Wine for thought!

Yes please!

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Couscous Inventions

Well….I’ve come to learn that whole-wheat couscous definitely needs to be jazzed up a bit whilst cooking otherwise an influx of uninteresting flavors will cover your palette (and whatever else you decide to serve with it). Lucky for us, couscous is hard to mess up (truly!). If you follow the direction…you will be alright….Don’t under douse the couscous with high quality h2o….but instead I opted to add a few infusions of my own to ensure a more tastier second try.

So here is the non-recipe recipe: cooking 1 cup of couscous to the package recipe with additional treats to satisfy any grown woman (or man)!

Ingredients:

6 pieces – Korean Pork (unsalted pork you can buy at a korean grocery store) cut up like pancetta (long and thin)

8-10 button mushrooms

1 onion (chopped finely to mix easily with the couscous)

10-15 broccoli florets (or however much or little you want)

salt and pepper to taste (i like a lot of fresh ground pepper)

Chicken stock to act as the water for cooking (1 – 1.5 cups)

**note: I cooked chicken thighs in my own marinade of olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic, lemon to have ready for the couscous.

So here is where I started:

1. Cook chicken (I bake chicken thighs without the bone at 375 for about 30 minutes give or take my oven functioning that day)

2. Prep Veggies – I started cooking the onions in..yes…a tablespoon of butter….to let them sweat a little and then added the broccoli (which need a good 15 minutes to cook in my blonde opinion) followed by the mushrooms. I allowed those to cook for about 10 or so then added some chicken stock and white wine to sizzle the flavor a bit (pure guestimation of how much wine I actually infused versus what I drank…)

3. Prepping the Couscous (Trader Joes brand whole-wheat): 1 cup of couscous to 1 cup of liquid + 2 tbsp of butter (and I put a lot of pepper in to taste as well). Now, this is where I decided to get adventurous…couscous is not the most flavorful thing in the world…so I included trader joes low-sodium chicken broth (or you can simply make your own) and substituted about 75% of the water. Once all of the additions you want are included in the broth, heat up just the broth to a rolling boil then take it off the heat. Place the couscous into the pan and stir the mixture for 5 seconds (give it a genuinely good whirl with that spoon) and then place a lid over the top of the couscous and let it stand alone for 5 minutes. (Do not take the lid off folks….all the moisture the couscous can stand…let it!). Once the couscous has come to terms with being cooked….I simply took the couscous and mixed it in with my vegetable mixture on low heat just to get it mixed and…voila….c’est bon!!

Crema Catalana

If you have ever visited Spain, Northern Spain to be exact, you will know that typically there is an intricate mix between French and Spanish cultures, including the food. The exchanges of food are NOT to be intermixed with each other, which is why I have come to develop a love for Barcelona’s Crema Catalana, the Catalan version of Creme Brulee. I lived in Barcelona for over a year during my Masters program there (yes….an American gal went to school outside of America to study…because she’s smart and savvy). I also had to learn Catalan for classes on top of my continual learning of Spanish. Needless to say, we are here for the food and I found a quick recipe on Food Network (surprisingly) and it has the basics of making a delicious yet delicate dessert that is easy on the pallet and not all time consuming. Try making it in a bigger ramekin (5 inches) because I think the caramel flavor is exacerbated further with the larger amount of sugar to be melted. And who doesn’t love sugar? 

Read on: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ingrid-hoffmann/crema-catalana-recipe/index.html