SECRET RECIPE CLUB: QUINOA FRIED RICE

Did you miss my Bewitching party? Click here to enter the giveaway… 

The month of June brought with it a ton of activities. School is out, so a lot more work in the lab, my blog turned 5 years old, and the World Cup of Indescribable Ordeal is on.  I used to root for one country only, but now two teams make me shout expletives at referees and goal keepers, as well as scream instructions to the players, fuming like a mad woman because they simply  do not listen. But, let’s leave soccer behind and concentrate on things that don’t have the potential to induce a fatal coronary.  Like Reveal Day of  The Secret Recipe Club, always a pleasure, always something I look forward to. This month I got one of the most entertaining food blogs ever!  Starting with its name, 84th and 3rd. Here’s what JJ, an American living in Sydney has to say about it:

84th & 3rd is an ordinary corner, not particularly remarkable, in the most remarkable city in the world. But it was only meters from that corner that a seed was planted, a dream of doing something that she loves and being able to share it with others. 84thand3rd.com is that something.

She divulges just enough to perk my curiosity, and make me want to be there right now. In fact, Australia is one place I long to visit, and hope that one day our adventures will take us there. When I got my assignment, I thought about taking a quick look at the site, but instead I literally had to drag myself away from the computer, because I could not stop reading. Just to give you a small taste of her writing style, here’s a paragraph from one of her posts, in which she talks about her partner…

.… When I met RJ he used to eat at least 4 slices of white bread a day. Not necessarily as part of a meal mind you, but just because. Toast for breakfast, toast before dinner [no matter what or when dinner was], bread with dinner. Sliced, white, from a plastic bag, every time. It appalled me just a bit – as did putting ketchup/tomato sauce on beef stew but we’ll save that one for later… *waves at RJ* hi mate, yes, I’m talking about you again –

 Isn’t she a hoot?  She also describes herself as someone who “Practices yoga to stay calm[ish], runs to stay sane[ish], and does both to eat cake”… I must say I detect some similarities here, although I would substitute bread for cake.  ;-) So, after spending a lot of time amusing myself with her stories and recipes, I assembled a list of possibilities for this month’s assignment.  Here they are:  Mushroom-quinoa meatballs with Rustic Pasta Sauce, Strawberry Cucumber Coconut-water Slushy,  Rocket Parsley Pepita Pesto,  Spiced Pear & Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde, and this chocolate tarte that I swear I am making before the month of July is over. Yeah, public commitment, you guys and girls better be ready for it… But now it’s time to reveal the recipe that crossed the finish line of this month’s culinary marathon…

Quinoa Fried Rice
QUINOA FRIED RICE
(slightly modified from 84th & 3rd)

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled (I used red quinoa)
a little olive oil
4 slices ginger, sliced into thin strips
1 small Serrano chili, finely diced
1 bunch of cilantro leaves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
large handful green beans, cut into small lengths
2 medium zucchini, diced
3 scallions ,white and light green part only, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

Add a small splash of olive oil to the hot pan. Fry ginger and garlic for 30 sec stirring constantly, add chili and cilantro and fry for a further 30 sec.

Add bell pepper and beans, toss or stir for a couple of minutes. Add zucchini and green onions and toss for a couple of minutes more.

Push veggies to edges to make a hole in the center. Drizzle in 2 tsp sesame oil, wait for it to heat up and dump in quinoa. Stir in center of pan for 30 seconds then toss with veggies to mix everything together.

Drizzle in tamari and toss to combine. Serve with extra scallions, and cilantro.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Ingredients
Comments: This was absolutely delicious!  As you can read on her original post, this is the type of recipe you can use to clean up your fridge of all those veggies that wave at you when you open it, begging for attention. It is also a perfect use for leftover quinoa, although I cooked some earlier in the day just to have this side dish as our dinner. Asparagus would work great, but really any veggie could work, even chunks of roasted butternut squash, or eggplant.   Just keep the soy, the sesame oil at the end, and don’t leave out the fresh ginger.

Zucchini-side
I close this post with another excerpt from JJ, which expresses exactly how I feel about blogging.

