Monday, February 1, 2016

A Happy Meal

What is a Happy Meal if you’re cooking it?  Definitely no toys, but otherwise anything is possible.  It just depends on whose happiness is at stake.  Do you want to make yourself happy by preparing your favorite meal?  Or would you rather be happy because you made someone else’s favorite meal and thus prevented bickering at the table?

As an eater, I’m easy.  I can make myself several dozen different dishes that qualify as a Happy Meal.  I recently discovered the joys of a fried egg sitting on a bed of couscous—but not the tiny granules of couscous I was used to.  I tried out some of Sadaf’s Toasted Couscous, which swells into BB-size granules when cooked.  It makes a perfect base for a fried egg.  Add salt, pepper and salsa.  I couldn’t be happier.

This dish would not put a smile on Bart’s face, however.  His Happy Meals are more work: Coquilles St. Jacques (Scallops in a Creamy Sauce) and the fairly complicated Chicken Kiev.  I like them too, but they’re not every day fare – at least not in my kitchen – except on his birthday.  Today it’s my turn to be happy.

North African-Style Fried Egg(s) – serves 1 

2/3 cup - 1 cup cooked Toasted Couscous or regular couscous 
1-2 teaspoons olive or canola oil 
1 large egg (2 if you’re really hungry) 
Black pepper 
Cook the couscous, which means boiling it briefly in water.  Set aside and keep warm. 
Add the oil to a frying pan and turn the heat to medium-high.  
Carefully break the egg(s) into the pan so that the yolk(s) remains intact.  Turn down the heat to medium.  Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the white(s) are firm on the bottom.  
Using a metal or silicone spatula, very carefully turn the egg(s) over, trying to keep the yolk(s) intact, and cook for another 2 minutes.  The yolk(s) will be slightly runny.  
Spread the couscous on a plate and transfer the egg(s) on top.  Season with salt and pepper and add a spoonful of salsa.    
NOTE: Couscous is a North African side dish often made of wheat.  It absorbs sauces well. Cooked pasta can be used as a substitute.