Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ina Garten's Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

I don't know why, but I always thought couscous was tricky to make. I think it had somehow been categorized with quinoa in my head (which isn't really tricky, but takes a long time...and, unfortunately, isn't something Chris likes). But it seemed like the perfect accompaniment to go with my slow cooker lamb shanks, so I opened up my new copy of Ina Garten's How Easy Is That? (which, by the way, I really like) and checked out her recipe for couscous with toasted pine nuts.

The recipe I used is basically this one, but uses yellow onion rather than shallots (2 cups - roughly two small onions, and the proportions don't need to be perfect, of course); leaves out the currants; and uses quite a bit more parsley (1/2 cup).

Ina, in her oh-so-encouraging-way, tells her readers, "If you can boil a pot of water, you can make couscous." Having botched many "easy" recipes over the years, I was skeptical - but now that I've made this one, I have to admit - it really is easy. And fast. And delicious. I've made it twice already this year, and have a third on the schedule for this week. Thanks, Ina!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chef Nisa Burns Coming to Austin - and a giveaway!

The folks over at PR By the Book contacted me recently to let me know that Chef Nisa Burns is headed to Austin as part of her book tour for her first cookbook, Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food.  I was not familiar with Nisa or her cookbook previously, and I am a year or two (or, okay, twenty) from being a college student...but I was excited to check out a copy of Kitchenability 101 anyway. I mean, who doesn't need some more "easy, healthy & delicious" recipes?

After having flipped through a copy (courtesy of PR by the Book), I'd say Kitchenability 101 lives up to its name. It's full of super easy recipes perfect for a college student needing to feed himself or herself for the first time. And in keeping with these technological times, the book contains lots of QR codes that link to online demonstration videos - very cool!

Nisa is going to be making several appearances while she's here in town:

• On Wednesday, January 16th from 7:30 - 8:30, Nisa will be at CYC Fitness doing a free talk and cooking demo with Claire Siegel of TheSlenderStudent.com.

• At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 19th, Nisa will be doing a cooking demo and book signing at the SFC Sunset Valley Farmer's Market.

• From 5 - 7:30 p.m. on Saturday the 19th, Nisa will be teaching a class on cooking in a small kitchen on a small budget at the Central Market Cooking School. You can enter to win a spot in this class using the Rafflecopter widget below...but hurry, the drawing takes place Wednesday at noon!

Can't make any of these events or want to check out a copy of Kitchenability 101? PR By the Book graciously gave me two copies of Kitchenability 101 to give away to Foodie is the New Forty readers. To enter, just leave a comment on this post no later than Saturday, January 19th at noon (make sure you include a way to reach you if you win!). I'll use Random.org to draw a winner sometime Saturday. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Slow Cooker Rosemary Lamb Shanks

Having some time off over the holidays meant that I had rare time and energy to do some cooking that involved more than me scrambling around the kitchen madly throwing stuff in pans, hoping fervently that I would finish before I either (a) passed out from hunger; or (b) had to be somewhere with dish in hand.  It was chilly outside, we were having a friend over for dinner, and had a rare day with nowhere to be, so I was inspired to try my hand at slow cooking some lamb shanks.

I used this recipe as a base, but it wasn't made for a slow cooker, so I sort of winged it. Happily, I was very pleased with the results.

Slow Cooker Rosemary Lamb Shanks

Ingredients
4-6 lamb shanks (The ones at our market were HUGE - about 1.5 lbs each - so four was the most I could fit in our slow cooker)
2 T olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
15 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-oz package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 c red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
2 10.5-oz cans beef broth
4-5 stalks fresh rosemary
2 t chopped fresh thyme

Directions
1.  Spread onions, garlic and mushrooms over the bottom of your slow cooker.

2.  Add olive oil to heavy pan and heat. Working in batches, brown the lamb shanks on all sides. Transfer shanks to slow cooker.

3.  Pour red wine and beef broth over the top of the shanks. Add rosemary and thyme. It should look about like this:

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4.  Cook on the High setting for 5.5 hours.

5.  The juices are delicious but very runny when you are done, so if you like, you can pour the liquid into a pan and reduce it to make more of a gravy consistency.  I'm not a huge gravy person, so I skipped this step.

The meat will be falling off the bone.  I served it with couscous I made using an Ina Garten recipe from a cookbook my awesome sister-in-law recommended (I'll blog about this separately). It turned out pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. And it was so easy. I'm usually scrambling around at the last second finishing things up when we have people over for dinner; this time, I was calm, the kitchen was clean, and all I had to do was dish up the goods.

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Definitely a keeper recipe. I plan to carve out a day to make this at least one more time before it's 100 degrees here again.

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