There’s nothing quite like a friend offering to cook for you when you’re sick. Especially when she happens to be a personal chef. I recently caught a nasty illness that wouldn’t leave my system, and my neighbor refused to come over to visit, calling my apartment a den of infectious disease. Aimee, however, my best friend, offered to keep me company and make dinner. She walked in the door with her eco-friendly canvas sack of produce and said in near perfect French, “Look, don’t touch.” I watched as she began chopping, mixing and sautéing as if she were on the job. It’s always a treat to watch someone else cooking in my kitchen. Of course, I have to bite my tongue once in a while when I notice a cooking technique that I disagree with. In fact, Aimee and I have a history of doing things differently in the kitchen, and given that we’re both chefs, it’s a regular point of contention. For instance, Aimee prefers the more health-conscious chicken sausage to my beloved pork links and she instinctively measures a tablespoon of olive oil into the fry pan, while I lovingly slide cubes of cold butter into my pans. Fact is, everyone seems to love both of our creations, which settles most of our arguments. After all, I’m the vessel carrying an infectious disease, and beggars can’t be choosers.
Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Cous-Cous (serves four)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup cous-cous
1/4 cup each slivered almonds, golden raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 summer squash, diced
4 links pre-cooked chicken sausage
10 basil leaves, cleaned and cut in strips
1 bunch fresh arugula, stems removed
Red pepper flakes
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the cous-cous, stir, cover and turn off the heat. Let stand for five minutes. Toss in the almonds, raisins, salt and pepper to taste and give it a stir. Then cover to keep warm. In a medium sauté pan, gently sauté the onion, garlic, bell pepper and summer squash until tender. Add a bit of salt to accelerate the process. In a separate fry pan, cook the sausage until it starts to brown on one side, then flip them and pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan to heat the sausage through. Wait until the water evaporates and the other side browns. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cous-cous, vegetables, chicken sausage, basil and arugula (it will wilt from the heat). Sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Serve in bowls.