Amy Barber Rybak referred to a trusted cookbook when she picked the recipe for this week’s Cook’s Corner.
“We call it the ‘couscous dish,’” said Rybak, of Bowling Green. “It’s a long-time family favorite.”
Her Couscous with Artichoke Hearts and Walnuts is from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home recipe book, which Rybak had with her when she moved to England in 1995. It also made the trip back home two years later.
During her time in England, she decided to cook a recipe from the book every day.
“I made this a number of times. I made it for company, and everybody liked it. So I just started tweaking it and adding things to it.”
Rybak uses pearl couscous, which is a type of pasta. She also uses cilantro, instead of parsley, as well as fresh dill and mint. She grows her own cilantro, dill and basil.
She also adds dried cherries and dried apricots to the dish.
“To me it has these unexpected textures and crunch and sweet,” she said that makes the dish delicious.
While artichoke hearts and couscous are not typical ingredients found in everyone’s pantry, Ryback said they should be.
The result is a recipe that can be made in less than 10 minutes and is good at room temperature or chilled.
Rybak said she always wanted to be as good of a cook as her mother, Sue Barber, is.
“She definitely inspired me to cook.”
When Rybak first started cooking on her own, she wanted to make everything her mom made.
“I think it was this book that really got me started finding my own recipes,” she said, referring to the Moosewood cookbook. “I think there’s probably 10 recipes from this book alone I certainly know by heart now.”
She likes food to look pretty and presented well – a trait she said she got from her mom.
“She’s very focused on the appearance,” Rybak said.
She tries to cook a meal every day, often from scratch.
She has taught English at Bowling Green State University for 22 years, after having spent time in Huntsville, Alabama, and England.
Rybak said she makes the time to cook.
Her Cantaloupe, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Salad is a mash-up of two recipes.
“It looks pretty,” she said. “It’s really fresh and it’s nice for the warmer weather.”
Rybak is a Bowling Green native and a 1983 graduate of the high school.
She said she used to make a lot of cookies and cakes in high school. She still has her first cookbook she got at a school book fair.
Her favorite thing to make – which also is in the Moosewood cookbook – is sweet potato quesadillas.
The potatoes are grated then cooked with vegetables and spices.
“Everybody loves those, too,” she said, adding that they are time consuming and messy to make.
One of her recipe attempts that did not go right was beef bourguignonne. Rybak said she had all the ingredients and started making it. But once she started the process, she realized how time consuming it was and just threw everything into a pot and made stew.
Youngest son Ian lives at home and is a fabulous cook, Rybak said.
He will make gourmet meals and he expects that from her, she said with a laugh.
Calamari is his specialty.
“It’s a good as any restaurant’s,” Rybak said.
In addition to Ian, her oldest son, Nick, also loves cooking and is very experimental.
Middle child Erica is following in her mom’s footsteps, by making dishes she grew up with and asking for lots of recipes.
Rybak is very proud that her three children cook.
“I love it when they invite me over and cook for me. (Ian) expects me to be his assistant and I do all the prep work. The other two actually take care of me.”