My beloved friend Tina Danze is a freelance writer and food photo stylist, and a regular contributor to the Dallas Morning News on food related topics. Back when Tina and I were both living in a whirling cloud of very small daughters, we got together every few days so the little angels could rearrange everything inside our property lot lines while we wallowed in the rare chance to have real conversation (whoopee! big words! irony! subordinate clauses!) with another rational being. On one such day, we were being serenaded by a quartet of tiny Belle-wannabes warbling discordantly about life in "a qui-et vil-lage" (of all things) when Tina abruptly levelled her professional gaze at me and all but shouted over the cosmic din, "So, Lynn, do you like couscous?"
Her kids are cute but they're getting to her, I thought.
"Tina," I chided, "did you really just say 'koos-koos'? Surely that's not a real word. It's just a cutesy name your kids came up with, right?" Whereupon she hooted, grabbed a pen, and set about inking my ignorance into the public record. In the opening paragraph. Of the lead article. Of the most popular section of the Wednesday paper.
That's what I get for being pals with the food paparazzi.
So look, there were plenty of perfectly cool people in the early 90's who had never heard of couscous. I'd been busy reproducing and whatnot, okay?
But I'm a good sport, I am, and always curious, so I fetched me some couscous straightaway, I did. And all was forgiven when I pulled the first pan of this Couscous Pudding out of my oven. Reminiscent of rice pudding but faster to make, it has long ranked high on my children's list of comfort foods. Nowadays my girls make it for breakfast or just for an afternoon snack. So yeah, Tina, I like couscous.
This recipe is forgiving, so don't sweat the measurements too much. Want to use up that last egg? Fine, crack it in; an extra will only make the pudding eggier. This is a good thing. And I am intentionally sloshy when measuring out the spices, vanilla, and lemon juice. Life is short, you know. Live it spicy, friends.
4 cups water
2 cups couscous
2 T butter
1 ½ cups milk or milk substitute
⅓ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp lemon juice
½ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 325F. Stir couscous into boiling water; turn heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the water is absorbed (less than five minutes). Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the butter.
Beat together: milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, lemon juice & rind. Stir into the couscous. Stir in raisins.
Pour into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired. Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes or until the pudding is set (45 minutes for a double recipe). Serve warm or room temperature. Leftovers are good reheated with a little milk.