“Blogging is an interesting beast. It is a person sitting in front of a computer expressing things in pictures and words, terribly solitary from the outside peering in… or so you’d think. But when you look a bit closer you realise that many of those people sitting at their computers have formed little communities. Sometimes online, sometimes in person, generally with people they never would have met otherwise, and it really doesn’t matter how the community works or where it came from but simply that it is there.”
(JJ, from 84th & 3rd)

That’s it, folks.  Could not have said it better!  JJ, it was great to receive your blog as my assignment this  month, I will be following you from now on, looking forward to your adventures! As usual, if you want to check what my fellow secret bloggers cooked up this month, poke the frog below. She is cute and loves attention…

ONE YEAR AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette
TWO YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars
THREE YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini
FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto
FIVE YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: DULCE DE LECHE CHEESECAKE BARS

Where is 2014 going in such a big hurry?  It acts as if it’s desperately searching for 2015 or something, hard to believe we are in the end of May already!  Still, each month closes with the secretive deliciousness of Reveal Day in the Secret Recipe Club. For those who may not know, it is that super fun event in which bloggers pick are assigned a blog in secret, choose a recipe to cook from it, and blog about it on the exact same day (and time!).  This month I went through several cycles of hyperventilation from the moment I got my assignment. Why, you may ask?  Because I received the blog of our group’s moderator!  Can you imagine that?  It’s like having to present a seminar on the research topic of the Head of your department!   Hummmm, come to think of it, I’ve done that a few times in the past couple of years.  No wonder I hyperventilate so much…  (inside joke, laugh if you get it).

Our moderator, Sarah, is the gorgeous hostess of the blog Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. She is the Mom of two kids, 7-year-old Matthew and 6-year-old Cambria, and also has two kittens, Bella and Muffin. That seems busy enough for me, but she talks about getting a dog to join the fun! Let’s hope she will think twice before getting a Jack Russell Terror…  ;-)  Apart from taking care of two young kids, she also supervises 37 grownup kids in Group D of The Secret Recipe Club. For the most part, I suppose we are well-behaved,  but undoubtedly there’s a lot of responsibilities on her shoulders. I went through her site with desserts and sweets in mind, hoping to bake something to take to our graduate students.  But a lot of savory options tempted me like her Atomic Hashbrowns (with a name like that, they gotta be awesome!), her Tamale BallsPhilly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls (fusion cooking, anyone?), and her Jalapeno Popper Turkey Chili.  After struggling with several options for sweets, I could not decide between her Blueberry Breakfast Braid. and the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars.  I tossed a coin. Yes, I did.  And here is what the coin told me to do:

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DULCE DE LECHE CHEESECAKE BARS
(from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes)

for the crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

for the filling:
12 oz. dulce de leche
2 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

for the glaze:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. corn syrup
1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Prepare an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and non-stick spray.

Grind crackers with sugar in a food processor. Stir in butter. Cover the bottom of the pan pressing the crumbs well with your fingers. Bake at 325* for 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Pour dulce de leche on the crust and refrigerate.

Make the filling:  beat cream cheese for 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat another 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat just until incorporated. Spread filling on top of dulce de leche layer. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool for 2 hours.

For glaze: Heat all ingredients in a saucepan or double broiler, stirring until smooth. Cool for 10 minutes and pour over cooled filling. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Let sit at room temp for 10 minutes before cutting.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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 Comments:  This was my first time making a cheesecake type dessert, so I was excited to try it, but a bit worried about my inexperience. My goal was to take these bars to our lab meeting, which happens early on Thursdays.  I laid out a nice schedule to make everything the evening before, taking in account that I had to meet Phil and a guest speaker for dinner at 8pm.  On my way home I stopped at the store to get the ingredients, arrived home and got busy. Each step was planned to the minute,  I was following along flawlessly. Flawlessly? Not so fast, Silly Sally… not so fast.  When making my list for the grocery store, I did not notice the recipe called for TWO cream cheese packages. TWO. I brought home only one.  Can you imagine the shiver up and down my spine? Can you picture my kitchen at that very moment? Can you, really?  Yeap.  Best laid plans.

