Quinoa Apple-Coconut Breakfast Porridge

Let’s just pretend that I never stopped blogging here, shall we?

This is a vegan breakfast porridge inspired by a yummy-looking meal my co-worker had at work last week. I’ve recently been advised to avoid oats (which I’m doing, against my better judgment), but I’ve wanted a warm, porridge-y breakfast during the recent spot of cold weather. This came together quickly, and makes 4 portions, so it’s a quick batch that makes several breakfasts.

Quinoa Apple-Coconut Breakfast Porridge
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 c. quinoa
  • ½ c. water
  • ½ c. coconut milk (canned variety, light is fine)
  • ½ c. non-dairy milk (can add more coconut milk, if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened flake coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 1 medium apple, chopped in large dice
Instructions
  1. Heat medium-sized saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add quinoa, and stir to toast, approximately 3 minutes
  3. Remove pan from heat and add milks and water. Be careful, as the liquid is likely to spit.
  4. Replace pan on burner, and add coconut, flaxseed, and apple
  5. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low
  6. Cover and cook for 15 minutes
  7. Remove pan from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes
  8. Fluff, and enjoy!
  9. As desired, you can add additional toppings, such as chopped nuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, and more.
Notes
Nutritional data via SparkPeople Recipe Builder. Caveat lector.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: Scant 1 cup Calories: 244 Fat: 7.5g Saturated fat: 3g Unsaturated fat: 1.2g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 38 Sugar: 3.6g Sodium: 49mg Fiber: 5.4g Protein: 8g Cholesterol: 0mg

 

Hatch Pepper Hummus: Hatch Fever Continues

Hatch Chile HummusI always associate Hatch chile season with our move to Austin. The week we were here looking for a place to live before the big move coincided with the Hatch chile festival at Central Market, and thus my obsession began. I’ve rarely bought anything besides the chiles themselves, but this year I tried the roasted Hatch chile hummus and fell in love. I bought three tubs to prolong the festival feeling, but those were gone in short order. With my freezer stocked with 20 pounds of roasted chiles (hot, if you must know) I decided to give it a try and make my own. I adapted my recipe from this great base on Confections of a Foodie Bride. To make a super smooth hummus I use Alton Brown’s slow cooker chickpeas recipe. The trick is 1/2 tsp baking soda added to the cooking water–it dissolves the chickpea skins for smoother blending.

 

 

 

Hatch Pepper Hummus: Hatch Fever Continues
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: Approx. 2 cups of hummus
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed (roughly 1.5 cans)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Hatch chiles, roasted, seeded, and chopped
  • Juice of 1.5 limes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpeas and garlic in the food processor and process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the bowl.
  2. Add the hatch chiles, lime juice, salt, and cumin and process again, scraping the bowl as needed.
  3. Add tahini and process until completely smooth.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve, topped with additional chopped chiles as desired.

 

Tofu, radish, and shaved carrot salad with sesame-miso vinaigrette

I Don’t Do Resolutions

So why have I decided to embark on a cleanse this year?

I am one who scoffs at resolutions, mostly because I am crap at following through with them. I hate setting myself up for failure, so rather than set some reasonable goals for self-improvement I just don’t even bother. Not formally, anyway.

Last year while we were still in Uzbekistan I saw lots of tweets about Bon Appétit‘s annual Food Lover’s Cleanse. Unlike a juice cleanse or that cayenne pepper and lemon detox thing, this “cleanse” relies on whole, fresh foods, simply prepared, with a minimum of processed ingredients, and no refined starches or sugars. I was really intrigued by the two-week venture, partly because I’d been sick for several weeks and felt run-down and icky. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find many of the ingredients on the local market in Tashkent, so I abandoned the idea.

But this year Paul and I have decided to do it, and frankly we’re totally excited about finding new ways to use up all the interesting veggies we get in our CSA box from Johnson’s Backyard Garden every other week! We really lucked out because our box comes with an incredible variety of produce, most of which we’ll use in the recipes, and since we’ve already paid for it the grocery bill didn’t seem too steep.

In reviewing the recipes and planning my shopping list, I did find myself struggling a bit. A couple of dishes call for mangoes, which are out of season and stupid expensive this time of year. Some others call for agave nectar, which is fairly high in fructose and has been shown in studies to be linked to insulin resistance and other health concerns. And since I don’t eat beef or pork, we’ve got some substituting to do. I’ll be using honey or maple syrup in place of agave, but not sure what to do about those dang mangoes!

