Saturday, September 12, 2009



We have all experienced a tragedy of some sort in our life, accident, illness, death, whether parent or child, sibling or friend, even ourself. Watching someone we love suffer leaves us feeling helpless, lost, our greatest desire wanting to reach out and help, wanting to ease their pain and suffering, change the course of time and events, make it all go away. The first experience I had with illness was at the tender age of 10, tiptoeing into the hospital room where my grandfather would live out his final weeks, this serious, intelligent, awe-inspiring man, wasting away from cancer. The air was heavy with sadness, yet the adults were laughing, joking, offering food as was – and is – the way of our family. Keep it light, make them laugh, ease the suffering for just a few minutes.

Michael, Sue, Andrew and I with Grandpa

My next experience, close up and personal, was in college; my darling, wonderful friend and roommate had been diagnosed with bone cancer when still a girl, yet she made the decision to never give up, never give in. She fought hard, following the rules, taking care of herself, working hard. I remember her telling me that after a long period of recession the cancer was back and had inched its way into her lungs, remember sitting with her while she received chemo; as tired as she was from the treatment, she joked, chattered away, made us laugh, tried to cheer us up, lighten our own burden of sadness and helplessness. She talked about her impending marriage, her college diploma, her plans.

And she survived. She won her battle and now, 25 years later, still married to the same wonderful man, she shows me pictures of her 3 gorgeous children, college age themselves. A truly happy ending.

Through these experiences and the others I have lived – and am living – through, my father’s illness and my brother’s, my father-in-law’s and a friend’s, I have learned that there are so many ways to help, as helpless as we often feel: a kind word to make them smile, a hug to let them know they are loved, a home-baked cake or a weekend visit, the telling of a story as we hold their hand, these are the things that we can offer.

And there are other ways to help in a much larger way, and Barbara, the wonderful foodie behind the blog Winos & Foodies and a cancer survivor herself, created and hosts the Livestrong (LiveSTRONG) Taste of Yellow Event for food bloggers around the globe. As Barbara explains it herself : "LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow is my way of supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation by raising awareness of cancer issues world wide. It is a way for all food and wine bloggers to share their stories. The happy and the sad, the struggles and the triumphs. If you are lucky and have not been touched by cancer you are still welcome to participate." Food bloggers are invited to prepare a dish or drink that contains a yellow food, the color of the Livestrong bracelet, and send the link over to Barbara’s blog by September 13 (tho I think she told me she extended the date, but check with her).

As my heart is torn out by my brother’s illness, I know that life goes on and if all of us chip in, join together, maybe we can make a difference through awareness and support, and we can pray and hope that research goes on, cures can be found, the weight on people’s shoulders can be lightened just a little by our actions. Thank you, Barbara, for your courage and your terrific work. I am proud to participate.

For Barbara’s Taste for Yellow event, I have prepared a complete yet very light meal for the waning days of summer: A mixed vegetable Taboulé served simply with hard-boiled eggs and a luscious Flan aux Mirabelles, an extremely quick, easy recipe for two.

TABOULE for as many or as few as you please

This is a “play it by ear” recipe, never the same twice. The traditional recipe has the dry semolina (couscous grains) soaked in the lemon juice, olive oil and the juice from chopped tomatoes over night. After many years of doing it this way, I decided that soaking the couscous grains in boiling water for 7 minutes and then flavoring the pre-cooked grains was quicker and gave the same delicious results. I also began, over the years, adding more and more vegetables, cheese, whatever I was in the mood for. The couscous is a blank backdrop that welcomes any combination. Here is what I did this time, making enough Taboulé for the 4 of us to eat over two days.

17 oz (500 g) medium-grain semolina for couscous prepared according to the package*
3 – 5 lemons
3 Tbs olive oil
20 – 25 fresh mint leaves, rinsed lightly if necessary, pat dry and chopped
1 yellow onion or the equivalent in small white onions
Ripe, juicy tomatoes
1 red pepper
2 small zucchini
1 jar artichokes in oil, drained
1 small can sweet corn, drained
Feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hard-boiled eggs, 1 per person or as desired

* using equal amounts water to couscous, bring the water to the boil with salt and either olive oil or butter, stir in the grains, cover the pot and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 5 – 7 minutes, then fluff the grains up with a wooden spoon or fork.

Prepare the semolina grains for couscous according to the package. Place in a large mixing/serving bowl.

Roast, peel and coarsely chop the red pepper. Slice the zucchini, spread the slices on a baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil and grill. Chop the grilled zucchini into bite-sized pieces.

Coarsely chop the tomatoes, as many as you like, reserving the juice. Chop the onions and the mint leaves.

Squeeze 3 of the lemons and add to the couscous with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Taste to see if it is lemony enough, adding more lemon juice until it reaches the flavor level that you like.

