North African cuisine is a fascinating blend of exotic spices from the many different cultures that surround this region.
Coronation grapes are the special blue table grapes developed here in the Okanagan, at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland. They are only available fresh for a few weeks each fall, right about now.
They have a complex flavour that is unmatched. I’ve never tasted anything like them, and they’re delicious in main dishes or in loaves or muffins, as well as other desserts like clafouti.
I tried these two recipes from the B.C. Grape Growers’ website, using Coronation grapes and we quite enjoyed both dishes. I hope you do too.
Coronation table grapes are grown by farmers around the Okanagan; farmers who also provide us with a wide variety of other fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and who take care of that wonderful, ever-changing vista of green farmland that’s intermixed with the asphalt and concrete that makes up our community.
Farmers Appreciation Week is Sept. 8 to 15, so give a little extra thought to where the food you purchase has been grown, and, wherever possible, make sure it’s as local as possible—garlic from the Okanagan, not China, for instance.
If you can’t find the local produce you need, pick it up at the nearest farmer’s market, or at the farm gate. Ads for local produce are in the classified section of this paper every issue.
You can even enter a contest to win a $50 gift certificate at the farmers market by creating a poem about farming called Ode to a Farmer Poetry Contest. Go to www.bcfarmersmarket.org and click on poetry contest, before Sept. 8.
For lots more locally-inspired recipes for food that’s in season, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, wherever books are sold.
Coronation Grape Moroccan Chicken
This is full of spicy, exotic flavours and is a simple dish to make, despite the daunting list of ingredients, so don’t let that discourage you. This is spicy but not hot. You can make it hotter by increasing the amount of chilies.
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground cumin
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground coriander
1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) caraway seed
2 small red chilies
4 garlic cloves
1/2 c. (125 ml) olive oil
2 tbsp. (30 ml) lemon juice
2 tbsp. (30 ml) fresh mint
2 tbsp. (30 ml) fresh cilantro
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) pepper
2 large boneless chicken breasts
6 boneless chicken thighs
2 c. (500 ml) Coronation grapes
1/2 c. (125 ml) dry white wine
1/4 c. (60 ml) brown sugar
To make the Harissa Marinade, mince the chilies (or substitute 2 tsp. (10 ml) chili paste) and garlic and chop the fresh herbs.
Use a small food processor to combine all the marinade ingredients until smooth.
Chop the boneless, skinless chicken parts into one-inch cubes and dump into a glass bowl or an oven-proof casserole dish that has a lid.
Rinse the grapes and remove them from their bunches, dry them and add to the chicken, along with the wine and brown sugar and the Harissa Marinade. Mix it all together, cover and refrigerate overnight or for a least six hours before cooking.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Bake chicken in the marinade, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with a few fresh herb leaves.
Moroccan Coronation Grape Couscous
There’s lots of flavour in this side dish, which is an excellent companion to the chicken.
14 oz. (414 ml) chicken stock
2 tbsp. (30 ml) butter
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) ground allspice
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) ground coriander
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) ground cumin
juice of one lemon
2 c. (500 ml) couscous
1/2 small red onion
1/2 small red pepper
1/2 small green pepper
1/2 c. (125 ml) fresh mint
1/4 c. (60 ml) fresh cilantro
2/3 c. (150 ml) macadamias or cashews
1 1/2 c. (375 ml) Coronation grapes
Combine the chicken stock with melted butter, spices and lemon juice in a pot and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and add the couscous. Stir well, cover and let it sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork to separate the grains.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, peppers and herbs; coarsely chop the nuts and slice the grapes in half.
When the couscous is ready, stir in the vegetables, herbs, nuts and grapes and garnish with a few leaves of the fresh herbs.
Serves 6 to 8.