Getting Started

On New Year’s Eve day Paul and I headed to Central Market with our cleanse shopping list in hand. We bought a ton of greens, lots of herbs, freshly ground almond butter, miso, nuts and seeds, and a shocking amount of Aleppo pepper. All this supplements the carrots, radishes, cabbage, fish, and fruits we already had on hand.

It felt like we were the only people buying “normal” food in the entire store. Most carts were filled with wine, cheese, cream, dips, fancy desserts, champagne, and other celebration foods. I’ll admit, we were feeling a bit smug, but we did close out this difficult year with a lovely New Year’s Eve dinner at Swift’s Attic.

Today’s Menu

This morning started with Steel Cut Oats with Blackberries and Hemp Seeds, except at our house it was Rolled Oats with Blueberries and Flax Seed. I couldn’t find hemp seeds at the market, and I have bags of frozen wild blueberries in my freezer, so I’ll just have to get my antioxidants and flavonoids from those guys until they run out.

Tofu, radish, and shaved carrot salad with sesame-miso vinaigretteLunch was what I’ll have to call a Hugh Jass salad, featuring a veggie I don’t love: radish. However, the Sesame-Miso Vinaigrette was incredibly flavorful, and once all the vegetables and tofu were combined the tastes blended quite well and I really enjoyed the radishes. I recommend the recipe for Spinach, Tofu, and Shaved Carrot Salad with Sesame Dressing and Spiced Pepita and Cashew Crunch, and the little spicy nuts and seeds are a great addition.

In working through the first day, this cleanse is not for the faint of heart, weak of kitchen skill, impatient, or otherwise easily frustrated in the kitchen. And if you’re unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, be prepared to do your own research, as the recipes don’t provide much information or guidance. Although, if you’re a food lover you probably are familiar with most of the ingredients.

Prepping dinner made me a little crazy. The Greenest Tahini Sauce recipe is unnecessarily complicated, I think. I understand blanching the garlic to give it a milder flavor, but blanching and shocking and draining and squeezing the relatively small amount of watercress (or in my case, arugula) and herbs is a bunch of steps in it that seem…excessive. Would it really be any less delicious if the greens and herbs were used fresh? Or maybe a quick steam in the microwave would work? It just took a lot of time and kitchen equipment to make about 1 cup of sauce.

The Red Quinoa with Walnuts and Shallots, however, was simple and delicious, even though I forgot to toast and add the walnuts (which would have been pecans in my case.

Roasted veg bon appetitI’m least pleased with the Roasted Beets, Carrots, and Jerusalem Artichokes. I already had a bunch of roasted beets, so I skipped that part of the recipe. My carrots and Jerusalem artichokes took longer than 20 minutes to cook, and when they were finally tender they were more steamed than roasted. My oven is pretty much right on temperature, so I would raise the temp to 450 to get more roastiness on the vegetable if I make this again.

Overall we enjoyed the meal, and I’m sure the leftovers will make a nice salad tomorrow. So far I’m generally impressed with how flavorful the recipes are, despite some of the prep difficulties, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming meals.

Coconut-Cardamom Rice Pudding

Coconut Cardamom Rice PuddingIt’s been a busy few weeks with huge deadlines in November and, of course, Thanksgiving. Admittedly I didn’t do a great job of blogging a favorite food holiday, and maybe next year I’ll be more organized about it. I do plan to tell you about the best pecan I’ve ever made, and maybe ever eaten.

Over the last three weeks or so we’ve had two brutal cold snaps each lasting about five days, with a stretch of super spring-like weather in between. The cold has put me in the mood for everything comfort food: turkey pot pie made with leftover holiday bird, mini turkey chile meatloaves (which go well with roasted sweet potatoes or squash), green chile mac and cheese, roasted root vegetables, and more. I was trying to work out what to make for a warming dessert now that the rich and heavy holiday pies are gone, and I thought about a rice pudding I used to make.

I couldn’t find my old recipe so I did a little searching online to look for some ratios and came up with a fragrant and creamy dish that combines coconut milk and cardamom with leftover rice. The dish is easy, but takes a little attention at the stove while it simmers. Avoid bringing the pudding to a full-on boil, especially once the egg is added. If you don’t have (or don’t like) cardamom, you can leave it out or substitute a piece of cinnamon stick. This is delicious warm or cold, and it makes a nice, albeit sweet, breakfast, too.

