08/20/2012 12:39 EDT | Updated 10/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Easy chicken, soup recipes for students to try

Dan Clapson's Start From Scratch program is a 10-week course aimed at post-secondary students who have few skills in the kitchen.

Students enrolled in the class are shown how to make a range of dishes, from appetizers to main courses to desserts, that don't stretch their budget or sacrifice taste.

Here are two recipes developed by Clapson to try.

Honey Balsamic Roast Chicken With Couscous Cranberry Stuffing

This roast chicken dish is perfect for a small get-together with friends. Serve it with a fresh garden salad to start and finish with some berry-flavoured ice cream or gelato.

Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours

1 chicken (approx 1.5 kg/3 lb)

125 ml (1/2 cup) balsamic vinegar

50 ml (1/4 cup) honey

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, chopped (divided)

1 carrot, cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) slices

500 ml (2 cups) cooked couscous

50 ml (1/4 cup) melted butter

125 ml (1/2 cup) dried cranberries

50 ml (1/4 cup) loosely chopped fresh basil

10 baby potatoes, quartered

Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 200 C (400 F).

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey and garlic. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine half of the onion, carrot, couscous, butter, cranberries and basil. Toss a few times to mix evenly. Season stuffing with salt and pepper, then pack into cavity in chicken.

In the bottom of a small roasting pan, place potatoes and remaining onion. Drizzle olive oil lightly over vegetables. Place chicken on top of vegetables.

Apply vinegar glaze to the outside of the chicken, either by brush or by hand. Season with salt and pepper. Place any remaining glaze in the bottom of the pan.

Cover with foil and bake for one hour and 10 minutes.

Remove foil and baste chicken with pan liquid. Increase oven temperature to 230 C (450 F) and roast for another 20 minutes or until the skin is crispy and the chicken is cooked through.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes four servings.

Tip: To make 500 ml (2 cups) couscous, place 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) dried couscous in a heatproof dish. Pour 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) of boiling water it and stir. Cover and let sit for five minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Source: Dan Clapson, Start From Scratch.


Masala Chickpea and Eggplant Soup

Dan Clapson says this quick and easy Indian-inspired soup embodies fall. It is meant to warm you up on a chilly evening. It can be served pureed or left chunky. "I prefer somewhere in the middle, pureeing half and leaving it a bit chunky. I love eggplant and cook with it often. For any eggplant haters out there, this soup will help convert you," he writes.

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

2 yellow onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

1 eggplant, cut in 1-cm (1/2-inch) cubes

2 cans (398 ml/14 oz) chickpeas, drained (reserve liquid of one can)

5 ml (1 tsp) masala tandoori powder

5 ml (1 tsp) garam masala powder

5 ml (1 tsp) yellow curry powder

1 can (454 g/16 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 L (4 cups) chicken broth (or veggie to keep vegan)

15 ml (1 tbsp) red wine vinegar

15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sour cream, for serving (optional)

In a medium pot, toss onions and garlic. Drizzle with some olive oil and cook on medium-high heat until onion becomes translucent, about five minutes. Add eggplant, drained chickpeas, masala tandoori, garam masala and curry powder. Stir mixture until spices have evenly coated vegetables. Stirring occasionally, let cook for eight to 10 minutes until eggplant pieces start to soften.

Add tomatoes, broth, vinegar, lemon juice and reserved chickpea liquid. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce to low heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Season generously with salt and pepper. Puree, if desired. Serve with warm bread such as naan and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Makes five to six servings.

Source: Dan Clapson, Start From Scratch.