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

ALMONDS, A COOKBOOK REVIEW

New Year Resolutions are so much fun to break!  I was doing reasonably well on the “no more cookbooks” scenario, but then I read a post on Taste Food that changed all that.  Lynda announced that her recipes would be featured in a soon-to-be-released cookbook, a collaborative effort with Barbara Bryant & Betsy Fentress.  I did not even blink: pre-ordered it right away at amazon.com.  A full cookbook devoted to almonds, with recipes from one of my favorite food bloggers!  That should not (and will not) count as breaking a decision. I had no choice. It was meant to be.

The book is called “Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture“, and you can get it with a simple click here. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with amazon.com, will receive no compensation whatsoever if you get the book. I just happen to think it is a wonderful publication that my readers will certainly enjoy as much as I did.

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Almonds are a favorite ingredient of mine.  Interestingly enough, Lynda opened my horizons to almond butter a year or so ago, when she published a post on cookies using it. I made those cookies, and  have been a huge fond of almond butter ever since.  Clearly, you will all agree that her cookbook had to be in my kitchen. It was meant to be.  Have I said that already?  Hummmm…..   Without further delay, I share with you the first recipe I made from Lynda’s book.

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FARRO RISOTTO WITH ALMONDS, SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS AND BALSAMIC-GLAZED RADICCHIO
(from Almonds, reprinted with permission)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cups (45g) minced shallots
8 ounces (225g) shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 + 1/2 cups (300g) farro
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry white wine
1 + 1/2 cups (375 mL) chicken stock
1 small radicchio, cored and sliced
1/4 cup (60 mL) balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (60g) raw almonds, roasted, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (60g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste
minced fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Saute until the mushrooms begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices, about 2 minutes more. Add the farro and stir to coat. Add the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the farro is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.

While the farro is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the radicchio and saute for 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring, until vinegar has thickened and coats the radicchio, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

When the farro is tender, stir in the radicchio, half of the almonds, half of the cheese, and season with freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Place the farro in a serving bowl, sprinkle with the remaining almonds and the remaining cheese.  Garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

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Comments:  It took me quite some time to decide which recipe to feature, but I am glad I chose this one, even though I knew it would be tricky to get a good picture. It’s the karma of brown food, so unkind to the camera.  The flavors in this whole-grain risotto are simply spectacular, each component playing an important role, like musical instruments in an orchestra. The grains of farro will have just a little bite left, so the almonds, added in chunks, give this risotto a delightful crunch.  But, in my opinion, the addition of radicchio glazed with balsamic is the touch of genius!  I used a syrupy white balsamic, but I am sure any regular balsamic vinegar will be great too.  Radicchio can be bitter, in this preparation it mellows down and plays nicely with the almonds and the farro. Simply put: a perfect dish, hearty enough to stand by itself as a main dish, but by now you are probably not going to be surprised that we added a little bit of animal protein to our plates.   Sorry, Lynda, I hope you won’t mind…

FarroRisottoServed

 

Let’s take a virtual tour of this beautiful cookbook, shall we? 

The book opens up with an introduction about almonds, in which you will learn a lot about this exotic, versatile fruit, which is in fact not a true fruit, but a drupe.  From its origins in the Middle East, to the way it is farmed today, and its absolute requirement of bees for pollination. Did you know that to make sure the almond trees will bear fruit, farmers in California often have to order special shipments of bees, that travel by trucks sometimes all the way from Texas?  I had no idea. I often skip introductory chapters in cookbooks because I find them for the most part quite boring. For instance, cookbooks that start with “equipment needed”, “ingredients”, or “useful gadgets” just make me roll my eyes to the ceiling and skip those pages without feeling guilty. Not the case in this book. I savored each paragraph and could not put the book down.  The photos in the introduction are spectacular, and that quality is maintained throughout the whole book, almost every single recipe has a photo that goes along with it.  Very few exceptions.

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And now, onto the recipes.  The book is divided in courses, and I will list the recipes that tempted me the most in which chapter.

