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Posts Tagged ‘quinoa’

Yuki was talking with her parents the other night about quinoa and her dad said that he’s never had it before. Since they’ve been doing most of the cooking the past week I took that as a cue to get my ass back in the kitchen, something I’ve been jonezin to do. I referred back to the Charlie Trotter recipe that I’ve used before for inspiration. Again, this dish is not his exact recipe, but it is inspired from it. These recipes should feed 6 adults provided their not all fat Americans.

Before getting to the chicken and quinoa I made a cauliflower puree soup that we could eat while the chicken roasted. My mom was with us also, and she is not a fan of cauliflower. I took that as a challenge to show her that cauliflower, when not referring to a boxer’s ears, is a beautiful thing.

I took one head of cauliflower broken down, 1 yukon gold potato chopped, 2 garlic cloves chopped, 1 inch of ginger chopped, 1/2 onion chopped, 1 cup of chicken stock, and 3 cups of water.

I simply threw everything into a stock pot, brought it all up to a boil, covered the pot, turned the heat down to med-low, and let it all simmer for about 30 minutes.

After that I just turned off the heat and let it cool down a bit. Then I poured it all into my blender and pureed it up. I poured it back into the pot and seasoned with salt and pepper. Before eating it I just heated it back up. My brother sprinkled a little shichimi togarashi in his which lead me to do the same. A wise decision!

Before we got to the soup I got everything else going. For the apricot curry sauce I put 3/4 cup dried apricots, 3/4 tablespoon curry powder, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water into my small blender and let ‘er rip for about 5 minutes or so.

Then I strained the sauce. I reserved the solids for use with the bird. I set the sauce aside and let it rest until serving time.

I had a 3.5 pound chicken to roast. I seasoned it inside and out with salt and pepper, squeezed some lemon juice all over the skin, then stuffed the cavity with the solids from the curry sauce and the lemon that I used to squeeze all over it. I put it in my roasting pan and threw it into a 450 degree oven. After 15 minutes I turned the heat down to 400 degrees and let it go for another 40 minutes. Then, I turned off the heat, slightly cracked the oven door open, and let the bird rest for about 15 minutes.

While the bird was roasting I got the quinoa ready. I used 1/2 each of an orange, yellow, and red bell pepper diced, 2 small Persian cucumbers diced, 5 tablespoons of orange juice, 1.5 cups of quinoa rinsed, and some chopped chives.

In a hot pot I poured in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then sweat down the peppers for about 5 minutes. Then I added the quinoa and let it sort of toast in the hot oil for about 3 minutes. After that, I poured in 3 cups of boiling water. With everything boiling I covered the pot, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. When that time passed I turned the heat off, kept it covered, and let it sit for another 15 minutes. Just before serving I added the cucumber and orange juice, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and then fluffed it up with a fork.

I also roasted some asparagus while the quinoa and chicken were cooking. I just took some asparagus spears and drizzled them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and ground sesame seeds. I threw them into my toaster oven set at bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

While all of that was going we sat down and ate the cauliflower soup.

When we finished the soup I took the bird out and cut it up. Honestly, that’s one area I’m not real good at. I butchered that thing pretty good. I got most of the meat off, but there was some left on the carcass that I didn’t get. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep roasting birds until I get better at carving them. No matter though, the meat was juicy and delicious.

To serve it, I drizzled the sauce all over the plate and then sprinkled over the chives.

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So, this recipe is loosely based on a Charlie Trotter. The sauce is his, and the overall flavor concept is his, but I added some of my own touches and served the quinoa mixture in lettuce cups. Honestly, I think he’d prefer that I use his recipe for inspiration rather than to have me follow it to the teaspoon.

First thing I did was make the apricot-curry sauce. I took 3/4 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 3/4 cup dried apricots, and 1/2 cup of water and blended it all together in my small food processor until all of the little apricot chunks were hacked up to a pulp.

Then I strained it while pressing it through with the back of a wooden spoon. I covered it in plastic and put in the fridge while I cooked everything else.

For the quinoa I used a handful of fresh chopped parsley, some red leaf lettuce leaves, 1 clove of garlic minced, 1/2 inch of ginger minced, 5 green onions chopped, 1/2 red bell pepper diced, a handful of dried apricots diced, 1/2 cup of quinoa rinsed, and 1/2 lb of skinless boneless chicken thighs chopped up.

