Fiesta Quinoa

Informed by a vague Mexican vibe, this lively (and healthy!) salad packs a nice kick

I didn’t tinker much with this recipe. The fresh healthy combo of Mexican-ish ingredients looked intriguing and I thought this dish would be just the thing to cure our recent string of ‘no taste dinners’ (at least so says my DH. I’ve been tinkering on my own for awhile and have been kind of stuck in an olive oil/garlic/parsley/Parmesan rut).

I did however, significantly up the spice quotient in my version of the recipe. The original called for timid half teaspoons; as we all know, I just can’t live with half a teaspoon. I estimate I actually used a little over a teaspoon of each spice in my final version. I went with the more reasonable doubling of the original spice for clarity purposes here.

A note on chipotle powder: Don’t be scared. This isn’t cayenne. Chipotle powder is mildly spicy and has a nice deep smokiness that works really well here. Sure you’re getting smokiness from the cumin, but the smokiness you get from chipotle powder is a little different and totally worth checking out if you have not already.

Fiesta Quinoa
Adapted from Spicy Black Bean and Quinoa Salad by lastnightsdinner on Food 52

1/2 c. quinoa
1 c. water
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. chipotle powder
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 scallions, sliced thin
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt

In a small pot, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Cover and drop the heat to simmer. Simmer about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa coils release and the water has been absorbed.

While the quinoa is working, make the dressing. Whisk the lime juice, lime zest, big pinch salt, chili powder, chipotle powder and cumin. Stream in the olive oil and beat until a nice dressing forms.

Combine the cooked quinoa, beans, red peppers, scallions and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss well to incorporate.

Serves 2 for dinner with enough left over for lunch.

Garlicky Lentils – The Perfect Foil For Pork

Don’t worry about the amount of garlic in this dish. My DH saw that it called for a whopping 12 cloves of garlic and was immediately concerned that I would be up for days with heart burn. Not so. cooking the garlic until crisp gives it a deep nuttiness and takes the burn right out. Yum. This dish makes the perfect foil for pork. We served alongside this month’s Charcuteapalooza challenge, pork terrine.

The perfect fall foil for pork – garlicky, nutty and just bright enough to cut through fat from the mustard and apple

Garlicky Lentils

Adapted from Salata Adas from Saveur Magazine

1 cup green lentils
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
12 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 Tbsp. minced mint
1/2 Granny Smith apple, minced
Salt & pepper

In a medium pan over high heat, bring the lentils and 3 cups water up to a boil. Reduce heat to medium- low and simmer until lentils are tender (about 35 minutes). Set aside, draining if lots of excess water.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until nicely browned and crisp but not burned, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the remaining oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice and mustard. Pour this mixture over the lentils. Add the parsley, mint and apple and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

This dish makes enough for two hearty side dishes and lunch the next day.

Bratwurst: “Brat” Is Right!–Charcutepalooza Challenge #7

Let me start this post by saying that despite all the drama in its creation, we ended up with perfectly wonderful bratwurst in the end.

The Procurement Process

This recipe calls for something called “Soy Protein Concentrate.” Upon reading that ingredient, I thought no problem, Whole Foods will have it or maybe GNC. Publix may even have it. Think of it no more. And then I got to Publix, and Soy Protein Concentrate is not what I thought it was–some kind of fake milk or maybe a supplement. Instead of doing the smart thing then and there and ordering it online, I went to GNC. No luck. And Whole Foods, where after half an hour of increasing frustration and two stock guys help, I Googled what I needed the soy for. Hmmm… well, that’s interesting. Turns out Soy Protein Concentrate may or may not be this stuff called TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein. Or, it may be a powder in a big bottle that looks like the Creatine bottle. Or it could be neither. I left Whole Foods with a dubious bag of Textured Soy Protein that kind of looked like a bag of off-color lava rocks, but no real idea if this is what I was supposed to get, or if I felt good about putting weird rock things in my sausage at all.

The meat, thankfully, was no problem to source. Our butcher at Laurenzo’s Italian Market had the veal, pork shoulder and fat back we needed on hand and also offered to grind the meat for us and had hog casings in stock if we needed them as well. We opted to grind the meat ourselves, but the offer was appreciated. We didn’t happen to need casings this trip, having some left over from last month’s Italian sausage, but we will definitely order casings from them vs. online next time.