Starters & Snacks : Salted and Spiced Green Almonds: this one made me dream, because I probably will never be able to get green almonds. They are available only for a very short time, and I am sure Californians won’t allow them to move too far from their trees…   Burnt Sugar Almonds…  Green Olive and Almond Tapenade: quite a change from the regular black olive concoction… White Gaspacho with Green Grapes and Almonds,  described as light and refreshing, perfect for Summer days. The photo alone made me swoon…  Almond Chai with Dates and Honey... In this page, a reproduction of one of my favorite paintings of Van Gogh, Almond Brunches in Bloom.  A touch of class. In fact, the book is full of reproductions of artwork relevant to the subject.  Humans have been in love with almonds for a very long time, a love absolutely justified.  😉

Salads & Vegetables : I wanted to make every single recipe of this chapter, but just to list a few, here we go: Asian Citrus and Almond SlawProvencal Tuna Salad with Almonds, Olives and Capers in Lettuce Cups…  Winter Kale and Quinoa Salad with Carrots and Raisins (amazing colors!)…  Zucchini Carpaccio with Toasted Almonds.

Soba

Pasta & Grains :   Soba Noodles with Spicy Almond Butter Sauce, depicted in the photo above…  I have a very soft spot for soba noodles, so this was a heavy contender for featured recipe in this post.  But there is also Toasted Pearl Couscous with Almonds and Harrissa (I know this one will be a total winner!), Almond and Saffron Rice Pilaf (a classic),  Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Pomegranate Seeds, and AlmondsBuccatini with Pesto Trepanese...

Land & Sea : One of my favorite sections of the book. Just to list a few recipes, she starts with Almond-Crusted Pork Chops with Sweet-and Sour Apricot Glaze (need I say more?), follows with Pulled Pork with Red Mole (I almost made this one for this review)… Wine-Braised Chicken with Saffron and Almonds… Mughlai Chicken Biryani… Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Almonds and HoneyRoasted Sea Bass with Orange, Olive, and Almond Gremolata…  Almond and Lemon Crusted Salmon…

Baked Goods & Desserts : Almond Flour Bread opens this chapter. I love using almond flour, so you can bet I’ll be making this bread in the near future,  the photo shows a soft crumb, with a dark crust, perfect toasting bread.  I can imagine the taste… Almond and Cinnamon Kringle... Salted Almond Butter Cookies with Chocolate ChunksAlmond Florentines (I’ve always wanted to try to make these… Pear and Almond Frangipane Tarte (the tarte in the photo is a culinary masterpiece!)… Lemon Semolina and Almond Cake with Olive Oil and Honey...  Almond-Fig Tea CakesAlmond Granita with Raspberries…

If you are a regular visitor of Lynda’s blog, Taste Food, you’ll know what to expect from this cookbook. If you are not, I hope you add her blog to your list of tasty places to visit in the blogosphere. I’ve made several recipes (and blogged on a few) from her site, and have many on my list to prepare at some point in the future. Her site is elegant, straightforward, a real pleasure to visit.

Lynda, thank you for giving me permission to publish this delicious farro recipe, I wish you, Barbara and Betsy a ton of success with this cookbook!

 

ONE  YEAR AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

TWO YEARS AGO: Codruta’s Rolled Oat Sourdough Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Corn and Tomato Risotto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Light Rye Bread

 

 

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

MEXICAN RICE & SUPERNOVA

This recipe will always be special for me, because it was the first thing I cooked in our new stove.  I needed to make something simple because the kitchen was still not completely functional: the central countertop was not yet there, the cabinets and pantry were still all empty.   I actually made the prep work a couple of days earlier, as we were not sure when the stove would be installed.  Every day that week we arrived home with fingers crossed, hoping that the big box with our Blue Star would no longer be sitting in the garage.  Finally, on Friday, October 18th the box was gone, and our stove was waiting inside for us, in all its beautiful red glory! Two exact months since the beginning of our kitchen hellnovationRemember?

