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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Time's Eye by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke


Time's Eye (A Time Odyssey, #1)Time's Eye by Arthur C. Clarke

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb: 1885, the North West Frontier. Rudyard Kipling is witness to a British army action to repress a local uprising. And to a terrifying intervention by a squadron of tanks from 2137. Before the full impact of this extraordinary event has even begun to sink in Kipling, his friends and the tanks are, themselves flung back to the 4th century and the midst of Alexander the Great's army. Mankind's time odyssey has begun. It is a journey that will see Alexander avoid his premature death and carve out an Empire that expands from Carthage to China. And it will present mankind with two devastating truths. Aliens are amongst us and have been manipulating our past and our future. And that future extends only as far as 2137 for that is the date Earth will be destroyed. This is SF that spans countless centuries and carries cutting edge ideas on time travel and alien intervention. It shows two of the genre's masters at their groundbreaking best.




March's book group selection.

I’m usually not enthusiastic about alternate history type books - I did not finish Dies the Fire by SM Sterling, but I did greatly enjoy To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  I won’t read Blackout/All Clear however.  Absolutely, totally, utterly no interest.


Time’s Eye pulled me in from page one.  I think the initial interest was because I recently watched the History of India (PBS special) and the significance of the Khyber Pass between India, Afghanistan and Pakistan was explained from a historical perspective.  And partly because I’m already fascinated with this corner of the world and some of the great accomplishments that came out of various periods of history.

What was different about Time’s Eye was that it really wasn’t an alternate history – it was more a speculative look at what would happen if you took some of the greatest armies in mankind’s history, caused a massive worldwide Time Discontinuity, and pitted those armies against one another.  Add in a couple of modern people (but not too futuristic!) on each side just to level the playing field and put the battlefield in the ancient city of Babylon.

Yup, a historians wet dream and where I began to loose interest.

It was like the authors had this great Discontinuity idea to account for the backdrop but when story started moving into implausibility with one subplot - with our Mongolians and our female character who managed to get into the good graces of Genghis Khan - I was kicked out of the story.  Given the historical parameters the author set up, it seemed too farfetched to even be remotely plausible. The author acknowledges the lack of hygiene, people getting sick from dysentery, poor eating habits (spitting gristle back into the common stew pot) and here we have a 21st Century woman who allows herself to get banged by a aged Mongolian and then becomes one of his advisers.  Right.


But it wasn't just that.  There was a time span from the beginning of the Discontinuity to about 6 years toward the end of the story.  Most of the electronics from the modern's helicopter that crashed continued to work despite being left in the acid rain. One characters 'smartphone' batteries lasted 6 years.  The British kept a pre-human alive in simple netted cage for 6 years. Food seemed rather easy to come by.  I could go on, but there were so many of these little and not so little 'hiccups' that left me shaking my head in disbelief.   If I can't believe in the parameters of the story, I can't believe the story itself.

So the book started with promise and ended flat.



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Monday, March 25, 2013

My Essential Kitchen Tools

Last week ended up being a bit chaotic and I didn't get my anticipated recipes made.  I've covered meal planning here and here, and I got to thinking that meal planning will take a person only so far.  That there are some items that I consider essential in my kitchen - my "must" haves to make meal prep easier and smoother.   Then I thought - I've got another blog post!

Now, this is what works for me and my meal planning.  It reflects what I like, how I cook, and not what you might hear on Food Network.  Which is fine.  Everyone has different tastes and different kitchens.

I consider these My Essential Tools:

1) Two crockpots.    Yes. Two.  During the winter I use at least one weekly.  Great for get-togethers -  pre-make a chili, stew, soup, then re-heat the day of.  Pop in a chicken, pork roast, beef roast and dinner can be ready when you walk in the door after work.  Feeding a picky crowd?  One can be for our meat lovers, one can be your vegetarians.  Great for breakfast dishes, lunches, dinners, dessert and beverages!   Don't want to warm up the kitchen in the summer time by turning on the stove - use a crockpot!  Nuff said.  Get thee a crockpot. 


