Saturday, January 10, 2009

JOHN CHUCKMAN: ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF
























































JOHN CHUCKMAN'S SAVORY MIDDLE-EAST STYLE STUFFED PEPPERS

CHUCKMAN’S SAVORY MIDDLE-EAST STYLE STUFFED PEPPERS

INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Dry Couscous (Whole wheat or regular)

2 Cups Chicken Broth for Couscous (You will obtain this from the Chicken you cook)

1 Cup or more Chicken Stock for Sauce (You will obtain this from the Chicken you cook)

2 medium Onions

1 or 2 Carrots

4 Legs and Thighs of Chicken

Chatta – Pepper Paste from the Mideast (This is not hot, it is savory - available at any Middle East grocer)

4 Large Green (or Red) Sweet Peppers

Oil – for frying

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (dissolved in a small quantity of water – for moderately thickening Sauce)

Tomato - a handful diced

METHOD:

Simmer Chicken pieces in a large saucepan of water until flesh easily pulled off.

Take out Chicken and let cool a bit. Set aside liquid (your Stock).

To prepare Couscous, boil 2 Cups of Stock (liquid from cooking Chicken), add dry Coucous, stir together, cover, and remove from burner. Couscous is ready in 5 minutes.

When cool enough to work with, shred Chicken meat, removing skin.

Finely slice or dice Onions and grate Carrot. Saute in a frying pan. Add several Tablespoons of Pepper Paste. When Onion is soft, add shredded Chicken and just warm through.

Stir together Chicken, Onion, and Carrot mix into prepared Couscous.

Halve and seed Green Peppers. Place on small baking sheet (covered with parchment paper, or oiled), or use Pyrex casserole dish, oiled. Pile up with Couscous mix. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about an hour.

Prepare Sauce on stovetop. Use desired quantity of Chicken Stock, adding several Tablespoons of Chatta paste, a quantity of chopped Tomato, and a generous sprinkling of dry parsley. Add Corn Starch and water mix. Simmer covered for half an hour.

Pepper filling will be lightly browned. Serve as is with Sauce on the side.

NOTES:

Also serve Yogurt on the side, if desired (very nice).

The Coucous/Chicken filling mixture is delicious on its own – a kind of West Asian fried rice.


OTHER INTERESTING INGREDIENTS:

For the Couscous/chicken filling include: pieces of thinly sliced lemons that have been quickly sautéed, sliced (canned) artichoke hearts, olives, or pistachios.

Monday, January 05, 2009

JOHN CHUCKMAN REVIEW OF LAURA THOMPSON'S AGATHA CHRISTIE: AN ENGLISH MYSTERY

I enjoyed an interview with Laura Thompson on CBC Radio, and I thought her biography of Agatha Christie might well be good reading, even though I am not a fan of its subject.

I enjoy any first-rate biography, and the times Ms. Christie lived through are loaded with interesting events and people. She was moreover a remarkable literary phenomenon, becoming a house-hold name, setting record runs for plays, and creating two unforgettable characters - Miss Marple and M. Poirot.

Reading the first few pages of this book, I was sure that I had been right: this was going to be a fine book. In these pages, Ms Thompson creates almost a prose-poem around the idyllic time in Ms. Christie's childhood.

But my illusion gradually faded: the book is a weak one, having a number of faults.

First, Ms. Thompson uses a huge number of quotes from Ms. Christie, to such an extent I regard them as padding. I don't object to using quotes in the fashion Ms. Thompson does, I just object to the sheer volume of them.

Second, Ms. Thompson, time and again, refers to this or that old photograph, making some special observations about them, but virtually none of these photographs is included in the book's selection of photos.

Third, Ms. Thompson appears to have done a weak job of research on some topics, as for example the crucial one around Ms. Christie's first husband leaving her. I think the questions readers have around that event, and there are many, are left not answered.

Fourth, the sense and drama of history is largely missing from a book covering a remarkable era.

The book is a real disappointment.