Baked Couscous-Stuffed Tomatoes

I bought the juiciest, most beautiful Florida tomatoes the other day. I’m not diligent —though I should be— about buying local produce but when I do, I feel good about it. It just feels right. It fosters a sense of community that I find sooo lacking in Florida, more so in Orlando.

I marveled at my tomatoes for a while. They were red, plump, firm, juicy. They were perfect. Chopping, slicing or grating them would almost have felt criminal. I wanted to keep them whole; I wanted to see their full shape while eating them. I didn’t want to miss out on that sort of eye candy. I’m a visual eater.

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Gluten-Free Blondies with Almond Butter and Chocolate Chips

Last week, we celebrated John’s birthday. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he simply replied: “something on the healthier side.” I knew that meant something with less butter and sugar but wasn’t sure whether to make him one of his old favorites or create something new. I had been thinking of making blondies with nut butter and thought they would be to his taste.

John is even more health-conscious than I am and about three times more disciplined when it comes to eating (and everything else). He’s not as picky as I am but he is definitely better at portion control and resisting temptation. I admire him for that. No, I envy him for that. Okay, I admire and envy him at the same time.

These blondies are made with rice flour and have somewhat the texture of brownies, only they’re blonde and, well, more fun (!)… They are wonderful warm with a glass of milk for breakfast. You can make them with peanut butter for a more pronounced nut taste.

 

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Couscous Tfaya with Caramelized Onions and Raisins


I have been making a lot of couscous dishes lately, mostly the traditional ones that are served as a main dish, rather than couscous salads I often make. You see, I’m feeling a bit homesick right now, and when that happens I crave authentic dishes more than anything else. I’m counting down the days until my visit and looking forward to (hopefully) good weather and a stay in the Ourika Valley at the foot of the Atlas Mountains possibly here or here.

Tfaya couscous is served with caramelized onions and raisins, and a flavorful, earthy sauce. It has always been one of my favorite ways to eat couscous. I simply love it. I encourage you to make it and take the time to savor spoonful after comforting spoonful.

 

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Just a Few Couscous Songs

Musical as I am, I have songs for when I’m happy, songs for when I’m sad, songs for when I’m in love and songs for when I’m so mad at somebody I want to punch them in the face. I even have songs to listen to when I’m craving couscous, making couscous or eating couscous.

I do love my couscous songs. They make the whole couscous experience more multi-dimensional.

Here are a few must-know couscous songs. They’re in a different language but the rhythmic Arabic melody is so pleasant it will set the perfect mood for your couscous dinner.

Song 1:
Fais-moi du couscous chéri by Bob Azzam: literally “make me some couscous, honey” is about a man who loves his wife dearly but complains that she wakes up hungry in the middle of the night, rubs her stomach and asks him to make her couscous. Determined to discourage her, he makes her a bad couscous in the hope of getting her to stop disrupting his sleep.

 

 

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Measurement Conversion Tables

Cups and Spoons to Grams

Flour

1 cup = 130 g

¾ cup = 97 g

½ cup = 65 g

¼ cup = 32 g

1/8 cup = 16 g

1 tablespoon = 8 g

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Ingredient Substitutions

We have all had times when we needed to substitute an ingredient for another either out of necessity or preference. Just recently, I found myself trying to figure out substitution possibilities and amounts for a dessert recipe I was making and I thought I’d document my findings. This is as much for me to refer back to as it is for you, reader, to use as a guide. The substitutions below are partly from my own experience and partly from this resourceful book.

 

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Chilled Rhubarb-Pear Soup with Mint

A chilled rhubarb soup sets the perfect tone for a fresh, colorful spring meal. Yes it does. Nothing says spring quite like rhubarb.

Rhubarb is wonderfully tangy but otherwise bland (in my opinion) and has to be paired with other ingredients that have a stronger temperament. Rhubarb-strawberry is a classic combination that I love but I wanted to experiment with a different pairing this time.

My only regret upon tasting this soup was that I didn’t think of combining rhubarb and pear sooner; they tasted like they were made for each other.


 

I know I say this about every soup I make but this one too tastes better the next day. After the flavors have had time to mingle, the soup tastes more fragrant and the mint flavor, especially, gets to shine a little brighter.

 

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Tortilla with Potatoes, Zucchini and Sundried Tomatoes

Growing up, my mother didn’t cook dinner, and if she did, it was never more complicated than an omelet. Most of the time, dinner consisted of leftovers from her elaborate, well-labored over multi-course lunches (two or three different salads, a main meat dish with vegetables, bread and fruit or a homemade dessert of sorts). Tortillas, being slightly more complex than omelets, only made an occasional appearance on our dinner table; sometimes they were part of lunch.

 

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Coconut Cream Mini Trifles

I’m used to grain-free baking so I had different ideas for a Passover dessert and this certainly wasn’t the first one to pop in my head. But as soon as I thought coconut macaroons, there was no longer question of anything else. Coconut macaroons are traditional Passover food which means that families would have them in their homes already, and all they would need is spare a couple to make this dessert. Things just made sense and fell right into place. Not that they would have if I didn’t think coconut macaroons tasted absolutely amazing. They have always been one my favorite cookies.

 

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Juicy Moroccan Kebabs

As the weather starts getting warmer, outdoor grilling, weekend barbecues and dinners alfresco become very attractive to me. I know I live in a place where it’s warm all the time but I like to follow the rhythm of the seasons nevertheless. I get excited about climatic changes no matter how subtle they are here in the Sunshine State.

I had some doubts about what to title this post and after much thought I had to call these kebabs “juicy” because they are so moist, tender and dripping with flavor. The marinade is really simple. You probably have all the ingredients for it already and no excuse for not making this recipe (Okay, maybe you do if you’re a vegetarian but even so, you should make a once in a lifetime exception. You can always blame your temptation on me if you feel guilty afterwards). The longer you marinate these kebabs, the more flavorful and tender they will get, and the happier you will be. Serve them with a fresh green salad or one of these fine salads for a fantastic spring meal.

 

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