So the other day, I wandered into my pantry (which is just a glorified word for the never-ending chaos that is my utility room – it just happens to have shelves and is right next to the kitchen) looking for some crackers… and it became clear to me. I mean, I had to gingerly remove and stack jars of chickpeas and brown rice on the floor. All to get to a box of crackers that was hiding behind a 5 pound bag of flour. In a moment of pure clarity, I knew. I needed a pantry clean out.
(I mean, there was some mild cursing when I almost knocked over a jar of dried currants, but mostly it was a moment of very dignified contemplation.)
One of the things I am drowning in is COPIOUS amounts of quinoa. I think I have like, 2 pounds. Which is basically – since quinoa is not very heavy in the first place – like a barrel of quinoa. Sure, there are about a million recipes for quinoa salads out there, but that just wasn’t what I was feeling.
I had tried breakfast quinoa once before, but I wasn’t thoroughly satisfied. Previously I had used rice milk and it just… didn’t do anything for me. It was pretty darn tasteless, in fact. I used regular milk here, but by all means experiment with almond or soy milk if that’s more your thing, and let me know how it turns out. And of course, this is mostly just a base recipe; you can add whatever you have in your crazy, over-stuffed pantry: nuts of all kinds, dried fruit if you have some, honey or maple syrup drizzled on top… the sky is the limit.
Serves 2, easily halved
1 cup quinoa, rinsed until the water runs clear
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
yogurt, to serve
jam or fresh fruit, to serve
toasted almonds or pecans, to serve
turbinado sugar or honey, to serve
Bring quinoa, milk, water, and vanilla extract to boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and scrape down sides. Cook at a low simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Top with yogurt, jam or fresh fruit, nuts, and/or sugar or honey to your heart’s content.
Whenever Brad works too many long hours at work, he ends up eating too much take out and then complains that he is [any combination of the following:] fat, lazy, a whale, a “lard bucket,” or one of many other creative terms he comes up with when he’s sleep-deprived. This week he wasn’t feeling too healthy, so he requested homemade meals to take for lunch.
One thing I will not understand about B is that he always requests lots of meat for lunch, or dinner, or even breakfast. Comparatively, when I really buckle down and want to eat uber-healthy, I tend to focus on eating LESS meat, and I eat more whole grains and beans. Brad, on the other hand, really just wants to eat lots of meat, whether it be multiple pounds of beef, pork, or chicken. Someone (preferably someone packin’ heat ifyouknowwhatimsaying) PLEASE explain the logic behind that. It’s that kind of dude-thinking that will confuse me until I die.
In the end, I have to temper a bunch of meat with carbs, whether it be pasta, rice, or a whole grain. Otherwise, if I just fed Brad straight-up seasoned beef for lunch, we’d be spending $40 on beef for him to eat everyday (that’s assuming beef is $10 a pound, and yes, he could eat 4 pounds of beef in one sitting if I let him. I still haven’t figured out where it goes and we’ve been together 8 years.)
This recipe is from “Salt to Taste,” by Marco Canora. Brad actually says the author is on the current season of “The Next Iron Chef,” but I don’t keep track of that crap. I can’t remember the last time I watched the Food Network, during prime time anyways. I did, however, catch Aunt Sandy making a “cowboy potato salad” from frozen diced potatoes today. In true form, I really did want to jump into the television and whack her upside the head with the giant bottle of vodka she was holding. But that’s pretty normal for me.
Anyways, since the recipe is straight from a cookbook, I won’t be including it here. (My motto is, unless it’s published by the author on the internet already, I won’t type it up for all to see here. If I wrote a cookbook, I wouldn’t want people to freely share my hard work on the interwebz, either, unless they were sending me a $20 check in the mail each time someone read it.) Marco has a great breakdown of how to make the perfect risotto in his book, so it’s definitely worth perusing the next time you hit up your local (independent!) bookstore. I highly recommend you pick up his cookbook, Salt to Taste. I flipped through it upon purchase, and I think I might have to jump on the bandwagon and become one of those bloggers who cooks through the entire cookbook because EVERYTHING in that book looks downright amazing. The next recipe I want to make is actually featured on his website right now. Head on over and check it out. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
Uncanny is a series in which I explore the different uses for jams and preserves that we put up during the summer. Because even though each jam you make is wonderful on its own, a veritable taste of summer in a jar… sometimes, you just get TIRED of eating summer on toast.