I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you are lucky enough to have a butcher in your vicinity, visit them. Visit them often. Butchers not only often have better prices on meat than big supermarket chains, they have better quality. Butchers, by and large, are also a passionate bunch about what they are doing and are more than willing to discuss the merits of a certain cut of meat for a particular preparation and will also make sure you are getting the best product for your money. Our butcher is great, and always more than willing to help with any questions I may have. He also does special orders, and can get most anything I could want in a reasonable amount of time. Special fancy buzzword-laden meat is great and all, but I will pick the meat my local business procures 9 times out of 10 for its freshness, quality, and to support my community.

Mmmmmm…. tubed meat….

The Sausage Making Process

The sausage making process started off great. We decided to forego the weird nubbly protein, and my DH (Darling Husband) chopped the meat smaller than last time (ending up with approximately 3/4 inch cubes), and we chilled the meat to almost frozen before starting. Working in small batches with the balance of the meat in the freezer, we processed the chunks through the die in the initial grind. This went much faster than last time and we were very pleased with the results.

We added the cream & eggs–wait, what? Cream and eggs in a sausage? Were you supposed to do that? It turns out that what makes this sausage emulsify is the addition of heavy cream and eggs. And here I thought it was white because of the veal (and didn’t even know it was an emulsification).

Ok, so the blending went well, as did the resting. And then we hit a snag. A big snag that led to a meltdown at Casa Cochran. Now, so far for us at least, sausage making has not been the most relaxing activity ever. Heavy machinery is used, so that’s a plus, but we have no idea what we are doing outside of the (detailed) instructions provided by Ruhlman in the book. We are sausage novices. When trying to pass the emulsified sausage meat through the Kitchenaid sausage attachment and into the casings, all hell broke loose. Only a few anemic wisps of meat would go through the feed tube into the casing, no matter how many times there was freaking out, yelling and re-assembly of the mechanism. So, after much arguing, a meltdown and one of us being banished from the kitchen, the sausages were hand stuffed. How, I’m not sure, since I was the one banished. But, my DH did manage (somehow) to bring out a big plate of beautiful coiled sausage in the end, so however he did it was perfect.

This go ’round we also tried two different way of making links: the way we thought made sense (while stuffing the sausage) and the way the literature says to do it (after the sausage has been stuffed). Method #2 sucks, though I probably did something wrong to anger the sausage gods, and I think we will stick with method #1, even if it means my nursing back pain self has to stand in the kitchen for an hour. Method #2 resulted in broken casings and meat loss. Not good, especially after the previous maelstrom.

The perfect way to celebrate America Day

And Finally, The Eating

We celebrated the Fourth of July with our fresh brats (simmered in Shiner Redbird Summer Ale), fresh Florida sweet corn on the cob, and a slight variation of Bon Appetit’s Fingerling Potato Salad

We also took our new ice cream maker attachment for its first whirl, making Custardy Almond Milk & Cream Ice Cream with Honey and Cookie Dough

Potato and Leek Salad
For original recipe, visit Bon Appetit

This recipe isn’t half bad. A bit leaning-towards-greasy, but not too bad for a summer evening. I think I’ll play with the oil amount and addition of even more spices next time. I’m thinking a hybrid frankenstein between this salad and my DH’s favorite potato salad from Bobby Flay.

1 1/2 lb. small creamer potatoes (white or red), cut small
Big pinch Kosher salt
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and cut into 1/4″ half rounds
Cap full white vinegar
2 tsp. dijon mustard
Palm full of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste

Place cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Throw in a big pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool on a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, roughly 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In your largest skillet, heat another 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cooks, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to crisp at the edges, approximately 12-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

While you’re waiting for your leeks to cook and potatoes to cool, add 2 Tbsp. oil, vinegar, dijon and red pepper flakes to the mustard seed oil. Whisk to combine. When the leeks are done, add them along with the potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Bratwurst: “Brat” Is Right!-Charcutepalooza 7 on Punk Domestics

Great Grains: Red Rice

Red Rice

Red rice, aka Himalayan Red Rice, is a short-grain rice native to South Central Asia, but is also grown in parts of France. Similar in shape to brown rice, red rice has all the nuttiness of it’s dun-colored brethren with a pleasing deep rose hue.