Coconut-Cardamom Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked rice, chilled (I’ve used brown basmati and brown jasmine most often)
1 can of unsweetened coconut milk (light or regular)
4 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked
1 egg
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cooked rice in a saucepan with coconut milk and cardamom and bring to a simmer. Whisk egg and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the warm coconut milk mixture to the egg to tempter it slightly. Pour the egg and coconut milk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking to combine. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Serve warm or chilled.

Breakfast at Home

Figs and Goat CheeseI’m pretty inconsistent when it comes to breakfast at home. Some days I want a full meal deal, and others I just want a cafe au lait and a the morning news updates. Once upon a time I had a stable of three or four breakfast options I’d rotate through during the week, but I’ve gotten a bit lazy and some mornings I’m doing well to put the coffee and water in the correct sections of the coffee pot!

Quick assemble breakfasts make me happy, but most of my old standards were assembled on Central Market‘s Nine Grain and Honey bread. Since adopting gluten-free eating I’ve missed that bread, but not as much as I thought I might. On the recommendations of several friends I tried Udi’s gluten-free breads. I’ve tried four varieties and all have been good (the Omega Flax and Fiber is my favorite), but the slices are small and the loaves are expensive. I’ve been treating my Udi’s as a special treat, rather than as a regular daily standby.

Back in August ago I made preserved figs and on a recent morning decided that they needed to become breakfast. A couple of slices of that flax and fiber bread made a nice base for a luscious spread of goat cheese and juicy slices of cardamom-spiced figs alongside my cafe au lait. What an east, special breakfast at home.

Foodie Find: Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe v baby broccoli

Left: my photo of the produce section, right: the recipe photo at Food 52

I am really into autumn greens this year, and despite the surfeit of kale and collards in my fridge at the moment, I volunteered to test a recipe in a Food52 recipe contest for Your Most Impressive Dinner Party Side featuring broccoli rabe. In the process of shopping for ingredients I learned a few things about broccoli, broccolini, and broccoli rabe. I thought I’d share, since I can’t really post my thoughts on the recipe until after I send them off to the Food52 editors.

As I’ve already established, Central Market is my favorite grocery store on the planet. I love shopping there and discovering new things, and to be honest I tend to ignore the whole broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage part of the produce section. Largely this is because they aren’t my favorite vegetables, and I find myself stonewalling when faced with the whole procedure of chopping a large head down to useable pieces.

Today I went looking for broccoli rabe and found myself totally confused, looking at the leafy greens that I thought were broccoli rabe which were displayed under a sign for organic sweet baby broccoli. Then I went to verify the ingredients on the recipe’s site, and that photo added to my confusion, since it seems to be baby broccoli, not broccoli rabe!

I did a quick spot of research and learned the following:

  • Broccoli rabe is part of the same genus as broccoli, but it’s more closely related to the turnip family
  • Baby broccoli, also known by the trademarked name broccolini, is not young broccoli, but is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale
  • The “sweet baby broccoli” sign above refers to a different hybrid of baby broccoli, so it’s just another version of broccolini, but it’s definitely not young broccoli

I went ahead and made the recipe as written, using broccoli rabe rather than the baby broccoli pictured in the photo. I’ve had broccoli rabe at restaurants before, but this was my first time making it at home. I learned a few things, might not repeat some of them, and ended up with an overall pleasing dish.

If you’re looking to try broccoli rabe, look for the leaves and not the little florets. Notably, broccoli rabe doesn’t give off the cabbage-y aroma that so many cruciferous vegetables have. It’s fairly mild, slightly bitter, and not as toothsome as collards or kale can be. I recommend removing the tough stems as they are quite stringy, but using the soft stems along with the leaves. All the reputable recipes I’ve found have recommended blanching the broccoli rabe before sauteeing. I would substitute it in any favorite autumn greens dish.

Do you have a well-loved preparation that might be amazing with broccoli rabe?

Sunday Dinner

Chicken with polenta and broc edited(HDR)

We had a busy weekend with family from out of town and at least a portion of the Austin City Limits music festival, so I didn’t do my usual Sunday cooking. I made a lovely dinner, though, with a variation on Mark Bittman’s Mediterranean Chicken Thighs, some rich and cheesy polenta with garlic, and sauteed broccoli rabe with pine nuts and lemon. The pine nuts, toasted and seasoned with salt, rosemary, and worcestershire sauce, were amazing with the polenta and might be a new garnish for that dish.

