Monday, April 20, 2015

Summer Quinoa Salad

I'll get to this oh-so-amazing salad in a minute but first you have to indulge me some Fletcher pics of his first 5K this past weekend.  My niece volunteers for a local animal charity Hand-in-Paw and they held their annual Mutt Strut 5K on Saturday.  


I was a little worried he'd be all over the place during the race with all of the other dogs, but he did great.  I conned my niece's husband, Ben, into walking with me because every time I try to jog with Fletch, he totally spazzes out.  We're working on it.  So we hung near the back and let all the serious runners have their space.

The good news is that we weren't last!!!  Although there was a prize for that, so I'm not sure why I'm bragging about being like third from last, because NO PRIZE FOR THAT!!

We even went to a couple of the local brewery's after the race to hang out because they're the few places in town that allow you to bring dogs.  Fun.  And Toby and Fletch bonded.  Or maybe Toby tolerated Fletch.

Anyway......great experience, great charity, great event.

So, this salad is from the new book, The Sprouted Kitchen, bowl & spoon, by Sara and Hugh Forte.  They are also the author and photographer, respectively, of the wildly successful blog, also called The Sprouted Kitchen.  I am in love with this book.  I've already made her Seedy Olive-Oil Granola no less than three times and a salmon recipe that is part of a larger recipe twice.  The husband proclaimed it the best salmon he's ever had, so because I'm your friend and the recipe is so beautifully simple, I'll give you the deets on that at the end.

I know this is titled "summer" salad, but I guarantee you're going to start making it this Spring and continue making it until the last of the corn in the Fall.  I get that this will be much better when all of the ingredients are fresh from your garden, but it's was still delicious with frozen corn and packaged grape tomatoes.  Work with what you've got, I say.

This hits all the taste buds.....bitter kale, salty feta, sweet tomatoes and corn, and the tart dressing.  It's just perfect.

We've eaten this with the salmon, for lunch with a fried egg on top, and I even mixed in some grilled chicken thighs for a leftover dinner the last night.  This would also be a huge hit at a potluck for a meatless option.

sorry for the horrible pic!

Here's the recipe:

Summer Quinoa Salad
The Sprouted Kitchen, bowl & spoon

1/2 cup quinoa  (or 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa)
1/4 cup water or broth
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/4 cups corn kernels, from 2 small ears of corn
2 1/2 cups stemmed, finely chopped kale
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata or get cheese

2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse and drain the quinoa.  Put it in a pot with the water.  Bring it to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Fluff it with a fork, turn off the heat, set the cover ajar and set aside to cool completely.

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 325 deg. F.  Halve the tomatoes and spread them on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle on 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and toss everything to coat.  Spread the tomatoes in an even layer and roast for 30 to 35 minutes until slightly dried at the edges.  Remove to cool.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the corn kernels and sauté, only stirring once or twice, for 2 minutes to just char the outside.  Set aside to cool.  Both of these steps may be done 1 day in advance.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, kale, and cilantro.  When the tomatoes and corn are completely cool, add the along with the pine nuts and cheese to the bowl.  

For the dressing, in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle, pulse or smash the garlic cloves.  Add the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, buttermilk and a hearty pinch of salt and pepper and mix everything to combine.

Toss the salad with the desired amount of dressing  This salad will keep, covered, in the fridge for 3 days.

For the salmon:  Preheat the oven to 325 deg. F and brush a large baking dish with olive oil.  In a small bowl, combine the zest of one lemon and 2 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tbsp minced shallot and 2 tsp herbs de Provence and mix to combine.  Lay two salmon filets in the baking dish skin side down and season the fish well with sea salt.  Spread the seasoning mixture on the flesh. Pour 1/2 cup white wine (I use a sauvignon blanc) into the bottom of the dish; it's fine if it comes up the sides of the fish a bit.  Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes until just opaque in the center.  Cooking time may vary,  5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the fish.  Sprinkle the fish with the parsley when it's out of the oven.

Friday, April 17, 2015

S'mores Bars with Marshmallow Meringue and Friday Faves

Fave Sweets:

I think I've admitted this before, but I'm pretty selfish about my cooking.  Meaning that I don't very often make things that I don't particularly like.  Meringue would fall into that category.  Take meringue pies, for instance.  I'll replace that shit with whipped cream every.  time.  It's not a taste thing because what can taste bad about egg whites and sugar?  It's totally the texture.  Oh my gross, it's squishy.  Like those Easter peeps.  Ugh.  Hate them.

But I saw this recipe in last month's Food and Wine and I really wanted to make it but I couldn't reconcile replacing the meringue with whipped cream.  I mean who has heard of a S'more with whipped cream?  I considered making a marshmallow topping or even using some large marshmallows and browning them with a kitchen torch, but then in some random conversation with the husband, he mentioned how much he loves meringue and I mentioned how much I hate it so that's why he never gets it and he got all pouty-faced so......

I made the fucking meringue.  And I still don't like it.  But he did and I earned a brownie point of which I don't have many.  Speaking of brownie.....if I made these again (and I probably will but I'm going to try the marshmallows) I'd make the graham cracker crust thinner and the brownie portion thicker.  So you might take that into consideration.  Or not.

But you should make them because they're really tasty (if you take the meringue part off), really easy and they make for a great presentation.  And they don't require you to chop any logs and build a fire in order to get a S'more!!  Bonus.

Here's the recipe:

S'mores Bars with Marshmallow Meringue
Food and Wine
April, 2015


3 cups graham cracker crumbs (12oz)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Brownie filling:
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1.4 tsp fine sea salt
2 late eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tarter

Make the crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F.  Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on two sides.  In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix all of the ingredients until evenly moistened.  Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until lightly browned.  Let cool completely.  Leave the oven on.

