Do you know who Giada de Laurentiis is?
She's a celebrity chef - on Food Network. I DVR her shows Everyday Italian and Giada at Home everyday. Not only is she gorgeous, she's TINY. So much for that Italian spread. I have this love/hate thing for her. I looove Italian food so I have to watch her show. I also love her props. These measuring cups she sometimes uses on her show:
I love them. They're from Anthropologie (which her husband works for, curious) but they're discontinued (arg). I know, I know..they're not practical. But I love them. And yes, I've looked for them on Ebay - no dice. No worries, I'll find them someday.
I have these measuring spoons which I first saw on her show years and years ago, which I love. I found them at Anthropologie too.
And her nails are always done w/ this pretty light pink color that I absolutely love.
Then there's the hate. How she pares produce drives me absolutely insane. She almost always discards too much usable produce when she's paring. She doesn't just take off the outer paper of an onion and maybe the first tough layer, she digs in 2 or 3 layers. Same w/ fennel. And when she's cutting bell peppers, forget it. I have to change the channel or fast forward. She uses NONE of the flesh near the stem or any of the bottom.
Giada, if you're listening (b/c I'm sure you know about my food blog), maybe there are no starving children in Italy, but there are several starving children all over the place that wouldn't mind noshing on the outer layers of your freaking fennel.
On to more petty things. First, she gets waaaaaaaaaay too excited about tasting her food. I have to admit, her cooking style is super clean and fresh. I almost always want to try the recipes she cooks on her show, but I can definitely always do without the squealing.
Second, she has a disproportionately large head. Gabe has nicknamed her 'Big Head'. It doesn't help that she's super thin so she looks like an orange on a toothpick.
Third, she had a baby a few years ago and two seconds later, she's just as skinny as she every was. She's what I would call a freak of nature.
Last, that necklace. Ok, this isn't something I hate, I just want that necklace. After a little research online, it's apparently a bunch of Tiffany necklaces worn together. Drooling. I knew there was a reason why I loved them. Damn her. Wish list, honey. Wish list.
Anyways, this dish is neither inspired by or has any associate with Giada. It turned out to be a super simple and elegant side. I just had 1/2 an onion left over from this other dish and didn't want to waste it (I'm sure she would've just thrown it away - eek!). I'm just using it as a vehicle for delivering my strong feelings about Miss Giada (and her Tiffany necklace).
Cranberry Almond Couscous
Makes 6-8 servings so this recipe can definitely be scaled down, but leftovers are wonderful.
1/2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 c. chicken stock **can substitute veg. stock or water for vegetarian version
1.5 c. couscous
1/4 c. dried cranberries
3 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 c. Italian parsley, chopped
EV Olive oil, salt & pepper
In a medium heavy bottom pot (with lid), heat olive oil until it ripples. Throw in diced onion first - then garlic - and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Sweat the onion on medium heat until translucent, 7 minutes. I add water to deglaze the pan if it gets too hot. Save the stock for last because you don't want too much liquid or else the couscous will be mushy.
After the whole thing comes to a boil, season the broth (you'll have to use your own measurements since your chicken stock will vary in sodium levels, just check for seasoning at this point) whisk in couscous and cover with lid immediately.
Off the heat, the couscous will soak up all the liquid in about 5-7 minutes. Just don't peak under that lid. Leave it alone for Pete's sake. Just set a timer or something.
After the couscous is done, fluff with a fork and add toasted almonds, dried cranberries and parsley.
I made this as a bed for Winter Only Chicken but it's yummy for whenever. Bon appetit!