Quinoa Medley Recipe

20 09 2011

I’ve already posted about how to cook up quinoa and how to roast cherry tomatoes.  I freely admit that I take most of my directions and inspiration from this 101 Cookbooks recipe.  I riffed on it a bit, based on what I had available and my tastes.  If I made it again, I’d definitely lower the portion of quinoa down to 1.5-2 cups and add in more spinach because although it is the mother of all grains, I still prefer more veggies than grains.  It must be because of my rice phobia.  Don’t judge.

Quinoa Medley Recipe- Adapted from here.  Serves 6

  • Splash of olive oil
  • Dash of sea-salt
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (for instructions on how to cook it, see here)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3/4 cup black beans
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/3 cup of pesto + more to taste
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup of roasted cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes (for the best roasted cherry tomatoes ever, see here)

Directions:

  1. Measure out your quinoa, corn, beans, spinach, pine nuts.  Maybe I’m slightly scatter brained, but I find it helpful to do this before I start, so I can dump it in as I go.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and salt on medium-high heat.  Stir in onion and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in quinoa, corn, black beans and cook until sizzling, roughly 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in spinach until wilted and remove from heat.
  5. Stir in pesto and pine nuts.  Add more pesto to taste.
  6. Serve topped with cherry tomatoes.

This is a great vegetarian meal, or is a delicious side-dish.  I ate it with baked chicken and was stuffed.  You could throw in some tofu (a la the original recipe) or slice up some baked chicken and toss it through.  I think it would also be delicious with feta and chickpeas.  It is a great dish to use as a base and throw in whatever your pantry has.  Enjoy!





Cooking Quinoa

19 09 2011

I had my first taste of Quinoa in a Marks & Spencer’s ready-made grain salad with chickpeas, couscous and a variety of other yummy add-ins.  I didn’t know what it was, but I liked it.  A few vegetarian and vegan friends also mentioned cooking with it and I realised I had been blissfully unaware of quinoa as a grain option.  So, in true nerdy fashion, I did a little wikipedia-ing.  Originating from the Andes, the Incas believed quinoa to be sacred, calling it the “mother of all grains”.  During Spanish colonisation of the area, quinoa was forbidden and the Incas had to subsist on wheat as their grain.

Every time I asked one of my vegetarian friends how to cook quinoa, they looked at me as if I were painfully stupid and informed me that you cooked it up just like rice.  I’d like to take this time to admit that I am the worst rice-cooker, ever.  My rice is always over-cooked in a globby mess or under-cooked and brittle to the taste.  I had a friend in college who owned a rice cooker and I found myself asking her to make me perfect, slightly-sticky rice.  We’d cook together and end up sharing our meals, I miss the dorm-kitchen companionship.  Since then, I barely try or I use (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) boil-in-bag rice.  So, for anyone that is a little curious about where to start with the mother of all grains, I thought I’d include a recipe of how to cook it.

Quinoa Recipe- Yields about 5 or 6 cups of cooked quinoa

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer (if your quinoa is smaller than your strainer, line it with paper towel and pour through- water will get through, but quinoa will be trapped).  Make sure to rinse thoroughly, as there is a slightly bitter taste if you don’t.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the quinoa with the water until it boils.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Quinoa is finished when it has turned slightly transparent and you can see a spiral in the grain.  It will have a “pop” in each bite (I know that sounds crazy, but you will know what you mean when you try it).

Now, I will post a recipe using quinoa here tomorrow, but for now let me say that quinoa is a very malleable grain.  You can use it as a side of rice, a pilaf, in stir-frys, etc.  The sky is kind of the limit.  But if you want a delicious starting recipe, check back in tomorrow.  And if you’re lucky enough to be near to a M&S and want a no-cook option, try some of their delicious grain salads.  Yum.





Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

11 09 2011

I love a good side dish.  A few weeks ago, I went out to a  fancy local restaurant with a friend, Barracuda Grill.  The food was hit-and-miss, which was somewhat disappointing.  It is allegedly Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ favourite restaurant on-island- my guess is, they get to order off of a different menu.  I loved my meal (a slightly seared yellowfin tuna with gnocchi, hummus and a balsamic whip), but my friend’s food (some sort of lobster pasta dish) just wasn’t that good.  What I found was so delightful about my meal, however, was that although the fish was beautifully prepared and tasted great, the side dishes both complimented the fish and also provided a new palette, a different type of taste.  My friend’s dish was a lot of the same, so she was stuck with the mediocre lobster.  We ended up drinking lots of wine and having a gorgeous gingerbread dessert which saved our dining experience.  But the dinner got me thinking about side dishes.

This roasted cherry tomato is part of a recipe I made recently (and plan on posting here), but I would eat it a million times over- by itself, thrown into pasta, with goats cheese and pesto on foccacia, tossed with fresh mozzarella balls- I can’t wait to make it again in a bigger quantity to try it all out.  And I promise, I will be sure to talk about it.  Here they are below, all chopped and ready to be made sexy.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Recipe

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (next time, I plan on doubling this, so maybe you want to do the same!)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 dash of seasoning salt (You can use regular salt or sea salt, but I really like seasoning salt.)
  • Several dashes of coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut cherry tomatoes in half.  Arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish.
  3. Mix olive oil, brown sugar and seasoning salt in a bowl.
  4. Pour olive oil mixture over tomatoes, tossing to coat.
  5. Ensure all tomatoes are cut-side up.  Sprinkle with a few dashes of coarse sea-salt on top.
  6. Place in oven and bake 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.