2) Kitchenaid Immersion Blender.   Nothing, and I say nothing can out do a good quality immersion blender for meal prep.  Stop trying to puree soups with a hand blender or worse (in my opinion) a blender.   This little gadget can whip egg whites, puree soups, blend roasted vegetables, you name it.  On this one (linked above) the blender stick disengages from the motor stick for super easy cleanup.  Just make sure your pot or mixing bowl is deep enough so you're not cleaning soup off your walls....just sayin....





3) Microplane grater.   This simple little tool can do so much!  This is my go-to anytime I need 'diced' or 'chopped' garlic or ginger root.  I personally detest chopping garlic, and this gadget walks the line between diced and smashed, which I prefer for my dishes.  Zip! Zip! Zip! with the little grater box and wah-la! Fragrant shaved garlic.  Works good for freshly grated nutmeg and parmesan cheese.  Does a lovely orange, lemon and lime zest. Rinse off reside immediately tho, otherwise can be a bit hard to clean. 





4) Kitchenaid Stand Mixer.  I don't do a tremendous amount of baking, but we do like to make homemade bread.  A Kitchenaid stand mixer has become one of my kitchen must-haves.  From whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, to whipping egg whites, to the first knead on a loaf of bread, the power and hands-free capability of this machine is really a must.  I keep this in a corner, out of the way and covered with a nice floursack towel.  It's right there when I need it and easy to put away.   Mine is just the very basic model and it's worked well.





5) Oxo kitchen scale.  I actually have two scales.  The Oxo electronic, then an older basic scale.  I've come round to the opinion that recipes should be given in weights.  It's so much easier!  Really!  Scoop, weigh, dump.  Done.  Think about this - when a recipe asked for 1 large zucchini (or onion, or squash, etc), just how how large are they talking about?  Midwest large?  Professional chef large?   A scale also makes baking more accurate, a feature I've come to appreciate when baking bread.


6) Cast iron pans.  Several years ago I made the switch from teflon coated "non-stick" cookware to cast iron.  I have had NO regrets in doing so!  These are so much more versatile, able to go from stove top to oven or vise-versa, more non-stick than most non-stick/Teflon than I've owned and sturdy.  Downside - a bit more care is needed post-washing, to keep the seasoning up to snuff, they are heavy, handles can get hot, and they are not appropriate for glass cooktops (to my knowledge).   I cook on gas, so not a problem there.  Since I don't have a dishwasher, wash by hand and re-heat on the stove to quickly dry.  A bit of canola oil to re-season and I'm good to go for the next time.  I own 2 - 12" skillets, 2 -10" skillets, 1 - 8" skillet, 1 - 6" skillet and a dutch oven.   If you are a savvy shopper, you can also pick these up at garage sales/estate sales/auctions for super cheap and often a better quality than what's on the market.

Mine is all white and about 10 yrs old.
8) Cuisinart Blender/Food Processor combo.  This has been mainstay in my kitchen ever since I received it as a gift.  The three cup food processor is a perfect size for me for sauces, crumb toppings, salsas, and other miscellaneous food prep things that just can't be done with an immersion blender.  The blender is used weekly to make my Green Smoothies for breakfast...and the occasional watermelon margarita.







7) My Teapot and Cusinart Electric kettle!  We drink tea.  A lot of tea.  An electric kettle is a must in my house. 



Those are the big items I can think of.  Some small ones:
2 or more sets of measuring cups and spoons.  I have three of each.
a BIG stockpot.  Yeah, I've had to dump dinner from my large saute pan into the large stockpot more than once... And flat wooden spoons for stove top stirring. 




Thursday, March 21, 2013

Invisible Prey by John Sandford

A book that blended the excitement of a thriller with some very dry, witty humor that I absolutely loved.  This book involved blending of two separate cases that Davenport was working on, and how an off-hand comment from his wife gives him the link the between the two.  An interesting way to approach a murder-mystery.   