In a hot pot I poured in about 2 tablespoons of canola oil and added the garlic and ginger. I let them sizzle for about 30 seconds and then added the bell pepper and green onions. After about 5 minutes I added the quinoa and let it sort of toast in the hot oil for a few minutes. This brings out its nutty flavors.

Then I added the chicken and let it just start to cook. I poured in about 1 cup of water, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, let it come to a boil, covered the pot, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Then, I turned off the heat but kept it covered for another 15 minutes. After that I took off the lid, added the parsley, and fluffed it up with a fork. I tasted for seasoning and that’s about all there was to it.

To serve, I simply laid some of the lettuce leaves down, spooned on some of the quinoa, then topped with the curry sauce.

I served some white rice and miso soup along side.

For this miso soup I used miso, 3 shiitake sliced, 3 green onions sliced, 1 block of fried tofu diced, and some wakame. I used my typical miso soup making method.

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Even since it was featured on CheckPlease a while back I have wanted to check out Blue 13. I don’t know why, but it really appealed to me for some reason. When I saw that Chef Curren was doing a Restaurant Week menu I took that as an opportunity to finally get off my ass and take my wife out for some rockin viddles. Turned out to be a damn good idea.

Located in the River North area, Blue 13 is on a very residential strip just off the hwy. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because it allows for a neighborhood feel without any pretension. It’s bad because there’s nowhere to park! I hate paying for valet. I am Jewish (culturally, not religiously) after all. After finding a place to park a couple of blocks away Yuki and I were ready to get out of the cold and fill ourselves full of tastiness.

When we got there a couple of tables lingered a little longer than expected and our reservation was about 15 minutes late. No worries, 15 minutes is acceptable. So, we headed to the bar and I had a beer while we bitched to each other about how frustrating both of our jobs are. Basically, a nightly routine. When we got to our table we already knew what we wanted so we ordered up dinner, ate some good bread with great olive oil, and awaited the feast.

Yuki started off with the Duck Confit Tortellini. Served in a caper and cilantro butter sauce it was absolutely delicious. The only thing wrong with it is that the pasta was just a little too al dente, and not by much. Maybe another 45 seconds or so in salted water and it would have been perfect. On the other hand, this was the first time I’ve ever had capers with cilantro. I hope it’s not the last because it was a really weird pairing that actually works quite well.

I got the Beet Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette. I did tell you the other day that if there’s a beet salad on a menu I’ll probably get it. It didn’t hurt that their restaurant week menu only had two options (they did have a $44 pre fixe option with more choices, but that’s a little pricy for my blood). I will say this, Chef Curran’s beet salad is one of the most creative ones I’ve ever eaten. Nice sweet golden beets, frisee, endive, candied hazelnuts (quite possibly my favorite of all nuts, excluding my own of course), and, get this, marshmallows made with beets and balsamic vinegar. It was the marshmallows that set this salad over the top.

Yuki got the Arctic Char entrée. A beautiful piece of fish with a nice crispy skin and juicy flesh (is there anything better than juicy flesh?). It was served on a grain salad that consisted mainly of quinoa and pearl barley as well as a big smear of pureed butternut squash. All of the flavors worked in harmony and completed a very satisfying dish.

I got the Guinness Braised Veal Cheeks. These were some of the most tender cheeks I’ve tossed into my organs, like a really soft brisket. Served on buttered noodles with sautéed brussel sprouts and a smear of creme fraiche. It was garnished with a baby carrot and some baby cilantro. I’m beginning to realize that Chef Curran likes to use cilantro. Honestly, I got no beef with that! In fact, I got veal. The only problem with this dish is that I found that it could have used one more pinch of salt to really bring out the beery goodness of the guinness. Otherwise this was a success.

With two dessert options we decided to get one of each, and that really wasn’t a hard decision to make. Yuki had the Apple Cobbler with Vanilla Gelato. A classic that he didn’t really fiddle much with. It was very straightforward but executed nicely.