Considering all my options and how fast the clock was ticking, I rushed back to the grocery store, faced the same cashier with a sheepish smile, and brought the second package of cream cheese home.  Drove like a maniac to the restaurant, joined the gentlemen for dinner, and…  found myself baking way past bedtime.  Best laid plans. Story of my life.

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But, as usual, it all had a happy ending, although I should have remembered to bring a good knife to the lab to cut the squares.  The knife available at the department was definitely not up to the challenge, and my production did not look nearly as good as that from Sarah. I think the best way to cut a cheesecake is a very sharp knife, dipping it in hot water at each cut, and cleaning the blade with a paper towel as you go. Keep that in mind if you make this decadent dessert.   Decadent is a good way to define it, we are talking major caloric intake, but a little piece should satisfy even those with a very sweet tooth…   I wish I had made my own dulce de leche from scratch like Sarah did,  but that will have to wait for another opportunity.

Sarah, I had a blast with my assignment this month, I know it was not a secret for you, but that is part of the life of a moderator, right?  I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for always sending the assignments very early, giving us more than enough time to stalk, cook, and blog. I know that everyone from our group certainly appreciates that… ;-)

If you want to check the labor of love of my fellow Group D members, click on the blue entity smiling at you at the end of the post.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Penne with Trapanese Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Superman

THREE YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: CHAI BROWNIES

March 31st. Last day of the month. Last Monday of the month. It can only mean one thing: it’s a food blog party, The Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day!  I knew that March was going to be a particularly busy month, with a trip abroad followed by Spring Break, which for us has little to do with a break, quite the contrary.  We profit from the fact that the students don’t have classes or TA duties to set the accelerator on experiments. So, I jumped on the assignment right away, and that was a good move because my secret blog, Healthy Delicious has been around for a long, long time!  Talk about a veteran food blogger, that is Lauren defined to a T. She is a recipe developer and food photographer, most of her recipes take less than 40 minutes to prepare, and are in perfect tune with her site’s name: healthy and delicious!  ;-)

I was having my share of secret fun bookmarking many options, but then I stumbled on her post on Chai Brownies and noticed the date of its publication. March 11th, 2007.  I know well a person who was born on March 11th.  No, not 2007, but who cares?  A few years here, a few there, compared to the time since the Big Bang, it’s a blink of an eye.  I looked no further.

Still, let me share with  you some of the other recipes I had in mind: Prosciutto and Artichoke Quiche (oh, my!), Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas (check this recipe out, very nice interpretation of a classic), Lamb Meatballs in Cumin Scented Sauce over Spaghetti Squash (I must make this soon), Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Pecans and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce , Mussels in Saffron Tomato Sauce (simple and irresistible), and her Lemon Chicken Soup with Tortellini.  But there’s a lot more, as you might imagine from a food blog that has been around for seven years!

And, before I move to the recipe, take a look at Dorothy’s site, Shocklingly Delicious, to see which recipe she chose from my blog (one of my favorite cakes ever and the most popular recipe of BK last year). She wrote such a wonderful post about it, I cannot stop smiling…. Thank you, Dorothy!

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CHAI BROWNIES
(slightly modified from Healthy Delicious)
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for spice mixture:
1/4 cup low-fat milk
a dash of cardamom
3 whole allspice
a dash of cinnamon
3 cloves
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for brownie batter:
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 + 1/2 cup  flour
3/4  cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Add the ingredients for the spice mixture to a pot and bring to a quick boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain into a large microwave safe bowl.

To the bowl of chai, add butter and chocolate. Microwave about 30 seconds until melted. Stir until smooth. Let cool for a minute. Add egg.  Sift in remaining dry ingredients and mix until it forms a stiff batter.

