make cous cous all the time but I always go a bit overboard if let loose on it.  I also tend to try to make them super healthy with lots of vegetables and light on the dressing.  The one on Brick Lane probably had virtually no dressing but it a even yet controlled amount of feta throughout so you had some in every single bite.

Even this tribute to my nostalgia has 1 too many vegetables in it but I tried to keep it simple otherwise.  Aahh

Memories of Brick Lane Market Days Cous Cous

(Serves 2 as big side/main or 4 sides)

2/3 c Cous Cous
1 c Cold Water
1/4 c Red Onion, finely diced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper (Capsicum), diced small ~1/2 cm
9 Kalamata Olives, pitted and minced
2-3 T (40 g) Hard Goat Feta, finely crumbled
1/2 c Chick Peas
2 Scallions, chopped
1 Lime Juiced
2-3 T Olive Oil
1 T fresh Basil and Parsley, chopped fine
Salt and Pepper (about 1/2 t Salt)

In a large bowl, place the Cous Cous with the cold water and let stand for half an hour.  This keeps it light and fluffy.  It might seem dry but do not be tempted to add more water.  There are more liquids coming from the vegetables and Lime Juice.

I used brine cured Olives but you could probably use Dry cured but you'll want to watch your salt level in addition after.  To pit them, you can either use a cherry pitter or much easier, place it on a cutting board lying down and gently lean on it with the flat of a knife like you would crush a garlic clove.  Then remove the pit.  Mince the Olives and the Feta quite fine.  Really.

Add the all the Vegetables and toss well.  I like to add the Salt to the Lime Juice so I know it get's spread out.  Up to you if you want to wait and taste.  Or you could add half the salt to the Juice and then season to taste.  Sprinkle the juice evenly over and toss well.  Drizzle the Olive Oil and toss as you go.  I like to add the Herbs and Scallions last for no particular reason. 

Let stand for at least 10-15 minutes in the fridge just to meld together.  The longer the better.  If you want it to taste more like the cafe I remember, you could leave the lime out.


1 Leave a / Read COMMENTs:

Tiffany said...

I have not been to London yet, but I love this salad! I make a very similar version and it's great to add all the left over veggies that happen to be in the fridge, great post!