Oatmeal wasn’t big in my house when I was growing up. I think grits were more of a constant presence. (We did grow up in Virginia, after all, Land of Buttered and Cheesy grits. Lula will agree with me. REPRESENT.)
But, I have recently come around to oatmeal. Remember how I wrote two days ago that if we didn’t get snow for 2 more weeks than we would break a record here in Denver? Well, nevermind, because we got our first snowfall today. Major fail, in my opinion. When it snows, it gets all cold and all wet, and people forget how to drive, as if 3 snowflakes in the air impedes their ability to drive whatsoever, and then it ends up taking me an hour to drive to the grocery store which is all of 10 blocks away which sends me into a not-so-nice mood and there’s lots of cursing and obscene hand gestures and honking and my father on the phone telling me “he wasn’t aware I had that kind of mouth.”
So yeah… snow sucks.
Basically, it’s cold and it’s wet and you know what coldness and wetness calls for? (Other than puppy hugs, that is?)
Hot, warm breakfast cereals. Like oatmeal.
This isn’t some earth-shattering revelation of how to use up jam. This is the Kitchenette blog, not the Kitchenette Think Tank, of course. But, I think the picture above is so yummy-looking that it deserved a blog post. For the record, I like my oatmeal made with steel-cut oats; the texture is a lot more pleasing than the rolled oats I bake with so often. Furthermore, I like my oatmeal topped with a dollop of cold, tangy, plain yogurt, and then swirled with some hot jam. I microwave my jam for 20-30 seconds until it’s really runny, because it mixes in better when it’s hot, than it does with it’s straight from the fridge and gloopy and all that.
This morning I made mine with some cinnamon-scented blackberry jelly, but you could use whatever preserves you have around.
Steel-Cut Oats with a Jam Swirl
Adapted from Alton Brown Serves 2 really hungry breakfast-ers
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
plain whole-milk yogurt, for serving
1/4 cup jam (your choice of flavor)
In a large saucepot, melt the butter and add the oats. Stir for 2 minutes to toast. Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring. Add the milk, and stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon your jam into a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until the jam is hot and runny. Spoon oatmeal into a serving bowl and top with yogurt and hot jam. Swirl if desired before serving immediately.
I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect granola bar for the past… five, six months? I like loose granola just fine in my yogurt, but I wanted a chewy, not rock-hard, not-too-sweet granola bar. I wanted it to be full of oats and nuts, but I wasn’t so enamored of the idea of a granola bar full of dried fruit. And I finally found it, through multiple Google searches, which finally led me to 101 Cookbooks’ Big Sur Power Bars. I should have known that Heidi would have exactly what I was looking for, being the harbinger of great, whole-foods-based vegetarian recipes, that she is.
I made these to take with me to Austin City Limits last weekend, but unfortunately, you’re not supposed to take any food into the festival grounds. (Ugh, stupidest rule ever.) The original recipe calls for twice as much brown rice syrup as below, which yielded a very sticky bar, too sticky for me. For the second batch, I halved the amount of brown rice syrup, but kept everything else the same. The result is a nutty, sweet (but not cloyingly so), chewy-but-not-sticky granola bar. I joked to B about these being the rolled oats-version of a cup of coffee, but unless you’re super sensitive to caffeine, I doubt these will affect you much. The espresso is a great unexpected upgrade on flavor, though, which is all it’s there for in the first place. The brown rice cereal and the oats have great interplaying textures, too, so you get the whole crispiness associated with a Rice Krispy bar, but it’s still chewy and hearty from the oats, coconut, and nuts.