Bake in a Pyrex dish sprayed with oil, about 25 minutes until set. Let cool, and cut into pieces.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Language pet-peeve alert! Language pet-peeve alert!  ;-)

In the United States,  chai often describes what should be instead called masala:  a mixture of spices such as cardamon, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, that can be used to brew black tea, creating masala chai. By itself, “chai” is a word that means tea, and has its origins in Chinese. Interestingly enough, it is the same word used in Portuguese – chá –  although the pronunciation is slightly different in both languages.

I love the flavors normally associated with masala chai, and thought that the marriage of a good old-fashioned chocolate brownie with such warm spices would be perfect. And perfect it was!

I did not have whole allspice berries in my pantry, but decided it was worth getting a jar, so now I am the proud owner of two allspice products, one whole, one ground.  Gotta put them to good use before they lose their punch.

These brownies brought a lot of excitement to a cloudy and cold Monday morning in our department.  I loved the delicate flavor of cardamon in the background, and the texture of the cake, with a crackled surface was wonderful too.

Lauren, it was great to get to know your blog better, and I urge my readers to stop by her site and browse through, particularly if you like to see recipes that are lightened up without loss of flavor.

For those interested in joining our virtual monthly party, click on the crazy-looking amphibian smiling at the end of this post.

ONE YEAR AGO:  A Small Tribute to a Big Man

TWO YEARS AGO: Still got stout?

THREE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: BARLEY RISOTTO WITH PEAS

Dear readers, when I got the Secret Recipe Club assignment for this month I went into full-happy-dance mode!   It turns out that I’ve been paying attention to Chocolate and Chillies for a looong time, and hoping I would be paired with it, to stalk it real good. And that is exactly what I did.  Asiya, the hostess of Chocolate and Chillies, has a ton of recipes that entice me.   She was born and raised in Toronto, where she now lives with her husband and two kids, but her family is originally from India. Her blog features recipes with a heavy Indian influence, and to make it even better,  many are her own family recipes.  I love it!  I bookmarked many options, but five were the strongest contenders.  Here they are: Butter Chicken (lower in fat than regular versions),  Mummy’s Tomato Spiced Rice,  Whole Wheat Banana Muffins, and…  Afghani Kebob with Tomato Gravy.  The fifth? It’s the one I ended up making:  Barley Risotto with Peas and Asparagus.  Oh, my….  what an amazing dish this was! I made a slight adaptation because the asparagus looked very sad at the grocery store that day, so I went with carrots.

Barley Risotto with Peas

BARLEY RISOTTO WITH PEAS AND CARROTS
(slightly modified from Chocolate and Chillies)

4-6 cups of vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 leek, chopped
1 cup pearled barley
2 carrots, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp  freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup light cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Boil the vegetable stock.  Reduce heat to medium-low to keep it warm.Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the minced shallot and leek.  Saute 5-7 minutes until  tender.  Add barley and stir for a minute so that everything is well coated.  Add 1 cup broth and stir until most of it has been absorbed.  Continue to add 1/2 cup hot vegetable broth at a time, stirring until it has been absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup.
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While the barley is being cooked, microwave the pieces of carrots with a little water until almost tender, and reserve. Or you can cook them on top of the stove in a little salted water, and drain them well.
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After 15 minutes of cooking the barley, add carrots and peas.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Continue to add water until barley is cooked through.
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Remove from heat.  Add lemon juice, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.
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ENJOY!
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                                                                  to print the recipe, click here
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Comments:  This was such a creamy, comforting dish, I love the traditional risotto made with Arborio rice, but this version with barley won my heart!  I definitely want to make it with asparagus to celebrate the arrival of Spring and with it that infusion of life and joy and all things sunny and beautiful and gorgeous and warm into my personal equation.  Can you detect my excitement as February says goodbye?  I bet you can.

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The barley risotto was served with grilled pork tenderloin, but for the next couple of days the risotto all by itself was my lunch.  It tends to dry out a little bit in the fridge, but a little squirt of lemon juice brings it back nicely.  I am not sure this could work for a risotto fritter like a regular rice risotto would, it seems to me that the grains of barley would be hard to keep together, but if anyone tries it and succeeds, let me know.

Asiya, I had a blast stalking your blog and picking a recipe to cook from!

