Fresh Herb Couscous

Like pasta in Italy and rice in Asia, couscous is a staple in Morocco.

Serves 6.

½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2½ cups boiling water
2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature (optional)

1. Place the salt, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the basil, and sesame seeds in a small mixing bowl, toss to combine and set aside.

2. Place the water and the couscous in a large mixing bowl and, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the herb mixture and, if desired, the butter, and gently mix.

3. Transfer to a heated serving bowl and serve immediately. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)


I’m not going to give complete recipes here, but rather ideas for what to put on toasted or grilled bread. Traditionally, bruschetta is bread that has been grilled over a fire, rubbed with garlic cloves, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with kosher salt. If you don’t have a fire, feel free to do the same in the toaster or oven or grill. When laziness overcomes me, I omit the garlic or use garlic oil instead of olive. It is great served alone or with any of the following toppings.

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Not Your Mother’s Peanut Brittle

I initially made toffee and brittle as a vehicle for using broken bits of pecans that I felt were too small to bag and sell. Although these two recipes are great using the nuts I have specified, they are really special – in fact sublime – when made with nuts that have already been flavored. Any of these Party Nuts! Recipes are great in brittle and toffee; the spicy ones are my favorites.

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A candy thermometer is a must! There is no recipe in tis book that caused as much frustration and as much revision as this one: I don’t even want to describe how sizeable and how icky my failures were. In fact, until I found this recipe, a slight variation of Helen Witty’s (from The Good Stuff Cookbook), I had despaired of including a recipe for toffee. And yet… really good toffee is so good that I persisted.

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