The recipe definitely introduced some new ingredients for me. I had never used brown rice syrup before, and at first I didn’t know where to look for it (it’s in the baking aisle next to honey, at least at my grocery store). The brown rice cereal was even harder to locate, but I found it in the Whole Foods cereal aisle. If you can’t find the brown rice cereal, then just use Rice Krispies.
Oh, and just let me point out… for all the hard work we do around Case de Kitchenette… making fresh pasta, canning whole tomatoes, and making butter from scratch… this recipe doesn’t require any cooking at all. Unless you count toasting the coconut and nuts. (Which you could skip if you are suffering from Terrified-of-the-Oven Syndrome.)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup (unsweetened) shredded coconut
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup turbinado or light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 tablespoons ground espresso beans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub a baking sheet with coconut oil or butter. Toss pecans, almonds, and coconut on baking sheet, and cook at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until toasted and fragrant. Keep a good eye on the nuts and coconut, tossing a few times if necessary, to make sure the nuts down burn.
Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper.
Combine the rice syrup, sugar, salt, espresso, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the toasted nuts and coconut with the rolled oats and rice cereal in a large mixing bowl. Pour the brown rice syrup mixture over the rolled oat mixture, adding in batches, and stirring in between additions of syrup.
Spread the sticky granola mixture into the parchment-lined baking pan. Let sit until cooled and stiff, about 2 hours. Cut into pieces as small or large as you like.
We had our first cool, cloudy day in Denver yesterday. Normally we operate with a pretty standard stream of sunny, cloudless weather. In fact, it’s like the weather equivalent of daily Prozac doses out here. Tomorrow I’m sure we’ll be right back to 80-degree temps, but for now, it felt like fall, if just for a night.
For the first time this year, I was so ready for some comfort food! And I’m not sure about you, but comfort food to me usually means… Butter. Cheese. The Almighty Evil Carbohydrate.
Food that sticks to your ribs, that warms you from the inside out.
Case in point… I like a good bowl of polenta sometimes. It’s a cheap base, and very versatile. You can make it healthy with a dab of butter, top with sauteed winter greens and some cracked black pepper.
Or… you can roll with me and make it “dirty,” as we call it here in the Kitchenette house. Which means adding in a dab of butter… along with a crapload of goat cheese.
(“Crapload” is a very technical cooking term, just in case you’re wondering.)
Dirty Polenta (Goat Cheese Polenta with Balsamic Reduction)
3 cups water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup corn grits (or “polenta grits”)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz goat cheese, or to taste
Bring 3 cups water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, heat balsamic vinegar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Heat until the vinegar turns syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, about 5-8 minutes.
Once the water is boiling, add in polenta, salt, and butter. Remove pan from heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the butter is dissolved, add in goat cheese in chunks. (Typically I add 2 ounces and then add another ounce at a time until the taste is to my liking.)
Dish out polenta into bowls, and drizzle with balsamic reduction before serving immediately.
So remember when I wrote about brussel sprouts, and how I thought I hated them but then it turns out that I secretly harbored a high-school-crush-of-epic-proportions on them? (Yes, they were covered in bacon when I discovered my crush, but don’t rain on my parade, people.) I’ve been trying all sorts of vegetables lately that I previously thought I despised, because I’m convinced that if I don’t really like a vegetable, it’s only because I haven’t eaten it the right way yet.
Until about 5 days ago, beets were definitely on my list of “yucky stuff that comes in a can that was forced down my throat as a small child, and for which I will probably need therapy when I’m 35.” I mean, they were the stuff of my nightmares, y’all. But I figured, hey! I’m 26 now! I can make my own decisions about how to eat beets! It’s time I grew up already!
(Well, except for the tweenagergirlmovies that I’m addicted to. Those can stay. EVERYONE HAS A VICE.)
Well, you know how much I love a whole-grainsalad, and I had some farro laying around the house. Of course, I consulted my trusty Flavor Bible to get some ideas of what to pair with beets, and low and behold, citrus and goat cheese were listed. Honestly, is there a food that ISN’T better with goat cheese? Do they even exist?