Add the prepared red pepper and grilled zucchini, the chopped tomatoes and the juice, the chopped onion, the corn and the artichokes, sliced smaller if you prefer, and the chopped fresh mint leaves. Lightly salt and give a generous grinding of black pepper. Stir until well combined.

I decided to add a small block of feta cheese for the tanginess and chopped it coarsely. Stir it in.

Taste and add more of anything you want: more lemon juice, more chopped mint, more tomatoes or other vegetables as you please. If I add greens, like fresh green beans, I blanch them first until crisp/tender.

Serve with the hard-boiled eggs.


This is a wonderful recipe, so quick, easy and delicious, that is just for 2, but can easily be doubled. In the winter, I make this with prunes, first soaking the prunes in warm water for 30 minutes. In the summer, I often make this with fresh, ripe apricots, placing half an apricot (or two halves if small), cut side up, in the center of each ramekin before adding the flan batter. It would also be wonderful using any fresh berry.

1 large egg
1 oz (30 g) flour
1 Tbs + 1 tsp (20 g) sugar
7/8 cup (200 ml) low-fat milk
3 ½ oz (100 g) fruit *
Butter to grease the ramekins
Sugar or cinnamon sugar for the fruit, if desired, and for sprinkling on the flan

For Taste of Yellow, I wanted to use mirabelles, the tiny, sweet yellow plums, and decided to flash cook them with a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar, just lightly caramelizing them. I added a splash of water to the pan and stirred gently for just about a minute before removing them from the heat.

For the flan:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter 2 or 3 ramekins (with the addition of fruit and the shallowness of my ramekins, the recipe filled 3 ramekins).

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and the sugar until thick and creamy. Add the flour and whisk for a minute or two. It should be thick.

Heat the milk just until warm. Pour the warm milk slowly onto the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Divide the fruit between the individual buttered ramekins (if using prunes, drain and pat the prunes fry first, removing the pits. Pour the flan batter over the fruit.

Bake the flan for 20 minutes. Carefully open the oven and pull out the rack (I placed the ramekins on a baking sheet) and sprinkle the top of each flan with sugar or cinnamon-sugar. Push back into the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown around the edges and set in the center.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

The flan are best eaten warm (not hot) or room temperature so they remain creamy.


The Cooking Ninja said...

Love both of your dishes. I put lots of cucumbers in my taboulé - gives it a nice crunchy feel. :) hmm... I haven't made any taboulé this year. Now that's a good idea for lunch. :)

Debbie said...

I love taboule which I got hooked on living in Israel....I will have to try your looks awesome!

I appreciated your blog about yellow and trying to stay "up" and supportive when times are tough...even REAL tough...your friends and family are blessed to have you as their ray of sunshine and to know you'll always be there for them.

And lastly, who was the babe in the yellow bikini? Any idea? My guess is Ann Margaret :)
Have a sunshine day Jamie <3

Hilda said...

I love tabouleh, we make it a lot when I'm at my parents' house, well my father and I make it anyway. And Mirabelles are my favorite of the plums. I know I'm suppose to like the Reine-claude 'cause that's why they're called the Reine, but my heart belongs to Mirabelles, always has always will. I'm glad you could do this post for your family and friends who are ill. Helps a little bit doesn't it. Your pics are getting better and better, now for some lights!

Jamie said...

@Debbie: Thanks, love, and if anyone knows about "ray of sunshine" it's you. And, um, how about Raquel Welsh?

@Cooking Ninja: Cucumbers are a great idea!

Barbara said...

Jamie thank you for sharing your story and supporting A Taste Of Yellow with two beautiful dishes.

Katy ~ said...


Your food looks soooo very good. Would make me feel happier to have it and more so to share it.

Donna-FFW said...

What beautiful dishes. What a lovely post, and Debbie is right you are a ray of sunshine:)

and I thought the girl in the bikini was you.

La Table De Nana said...

I love the photo of you and your grandad..I'm sorry your brother is not well:(

You are's so easy to be kind..w/ a word..a cake..a note..a smile.
Your posts shows that side of you:)

I would love to add that the plate w/ the utensils is a covetous thing:)

There that's a smile...:)

MeetaK said...

a lovely tribute jamie. tabouleh is a kind of a staple at our place. and mirabelles? well i just finished baking a cake with mine and am delighted that i have a few left - now i can make this flan for dessert! hugs!

Heavenly Housewife said...

I love taboule too. Its one of my specialities :), the flan looks amazing. Great post with a great message.

Aparna said...

Lovely flan. I've never seen those kind of plums.
The only plums we get here are the big pink/ purple ones and the season's over for now.

Truly a sunshine meal for a worthy cause.

Barbara Bakes said...

That's an inspirational story about your friend from college! Both recipes look easy and delicious!

buffalodick said...

Best friend is fighting it right now... We keep it light, as he has plenty of time alone to worry..

Shal said...