Make the filling:  In a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt.  Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated.  Spread the batter evenly over the cooled crust.  Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still slightly jiggly.  Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

Make the meringue:  Preheat the broiler.  In a heat-proof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until the whites are warm and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.  Transfer the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk.  Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until firm.  Increase the speed to high and beat the meringue until stiff and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.

Mound the meringue on top of the filling, swirling it decoratively.  Broil the meringue 8 inches from the heat until lightly browned at the tips, about 1 minute  Cut into bars and serve.

The bars can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Fave Listening:

I like to listen to music on my walks with Fletcher but lately I've been into a few different podcasts.  They're anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour long and they really make the walk pass quickly.  Here are a few of my favorites:

This is an extension of the Cherry Bombe magazine which features women in the food industry.  The podcast is hosted by food-writer, Julia Turshen, and she talks to some of the most influential women in food today.  My favorites have been her interviews with Mimi Sheraton, Ina Garten, Sara Moulton and Dorie Greenspan and Christine Muhlke.  If you need a fun drinking game, drink every time Julia says "that's so"....anything.  You'll be wasted!  If you're just going for a good buzz limit the drinks to anytime she says "that's so funny".

This is hosted by Food52 founders Merrill Stubbs and Amanda Hesser.  There have only been three of these so far but I really enjoyed the one on cookbooks.

The Mad Men Pre-Game Show
All things relating to the final seven episodes of Man Men.  I'm really gonna miss this show.

Mad Men AfterBuzz TV AfterShow
Yes....more Mad Men discussion

I've only listened to one of these but I really liked the host, Dan Pashman, and I can't wait to listen to more of them.

Because I've read both of her books and love her "voice",  I can't wait to get started on back episodes of this one with Molly Wizenberg.

All of these can be downloaded on iTunes.  What are your favorites?

Fave Food Links:

Local strawberries are starting to show up and the farmer's stands around town so.....

This Strawberry Summer Cake from Smitten Kitchen is one of my all-time favorites.

My next Friday night will include a big, ole pitcher of these Strawberry Basil Margaritas

This Strawberry Pistachio Tart sounds so easy and so yummy!

And it's rhubarb season.....glorious rhubarb!!

I made this pie today and OMG.....Straight Up Rhubarb Pie

Have y'all ever had a drink made with a shrub?  And no, not the kind from your yard.  It's a vinegar based syrup, and apparently its a thing.  This Shrubarb Cocktail (see what they did there?) made with a rhubarb-ginger shrub is happening.  

These Rhubarb and Rose Hand Pies are adorable!!

Fave Internet Reads:

What the beautiful writer, Anne Lamott, knows on the eve of her 61st birthday.  Good.  Stuff.

Oh! Oh! Oh!  Carrie Bradshaw is coming back to HBO!!!  No one is killing it like HBO right now.  Great programming.

This workout made me cry.  

When does your food really expire.  I'll be cleaning my cupboards now.

How to make the perfect bed.  When you get this mastered, will you come make mine?

Gisele Bundchen's body asked her to retire from runway work.  Bless her heart.

Have a great weekend everyone.  Wish Fletcher and I luck on our 5K tomorrow.  I'll need it.  He won't.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Walnuts

Yes, I know.  It's been another long break between posts.  But I have excuses.  Legitimate excuses!  Let's see.....first, there's Fletcher.....

I think we've finally worked ourselves into a routine.  And he's much better at at all of his commands....the most important being "settle down".  Like right this minute!  He's curled up beside me in this chair asleep!  WINNING!  I can sit and write this blog post in peace.

Second.....we bought a house!  It's under construction but it's almost finished and YES, that means only three more months in the rental!  I promise to post some pictures of it (hopefully) this week.  It was far enough along that I got to pick out a few things, but didn't have to stress over all of the minute details of starting from scratch.  Plus it has 90% of everything we both wanted.

Third....this is the heartbreaking hard drive on my computer crashed.  The second one in two years.  Which also means that it's the second time in two years that I've lost all of my pictures.  Why didn't I have them backed up onto an external hard drive, you ask?  The hell if I know.  An intelligent person would have been doing that after it happened the first time.....a really intelligent person would have done it before it ever happened.  Then there's ME.  Guess what I bought before I left the Apple store?  AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE.  And here are words that I never thought I'd utter....."Thank goodness for Facebook!"  Because I post a ton of vacation pictures on there at least I still have those.  So, thanks Zuckerberg.  What I didn't post on FB were tons of food pics I had taken of things to blog about.  Grrrr.  This little post here had actually been started a few weeks ago and saved so I got a tad lucky!

I made this salad a few weeks ago (before the tragedy) and we both loved it.  It's crunchy and light but very filling and satisfying.  I suppose you could substitute parmesan for the pecorino but I wouldn't if you can find some good pecorino.  It's a bit creamier and richer tasting than parm, but it's also saltier in my experience so make sure you taste before adding additional salt.  

Avoid grating the cheese and instead break it into small chunks with the tines of a fork.  Those creamy little chunks are so satisfying with the bitterness of the sprouts.  

Here's the recipe:

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Walnuts
Buvette  /  The Pleasure of Good Food

2 dozen Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup raw walnut halves
1/4 cup finely fork-crumbled pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt (to taste)

Trim off and discard the bottom ends of the sprouts and discard any loose or discolored outer leaves.  Using a mandoline, the slicing attachment on a food processor, or a simply a sharp knife, carefully shave the sprouts.  Combine them in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients, scrunching the sprouts with your hands as you mix so that they wilt a little.  Season to taste with more salt, if necessary, and a bit more olive oil if you think it needs it; the exact amount will depend not only on your preference, but also the size of the Brussels sprouts