The beets are light and sweet here, the epitome of earthy vegetable deliciousness. The farro is chewy and nutty, graced with hints of citrus and herbs from the dressing. The goat cheese is tangy and creamy, and it melts ever-so-slightly between the grains of farro. (Is that enough food porn to convince you to try this dish?) Feel free to substitute any type of beets that you have available for the types I used here.
So, reporting back 5 days later… I’ve eaten this for, let’s see now… Saturday’s dinner, Sunday’s lunch, Monday’s lunch, Tuesday’s lunch, and Wednesday’s lunch. I think beets have been officially moved to the “Oh crap, why didn’t I cook these before now?” list.
Farro and Beets with a Citrus-Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 Chioggia beets, washed and dried
3 golden beets, washed and dried
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 springs fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups farro
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 ounces cold goat cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the Chioggia, golden beets, shallots and 4 springs of thyme in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat beets and shallots in oil. Close aluminum foil around beets and shallots, to create a packet. Place packet in a roasting dish and bake at 425 for 45 minutes to an hour. The beets are done when a knife is easily inserted to the middle of the beet with no resistance. (If your beets are different sizes, the smaller ones may be done before the larger ones.)
While the beets are roasting, add farro to medium stockpot. Cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to boil over high heat, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked through – the grains should no longer be crunchy, but they shouldn’t be mushy, either. The farro should be chewy and al dente. Drain and set aside.
While the farro cooks, combine the orange juice and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and then cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When the beets are cooked through, remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes, and rub away beet skin using a kitchen towel or paper towel. (Beet juice does stain, so be careful with what you’re wearing.) Slice beets into bite-size pieces. Remove roasted shallots from roasting packet, and add to sliced beets. Set aside.
To serve, combine farro, beets, and dressing in a serving bowl. Toss to coat. Crumble goat cheese on top of salad (I use a fork to flake goat cheese onto the the plate, usually straight out of the package.) Serve hot or at room temperature.
The Love Language / Heart to Tell This is SO DAMN CATCHY.
I’m not going to lie to you… this is ugly food. Real. ugly. food. And based on the ingredients, it’s probably not something you think you want to eat. And I would have agreed with you, say, 48 hours ago. But now I know better. Now I see the shining light of Heaven, which is pointed – coincidentally – right on this bowl of lentils and farro.
Because I mean, let’s face it. Ugly food is almost always delicious. (See: pasta, chili, and various vegetables.) When someone figures out why this is the case, please give me a call.
And I know you’re probably all, “Dude, WTF is farro?” Well, let me get all Wikipedia on you for a moment. Farro is known as “the ancient grain” and has supposedly been around for thousands of years. It’s an unrefined grain, containing the bran, endosperm, and the germ of the grain. Refined grains, on the other hand, typically remove the fiber- and nutrient-rich bran and germ, leaving only the calorie-heavy endosperm. Farro is one of the healthiest grains out there because it’s an almost completely unprocessed food source.
I bought a bag of farro a few weeks ago at the grocery store, after seeing a recipe for it on Everyday Italian (Giada’s show before she became a sexed-up Food Network supertease). Having never tried it, well… I didn’t have the highest expectations. I figured it would taste like barley, which is what all the recipes say to substitute if you can’t find farro. You would think that barley would be delicious since it’s a main ingredient in beer and beer is delicious, right? Wrong.
But what I thought would taste like cardboard, instead tasted like sweet, nutty, chewy… kernels of deliciousness. I could have eaten it plain, straight out of the bowl, no seasoning at all. Maybe even just eat it with my hands. I mean… JUST KIDDING. I am a LADY, people.
And well, you know this is going to be good food because it starts with caramelized onions, otherwise known as the food of the gods. Caramelized onions will take what feels like forever to caramelize, upwards of 60 to 90 minutes. The wait is worth it, although you won’t believe me when the smell is taking over your apartment on Minute 37.
