Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Treats from the Goosefoot Plant!

And what is a Goosefoot plant anyway? Its more formal name is Chenopodium - and its more common name is Quinoa. Still don't know what I'm talking about? Quinoa is a delicious grain that has been cultivated in the South American Andes for the longest of times. Regaining popularity with the movement towards whole grain foods, Quinoa is still not yet a mainstream ingredient. It has a sweet nutty flavor and a fluffy consistency when cooked. It can easily be served in place of rice, or turned into a salad - similarly to taboule (see recipe below)! Interestingly enough, Quinoa is considered a complete protein as it contains all eight essential amino acids. Give it a try, you might like it!

Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cups Quinoa, uncooked
1 1/2 cups English Cucumber or zucchini!- cubed
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 cups sweet corn kernels, cooked
4 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
juice of one large lime
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup salsa autentica (from Trader Joes), optional
1 can heirloom beans, rinsed, optional

Prepare your quinoa according to package directions. Fluff your quinoa with a fork and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool. While your quinoa is cooking, toss your cucumber (or zucchini) with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

To make dressing: Whisk together the lime juice and cumin (and salsa* if you choose to use it)- add oil in a stream while whisking to blend well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble, combine the cukes/zucchini, celery, carrots, corn, tomatoes, garlic, onion, cilantro, beans and cayenne pepper with the slightly warm quinoa. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well - adjust seasoning as required.

*why the salsa? I dislike raw tomatoes - yet I like tomato the salsa spices things up and provides some tomatoey goodness :)

Makes six to eight entree sized servings

Enjoy! Oh and sorry no photos - I was lacking proper lighting!

Monday, July 11, 2005

I'm a Cook Next Door!

First, thanks to Stefoodie for tagging me with this meme. My poor food blog is generally kept as a sibling to my main blog which, for some reason, seems to be highly focused on fiber arts rather than miscellaneous musings on life, the universe, and everything...but that is neither here nor there. Second, thanks go to Nicky of Delicious Days for starting this meme.

And without further ado, here are my answers:

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
Honestly, I'm not certain....I have vague recollections of home ec class where I learned how to make pudding from scratch...and bake cookies and cook scrambled eggs (not in the same lesson as the pudding one ;) ) but I also have recollections of making simple pancakes and a glutinous rice cakes while being watched over by my grandmother.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
I think I'd have to say my grandma and my father have had some influence on my cooking - though I don't typically prepare the same type of food for myself. Neither cooked from cookbooks and always cooked by taste - there was always a focus on using fresh produce and using *all* of the food - or as much of it as possible. I rarely ate "processed" food until I moved out and headed off to college. Once I moved out, one of my Dorm Mates got me obsessed with baking - one holiday season, after commandeering the use of three or four ovens, we pulled an all nighter and cranked out some obscene number of cookies - I think it was double batches of thirteen or fourteen *types* of cookies...we had ROASTING PANS full of cookies. And in case you were wondering, they were destined to be gifts :) And at some point I discovered a whole host of Celebrity Chefs and Food Scientists - it's good thing I don't get Food Network at home, or I'd never get *anything* done.

Do you have an old photo as evidence of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
Unfortunately I have few photos of myself as a child - I do have the obligatory first birthday cake photo - with my hand happily covered in frosting...

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
Oooh! this must be the week for learning new foodie terms. Just earlier this week, I learned there is a special term for those of us entranced with cheese (the word is turophile, in case you were wondering). I don't believe I have any cooking phobias - I'm fairly adventurous in the kitchen and am up for trying most things. I have to say I can't get the hang of a propeartesianal loaf though - and I find thatrulyly annoying.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
I love my knives. I have a thing about knives...I happen to adore them. What do I use? I have a block of Messermeister San Moritz knives - I love them. They stay sharp, are lighter than other German knives, and have a nice balance. I've been eying Globals for quite some time, but can't find anyone local who can sharpen them. Biggest Letdown? Probably my (Matfer) Mandoline and my Kyocera Ceramic knife. The Mandoline doesn't hold the veggies very securely, and I can julienne as fast with my Messermeister blades. The Kyocera Ceramic knife is not shaper than my Messermeisters, and already needs to go back for a re-sharpening. No one local sharpens em, so it has to go all the way back to the factory. *sigh*

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!
Sadly I can't think of any weird food combination. Though I'm sure I have plenty - I just suspect that plenty of others happen to share similar fascinations - According to my husband, I am oddly fond of ketchup - I like ketchup on fried eggs and on fried chicken...and on french fries, of course.

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Three?! Just three?!? I find when I'm out backpacking, I always crave fresh fruits and veggies (can I count the whole mess as one item?? :) ) and then there is Chocolate (the darker the better) and probably a tie between bread and cheese.... *sigh* I can't just limit myself to three things!!

My favorite ice-cream:…
Ice cream? Nearly any and all. A good vanilla can't be beat - for it forms the base of many another ice cream flavor.

I will probably never eat:
Insects or Balut. Though I have eaten earthworms. Don't ask.

My own signature dish:…
Hot and sour soup and dumplings

tag 3 people:
I certainly hope they haven't already been tagged - and I hope they don't let the Meme die! I tag Raquel of Oh What a Tangled Web and the companion recipe blog: Oh What a Tangled Kitchen, Michael of Cooking for Engineers, and Mariko of Super Eggplant

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I have been cooking. Really.

While I continue to miss out on IMBB events due to travel or being out of town (and blogger's inability to auto-post drafts sometime in the future) I am continuing to play around in the kitchen. Sadly, much of it is mundane...and not blogworthy, if you know what I mean...

Most recently, I paid a visit to Raquel and we hit the strawberry fields...

Of course, with all those ripe strawberries on hand, we had to do *something* worthwhile with them :) Semi-inspired by a cake we spied at the Farmer's Market and the Barefoot Contessa Parties! we decided to make the Strawberry Country Cake...

Visit Raquel's Foodblog for the photo and recipes :D