Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables with Israeli Couscous


Adapted from Gourmet Magazine June 2006 by Melissa Roberts-Matar

This is one of those ooh and ahh type recipes that come off as super impressive with not too much work.  It helps if you have the herb garden outside with the oregano and thyme, but I would definitely purchase those items rather than use dried to pull this off correctly. You can make the shrimp, veggies and couscous ahead of time and them combine them together with the feta just before serving.  Here is my handy dandy helpful tip:  when grilling shrimp, thread each of them on two skewers to prevent the shrimp from twisting around and it will be easier to flip over the fire.  Oh yeah, Israeli Couscous is available at Trader Joes, but is even cheaper at a kosher market.


  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups pearl couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous; 3/4 pound)
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl ounces)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 lb large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined if necessary
  • 2 medium red onions (1 pound total)
  • 2 pounds large zucchini (about 4), cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/4 cups)


    Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).  Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and thread 4 or 5 shrimp onto each skewer (don't crowd, or shrimp won't cook evenly).

    Peel onions and trim root ends slightly, leaving ends intact, then halve lengthwise and cut halves lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Insert 1 wooden pick through each wedge to hold layers together while grilling, then put onions in a large bowl with zucchini. Toss vegetables with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 

    Grill shrimp skewers on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once with tongs, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer shrimp, discarding skewers, to a clean bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.  Grill vegetables on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, until just tender, about 5 minutes, transferring to bowl as grilled. Remove and discard picks from onions.
    Whisk together vinegar, oregano, thyme, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl until salt is dissolved. Add 1/3 cup oil in a slow stream, whisking until vinaigrette is combined. 

    Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast couscous, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. While couscous toasts, stir together broth, water, and saffron in a large glass measure. Add to couscous with 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir vinaigrette to combine, then stir 2 tablespoons into couscous and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature. 

    Drizzle vegetables with remaining vinaigrette and toss to combine.

    Spoon couscous onto a large platter or shallow serving bowl. Arrange shrimp and vegetables on top of couscous and sprinkle with feta. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Magnolia's Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

    Now, I know ya'all think of cupcakes when you think of Magnolia Bakery, at least I know my husband did when he brought home the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook from the library.  But I am a fickle baker.  And I don't really like cupcakes.  So, the first outing was the Zucchini Walnut Bread, which was delicious.  The second outing was these Pumpkin Bars.  Which most everyone loved...neighbors, friends, the guy who teaches my son violin...but not my husband (hates squash, be it zucchini or pumpkin).  So he gets to pick out the next experiment from the book...Blueberry Muffins (can you get any more pedestrian?)

    But, as I said, this recipe rocked for those of us without squash aversions.  And so, I present to you:

    Magnolia Bakery's Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.  Which is really more like cake than bars, but I digress.

    Bar Ingredients:

    1 1/2 c flour
    1 1/2 t baking powder
    1 1/2 t cinnamon
    1 t baking soda
    1/2 t salt

    1 1/4 canned pumpkin puree
    1 1/4 c sugar
    3/4 c canola oil
    3 large eggs (room temperature)
    1/2 c coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

    Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

    1 8 oz package of cream cheese
    3 Tb butter
    3/4 t vanilla extract
    2 1/2 c sifted confectioner's sugar

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour a 13 x 9 baking pan.

    Sift together the first 5 ingredients, flour through salt, into a bowl.

    In a mixer, beat the pumkin, sugar, oil and eggs about 3 minutes.  Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Mix in the toasted pecans.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about a half an hour.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before icing.

    To make the icing,  beat the cream cheese with the butter for about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat well.  Gradually add the sugar, and continue to beat until smooth and creamy.  Cover and refrigerate the icing  for 2-3 hours before using.