Get thee to your grocery store and buy the largest bottle of sriracha
Oh, and then you add feta, a little lemon, and sriracha (the Thai hot sauce most likely available at your nearest grocer). It will blow your mind. It’s sweet from the onions, chewy from the lentils and farro, with a little bit of tang from the feta. The lemon just brightens the dish, making it taste lighter, and not heavy at all. And really, who doesn’t like hot sauce? A couple of drops for me, but add as much as you like. Have I convinced you yet?
Gather: 2 medium or large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced along the grain
4 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup farro
½ cup french lentils, carefully picked through for pebbles and debris
10 cups fresh spinach, washed and drained
fresh lemon or lemon juice
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot (test by flicking a few drops of water into the pan – if they skip across the surface of the oil, the oil is hot) and dump in the onions. Be careful! ‘Cause you know, that shiz is hot. Stir immediately to coat the onions, and then season with a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat and cook the onions over low heat, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t burn. The onions are done when they are a medium-to-deep brown. Taste as you go, and see what you like.
As soon as the onions have started cooking, heat a medium stockpot of 3 cups of water over high heat (if you cover the pot, it will boil faster). Then, in a medium bowl, begin soaking the farro. Cover the farro with water (at least 2 inches on top of the farro), and stir to make sure the farro sinks to the bottom. Soak the farro for 30 minutes (set your timer, unless you have crazy good timing skillz) while you cook the lentils. Drain and set aside when the 30 minutes is up.
When the water in your stockpot is boiling, add the lentils and another pinch of salt. Bring the water back to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook the lentils for 20-25 minutes. Begin tasting at 15 minutes, as you want the lentils to be chewy but not mushy.
Once the lentils are done, drain the lentils into a strainer and refill the pot with another 3 cups of water. Set the water on high heat and bring to a boil. Add the drained farro and cook for 25-30 minutes or until chewy but not mushy. Start tasting at 20 minutes, and drain into a strainer when the texture is to your liking. Add drained lentils and farro to serving bowl.
At this point, your onions should be just about caramelized. Spoon out the onions into your serving bowl, leaving as much of the residual olive oil still in the skillet as you can. Add the spinach to the pan and toss in the hot oil to wilt slightly, cooking about 2 minutes before removing the spinach to the serving bowl. (You can do this in batches if your skillet isn’t large enough.)
Finally, toss the lentils, farro, onions, and spinach in your serving bowl. Top with feta, as much or as little as you like. Serve with lemon and siracha.
Now Playing:Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – a meal this epic deserves an epic choice of tunes… except I couldn’t figure out which one to post… so I posted my two favorites. Check out their myspace and facebook pages and start praying now for a tour date near you.
“Quinoa, you say? What, Kitchenette, that leafy green up there? Pish posh. Quinoa is clearly a grain, you half wit.”
Dudes and dudettes, I would have been saying the same exact thing not 2 weeks ago. But I scored some raw quinoa from the farmer’s market last week. I would equate the experience of buying raw quinoa to, I don’t know, seeing your elementary school teacher at a strip club, or seeing your dog walk on it’s hind legs. You’re kind of like, “wait – quinoa actually grows on a plant? It doesn’t just show up in my Whole Foods bulk aisle of it’s own accord?”
My newest obsession (besides cooking magazines and spinach, of course) is whole grains. I’m loving the renewed interest in whole grains and the way it’s showing up in magazines and in my local grocery store. That said, I love a good cold grain salad. Quinoa, barley, farro… bring it on. I love it all. There’s just something about whole grains, you know? They’re high in fiber and protein, and I like knowing that they’ve gone through minimal processing.
In my neck of the woods, mangos are on sale right now, so I made this yummy salad over the weekend. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so if you see mangos at a reasonable price, hopefully this is at the top of your list of what to do with them! Trust – you won’t regret it.
Definitely check out the linked website above and make sure you’re trying out all the new grains to hit your local grocery store!