Thursday, June 17, 2010

Steamed Couscous (Page 214)

RECIPE #1172

  • Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Kitchen: Emilee and Brian's Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Emilee, Brian, Sam, Matty, and Chris
  • Recipe Rating: B


I like couscous but I have put off this recipe for a long time for reasons which will become obvious in a moment. As Emilee pointed out, the whole point of couscous is that it is fast to make. It's not the tastiest of the starch options, nor is it the most exciting. But it is one of the easiest and fastest to prepare. That is, unless The Book writes the recipe. Start to Finish time on this couscous: an hour and fifteen minutes! For couscous! A dish that usually takes about five minutes to make! The recipe also calls for a couscoussiere, which is a special couscous cooking device which I don't own. Luckily, it allows for an alternative: a steamer basket.

I started by stirring the couscous with some water and then draining it. I spread the couscous on a baking sheet and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I put a quarter of the couscous in the steamer and steamed it for 5 minutes. I mounded the remaining couscous in, waited for steam to rise through the center of the mound, then steamed it for another 20 minutes. I spread the couscous in a shallow pan and sprinkled with water and salt. Then I raked the couscous with my fingers -- once with dried fingers and once with oiled fingers. I then let it dry for another 10 minutes. I put the couscous back in steamer and steamed it for another 20 minutes.

So how was it? Well, it tasted like couscous. I liked it, but could I have distinguished it from couscous made the 5 minute way? Maybe -- I'm not sure. In any event, I felt that the result certainly wasn't worth the extra effort and all the silliness of moving the couscous from a baking pan to the steamer to the baking pan to the steamer... I have a high tolerance for culinary fussiness but this recipe was a little over-the-top even for me!

This recipe isn't online.

This past weekend we traveled to Los Angeles for my brother's wedding. Their wedding was quite unique. There were about 55 guests I think, and the wedding events went from Friday through Sunday. The weekend started on Friday evening with a rehearsal dinner at the LA River Center. Despite the name there was no river in sight (which is probably good since the Los Angeles river is actually a concrete channel), but there were beautiful gardens. The five course meal was outdoors, in a wonderful courtyard, with everyone seated at two long tables. It was just lovely to be outside in such a gorgeous setting on a summer evening in California.

The wedding ceremony itself was Saturday morning, in a beautiful Episcopal church in Pasadena. It was a lovely ceremony, complete with adorable flower girls and a charming ring bearer. There was a bit of a break following the ceremony, and in the late afternoon the party started again. The next event was a cello concert. One of my brother's closest friends is an internationally renowned cellist and a professor of music performance at UCSD. He performed a solo concert in honor of Spencer and Ellen. He performed both some classical pieces and a more experimental piece. The music was absolutely spectacular. The setting was also incredible. For the concert they rented the Schindler House, a famous piece of residential architecture which was precendent-setting for California architecture. After the concert we all headed over to Osteria Mozza, a Nancy Silverto, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich restaurant. There we had a seven course meal, and wines paired with every course! It was a long, delicious meal!

The next morning we were hardly hungry, but there was more tasty food to be had. Sunday brunch was at the Chateau Marmont, a hotel perhaps most famous for its many celebrity guests and residents. My special gentleman and I only got to enjoy the beginning of the beautiful meal there, as we had a plane to catch. The food we had was very tasty, and we were sad to leave (especially because the last wedding event, which we missed, was a trip to the Dodger game!).

Overall it was a lovely weekend, full of unique experiences and tasty food! Congratulations to Spencer and Ellen!

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