For those interested in following the cooking adventures of the other Secret Recipe members in my group, poke the cute blue frog at the end of the post, and have fun!

ONE YEAR AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

TWO YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

THREE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

FOUR YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO CAKES

Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes1
The Secret Recipe Club is a monthly event that pairs food bloggers in secret so that they pick a recipe from their assigned partner, and blog about at the exact same time.  My group always posts on the last Monday of the month, but we had a vacation break in December.  Having barely survived SRC withdrawal syndrome, here I am to report on the outcome of my virtual stalking of Nicole’s site,  Hapa-tite.  I was delighted to learn the rationale behind her blog’s name: Hapa is a Hawaiian word that means “half” and is used to describe a person of mixed race with partial roots in the Asian or Pacific Islander heritage.  Hawaii is one of our favorite spots on earth for a vacation.  We love the atmosphere, the music, the pace of life, the people, and you cannot beat the weather.  Weather?  Sore subject. As I type this on a Sunday morning,  a foot of snow  is laying in our backyard. Simply put: a meteorological tragedy.  But, rather than dwell on the harsh reality of January in Kansas, I will tell you that two other recipes fought very hard to be featured in the Bewitching today: her Chicken-Lime Skewers with Apricot Glaze,  and her Pork Souvlaki.  In the end, the chance to use my black, red & white quinoa made me go for these tasty little fritters.

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QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO CAKES
(from Hapa-tite,  inspired by original recipe from Cannelle & Vanille)

makes 8 cakes

1/2 cup (90 g) quinoa, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 + /2 cups (about 200 g) grated sweet potato
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup (50 g) Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
grape seed oil for frying
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Bring 1 cup (250 ml) of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes until quinoa has absorbed all the water and it’s tender. Set aside to cool.
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Heat a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and cook the shallot for 3 minutes. Add the grated sweet potato, 1/4 teaspoon salt, coriander, and black pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
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In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and chives. Add the cooled quinoa and sweet potato mixture. Stir to combine.
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Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add enough grape seed oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape it into a round cake. Add enough cakes to the pan without overcrowding it. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Finish frying all the cakes. Drain them on paper towels before serving.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: Aren’t these cakes the most colorful thing ever?  I modified the recipe a little bit, adding more sweet potato than called for, and using a mixture of different quinoa colors instead of only white.  They turned out quite festive.  Those who have gluten intolerance can use gluten-free bread crumbs, or I suppose almond flour could go well too.  You could probably get by with only 1/4 cup of almond flour as a binder.   I also think some grated ginger could be fantastic together with the coriander and the herbs.  Fun things to try.

Nicole, it was great to get to know your blog a little better this month, I see that 2014 will bring wonderful things to your life, like moving to a new home and getting married…  Good luck with all your projects, and if you succeed in de-cluttering, tell me your secret!  ;-)

If you want to see what my fellow Secreters were concocting in their kitchens this month, poke the blue frog at the end of the post. I think she might be Hawaiian, who knows?   She sure seems to have that aura of happiness that comes with the islands…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

TWO YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

THREE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: LINGUINI WITH CAULIFLOWER PESTO