While it was refreshing that these murders that revolved around objects - as in antiques and quilts - rather than just random, pointless, killings, it was disappointing that our antagonists still fell into the rut of, "If we kill more people, they won't figure out it was us" mindset.  I'm beginning to wonder if it's even possible to write a murder-mystery and not have more than one murder - because ultimately, it's the subsequent murders that make the connection back. And it's our interest in watching the protagonist run around putting himself in mortal danger to prevent further murders that keeps our attention.

My only complaint with this installment was the conclusion.  Without elaborating, it felt a bit like a cop-out or almost Disney-like, which probably doesn't make sense without saying more. 

Still, ending aside, probably one of my favorite Davenport books. 




Monday, March 18, 2013

Recipe Review from 3/11/13

A quiet week overall.  The Husband was down at Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin for a military function.  I made the three dishes below on the weekend and didn't have to cook again for the week.  Niicce.  One evening I met up with a friend and we tried out a new Micro-brew Pub in town: Canal Park Brewery.   I tried a flight of the less hoppy beers, my friend had the Nut Hatchet Brown ale.  Everything was tasty.  I brought home a growler for the Husband which we enjoyed watching the Big Ten Basketball tournaments over the weekend.  Minnesota was bumped out right from the start, but Wisconsin is going up against Ohio on Sunday.  Go Wisconsin!
    
Speaking of tasty and successful dishes, three really good recipes from last week:

Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Smoked Paprika  (CL BB, Epicurious)
This was an excellent dish that comes together in a snap, tastes great, and is fancy enough to serve to company.  The recipe does call for cherry tomatoes, but I had three regular tomatoes languishing on my counter so we just chopped those coarsely and they worked fine.  This is not a spicy dish - don't skip the yogurt sauce because that really pulls all the flavors together at the end.  Gluten Free
 
Prep: 15 minutes; Total: 35 minutes
Serves 4

Use leftovers for sandwiches the next day: Place shredded chicken, garbanzos, and tomatoes in a pita bread and top with the yogurt sauce.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
4 chicken breast halves (I used boneless/skinless; thighs would also work well)
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes (I used regular tomatoes, chopped)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 450*. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.



Three-Cheese Lasagna  (Ckng Lght March 2013)  Vegetarian; GF if sub alternate noodles
This would be a really good dish for Fall, to use all the those fresh herbs available at farmers markets and in gardens.  But, because it is not fall and instead, March, with three feet of snow still on the ground, I only bought fresh parsley and basil for this dish because the quantities justified the cost.  I subbed 1 cup caramelized onions for the garlic because I didn't feel like futzing with 4 garlic cloves and I had an extra cup of chopped onions from a different dish ready to go.

This does come together in a snap - and doubly so if using no-boil noodles.  I had a extra 1/2 cup of marinara sauce in an open jar in the fridge, so I added that for extra liquid.  If you don't have a bit of extra sauce lying around, add 1/4-1/3 cup water to your sauce IF using no-boil noodles.  Trust me, you need the extra liquid.

The other change I made was I did NOT add the cheese topping right away.  Again, because I used no-boil noodles, I made my layers ending in sauce, covered in aluminum foil, and cooked for 40 minutes.  THEN I uncovered, added the last two cheeses and baked for another 12-15 minutes.

This turned out really good!  Saucy, nicely seasoned, not to cheesy, and the noodles perfectly al dente.  I love how Cooking Light has been doing more dishes that are 8x8 or 7x11 - just the right size for two people with leftovers, or for four adults with minimal to no leftovers.

photo from CookingLight.com
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano  (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, grated and divided (about 1/4 cup) 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced  (or 1 cup chopped onions, caramelized)
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar lower-sodium pasta sauce 
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water
  • 1 pkg no-boil lasagna noodles
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Combine ricotta, 2 tablespoons parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, black pepper, 1 cup mozzarella, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, and egg in a small bowl. 
  3. Combine basil, red pepper, garlic (or onions), water and pasta sauce in a medium bowl.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce mixture in bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with about 2/3 cup ricotta mixture and 3/4 cup pasta sauce mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with 1/2 cup pasta sauce mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375° for 40 minutes.
  5. Top evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbly. 
  6. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley.