Secret: I love roasting chicken thighs. They can be simply seasoned or made a little bit special with some fragrant herb paste layered under the skin. At 375 degrees they take just about 30 minutes in the oven, which is the perfect amount of time to make a salad and a quick side or two. And it’s just as easy to make a double batch, leaving lots of leftovers for cold lunches, chicken salad, or adding to soup or stew. And I save all the bones for making broth. Eventually.

My Best Recipe: Honey-Flax Granola

Honey-Flax GranolaMy Best Recipe is definitely becoming a series! If you haven’t read my original post, the idea of a “best recipe” is one that is consistent, uses just a handful of staple ingredients, is easy to remember, and comes together with a minimum of fuss. This granola recipe fits nearly all those requirements, but it does take a bit of attention to make sure it doesn’t go from toasted to roasted while you weren’t watching.

As I mentioned yesterday, when I first started making this recipe it was kosher for Passover, made with matzo farfel, which is essentially rolled oat-sized bits of matzo. The original recipe came from Streit’s Matzos, and it’s terrifically flexible for Passover and any time of year. For the record, the other recipes on the Streit’s site look a bit…odd, but the mandel bread recipe is gold standard.

Once I started making granola on a regular basis in Uzbekistan, I became a frequent customer on the honey aisle in our local bazar. Vendors there had honeys collected from various parts of Uzbekistan and other countries in the region. Last year I had the great fortune to visit a beekeeper’s association in the Ferghana Valley where I purchased a liter of honey directly from the beekeeper and found this little guy when I opened the jar:

Bee spoon

I haven’t encountered any stowaways in my local Good Flow honey yet, but there’s a first time for everything!

This recipe is what I’d call a base recipe–it’s one you can build on and modify with any mix-ins you like. To prevent any nuts and dried fruits from burning I add them all at the end, after the granola comes out of the oven. It’s hard to say how many servings this makes–that all depends on how many mix-ins you add to the base recipe.

Finally, I’ve recently started making the granola with coconut oil. I haven’t tried a blend of oils, but I suspect it would work pretty well. My only hesitation in using 100% coconut oil is the expense, but it is super delicious and so far it’s been worth it. If you’re gluten-free and can eat oats, just be certain to use certified gluten-free oats.

Honey-Flax Granola

6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup ground flax meal
Ground cinnamon and ginger to taste
Pinch salt
Mix-ins of your choice (I usually add about 1 cup total of nuts and fruits, and toasted seeds and coconut would work well)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a half-sheet pan or two cookie sheets with sides with foil or a silicone baking mat. Spread the oats evenly over the baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly toasted, stirring 2-3 times while baking. Remove oats from oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees.

Combine oil and honey and heat until bubbly. Carefully pour oats into a large, heat-resistant mixing bowl, reserving baking sheets. Pour oil/honey mixture over the oats and mix until the oil and honey are absorbed. Add the flax meal, salt, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and/or ginger. Stir to combine and taste to adjust seasoning. Return the mixture to the reserved baking sheets.

Continue baking at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes longer. Remember to stir every 5-7 minutes to prevent uneven baking, taking care to make sure the edges don’t burn. When nicely toasted, place in a large bowl and the mix-ins. Let the mixture cool and then store in an airtight container.

NOTE: This recipe will go from just perfect to overdone in a flash. Be very vigilant in the last 5-7 minutes of baking to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Honey-Pecan Granola

Honey Pecan granolaOr honey-almond granola. Or honey-coconut granola. Or honey-cranberry granola. Or honey-flax granola. Basically, you can add almost anything (and everything) you like and this granola is divine.

I won’t post the recipe right now, but I’ll add it in the next few days, so you’ll just have to come back.

I made this granola all the time while we were in Uzbekistan because the ingredients were plentiful and relatively affordable. While pecans aren’t locally available there, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are widely available (though pricey), and they frequently found their way into the mix. Dried apricots, too, were common additions. And the honey. Oh, the honey. More on that to come.

When I originally found this recipe I was looking for a Passover-friendly granola recipe since most breakfast cereals aren’t permitted during the holiday. For several years I only made it at Passover, and then one day I realized I could make an everyday granola using the same principles and ratios.

More to come when I post the recipe, but my current mix involves gluten-free oats, coconut oil, toasted slivered almonds, dried cranberries, local honey, and flax seed. We just picked up a giant bag of pecans, so I’m already concocting the next combination in my head. You can trust it won’t be pumpkin spice.