Thursday, July 7, 2011


The next time I hear someone ask me about why I'm not blogging anymore, I'm just going to point. First at the bags under my eyes. Then at my precocious toddler, who most likely will be hanging from some part of me at any given time of day. But in all honesty, I don't begrudge the question, because it's one that I've asked myself a zillion times. I mean, it's not like I'm NOT cooking or NOT taking photographs at all. Granted, I no longer have the luxury of setting up the perfect shot - I literally have a few rushed seconds before my little saboteur makes his appearance!

But it's the writing, I think, where I've stumbled. It's that element of my blogging that I can't do in pieces. I've had many instances where I wished I had a dictaphone on me, because lines pop into my head at all times of day that are funny, or insightful, or provocative, or all of the above (or so I like to think). But it's like trying to catch a cloud - poof! Come and gone. Just like that. And as much as I love cooking and food, it's impossible for me to turn my blog into one that simply spits out recipes - I've got to add some masala, after all!

So there are several reasons for my hiatus - I can't blame my little one entirely - but they are what they are, and I'm one for moving on. Onwards and upwards!
Now, I've been wanting to attend cooking classes for a long time, but my cheap, er, thrifty South Asian side was always loathe to spend that kind of money for a proper course. Along comes Williams-Sonoma to grant me my wish! With no need to schedule weeks and months in advance, these people offer really fun, themed cooking demonstrations in their store, a few times a month. And guess what? You can afford it! Yes, you, you, and even you! I've enjoyed every single one I've attended, because I get to relax around a beautiful table of like-minded foodies (my fabulous, fierce ladies!) for a couple of hours on a weeknight - chatting and eating, no, feasting! I hope you are able to check out what your neighborhood Williams-Sonoma has to offer - it's a real treat for amateur food geeks like me.

Moroccan Night at Williams-Sonoma was my favorite - it gave me this bejeweled Apricot and Almond Couscous, which was so easy to throw together ... makes me wonder why I haven't really explored the wonderful world of couscous more. It's carbolicious, and therefore, my solemn duty is to incorporate it into my diet.
White tablecloths make me feel like such a lady!

Couscous with Almonds and Apricots (courtesy Williams-Sonoma, The World Kitchen)

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups couscous
1/3 cup dried apricots, finely slivered
2 2/3 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup dried currants (I used dried blueberries, because that's what I picked up at the grocery store by mistake - but they worked out great)
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup minced fresh mint

Plump and chewy little nuggets of sunshine.

THIS is magical fairy dust. It's commonly known as orange zest, but it makes everything better.

1. In a large bowl, drizzle the oil over the couscous and toss to coat. Scatter the apricots over this.

2. Bring the stock to a boil, stir in the turmeric and salt, then pour the stock over the couscous. Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil and let stand until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid - about 5 mins.

3. Remove the foil and fluff the grains with a fork. Stir in the almonds, currants, orange zest, lemon juice and mint. Check seasonings. Serve at once!
Verdict: Allison (our instructor at Williams-Sonoma, and all-around superwoman) surprised me with how much flavor she infused into this dish. Hers turned out better than mine, but despite that, mine was good enough to impress DH. No mean feat that. Still, this is a lovely, summery side-dish that satisfies and refreshes the tastebuds. Try it with grilled or roasted meats. If I were anyone but me, I'd tell you that this was a wonderful and healthy substitute to mashed potatoes with your steak or chicken. But this is still my blog, last time I checked, and I say have it ALL! Muneeba's Rule # 67: There are no substitutes for mashed potatoes.