Cooking For Others: Jessie’s Wedding Couscous


EVENT: Jessie’s Wedding!
VENUE: Tarrytown House, Tarrytown NY
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,



Couscous with Pears and Blue Cheese
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup couscous
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots
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.

Posted in: Cooking for Others
  • Mrs. Mix It

    Looks so yummy I think I am going to have to make.

  • Kayte

    This looks fantastic, I can’t wait to try it myself.

  • Jessie Blum

    Dan and I can’t wait to make every single recipe in our new book. I am glad that my commenting status helped you to craft it to us, and we are beyond happy that we could share our day with my wonderful cousins!!

    • BGSK

      You are the best commenter–of course! (No offense to the rest of you, of course.) We’re so happy for you & Dan, and we had the best time with you at the wedding! -C

  • Recetas trucos y tips (Laura)

    That looks delicious

    congratulations for your blog

    Saludos desde España

  • Blogsmax

    The good recipe!!) Here there are books and magazines

  • SeattleDee

    The couscous sounds delish, but the special treat in this post is the story of your gift. That was inspired!

  • Olivia

    what an adorable story!!! i wish you guys were in my family, you’re such good gift-givers! i’ve been looking for a new quinoa recipe, and i’m going to adapt this one asap!

    • BGSK

      LOVE the idea of making it with quinoa. Let us know how it goes.

    • Jessie Blum

      As a huge fan of quinoa, I think that this would be delicious adapted that way!

  • This Mid 30s Life

    What a sensational gift!!

    For my sister’s wedding, she asked friends to contribute their favourite recipe to be made into a book. Sadly for me it was when I had just left school, and cooking was not at all on my radar – absolutely not the case now!! So my contribution was, seriously, cheese on toast.

    If only her wedding was now.

    • BGSK

      Hilarious! What would you contribute if the wedding were today?

      • This Mid 30s Life

        Hard to choose, but probably this, it’s the best ever lasagna I’ve ever made (come to think of it, that might be just b/c it’s the first time have followed a recipe for one). I’d never have thought to use cinnamon but it makes a huge difference.

        Loving your blog by the way! Makes me hungry.

  • Faloon

    Mmm, I remember cous cous. Looks delightful. Beatiful blog as well. Please check out and follow my cooking channel I promote the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet that has helped so many diabetics and sick people in Sweden and want to spread the news! I do it with video blogs where I cook. Hope you have the time to check it out!

  • Karin

    How awesome for your cousin! Being from the South ofcourse we love food and we LOVE to EAT so I was so excited to see your blog and the thoughtful way you honored your cousin. From one Spicy Cajun to The Big Girls in a small kitchen, thank you for sharing your world with us…..smiles

  • Tanner Turdle

    Ooooh marr! That looks delicious! I recently went vegetarian I’m gonna be making A LOT of the stuff you post. Thank you.

  • dlytfullife

    Looks fantastic! I think my husband and I would really enjoy this!!! Yummm!

  • Newlywed Wife

    looks great!!!

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