I got the Chocolate Peanut Butter Waffle. Waffle with candied peanuts, peanut butter sauce, chocolate sauce, and a scoop of vanilla gelato. As I started eating it I was greeted with a very nice surprise, very nice indeed. In the chocolate sauce were little pieces of BACON!!! It’s desserts like this that make me glad I don’t keep Kosher. Bacon truly does make everything better.

Service throughout the night was spot on. The servers were casual, yet professional. Food was brought out in good time and plates were cleared promptly. The atmosphere was also very casual. Exposed brick walls with heavy rock’n’roll on the speakers, but not too loud that it hindered conversation.

Way back when I worked at a restaurant called The Outpost I always thought that it should have been something more like this. Honestly, if I ever did open up a restaurant it would be along the lines of Blue 13, except I’d play more classic rock and throw some Fela in the mix. Otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing.

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We ran out of muffins so I had to make some more yesterday. Since I still had some pumpkin left from the quinoa dish I made the other day I decided to use it up.

The ingredient list includes 1 3/4 cup of cake flour, 2/3 cup of butter at room temperature, 1 egg at room temperature, 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/3 cup of maple syrup, 3/4 cup pure cane sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup of pumpkin.

First thing I had to do was cook my pumpkin. I diced up 1 cups worth and tossed it in my steamer for about 6 minutes or so, until it was soft enough to puree. Then I pureed it in my small processor and set it aside to cool down a bit.

Then, in my large glass bowl I creamed the butter with the sugar and syrup until it was nice and fluffy. I don’t have a good electric mixer, so this was tough for me. I started with a fork to get the butter nicely incorporated, then switched to a whisk to get the air whipped in. After that I added the egg and pumpkin and stirred it all together.

In my other glass bowl I sifted together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. In a few batches I added the flour mix into the pumpkin mix and mixed really well to make sure there were no lumps in my batter. I poured it into my muffin pan (only got 10 instead of the 12 I was expecting) and put it into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

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I try to make quinoa a regular in my diet, but don’t make it as often as I should. Being one of the world’s superfoods, as well as being relatively inexpensive, I think everyone should eat it at least a few times a month. I’m just waiting for the McQuinoa to show up on menus. Although, to get most Americans to eat it they’d probably have to use burger patties as the bun.

First thing I did was marinate the pork chops. I mixed together 2 tablespoons of sake, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce,1/2 inch ginger grated, a large garlic clove grated, and some cracked black pepper. I turned the pork around in the marinade a few times to coat it entirely, then I covered it and set it in the fridge for about 2 hours. I turned it a couple of times while marinating. I also took it out about 30 minutes prior to grilling to bring it to room temperature, this ensures that it cooks more evenly.

For the quinoa I used 1 tablespoon of curry powder, 6 green onions sliced, 1 yellow bell pepper sliced, 2 garlic cloves minced, 1/2 inch of ginger minced, 1/3 of a small pumpkin (I just eye-balled how much I wanted to use, I have no idea how much it actually was), 1 cup of quinoa, and a couple large handfuls of baby spinach.

In a small sauce pan I brought 2 cups of water to a boil. While the water was getting hot, I heated up my medium pan and poured in about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. I threw in the pumpkin, bell pepper, and green onions. I let them saute for about 5 minutes and then added the garlic and ginger. While the garlic and ginger started to heat up, about a minute, I thoroughly rinsed the quinoa and then added it to the pan along with the curry powder, a touch of salt, and some black pepper. I stirred it around for about 3-4 minutes so that the quinoa would start to give off a slight nutty aroma. After that I poured in the boiling water, covered the pan, and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Once that 15 minutes was up I turned off the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

While the quinoa was simmering I got the grill hot and grilled up the pork chops. It took about 5-6 minutes per side.

Just before serving I toasted my last piece of manakeesh from the Tannourine Bakery. I also fluffed up the quinoa with a fork and then mixed in the baby spinach.

If I were to make this recipe again I would do two things different. Instead of using 1 tablespoon curry powder I would use 1.5-2 tablespoons, or maybe a touch of cinnamon. I would also squeeze a lemon or lime into the quinoa as I stir in the spinach. The quinoa was good, just much more lightly flavored than I would have liked.

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For Meatless Monday last night I made some burger patties out of quinoa. To go along with it I made a very simple vegetable soup.