Thai Butternut Squash Soup  (Ckng Lght Mar 2013)  Gluten free (watch stock ingrd, vegetarian)
I have mixed thoughts on this dish - it was good, but the "Thai" flavors really weren't outstanding.  It is super easy to make, comes together very quickly, and has a subtle interesting flavor.  Don't be put off by the fish sauce - this is what brings out the red curry flavors and deepens the background notes.  I used one of my last butternut squashes from the garden (cubed and frozen) and it cooked up quite nicely.  Fresh would also work just fine, adjusting cooking times accordingly.  This made enough for 5 lunches. 
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 (12-ounce) packages frozen pureed butternut squash (or 4 cups fresh, cubed)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add curry paste, garlic, and ginger; sauté 45 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add broth and next 5 ingredients (through salt); cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture. Spoon about 1 cup soup into each of 4 bowls; top with 2 tablespoons peanuts and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Polity Agent by Neal Asher

Polity AgentPolity Agent by Neal Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The jacket blurb:  From eight hundred years in the future, a runcible gate is opened into the Polity and those coming through it have been sent specially to take the alien maker back to its home civilization in the Small Magellanic cloud.

Once these refugees are safely through, the gate itself is rapidly shut downbecause something alien is pursuing them. The gate is then dumped into a nearby sun.

From those refugees who get through, agent Cormac learns that the Maker civilization has been destroyed by pernicious virus known as the Jain technology. This, of course, raises questions: why was Dragon, a massive biocontruct of the Makers, really sent to the Polity; why did a Jain node suddenly end up in the hands of someone who could do the most damage with it?

Meanwhile an entity called the Legate is distributing pernicious Jain nodes...

And a renegade attack ship, The King of Hearts, has encountered something very nasty outside the Polity itself.




I admit, I'm at a bit of a loss how to describe Polity Agent without giving anything of importance away. It's a bit like trying to describe the universe - it is a big story involving numerous AI ships, Earth Central, Earth Central's emissary Horace Blegg, Earth Central's agent Cormac, a rogue AI, technology that will kill all intelligent life, a scientist, the entity known as Dragon, and a human-AI mix from a construction project....I think I have all the key players.

A robot known as the Legate gives a piece of Jain technology to a mob boss on a arcology world, with the promise of wealth and power.  Too late does the mob boss realize he's been duped as the subversive technology subsumes him.  The same Legate gives a piece of the same technology to a construction worker, but she takes it and runs, knowing that one should always look a gift horse in the mouth - or in this case, check out it's molecular structure.

Horace Blegg, our all powerful human emissary on behalf of Earth Central, is slowly having an identity crisis. Cormac, not quite whole from his last mission, is trying to figure out where all this subversive technology is coming from.  And out on the far fringes of space lurks yet another entity with it's own agenda.

Overall, I enjoyed Polity Agent.  I did realize early on that this was not the best book to be reading right before bed or first thing in the morning, so it took me a bit longer to get through.  I'll be honest, there were some sub-plots that I found much more interesting than others, and I did set the book aside at one point just because reading became a bit like a slog.  The universe concepts are a bit reminiscent of Ian Bank's Culture worlds - grandiose, universe encompassing, and a combination of AI's and humans at work.

I highly recommend this series.



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Monday, March 11, 2013

Recipe Review from 3/4/13

This little guy had his 1st Birthday!  Congratulations to his parents for surviving the first year of parenthood.

That was the most exciting bit about the week.  It got warm, it snowed - luckily not as much as many other places, but enough to have to pull out the snowblower.  Then it got warm.  Too warm and we got sleet.  Welcome to March Madness, and I'm not referring to basketball.... Add in the husband being crazy busy with military stuff this week and me not getting to the grocery story until Tuesday, meals ended up being super easy and quick.