Linguini Cauliflower Pesto

A sensible person evaluates a situation and chooses a path of action that is compatible with it.  For example: a sensible food blogger whose kitchen is undergoing renovation would take a break from The Secret Recipe Club to be back once she actually has a place to cook.  I did consider that option for a while, say… 5 seconds.  ;-) So, throwing caution to the wind, here I am to join once more the virtual party in which bloggers are paired in secret to cook recipes from their matched blog.
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Last month was my 2nd anniversary with SRC, so this post opens my third year with the group. And what could be better for an “old-timer” than to be paired with a new member?  I was assigned Vintage Kitchen Notes, hosted by the beautiful  Paula, who just joined SRC. She cooks and blogs from Argentina, right next door to my home country. Paula blogs in English, but she also keeps another blog in Spanish – talk about blogging stamina!  I actually tried to include recipes in Portuguese for a while, but quickly realized it was too much of a struggle for me.  So, I am in awe that Paula can do it all!  Her photography is beautiful, I had a wonderful time browsing her site. Let me share a few of her concoctions that were particularly tempting to me: 8-Hour Cheesecake with Roasted GrapesLimoncello-Glazed Citrus Poppy Seed Cake, Chocolate-Hazelnut Mini-Bundt Cakes (gorgeous!), Pastel Azteca (gotta make that sometime), Roasted Radicchio and Provolone Risotto (go drool over the photo, will you?), and just to tempt my bread baking addiction, she has more than 40 different bread recipes listed on her index.  I will just mention one: Soft Pretzels with Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce.   I’ve always wanted to make soft pretzels at home, but that will have to wait for calmer days.
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Since our kitchen looks like a war zone.  I ended up choosing a very intriguing recipe that required only the food processor and one pan to cook the pasta.  Seemed doable under the circumstances.  So, I am delighted to share with you my first experience with a cauliflower pesto!

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LINGUINI WITH CAULIFLOWER PESTO 
(from Paula, at Vintage Kitchen Notes, originally adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
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1 pound (450g) fresh cauliflower
1 medium shallot, quartered
pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup toasted almonds
2 oz. (60g) Asiago cheese
4 sun-dried tomatoes, dried-packed
1 Tbs drained capers
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil (I used 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (I added 2 tsp)
1 pound linguini
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Cover the sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a small bowl and let them stand for 5 to 10 minutes to soften. Drain well and chop them coarsely. Rinse the cauliflower, cut off the leaves and hard stalks.  Cut the rest into chunks, and add to a food processor, processing them until they are more or less the texture of couscous. Transfer to a large bowl and reserve while you prepare the other ingredients.
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Add to the food processor the pieces of shallot,  pepper flakes, almonds, cheese,  sun-dried tomatoes, capers and parsley. Process until they´re as fine as the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil and vinegar and pulse until a paste forms. If you feel it´s too dry for your taste, add another tablespoon of olive oil.
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Transfer to the bowl with the cauliflower, check the mixture  for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.
Cook the linguini until al dente in plenty of salted boiling water.  Reserve some of the cooking liquid, and drain the pasta, transferring to a serving bowl.   Add some of the pesto and mix gently.  If necessary, add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the remaining pesto, sprinkle with grated cheese, a few parsley leaves and serve immediately.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments:  You might remember that Phil is not too wild about cauliflower, so I  was hoping to prepare the pesto while he was doing something outside, maybe playing golf or trimming tree branches.  My plan almost worked but not quite. I had cleaned all the “remains” of the cauliflower from the crime scene,  but he caught a glimpse of the processed cauliflower, and…

What is this? some exotic type of rice?

This? No, not rice.
(quickly moving the bowl away from view)

Hummmmm… couscous?

 No, not really…

What IS it?

I cannot quite tell you.  It’s a surprise. It’s going to be a pesto..  A surprise pesto..    

Pesto? Great, I love pesto!

;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

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Verdict: Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this pasta! I can understand why Paula made this dish twice in  the same week. One could imagine the raw cauliflower to be too sharp and omnipresent in the pesto, but it’s not.  It is just a perfectly balanced dish, with the capers, the vinegar, the sun-dried tomatoes, the parsley,  a real winner.  I divulged the “secret ingredient” of the Secret Recipe Club concoction to Phil, and he was amazed.  The heat of the pasta slightly changes the texture of the cauliflower, taming its raw taste.  I highly recommend you try this recipe.  If you use the reduced amount of oil I did, make sure to save some of the pasta cooking liquid to adjust the consistency at the end.  If it still seems too thick, swirl a little olive oil right at the table.

Paula, it was great to get your blog this month, I hope you had fun stalking and cooking from your assigned site!

For a delicious collection of tasty dishes prepared by my friends from Group D of SRC, click on the blue frog at the end of the post…

ONE YEAR AGO: Carriage House Apple-Walnut Pie

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Marsala

THREE YEARS AGO:  Home, sweet home

FOUR YEARS AGO: Levain Bread with Caramelized Onions