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MEXICAN RICE
(slightly adapted from Marcela Valladolid)
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3 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup medium-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 whole Serrano chile
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

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Cut the tomatoes in half, and remove the seeds. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of broth to a blender and puree. Strain into a bowl and reserve the liquid. Add enough extra broth to make 2 cups of liquid.In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, carrots, and celery pieces, and saute for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Stir in the rice and cook until slightly toasted, stirring constantly. Add the tomato broth mixture, stir and bring to boil. Add the salt, bay leaf, and the Serrano chile. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Scatter the peas over the top of the rice, cover, and let the rice stand 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments: The popularity of electric rice cookers is a clear statement of how tricky cooking rice can be.  During the past year, I attempted to make rice pilaf once on “Poltergeist“, our old electric stove.  Results were just as expected from its nickname:  scary. 👿  I was obviously very anxious to see how the Blue Star would behave, and it did pass with flying colors!  Perfectly cooked rice, not a single bit burned at the bottom, control of the flame was smooth and precise.   As it’s been happening often in the past few days, I did a happy dance around the kitchen, much to the amusement of Oscar, who immediately jumps up and joins me. That little mutt  is super cute, and a great dance partner…
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The recipe, shown recently at Marcela’s show “Mexican Made Easy – Man Food” on FoodTV is simple but delivers a ton of flavor.  In the website they suggest using tomato paste in addition to fresh tomatoes if you want a deeper, more intense red color.  I didn’t. In my opinion, using tomato paste adds a harshness that can only be balanced by long cooking.  Rice cooks too fast, I prefer to have the brighter, lighter flavor of the fresh tomato, even if the resulting red color will be less dramatic. And, speaking of red, our gorgeous Blue Star adds enough red to our culinary environment.  In fact, we named it “Supernova”.   😉

As Marcela mentioned in her show, the Serrano pepper sitting on top of the rice is a real delicacy. Offer it to your guest of honor, or if you are having dinner with your partner, fight hard for it,  cut it in half so that you can both enjoy it.
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Phil’s remark at the end of the meal:  “This was the best Mexican rice I’ve ever had!“.

I could say thank you, but I think all credit should go to Marcela instead… 😉

Before I leave you, here is a link to Blue Star site, where you can dream about and customize your own Supernova stove….

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ONE YEAR AGO: Jumping on the Biscoff Bandwagon

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Soup with Memories of Los Angeles

THREE YEARS AGO: Sabu’s Spicy Coconut Chicken

FOUR YEARS AGO: Poolish Baguettes

QUINOA WITH CIDER-GLAZED CARROTS

A note to subscribers:  Google Reader will shutdown on July 1st, 2013. If you have a subscription to this blog through Google Reader, please sign up for email notifications, or switch to another reader. I recommend Feedly or Bloglovin.  They will automatically retrieve all your Google reader subscriptions. 

I’ ve had plenty of versions of quinoa in the past, but this one takes the number one spot. The carrots added a sweet-sour note, the thinly sliced almonds a delicious crunch, and the quinoa married them together with its light and refreshing nature. Cannot praise this dish enough. I was inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit, and decided to come up with a version to be served hot instead of cold, but with similar flavors. If you are searching for a recipe to please vegetarians or a perfect side dish for pork, poultry,  perhaps a thick slab of grilled salmon, look no further. This is perfect!

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QUINOA WITH CIDER-GLAZED CARROTS AND ALMONDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Bon Appetit)

1 cup quinoa, very well rinsed and drained
salt
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced at an angle
2 Tbsp apple cider
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 450°. Bring quinoa and 4 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain; return quinoa mixture to saucepan, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl; let cool.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with oil (or cover it with parchment paper). Whisk cider and honey in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add carrots and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and roast until tender, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the almonds and cook over low heat until fragrant.  Set aside, keeping it warm.

Whisk vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add carrots and almonds to quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Drizzle the vinegar & lemon mixture and mix well tp combine all ingredients.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are new to cooking the seeds of Chenopodium quinoa, please remember to rinse them extensively.  The seeds  have a natural coating of saponins that taste very bitter.  Processing the seeds for sale includes pre-washing, but you will notice that the water still foams slightly once you soak the seeds.  A couple of years ago, I read somewhere that quinoa goes rancid very easily, so the advice given was to store it for  no more than 6 months (or freeze it).   I tried to find a source for this information,  but now I find plenty of sites stating that it lasts for several years in the pantry.  Oh, well. I guess one can always open the bag and do a sniff test.