Red rice contains a higher fiber content than white rice and more flavor than either brown or red rices. Nutty, earthy and very aromatic, use this as a departure from the same-old same-old.

Since red rice is dark colored and contains more natural bran than white rice–it has a longer cooking time–on par with brown rice.

Simple Savory Red Rice with Fried Artichoke and Wilted Escarole

This recipe makes a hearty but light, satisfying meal. If you don’t happen to have escarole on hand, substitute any green you are trying to unload. Even broccoli would be great. Same goes with the artichoke. I like its golden brown & delicious taste in this recipe, but you can certainly do without. Roasted broccoli or cauliflower would do nicely.

1 c. red rice
2 c. water
pinch salt
1/2 onion, chopped
2 artichokes, chopped and cleaned
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 head escarole, chopped and cleaned
Hot chili oil
hot paprika
Salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Combine water, salt and rice in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook approximately 45 minutes or until the rice is done and the water is absorbed.

While your rice is cooking…

Saute onion and artichokes in olive oil on medium heat until browned.

Add escarole. Saute until wilted. Toss with the rice, hot chili oil, hot paprika and salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle with good-quality Parmesan and serve.

Serves 3

Slow Dance, With Tomatoes

Tomato Jam, waiting for the crush

This is the kind of recipe that is not a recipe. More of a guideline. Serve slow-cooked tomatoes: crushed as a jam slathered on a burger or crostini; as-is as a finger food (my favorite!); chopped in a salad; tossed in with grains; or with a shot of good-quality olive oil as a pasta dressing.

Slow-Cooked Tomato Jam

Roma Tomatoes (as many as you have – I only happened to have 3 on this day)
3-5 cloves thick-sliced garlic
a sprinkling of ground cinnamon
a sprinkling of caraway seeds
Big pinch salt
Big pinch fresh cracked black pepper
Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise and arrange cut sides up in a single layer on a foil-wrapped baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, caraway, salt & pepper (or other herbs and/or spices if you are so inclined).

Roast for 2 hours until tomatoes collapse a little and are browning in spots. Flip over (skin side up) and roast an additional hour and a half until the skins are puckered and the tomatoes are falling apart.

If any should make it to a bowl, mash with a fork or potato masher to make jam or slice for salads and pasta.

If you’re like me, they may not make it that far.

Variations: You can make this jam with any tomato you have on hand–I have made with slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, etc., though my favorite is the Roma tomato for this particular application. You can also add brown sugar to the mix, swap the cinnamon for nutmeg, etc. This can really be dressed a thousand different ways depending on what you happen to have on hand when you notice your tomatoes are almost past their shelf life.

Slow Dance, With Tomatoes on Punk Domestics

My Husband Is Out Of Town Indulgence

It’s a small indulgence, but makes dinner for one something to look forward to

Every time my DH (Darling Husband) is working late and won’t be home for dinner, I try to cook myself a little something I don’t usually get. In years past, this meal consisted of shrimp, asparagus and mushrooms or sushi. Since he now eats shrimp & asparagus and even the occasional spinach, these dinners are now heavy on the mushrooms and/or vegetables he likes less than others (like zucchini. He barely tolerates zucchini, but living in South Florida and belonging to a CSA, we get tons of it all summer long). Tonight’s dinner I whipped up using the mushrooms, some leftover diced zucchini and leftover cooked millet. It’s simple, satisfying, and indulgent (the butter!).

My Husband Is Out Of Town Indulgence

Sautee 3 Tbsp. diced shallots in 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil on medium-high heat until beginning to brown on the edges.

Add 1 1/2 c. sliced button mushrooms, 1 1/2 c. diced zucchini, 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter and salt & pepper to taste. Sautee until mushrooms are browned and cooked through and zucchini is almost disintegrating, approximately 5 minutes if your slices are small.

Add 1/4 c. cooked millet and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper and finish off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to serve.