To make the soup I sautéed a half onion, a carrot, two ribs of celery, a fennel bulb, and some asparagus all chopped in some olive oil with minced garlic. I let the vegetables sweat for about 6 or 7 minutes.

Then I added two chopped tomatoes, a few cups of boiling water, a bay leaf, and the rind from some parmigiano-reggiano. I seasoned with salt and pepper and let it simmer over low heat for a while.

To make the quinoa patties I first sautéed a few thinly sliced green onions in some olive oil with a diced garlic clove. After a few minutes I added a cup of quinoa that I had rinsed a few times. I let the quinoa cook in the oil for a few minutes and then added 1.5 cups of hot water. Once that came to a boil I covered the pot and let it simmer at low heat for about 15 minutes.

After all the water had been absorbed I fluffed the quinoa with a fork and stirred in some grated parmesan, a handful of thinly sliced basil, salt, and pepper. Then I let it cool down for a bit. After it had cooled, I stirred in one egg and formed 8 patties. I put them in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm them up a bit.

In batches, I fried them over high heat in butter. I added a little butter as need be.

To serve, I laid a couple of patties on top of baby arugula. I made a simple sauce of basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in my small processor. I drizzled the sauce on top and then tossed some parmesan on top of that.

It turned out delicious, but the patties were very fragile. If I make them again I’m going to add some bread crumbs. I think that will help keep the patties firm and less prone to falling apart. But the flavors were great.

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Alright, finally my last Restaurant Week experience. Yuki and I took advantage of the Art Institute’s free month in February this past Sunday. Afterwords we had planned on meeting up with a couple of friends, one in from Japan, for dinner downtown. We walked by Texas de Brazil and it looked damn tasty. So, I asked the hostess if they were participating in restaurant week, and when she said yes I made a reservation for us. What they normally charge for $50, we got for $32. Not a bad deal at all, not bad. Those of you have been to a Churrascaria before know what I’m talking about.

Again, the pics were taken with my cell, so they’re not the best quality. Also, if you’re a vegetarian or a little squeemish, don’t look any further. There are chunks of bloody animal carcass on my plate. Consider yourself warned.

We started off with a round of caipirinha’s. While the bartender whipped those up we headed over to the sushi and salad bars.

I apologize, I ate the sushi and most of my first run to the salad bar before snapping a pic. I have to say, the sushi was quite good. There were three different maki rolls, tuna and avocado, california, and salmon. The salad bar was outrageous! Check out their website for a complete list of items. My favorites were the tuna tataki, pomegranate quinoa, and the cheeses. Everything was top quality. They did not skimp at all. The soup was lobster bisque, which for some reason none of us tried. Why is that?

Once we finished the first round at the salad bar the meat-a-thon began! Flip the token to green and meat just started flying everywhere! Highlights were the garlic beef (of course), bacon-wrapped filet (of course), and the sausages (of course). I asked the gaucho what the sausage was spiced with and his answer was brilliant, “Brazillian spices”. Great, now I know how to make them at home. Other tasty bits were the lamb chops, leg of lamb, and flank steak. Just like the salad bar the meat was all top quality. They definitely did not buy their meats from Jewel! While mauling the meat we were served mashed potatoes, little cheese puffs, and fried plantians as well.

After ingesting about two and three fifths of large farm animals I thought it would be best to get some leafy greens in my stomach. I made another run to the salad bar and just grabbed some mixed greens and topped them with what they call “Brazillian Dressing”, just some small diced tomatoes and peppers in lime juice. Had I not gone for the salad I don’t even want to think about what would have happened to my intestines.

Dessert was also offered with our meal. We had our choice of a banana’s foster cheese cake or key lime pie. So, we got two of each.

I tell ya, as much fun as Churrascarias are and as delicious as they are, I don’t think I can go to one again. I always end up eating so much meat it’s not even funny. Don’t get me wrong, I love meat, it’s my favorite vegetable. Let’s be honest though, a 150 pound man should not swallow 207 pounds of dead animal in one sitting! It’s just not right! I almost couldn’t get up from the chair after the night’s festivities came to a halt. It also ruined my normal cycles for a few days, but that’s a whole different story in itself.

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