Cooking For Others: Jessie’s Wedding Couscous
EVENT: Jessie’s Wedding!
VENUE: Tarrytown House, Tarrytown NY
PARTY SIZE: 60
TYPE: Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding
MENU: Whatever’s in the book! Must include Grilled Cheese Sandwiches; Brownies; Avocado Quesadillas; Hot Raisin Bread; Black Bean Dip; Blum Family Bagels & Lox; and much, much more.
On Christmas 2008, as we were all sitting around eating chocolate cake, my sisters and I noticed a ring on our cousin Jessie’s finger.
“Is that an engagement ring??” we asked.
She blushed a lot. Finally, she answered yes. She was engaged to her boyfriend, Dan. We were so excited for her! Still, we (and she) had a while to wait.
That was almost two years ago. There were months and months to go before the wedding. (Why? So that it could take place on 10-10-10, for reasons of binary coolness.) At long last, October 10, 2010 has occurred.
Jessie is a celebrant, and she runs her own company called Eclectic Unions. Every weekend, she does the honor of marrying two people to each other, each in a one-of-a-kind way (if, by the way, you’re into wedding pictures, you should browse through her gallery). Even before it happened, we knew her wedding would be special, and that meant that we wanted to give her and Dan an awesome, unusual gift, preferably a little homemade.
Since Jessie is a fan of the blog and a champion commenter on it, my first thought was to do something food-related. A personalized cookbook! Why not? Clearly, I have photos and recipes galore. I also had the stalker-ish ability to comb through her comments and figure out exactly which dishes would best suit Jessie’s palate. I searched especially for ones where she noted that Dan would love it too.
The photo cookbook (Blissful Cooking) my sisters and I put together on Shutterfly has breakfasts, lunches, appetizers, dinners, drinks, and desserts, all perfect not just for newlyweds, but particularly for newlyweds named Jessie and Dan. Recipes include Classic Grilled Cheese, White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies, and the best beef stew ever (which you’ll be able to cook once our book is out.)
In our Valentine’s Day post this year, we asked our readers a question: what was their ideal meal to have someone cook for them? Jessie answered couscous. I kept this in mind as I was putting together recipes, and I developed this recipe–Couscous with Pears and Blue Cheese–especially for the personalized cookbook. It’s beautiful and tasty, a Jessie-Dan newlywed lunch if there ever was one.
My sisters and I presented the book to Jessie & Dan at their rehearsal dinner. Though we were all full from steak and buttered bread, the book was still mouth-watering enough to be appreciated. The wedding the next day was perfect–sunny, festive, and celebratory–and in its aftermath, I hope this book will sustain the lovely newlyweds.
From my kitchen, saying Congratulations! and Bon Appetit! all at once, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Couscous with Pears and Blue Cheese
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup couscous
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium pear, diced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese, plus more for garnish
freshly ground pepperBring the water or chicken stock and 2 sprigs of thyme to a boil. Add the couscous and ¼ teaspoon salt, turn off the heat, and cover for about 5 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and cook for a minute or two, just until they’re translucent. Add the pear, cook another minute, then add the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and the leaves from the rest of the thyme sprigs. Stir well and turn off the heat.Toss the pear-shallot mixture with the couscous and the blue to distribute evenly. Grind some pepper, taste for salt, and serve warm.