Serves 1

Thrown Together Simple Tomato Pasta

After capturing the tomatoes for posterity, I threw together this quick and simple lunch

After stopping to photograph the heirloom tomatoes for posterity, I threw this quick pasta together for lunch in under 10 minutes.

1 Serving rice noodles

Olive Oil

Double handful tomatoes

1 clove garlic

1 handful parsley

Big pinch red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper to taste

Take 1 serving thin angel hair-style rice noodles, place in a medium pot. Add cold water until half full, place on burner on High. Cook according to package directions (approx. 3 mins.) drain.

While you’re waiting for the pasta to cook, slice 1 clove garlic super thin and chop 1 handful parsley. Rinse a double handful tomatoes.

Over medium-high heat, bring 1 Tbsp. olive oil up to just shimmering; add garlic and stir. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until tomato skins begin to split and garlic is deeply golden (but not burnt!)

When pasta is done, add it to the pan, salt & pepper to taste and add a shot of olive oil if the mixture looks dry. Add parsley and a pinch red pepper flakes. Toss to combine and serve.

Serves 1 for lunch.

What to do with a box of vegetables: CSA box #3

2011 CSA Box 3

8 oz. local Florida strawberries

6 oz. blueberries

5 fair trade bananas

2 local Florida ruby pink grapefruit

2 small butternut squash

4 yellow onions

8 yukon gold potatoes

3 small heads broccoli

1 head cauliflower

3 medium and 2 small red beet roots

5 oz. bagged spring mix salad greens

2 hass avocados

3 roma tomatoes

1 bunch rainbow chard

How I Used My Share

  • One of the grapefruit supremed in a big salad with the spring mix, crisped bacon, shredded fontina cheese, half the container of blueberries and a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes with a grapefruit whole-grain mustard vinaigrette.
  • The other grapefruit with the avocados in a chicken and bulgur salad with fennel.
  • Four of the potatoes diced as hash browns as breakfast for dinner with home made bacon, leeks and eggs.
  • Cauliflower in a barley salad with almonds and capers.
  • Tomatoes roasted for a slow-roasted tomato jam.
  • Chard and half the onions in a barley and split pea soup.
  • The other half of the onions in a slow-cooked bacon jam.
  • Most of the fruit I ate out of hand.

I pickled the beets because I am desperately looking for more ways to make them not taste like dirt and my father tells me often they are the very best way to eat them. They are pickling as I am typing. I’m skeptical, but we shall see.

Left over: Butternut squash, four potatoes, broccoli

My Favorite Recipe From This Box

Eggs & Hash Browns With Fried Eggs and Leeks

My Favorite Recipe Not Shared Previously

Barley and Split Pea Soup with Chard
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

This soup is light and healthy tasting while still being satisfying. I ate this for dinner and then again for 2 days for lunch, and it got better with each meal.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onions
1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp. cumin
10 c. chicken or vegetable broth (my favorite is Better Than Bouillon goo mixed with water)
2/3 c. pearl barley
14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used San Marazano)
2/3 c. split peas
1 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh dill (don’t skip this ingredient, it brought a great unexpected taste to the party)

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté until the onions are golden brown and delicious, roughly 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Mix in the cumin and cook, stirring, until it releases its scent, about 1 minute. Add the broth and barley and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes (with juice) and the split peas, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes until the barley and peas are tender.

Add the chard, cover, and simmer roughly 5 minutes until the chard is tender. Stir in the dill and season with salt & pepper to taste.

1 Year Ago

8 oz. local Florida strawberries
6 oz. blueberries
7 valencia oranges
1 kent mango
1 huge lime
5 jalapenos
2 heads garlic from Argentina
2 Haas avocados
1 bunch cilantro
2 huge local Florida roma tomatoes
2 jumbo red onions
scallions
2 ears local Florida bi-color corn
1 bunch local Florida lactino kale
1 head romaine lettuce
3 heads broccoli
2 large russet potatoes

What I made: Ginger Fried Rice, Thai Black Rice Salad, Cilantro Lime Rice, Stir-Fried Kale & Broccoli, Carnitas Tacos, Jalapeno Salsa, Broccoli & Chicken Stir-Fry, Lemon Smashed Potatoes

2011 CSA Box 1

2011 CSA Box 2