Quinoa Porridge with Grilled Tomatoes and Garlic

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I could eat this savory porridge everyday. Between the quinoa, rich in vegetable stock (and butter!), the rich flavor of blistered  cherry tomatoes, bright herbs, salty feta cheese tang, and crispy, fried garlic, this dish gives me everything in umami flavors, and diverse textures. I originally made this dish for a quick dinner, but I gladly ate it again for breakfast the next day, and then later for lunch…

Taken from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, but with a substitution of parsley and cilantro (because that’s what I had) for his mint. You can make thicken or thin this porridge to your liking simply by adjusting the amount of vegetable broth. Don’t skim on the oil or the butter – this dish needs fat to really make it sing!

Serves 4

  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • about 4 2/3 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3½ oz  crumbled into ¾-inch/2-cm chunks
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz baby plum tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
  • salt and black pepper

Herb oil

  • 1 green chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup mint leaves ( I used cilantro, instead)
  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • salt

Preparation

1. To make the herb oil, place the chile, parsley, mint, oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a small food processor and process to form a smooth sauce with a thick pouring consistency.

2. Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan, add the stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, uncovered, for about25 minutes, stirring from time to time, until a porridge-like consistency is formed. You might need to add a bit more stock if the quinoa is sticking to the pan. At the very end, fold in the butter until it melts, followed by the parsley and then the feta, making sure the feta stays in chunks.

3. While the quinoa is cooking, place a large sauté pan over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice so that all sides get some good charred color. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, so that it turns golden brown without burning. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with¼ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Chop the mint and fold it into the tomatoes just before serving, as it will start to blacken once chopped.

4. Spoon the warm quinoa porridge into shallow bowls, top with the tomatoes, finish with a drizzle of the herb oil, and serve at once.

Eggplant Delight.

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A simple, pureed dish of grilled eggplant, fried lightly with an egg, sprinkled with coriander and lime juice. It’s simple, easy, and delicious on toast or as a side with rice.

I used these interesting round, green asian eggplants that have a very mild flavor, but are also full of small round seeds, which add another textural component to the dish.

3 medium asian eggplants or 1 large Mediterranean eggplant (about one pound). If you use a Mediterranean eggplant, it will need to be salted and soaked to remove bitterness). This recipe comes from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid .

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Eggplant Delight 

1 large egg

1.5 Tbs shallot or peanut oil

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1 dried red chile, broken

1 small shallot, minced

3/4 tsp. salt, to taste.

2 Tbs. chopped coriander

1 lime, wedged

While it may be tempting to skip the lime and cilantro, please don’t. They really make the dish!  Prick the eggplants with a fork, and place them in an oven-safe dish, roasted at 450 until the skins collapse and the eggplants are very soft. Slice the eggplants open and scoop the flesh into a bowl, then smash well with a pastry cutter or fork. Stir in the egg into the mixture well, until the yoke completely separates.

Heat the oil in a wok, then add the oil, and stir in the numeric. Add the chili and shallot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 seconds. Add the eggplant mixture and continue to stir, scraping the sides and bottom of the wok, and keeping the eggplant mixture soft and smooth, for about 1 minutes. Add the salt, stir, taste, and add more salt of necessary. Turn the eggplant into a shallow bowl, top with cilantro and a healthy squeeze of lime juice.

Mandalay Mushroom and Tomato Curry

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I’m still eagerly exploring Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor, and you know that I’ll jump on anything that includes mushrooms. The recipe for “Mushroom and Tomato Curry” calls for toyster, portable or king mushrooms, I went for toothsome trumpet mushrooms, which I purchase organic at my local H Mart.

The ingredients are simple: peanut oil, turmeric, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, chili powder, shallot oil, salt. For the recommended fish sauce, I used a vegan oyster mushroom flavored soy sauce, to bring some umami to the dish and a little of that seawater flavor. When the recipe suggested making a Mandalay version with the addition of a few green chilis, you know I couldn’t refuse. Served with multi-grain rice, this warming dish is perfect for the blustery, blizzardy weather we’re getting on the East Coast.

Peanut and Rice Porridge

peanut and rice porridgeOn my continued quest for savory, comforting breakfast meals, I came across this wonderful recipe for Peanut and Rice Porridge (or Khao Poon Tua Lin) in the beautifully researched Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid.

