Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The culinary chaos is flowing full steam now. I have booked up most of my summer with catering, private chef gigs, restaurant jobs, and fundays with friends. I have also booked my ticket out of here- a fundamental ingredient for happiness in my life. I am truly ONLY happy when I have a flight booked to take me out of California to somewhere new. This flight is taking me back to Europe, to a fresh and new adventure that will begin on August 31st.
But in between now and then, I am fully dedicated to getting completely blissed-out on Santa Barbara sunshine and finally attacking my ever growing list of "must cook" recipes.
I was housesitting a few weeks back in this gorgeous house near the old Mission in Santa Barbara. I drank tea every morning in the courtyard, read my book next to the fireplace in the kitchen, and ate with friends in the garden. I grazed the fruit trees for what was left over from citrus season. I found a tiny kumquat tree that was tucked in the shade out back. I gathered a hefty handful with plans to make kumquat ginger marmalade. I changed my mind when I got word from my momma that she was coming up on her day off for a picnic. Our night was consumed with cheese, date cake, a bowl of local cherries, 2 bottles of Sancerre and Rose, and a couscous salad with kumquats and lemon basil.
Summer Couscous with kumquats and lemon basil
1 cup Hand-rolled couscous or Israeli couscous, cooked according to directions.
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
1 c green beans, blanched and cut in thirds
6-8 kumquats, thinly sliced
1 1/2 T Meyer lemon juice
1 T rice wine vinegar
6 T Olive oil (try to use a strong, green olive oil)
2 T chopped lemon basil
1 T chopped mint
1 T chopped Italian parsley
Mix first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk lemon juice, vinegar and herbs in a small bowl and slowly add olive oil while whisking. Pour vinaigrette over couscous mixture and season well with salt and pepper. Eat it in the garden- highly recommended!
I worked for a few years as a cheese monger here in Santa Barbara at one of my favorite little gourmet markets downtown- C'est Cheese. I owe so much of my awareness to quality ingredients such as olive oil, charcuterie, chocolate, salt, olives, and of course cheese, to this sweet little place. And that is where I found this couscous with red peppers, by Les Moulins Mahjoub. It was fantastic! If you can't get this specific couscous, then just use Israeli couscous and cook it with a Chile de Arbol in the water. I'm thinking that a sprinkling of French feta over the top would have been perfect for it too.
Just typing the word, couscous, has me chomping at the bit to get to Morocco. October can not come fast enough. I feel incomplete without this adventure under my belt. And until then... I'll just sit outside, eat couscous salad and stare at the details of my flight confirmation email.