Shrimp and Grits  (March 2013 Ckng Lght)  GF if find flour alternate
This calls for quick-cooking grits, but I only buy regular.  They still get done in about 15 minutes rather than 5, so not a biggie.  I bought my shrimp pre-cooked so all they needed was a quick toss with the rest of the ingredients to warm them up and infuse with flavor.  I omitted the bacon; one, it was frozen, and two, the bacon I buy is not quick to cook, even on the stove.  I do think the flavor would have been a nice addition tho.  I'll have to remember next time I bake some bacon to set aside some of the rendered fat for things like this.

photo from cookinglight.com
  • 3 cups water 
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided 
  • 2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped 
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms 
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half  I used goat milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions 

Preparation

  1. Bring 3 cups water and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk in grits; cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; cover. Keep warm.
  2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. [Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan]  Add white onion, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; cook 8 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown and give off liquid, stirring frequently. Add shrimp and red pepper; cook 3 minutes. 
  3. Combine half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add broth, flour mixture, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Top with green onions. Serve shrimp mixture with grits.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaneimi

The Fractal Prince (The Quantum Thief Trilogy #2)The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb: “The good thing is, no one will ever die again. The bad thing is, everyone will want to.”   A physicist receives a mysterious paper. The ideas in it are far, far ahead of current thinking and quite, quite terrifying. In a city of “fast ones,” shadow players, and jinni, two sisters contemplate a revolution.
 

And on the edges of reality a thief, helped by a sardonic ship, is trying to break into a Schrödinger box for his patron. In the box is his freedom. Or not.

Jean de Flambeur is back. And he’s running out of time.

In Hannu Rajaniemi’s sparkling follow-up to the critically acclaimed international sensation The Quantum Thief, he returns to his awe-inspiring vision of the universe…and we discover what the future held for Earth




A book probably best not started at 5am in the morning, or right before bed.  Absolutely fascinating concepts and world/universe setting, but some of the language and sentence structure is enough to give an un-caffeinated or sleep deprived system brain skids.  I read the Husband one paragraph over breakfast and his eyes glazed over. 

This one was a bit slow to start as the author bounces from point of view to point of view, much like fractals do mathematically.  But then there is a point in the story where you find yourself completely sucked in and pulled along, and the stories suddenly come together in an absolutely brilliant fashion.

I loved the world building in this one, the idea of nanotechnology running amok as ‘wildcode’, of electronic jinns and the blurred line between reality and virtual reality. 

With that being said, it still felt as if there were components that were incomplete, some ends not quite tied off with a nice little bow.  An indication perhaps of a third book?  I hope so. 


Recommended if you’ve read Quantum Thief first.



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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recipe Review from 2/25/13

Another busy week what with bookgroup, an extra yoga class to sub, and a trip to the Cities for the Nephew's first birthday.  I needed quick dishes that would have leftovers and this line up certainly worked. 


[Trout] with Olive and Red Pepper Couscous  (Ckng Lght March 2013)
I want a do-over on this recipe!  I forgot to buy some Israeli couscous when I was at the Co-op and just assumed my standard grocery store would have it.  Not this time.  Which was okaaay...because I did have some regular couscous I needed to use up anyway.  But I'm not fond of regular couscous see, which was why it was languishing in my cupboard.

Then halfway through the meal I realized I completely forgot the olives!  How could I have forgotten the olives!  Drat and bother.

Otherwise, this was a good and quick dish.  We subbed Lake Trout for the halibut (any white fish will do, really) and I baked the asparagus along with the trout.  I adjusted the cooking times accordingly (my trout took about 25 minutes in the oven); the couscous about 5 on the stove. 
Photo from CookingLight.com
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets
  • 4 teaspoons torn fresh oregano
  • 2 lemons, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add bell pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add couscous; cook 1 minute or until lightly browned. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 7 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Stir in olives, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Sprinkle halibut evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add fillets to pan; cook 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; turn fillets over. Arrange torn oregano and lemon slices evenly over fillets. Place pan in oven. Broil 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with couscous.