Hye Thyme Cafe: Couscous (Houston's Copy Cat)

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Couscous (Houston's Copy Cat)

Couscous : Hye Thyme Cafe

One of my favorite restaurants while living in New Orleans was Houston's. They have great burgers, shoestring fries, tortilla soup, awesome spinach and artichoke dip, etc. Sometimes, I would order the spinach dip as my meal. They serve it with super crispy tortilla chips, sour cream and salsa. It was always such a tough decision between their burger and dip, so I loved when I went with someone else who would split with me so we could do half and half. Same thing with the fries and couscous. I loved them both, so I would always try to split with someone.

They're not big on sharing recipes though, so I had no idea how to make the couscous. First of all, I had never had couscous until then. I didn't know if it was cooked in water, broth, or something else. I made a note to myself listing the items that were mixed in, but now I don't know what I did with my note! I thought I had e-mailed it to myself, but apparently not, so I just winged it.

I picked up a box of Near East brand plain Couscous and cooked it in chicken broth and a little olive oil. Since the package called for two cups of liquid, and a can of broth is only 14 ounces, I used water to make up the difference. Per the package, I brought it to a boil, then covered it, removed it from the heat and let it sit for five minutes to absorb.

After the five minutes were up, I fluffed the couscous with a big serving fork and threw in a handful of golden raisins. That's one of the things I'm questioning my memory on ... whether Houston's uses the golden raisins or currants. I put them in while the couscous was still hot so they would plump up from the heat and moisture.

While that was cooling, I sliced some radishes into rings and then matchsticks, rough chopped some cocktail peanuts, and ran a knife through some fresh cilantro. Cilantro was the other thing I questioned later ... was it mint or cilantro? Hmmmm?

You don't want your radishes to cook, your peanuts to be soggy, or your cilantro to turn dark, so make sure the couscous is cool before you stir them in. Looking at it when I was done made me think that something was missing. My memory was telling me there was a slight sheen to their version, but I don't remember detecting another flavor, so I went with a drizzle of olive oil.

I later looked online at other copy cat versions and saw that some included carrots, while others used some sort of dressing, yogurt, or cooked the couscous in orange juice. All in all, I was quite pleased with my version! The raisins and peanuts definitely add a nice contrast of textures, while the chicken broth and cilantro enhance the flavors.

Couscous : Hye Thyme Cafe


  1. This looks great! I didn't put bacon in my Maque Choux because my husband does not like it for some reason. I would usually put it in though.

  2. Sounds like just cause for divorce to me!! ;)

  3. OH, by the way, did I get it right? Do you remember off hand what Houston's puts in their couscous?

  4. This is just too coincidental, I was just in my kitchen and picked up a zip top bag to see what it was and it was couscous, I was thinking of what to do with it, some great ideas here. Thank you.

  5. That is funny Patti. I just finished it off with a steak sandwich for dinner. The cold seemed to suck some of the flavor out of the leftovers though - added a squeeze of lime to brighten it back up.

  6. Gorgeous dish...I have a sudden craving for couscous now. :)

  7. Thank you! I love things like this that are so simple yet delicious. :)


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