Sunday Supper: Sweet Couscous

I know, it’s not a supper, but somehow a simple, light dessert just seems to fit the bill this week. Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Sweet Couscous with Pistachios

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 15 minutes

A quick, simple,  fat- free dessert that really can’t go wrong; the couscous is cooked the same way you make it for dinner, but with some sugar in the water. You can dress it up even more by using warm milk or cream. And you can vary the seasonings any way you like, from the traditional  cinnamon- nutmeg combination to ground chiles or fresh ginger.

Cooking the couscous in juice is great way to add loads of flavor and sweetness without adding more sugar.

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup regular or whole wheat couscous

2 teaspoons grated or finely minced lemon or orange zest

1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 or 2 teaspoons rose water (optional)

1. Put 1 1/2 cups water and the sugar in a pot and bring to a boil; add the couscous, zest, pistachios, and cardamom; cover and continue to cook for a minute, then turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Fluff the couscous with a fork and sprinkle on the rose water if you’re using it. Serve warm or room temperature with a sauce (see headnote) or some milk or cream drizzled over the top.

 

Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

Rolling the Dice with Potluck

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By Kerri Conan 

Groupcook isn’t for everyone, but me, I’m a potluck gamer. And now, as folks eager to show off dig deep into their gardens and larders, the odds of finding something interesting around a summertime Kansas buffet table are better than even. 

These bring-a-dish throw-downs provide a chance for folks to strut their best stuff, but I wouldn’t call them competitive. Instead they create a community table, with a rare glimpse into other people’s kitchens, and an opportunity to bulk up your recipe box. I also appreciate potlucks for the chance to pop food you never make yourself into your pie hole every now and then. 

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Posted in Slow Food

With Pesto, In Season Is Best

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A recent piece of mine from Diner’s Journal that seems worthy of repeating. -mb

I look forward each year to that first batch of pesto, which is something I honestly believe cannot be made with the insipid basil of winter, no matter where it comes from. Great basil cannot be grown in a greenhouse, and cannot be grown out of season. In this, it’s like the tomato. (The so-called vine-ripened tomatoes invented in Holland may be redder than the orange plastic-wrapped specimens of my youth, but they don’t taste any better.)

Which brings me to the story of Pra. I once was on assignment to write about pesto, and traveled to Genoa, Italy. (Actually, it’s not quite as glamorous as that: I once was in Genoa, and persuaded an editor to let me write about pesto.) And I went to some typical Genovese restaurant, and was shown how to make pesto in a mortar and pestle; frankly, it was good if not great (and as for the necessity for a mortar and pestle, feh — it’s about the basil, not about the technique). Continue reading

Posted in Produce

Stir-Fried Squid (But Not That Much) and Basil

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The interesting thing about this squid stir-fry was how much squid I used: two of ‘em, for two people, and although they were big-ish, the total weight was about a quarter-pound, and the dish fed two of us more than satisfactorily.  

I cooked a big onion, a couple of stalks of celery, and some garlic and ginger in peanut oil until they were tender. I took ‘em out, threw in cut up squid, and cooked for about a minute. I put the vegies back in, along with the basil you see here and, a minute later, a couple of tablespoons  of peanuts, then a couple of tablespoons of water and soy sauce. Tiny bit of sesame oil. That was it, and over rice – we were happy.

Posted in Chinese, Seafood

Fracking Cattle

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by Ulla Kjarval

[Ulla Kjarval is a photographer, food blogger and grass-fed beef advocate who blogs at Goldilocks Finds Manhattan. Her family operates Spring Lake Farm in Delaware County, New York -mb.]

The battle over gas drilling has made its way to upstate New York and many farmers, especially those that rely on grasslands, are alarmed at the possible impact fracking – the relatively new technology for gas drilling – could have on their livelihoods. Dick Cheney’s 2005 Energy Policy Act, with its “Halliburton Exemption” significantly deregulated fracking, making it exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clear Air Act. Alarmingly if not surprisingly, the dismantling of these most basic safeguards to protect us from pollution seems to have not caused our lawmakers any concern.

Fracking allows drillers to tap gas reserves deep in the ground. To do so they rely on a high pressure mix of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals pumped into the ground to collapse and crack into horizontal deposits trapped in rock. Sadly, in areas where fracking has already happened there has been widespread pollution and ruined drinking water.

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Posted in Farming, Food Politics

Scraped, not Peeled

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By Edward Schneider  

I used to take the Elizabeth David-era recipe instruction “Scrape your carrots” as a quaintness dating from before the invention of the vegetable peeler. 

Then, a decade or so ago, I was introduced to the tiny, flavorful early carrots sold by Manhattan farmers’ market vendors such as Paffenroth Vegetable Gardens, of Orange County, New York (not for a moment to be confounded with the fraudulent “baby carrots” carved out of superannuated storage roots and sold in supermarkets). Taking a peeler to these would leave you with a matchstick, albeit a delicious one. So Jackie and I – mainly Jackie, who is more patient with these painstaking tasks – have adopted the old practice of using a paring knife to scrape off the root hairs and a bit of the outer surface, at least for these early summer treats.  

We had dinner guests the other night and served them such carrots, meticulously processed by Jackie, and you know what? They noticed.

Posted in Produce

Politics of the Plate

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by Barry Estabrook

Big Ag’s Big Pal in the Oval Office

Even as a journalist following food and politics, I have trouble keeping up with the revolving door between the Obama administration and the corner offices of huge agrichemical and GMO seed producers like Monsanto and DuPont. The latest announcement to catch me by surprise is that Romona Romero, a DuPont corporate lawyer, has just been nominated by the president to the post of General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

So it was great to receive this handy roster from the Organic Consumers Association last week. The list could grow, but here’s the current lineup of Team Big Ag:

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Posted in Food Politics

Spicing Up Butter––With Herbs

By Cathy Erway

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Before we get into the how, let’s talk about why you should make herbed butter. Herbs grow, a lot. It seems a shame not to enjoy their zingy, full flavors while they’re at their prime these hot months. Yes, you can dry out the leaves and use them all year, but this usually weakens or at least alters their flavor.

And I’m not saying don’t make tub after tub of pesto, but maybe your freezer is full of those already. You could even make a tincture, or try your hand at homemade perfume. But if you like to make bread, or serve it at dinner, then it’s fun to have a host of flavored butters on hand. And chopping up herbs, storing them in fat — butter — preserves their flavor, even stretches it, as it’ll permeate the whole glob. Continue reading

Posted in Farming

When Life Gives You Limes: The Limeade Primer

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By Mike Hawley 

[Mike is one of these guys who does most everything right. Limeade, too. - mb]  

When I’m sweating my way through the tropics (my haunts are Cambodia and all over south and central Asia), my drink of choice is lime soda, with lots of fresh squeezed lime juice. I usually don’t take sugar or syrup with it because limes are sweet enough over there, though they’re still tart. Interestingly, a pinch of salt when it’s stinking hot, or when the limes are really acidic, can help.  

Back home, up here in the frigid North (i.e., Boston, where it was simmering near 100F last week) I love limeade. Or Margeritas. Or gin and tonic with a huge amount of lime juice. But most especially, I love limeade. I like lemons, too, and what follows also applies when life gives you lemons.   Continue reading

Posted in Cocktails, Travel, Uncategorized