I will have dreams about these tomatoes.  I served them as a garnish to a quinoa dish and my dad wanted to know if he could have more.  I may have snuck a few out of the dish to eat them solo, but I’m not confessing to anything.





Chai Tea Latte

6 09 2011

One of the great things about studying abroad is that you get the opportunity to experience the culture and food of different places.  Even when that culture is Starbucks coffee culture- it seems so exotic and special when you’ve seen it on television  but never tasted it yourself.  When I lived in Canada, I developed a small Starbucks addiction.  While my local indie coffee shop satiates my desire for lattes and iced coffee, their Chai Tea Latte left something to be desired.  So I decided to scour the internet for a recipe and make it myself.

I wanted to make it with skim milk that I bought specifically for cooking with, but as life goes, my family decided to drink my skim milk and leave the full-fat milk in the fridge.  The joys of moving back home with your family!  But this is still a relatively low-cal drink!

It should be a pretty quick recipe to make, but I was in the midst of a Jersey Shore marathon (I can’t believe I admitted that!) so I mixed it up in a few stages during commercial breaks.

Chai Tea Latte Recipe (roughly adapted from here)- Serves 1:

  • 3/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Note: The original recipe asked for cardamom which I didn’t have, so I added a few things and rejigged the recipe to my tastes.  Feel free to do the same until you enjoy the taste.

Directions:

  1.  Boil water and tea bags.  While this is boiling, mix up your spices.
  2. Add spices and milk, stir well and let simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Remove teabags and strain through mesh strainer (at this point, I was surprised how many dregs I had.  Don’t decide to push them through like me and have somewhat gritty tea.  Just clear it out and keep pouring!).
  4. Wait a bit for it to cool (or be impatient like me, and add some cold milk on top so you can slurp it down).

Getting all my spices in order.  The spice mixture could probably be enough to make 2 potent cups (doubling the water, milk and adding an extra tea bag).

Keep stirring.  I got distracted by Jersey Shore and had to run back and stir like crazy to make it normal again.  Safety first!

This strainer was almost full of spices after I’d strained.  Next time, I will do it in batches and remove some of the dregs between pouring.

My finished mug.  YUM!  It tasted just like a slightly less sweet version of Starbucks’ version (although that’s a good thing, in my opinion).  I slurped it down in just a few gulps.  Now, I’m off to do the dishes.  I’ll be sharing more recipes as time goes on, and next time, I promise the photos won’t be crappy cell phone captures!





December Magic

1 12 2009
Oxford Street Lights

Umbrellas, presents and double deckers on Oxford Street

There is something intangible and magical about December.  Maybe it is the memories of years past staying up all night waiting for Santa only to fall asleep just when you are sure he will be on his way.  Maybe it is waking up the entire house at 6 AM to let them know that Santa came, even though you were positive that you hadn’t been bad that year.  Perhaps the joy of Christmas is the simple act of families coming together, exchanging gifts and eating incredible food.  Whatever it is, it has finally started humming in the air.

It is refreshing to feel connected to the Christmas Spirit.  Most years, I dread hearing the cheesy tunes blaring out of every shop and my love of Mariah Carey wanes after the 20th rendition of All I Want for Christmas Is You.  I think experiencing new Christmas traditions and festivities are making me nostalgic.  This year, I am loving the season!

Piratey Good Time

Piratey fun at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

London is a playground for people looking to explore rich history and culture.  But what is somewhat more exciting is how they have imported and incorporated foreign traditions as their own.  Yesterday I visited the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, which is styled as a German Christmas Market.  I ate pizza from the Italian stall, I drank Gluhwein (German mulled wine for the uinitiated) and posed with a pirate.  Yeah, I have no idea what the pirate was doing there, either.  But what was so incredible was families coming together and exploring, having fun, playing games.   I went with an old friend and spent the day catching up, laughing and stuffing our faces with all the different treats and sweets.

Eggnog

It allegedly tasted like, "Hot and sour devil semen".

She termed the eggnog as “hot and sour devil semen”, a far cry from the cold, smooth and sweet   stuff from home.  But then again, isn’t that what living abroad is all about?





A Foreign Land Revisited

22 11 2009

When I had the idea to begin a new blog, it came with nearly 10 years experience of blogging on-and-off privately and publicly.  I began my foray into blogging at about 13 when the internet was a big, new, scary place for me to try to discover.  I soon was a dab-hand at HTML, graphics and writing mildly entertaining news posts about my life (keep in mind, I was only 13, I’m sure they were pretty trivial).  Shortly thereafter, I got a webcam and entered the world of cam-sites which was quickly far too seedy for my tastes.  When I hit about 15 or 16 and my social life caught up with me, blogging really fell to the way-side.  When I started university, I decided to pick it back up but only ended up with a site glorified by photographs of myself and friends.  Not quite what I wanted.

This next foray is an attempt to recapture what is so fantastic about keeping a blog: it is a way to gain audience, to give exposure and light to things that you care about and to keep track of the little things you might otherwise forget.  I have just finished relocating to London and the adjustments I am making are tremendous.  It is the little things, like nobody knowing what eggnog is, that make you realise you are in an entirely different place.*  At the brink of my release from academia, I figure I should have a portfolio of my writings, ramblings and rants.  What better way to do it than put together a blog about things I stumble upon that are interesting?  So, here goes nothing… hope it works out this time.  I’m not good with committment.

* Just as an aside, for anyone not familiar with eggnog, try not to think about the ingredients.  It may sound disgusting to combine heavy cream with eggs and liquor, but it is sweet delicious sin.