Monday, August 27, 2007

A Summer salad featuring the miraculous Mother Grain

Quinoa has been in the news a lot these past few years, for a number of reasons. First, it is said to be one of the most nutritious foods known to human kind, with a near perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Second, quinoa will grow and thrive in soil that is sandy and alkaline and considered too hostile to other crops. Therefore quinoa holds hope to feed the starving on the world, as it grows almost anywhere. Third, it's culinarily flexible and just plain tasty. For these reasons I have been trying to cook more with quinoa, despite the complaints of my younger brothers, both of whom say white rice tastes better. Personally, I don't think American white rice has any flavor worth speaking of, but that's another blog.

Running with the desire for quinoa, I made an easy and simple quinoa and black bean salad for dinner.

Not only bright in flavor, but also vivid to the eye. A perfect, light, Summer dinner.

The original recipe came from, but I made a few minor alterations to keep it simple. The method is so simply, I can already envision some other regional twists, like Italian Quinoa, Asian Quinoa, and French Quinoa. I'll keep you posted!


Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 can sweet corn
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 pickled jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 small tomatoes, diced

Juice of two limes
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

In a bowl wash quinoa in at least 5 changes cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of water, until water runs clear and drain in a large fine sieve.

In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about
10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).

While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeños, tomatoes, and cilantro and toss well.

In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste.

Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Serves 4 to 6 as an entrée or 8 as a side dish.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Perfect Summer French Toast. Très Délicieux!

I made the usual Summer trip to the farmer's market, yesterday morning, and came back with, among other items, a beautiful loaf of Volker's Lemon Sage Bread. It may sound a strange combination (I know I certainly would never have thought of it, myself) but I would definitely call it a great bread for Summer. The sage imparts an elusive earthiness to the loaf while the lemon peel gives the bread a slight sweetness and keeps it light in flavor. If this wasn't enough, I got the idea last night that this would make a great French toast.

The results?

Très Délicieux! The earthy, lemony bread makes for a bright Summer French toast. My dad and little brother Kenny both enjoyed it, but Sean--my other little brother--after hearing my plans announced with all certainty, "I don't think it will be very good." Incidentally he never touched his slice (the kid's a culinary curmudgeon). Oh well, more for ME! ^_^

À votre santé!
Baked Lemon Sage French Toast

4 (3/4 inch) slices of day old Volker's Lemon Sage Bread
1/2 cup soy milk
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract
A pinch of kosher salt
A sprinkle of ground All-Spice

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Whisk the soy milk, egg, egg white, vanilla, salt, and all-spice together. Pour onto a plate or baking dish and soak the bread about 45 seconds on each side.

Place slices in skillet for two minutes on each side. Transfer to baking sheet and bake 8 - 10 minutes.

Serve hot with maple syrup and enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Farm fresh tomatoes, fresh-picked basil, a modest pinot noir, and Diana Krall, all elements of a relaxing evening in the kitchen.

Some of the best things in life are often composed of the simplest of ingredients and the same often goes for good food. Take this evening, for example. All Summer long I have wanted to make a pizza margherita from scratch, with fresh tomatoes, basil, a ball of mozzarella, and a crust to die for...and tonight was that night.

I started with the tried and true Giada DeLaurentiis pizza crust, as mentioned in a previous post, only this time I substituted half of the unbleached all-purpose flour for whole wheat. Other than that, I just went with the original recipe. I had originally hoped to use tomatoes from my home garden, but my vines just don't want to give me ripe fruit this year, so I instead went to the Ogden Farmer's Market and bought a bag of beauties, along with some other items (a baguette, some beets, and coffee). The basil, however, was from my garden.

I didn't use any recipe for the pizza, really, just sliced up the mozzarella and tomatoes and scattered then about the pizza dough, then topped it off with my basil, a twist or two of black pepper, a sprinkling of kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil. No need for sauces or blends of cheese or stuffed crusts, just a pizza in its purest form. Throw it in the oven at 450°F for 15 minutes, uncork a bottle of modest pinot noir (2005 Harlow Ridge) and put on some Diana Krall and you have the recipe for a relaxing evening in the kitchen.

À votre santé.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sweet Potato Pie, that a CAKE?

Yes, any of you who may be of the culinary conservative, avert not your eyes and quake not in fear. It's not that weird, is it? After all, we eat pies of sweet potatoes and we eat cakes of pumpkin, so why not cakes of sweet potato? And why don't we go crazy and top it with a hearty drizzle of caramel icing. That KEHR-ah-mehl, not KAR-mehl, this is homemade and therefore by default it is more gourmet. Hence, KEHR-ah-mehl.

This recipe came to me courtesy of my very dear friend, Brittany.

And yes, I did eat a few fingers worth of that beautiful icing, and don't say that you wouldn't either.

Spiced Sweet Potato Cake


4 8-ounce red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


For cake: Pierce sweet potatoes with fork. Microwave on high until very tender, about 8 minutes per side. Cool, peel and mash sweet potatoes.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray, then generously butter pan. Sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Measure enough mashed sweet potatoes to equal 2 cups. Transfer to large bowl. Add sugar and oil to sweet potatoes; using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Beat in vanilla. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. Using small knife, cut around sides of pan and center tube to loosen cake. Turn out onto rack; cool completely.

For icing: Sift powdered sugar into medium bowl. Stir brown sugar, whipping cream and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Boil 3 minutes, occasionally stirring and swirling pan. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour brown sugar mixture over powdered sugar. Whisk icing until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Cool icing until lukewarm and icing falls in heavy ribbon from spoon, whisking often, about 15 minutes. Spoon icing thickly over top of cake, allowing icing to drip down sides of cake. Let stand until icing is firm, at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.)

Bon Appétit, November 2000

I also apologize for the lack of posts lately. Life evolves as does the person who lives it. I am excited to say, though, that I will be teaming up with some friends in the near future to do our own chai tasting. Keep an eye out for that.

In closing, I would like to welcome any and all readers who have found their way to my little blog from The Apartment Farm. Welcome and enjoy!