An equal combination of boiled peanuts and cooked rice ( I used a brown rice mix), blended together with a bit of peanut oil, soy sauce, and salt, then topped with braised greens and other textural condiments, this porridge overwhelmed me with flavor and texture, and it kept me going strong through a long day. I chose to top my porridge with braised spinach, fried tofu, crunchy toasted chickpeas, fried shallots, fresh coriander, chili oil, and a bit of chili sambal, but you could make your porridge much simpler. The flavor of the peanuts and rice, even alone, is wonderful comfort food.

This isn’t a quick dish – I had to boil the peanuts for about an hour to soften them, but instead of adding raw rice to the cooked peanut water, I saved some time and cooked the rice and prepared the condiments while the peanuts boiled. This porridge lasts nicely for a few mornings or afternoons: just add a bit of water and stir well to loosen the porridge before heating.

Breakfast Bulgar Upma

upma

I love savory breakfast foods. On Philadelphia’s first snowing morning this winter, I wanted a warm, heating porridge, and found a great option in Whole Grains for a New Generation. Upma is a spicy Indian mush – but don’t let that dull description fool you! This breakfast porridge had loads of texture, and bold flavors.

I had no teff in the pantry, but substituted some bulgar, which is made from the farro grain. I fried the onion, garlic and spices first, then added the grains, an additional half cup of tomato sauce, and some salt, and this rich, spicy porridge was finished in 20 minutes. I topped mine with some greek yogurt, but a soft boiled egg, and scallions would be wonderful, as well, as would the addition of some homemade Indian lemon pickle. As the original recipe suggests, you could also use teff, farina, or any type of cracked whole wheat grain, and I suspect that polenta would also be wonderful.

Breakfast Bulgar Upma

1 Tbs. Canola Oil

1 small onion, or 2 shallots, diced

2 cloves of garlic

1 fresh red or green chili (or one hot, red dried chili)

1 tsp. crushed chili sauce

1/2 tsp. dried ginger or 1 tsp. fresh, minced

10 dried or fresh curry leaves

1 tsp. brown mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. ground cayenne  or  other chili powder

1 tsp. hot curry powder

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup raw bulgar

1.5 cups water

Heat the oil in a nice large saucepan dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and saute on medium just until it begins to brown. Toss in the dried spices, stirring, until they release fragrance (about 10 seconds) then add the tomato and chili sauces, stirring well. Add the bulgar, salt, and water, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the bulgar is soft, but still toothsome, and your porridge has reached a thick consistency. Top with yogurt, fresh herbs, soft eggs, or fried shallots.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Grapefruit, Cilantro, and Star Anise

brussels with grapefruit, cilantro, star anise

Roasted brussels sprouts with grapefruit? I know it sounds strange, but this dish, based off of “Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pomelo and Star Anise” from the new Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty More, turned out like so many dishes from Ottolenghi. Your first reaction might be “Really? Those things all together?” but the end result is surprising and delicious.

I was cooking in the Midwest, where I’ve found that brussel sprouts often cost significantly more than they do on the East Coast.  I decided to supplement the brussels with some carrots, which I roll cut for visual appeal, and roasted with the brussels. Instead of shallots, I caramelized two onions, which brought some sweetness and umami to the dish. And I couldn’t find any pomelo – a citrus fruit that is a cross between a sweet grapefruit and an orange with a very thick pith – so I just used a regular old pink grapefruit, to great results. The fresh cilantro is a must, and don’t skip on the star anise syrup either — both of these elements bring interesting South East Asian influence to  the dish. Simple, beautiful, interesting — what more could you want?

Cranberry Wine and Ginger Jam

 

cranberry wine ginger jam

 

Do you make holiday food gifts? I like to give my neighbors and co-workers a little something, but I’m not really big on the traditional cookie plates. Every year I make something different, and this year a left-over bag of Thanksgiving cranberries inspired a jam-making evening. The jam is think, really almost more of a chutney, and I used the basic recipe from Food in Jars. With a few jars, I used candied ginger instead of fresh, and I added a big pinch of cinnamon to each batch. The other secret ingredient? Wine instead of cider! I used a cheap red wine – why waste the money – but it gives the jam a nice depth.

You could spread this jam on toast, make a fun PBJ or an exciting grilled cheese. Your meat-eating friends could spread it on turkey sandwiches, but I’m most excited about using it on the baked brie my family traditionally makes Christmas night.