Truthfully, I had to apply to be a hostess and I did consider my application carefully. Ultimately, I decided to submit my application because it truly fit with my goals of cooking meals, from scratch, with fresh ingredients. I decided to go with a general theme of Cooking With a Busy Schedule since I know folks are often busy rushing home from sports practices and work. Near East did send some yummy looking recipes from Chef Peter Bowen - quite simply, I did not get a chance to test drive these recipes and I wanted to make something with which I had a proven track record (although, hot damn - those lamp chops might be in my future.) Therefore, I chose a chicken caponata because it is an excellent Sunday night dish that would reheat really well later in the week. And, I chose the shrimp dish because it cooks quickly - if you have rushed home, you can still find time to cook it. (Both recipes can be found in Simply Mediterranean Cooking - although it appears to be out of print? Is it a violation for me to provide the recipes online? Is there a lawyer in the house?)
Anyway -- the couscous?? Seriously, a no-brainer. You bring the water to water to boil, throw in the couscous and accompanying spice packet, then take the pan off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. That's it. If you are as leery of packaged food as I am these days, you can also rest easy - the ingredient list was simply couscous, autolyzed yeast extract, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, garlic, onions, soy protein, parsley, spices, tocopherols for freshness, soy sauce ( I have had similarly good experiences using their Long Grain and Wild Rice in my chicken divan.) In short, their products can make a perfect side dish to serve with a main dish made by you.
Dammit. Now, I am hungry. Again.
A party where social media was more than welcome.
Reason #2178943 why I am not a food photographer.
Reason #2178944 why I am not a food photographer.
This picky eater took the night off.
A toast to Near East!