Cooked quinoa freezes very well, so you can prepare a full bag and portion it in the freezer for later. I actually cooked it on a Saturday and made this recipe for our dinner on Tuesday.  Pork tenderloin kebabs completed the meal, but the truth is we both raved about the quinoa a lot more.  Bonus:  we got our intake of carrots all taken care of!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

TWO YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

THREE YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands

FARRO SALAD WITH ROASTED LEEKS

I suppose this could go to my “work in progress” folder.  But, Phil liked it exactly this way, so I decided to share the recipe adding possible tweaks in the comments.  One important thing to mention: although this is a salad, it’s equally good served warm. Those of you still in sub-zero temperatures and avoiding even to glance at a salad plate don’t need to shy away from it. In fact, we enjoyed it hot on the first day piled up next to a  juicy flank steak, grilled medium-rare. Comme il faut...  😉

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FARRO SALAD WITH LEEKS, CHICKPEAS AND CURRANTS
(adapted from The New York Times

2 large leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 1/8 cup, divided
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can of chickpeas, drained (15 oz)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1 cup dry farro
1/3 cup dried currants
2 celery stalks, diced

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Using a large rimmed baking sheet, toss leeks with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread leeks out in a single layer  and roast, tossing frequently, until golden brown and crisp at the edges, about 20 minutes.

Drain the chickpeas and add them to a pot with boiling water for a couple of seconds. Drain again, dry well.  In a large bowl, toss leeks with chickpeas, lemon juice and zest,  chile flakes and salt to taste. Stir in 1/8 cup olive oil.  Let marinate while you prepare the farro.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook farro until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Toss with chickpeas mixture. Stir in currants and diced celery. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: The original recipe was written for 2 cups of farro, definitely too much for the two of us.  I halved the recipe, keeping all ingredients in the same proportion, but considerably reducing the olive oil. I was shocked to see the amount called for in the recipe. For two cups of dried farro, they used 2/3 cup of olive oil in the dressing.  Keep in mind that 1/4 cup had already been poured just to roast the leeks. It amounts to 1,700 calories (> 800 for half the recipe) just in the oil component!   Thanks, but no thanks.  I used a tiny amount of oil to roast the leeks, and only 1/8 cup for the whole dressing.   If you like your salad heavier on the oil, I suggest drizzling some more at the very end, before serving.

Now my possible modifications for a future version.  I think raisins would have been better than currants.  And, for my personal taste, the roasted leeks overpowered the dish.  When I make it again, I will use raisins, increase the amount of celery, and reduce the amount of leeks.  That will be a real winner for me.

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ONE YEAR AGO: Watercress Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Carrot and Sweet Potato Puree’

THREE YEARS AGO: Croissants: Paris at home on a special day

AN ORANGE FRAME OF MIND

Orange food seems to be on everybody’s mind these days, perhaps to match the color of the leaves, with their beautiful shades of red and gold.  Most maple trees in town are already completely red, but from my office’s window on campus, I see a very special tree, one that gets a few more red leaves each day. I like to think it is putting up a special show for me, a newcomer to the Little Apple…  😉   Let me share with you a few recipes to celebrate the season, the first is a new one, and the others come from the Bewitching archives.  An array of golden dishes to hopefully inspire you…

RICE PILAF WITH CARROTS AND PARLSEY
(adapted from  Martha Rose Shulman)

2 tablespoons  olive oil
1 fennel bulb, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup basmati rice
a pinch of saffron
1  cup water
1 cup vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Rinse the rice well to remove excess starch. Drain well, and reserve.  Heat the water and stock together in a microwave until very hot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide, heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat and add the carrots, fennel, and salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the rice and the saffron.  Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are well coated with oil and beginning to crackle. Add the hot water and stock and bring to a boil. Taste the cooking liquid and adjust salt if necessary. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Uncover the rice and place a clean towel over the top of the pan, but don’t let it touch the rice.  Put the lid back, and let the rice sit for 10 minutes.  Add the parsley, fluffy the rice with a fork, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This pilaf is extremely delicious and good for you, a combination that is always welcome at our table. Fennel and saffron were not in the original recipe, but I think they worked better with the other flavors than onions would.  Feel free to include onions and garlic,  Phil and I are part of the minority who uses those ingredients quite sparingly.

For some more orange glow on your table….
(click on the title for the original post)

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