Wow, that was a very beautiful and powerful post, and I love how you have transformed your feelings of grief and helplessness into the recipes. To many people it doesn't sound like much to sit around and make recipes in times of suffering, but it makes perfect sense to me... to show love and support through nourishing someone, emotionally and physically. It doesn't take long, but a little gesture goes a long way. Thanks for reminding me...

Linda said...

What a wonderful post. It is difficult to stay "up" at times, but somehow we manage to make it work.
This tabouleh sounds so good. I love the addition of artichokes. I ususally use cucumbers. This is a new addition for me and I will try it the next time I make it. YUM!

Ilva said...

I think the AToY event makes us all reflect upon how brittle life is and I think it is one of the most important events we have! Your contribution makes it even more worthy! xox

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A beautiful post! Both recipes are wonderful and mouthwatering!



Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Love your post & both the dishes for ATOY. It's tough to keep smiling in the face of adversity, but your manyra is much like mine. Wonderful post & touching emotions dear Jamie. xoxo

Danielle said...

thank you for visiting me and therefore leading me here. what a beautiful and touching story. My mom is a cancer survivor. :) My life long childhood friend, sister at heart, did not survive her battle :(. I will try and bring more yellow awareness to the foodie world ....hopefully the deadline has been extended..I'll go check it out. :)

Elra said...

Oh, I love lelowww (my nephew's word for yellow). Flan sounds delicious. Love the tabouleh too.

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

Beautiful post Jamie, loved both the dishes. I have never seen such plums here :)

doggybloggy said...

I thought it would never happen but I am lovin' yellow!

Chow and Chatter said...

wonderful food and what a great event to be in yummy, and the taboule is so healthy

Jenn said...

Yum! I feel like having kabobs now that I've seen that taboule. hehe...

I'll take a nice helping of that flan, too.

zerrin said...

Taboule is so similar to our kisir in Turkish cuisine. We make it with bulgur. I like the addition of hard boiled eggs to serve with this appealing dish.
And the flan is gorgeous with these yellow plums.

Cinnamon Girl aka Reeni♥ said...

A touching post - one of sadness and hope. This Taboule looks delicious and the flan mouth-watering. Terrific dishes for a great cause.

teresa said...

what a wonderful tribute post, and the food all looks lovely!

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, this is a beautiful post. I am sending strong vibes to you and your family. The yellow in the food really brightens things up, doesn't it? Wonderful food, as usual.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Two absolutely beautiful dishes Jamie! Love the sentiment behind this event too and thankyou for sharing your family memories and photos with us :)

Happy cook said...

It is always good to hear about some one like your friend.
I tootally agree life goes one, even when one of the family member is sick,onlything you can do is be there for them.
I have never made or boufhr mirables as didn't know what to do with them.

Love both the dishes.

Nat said...

Thanks so much Jamie ! What a touching post... Love the yellow colour, full of hope, of sun, of life ! :) Thanks for the recipes too and mirabelles are so juicy this season. :p

Welcome Home said...

thank you for this post! It was really inspiring!

Sophie said...

Jamie, what a wonderful post & I so love your 2 grand recipe!! I love mirabellen!! They are so sweet & nice!!

Your taboulleh looks apart & so tasty!!


Mary said...

What a beautiful creation! Thank you for making us aware of the event at A taste of Yellow. Have a great day.

mlaiuppa said...


I'm going to try the taboulé substituting quinoa for the couscous. I'm looking for things to do with quinoa and this looks perfect.

recipe lover said...

The prunes recipe look amazing. I going to try it today.

Sophia said...

I really do enjoy reading your posts. It's always got a great message behind it, and makes me think. I'm so happy that your roommate survived and had her happy ending.

Love the dish, too. What a new meaning you brought to "yellow." It never was my fave color, but I now appreciate it a whole bunch more!

5 Star Foodie said...

Such a beautiful post & a great cause! Both tabule and the flan with yellow plums look excellent! Wish I've seen your post earlier when I was deciding what to do with my yellow plums today.

Jamie said...

What a wonderful event Jamie and a very touching post. Cancer touches all of us in one way or another.

lisaiscooking said...

What a lovely yellow meal! Sounds delicious too. I love flan.

Katie said...

Love the Mirabelle plums they are perfect and a perfect way to beautifully do a tribute.

buffalodick said...

Gave away a bag of saffron once worth $100... I thought it extravagant, overpriced, and over rated!

Megan Gordon said...

The flan looks absolutely killer--I've book marked it for a down afternoon sometime soon. Beautiful photos, too!

girlichef said...

Wow...gorgeous! What a touching post and what a fabulous cause! I do not know her (what!?). I may be too late, but I'm going to go find out. Thank you :)

TKW said...

That flan looks amazing!!!!!

Lien said...

Most of us have encountered cancer close or personal. Just being there can make all the difference. Take care!
Love that flan, but don't think I ever saw mirabelles here.

Flo Makanai said...

Superb post, thank you.


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