Category: Dana Treat Original

Home Sweet Quinoa

July 20, 2012

Do not adjust your screen.  Yes that is food.  And yes there is a recipe at the end of this post.

I made dinner most nights we were in France.  When I first saw the kitchen and its equipment in the Cagnes-sur-Mer place, I assumed we would eat dinners out.  Two burners, one of them very small, and three pots, none of them bigger than a 3 quart.  One big bowl, one wooden spoon, one spatula, and a handful of duller-than-dull knives (thankfully, I brought a knife with me).  But after getting used to my tiny kitchen, I found making dinner each night to be lovely.  Pleasantly easing into the evening after a busy day of laying on the beach or exploring beautiful French towns.

I made things that were relatively quick and easy.  It was hot so I tried to keep my time in front of the stove at a minimum and I never turned on the oven.  I made a giant salad every night and sometimes I just ate that with a big hunk of bread.  I also kept it simple because I didn’t want to buy a bunch of ingredients that I would just have to leave behind.

So, we ate Mediterranean for a month.  And it was awesome.  But I missed Mexican, Asian, and Indian food.  The first thing I made when we got back was a rice dish.  I could have made risotto in France but I didn’t and I was craving rice like crazy by the time we got home.  Also – quinoa.  I found quinoa there but somehow it just didn’t seem like the right thing to cook there.  I’ve made it several times since we’ve been home.

Now, I love quinoa but I don’t love it by itself and I don’t love it just boiled away in water.  It is a very charming seed (not a grain!) but it needs a little help.  I find I like it best made more as a pilaf.  I sauté shallot rounds in a little butter, stir in the quinoa, then pour in a bit of white wine.  I cook it until the wine is syrupy, then add the water.  I have found that if you add just 1½ times the liquid as you have quinoa, it turns out great.  (So for a cup of quinoa, I add ½ of wine and 1 cup of water.)  It is not mushy and has that slight and delightful crunch.

What else is going on in that bowl?  Red lentils, cooked just enough that they are soft but not so much that they lose their shape.  Ricotta salata, one of the world’s most charming cheeses.  A little crushed red pepper.  Lots of mint.  Lots of lemon juice.  A little olive oil.  Two additions I think would be lovely are pea shoots or broccoli rabe, the former blanched and finely chopped, the latter sautéed in olive oil, sprinkled with more red pepper flakes, and finely chopped.

One Year Ago:  Lemony Chickpeas and Oven-Dried Tomato Stew, Savory Spinach, Feta, and Peppadew Muffins, Salted Caramel Squares
Two Years Ago:  Chocolate Pavé, Roasted Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill, and Capers
Three Years Ago:  Blasted Broccoli, Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce, Asparagus Ragout
Four Years Ago:  Green Goddess Salad with Romaine, Cucumbers and Avocado (pardon the terrible photos)

Quinoa with Red Lentils, Ricotta Salata, and Mint
Dana Treat Original
Serves 6-8

If you have never used ricotta salata, you are in for a treat.  It is very salty but still mild in flavor and has a nice texture.  Similar to feta but drier and the flavor is not as gamy.  You could use feta instead.  Don’t worry about the exact amount, a small wedge will do fine.

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher or sea salt
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup quinoa
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup red lentils
5 ounces ricotta salata
1 small bunch of mint, leaves stemmed and coarsely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Place a medium (3 quart is perfect) saucepan over medium heat.  Melt the butter, then add the shallots along with a pinch of salt.  Stir in the red pepper flakes and cook until the shallots are brown in spots, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the quinoa, make sure it is coated with the butter and shallots, then pour in the wine.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is mostly absorbed, then pour in a cup of water.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is completely absorbed.  Scrape the quinoa out into a large bowl.

Rinse out the saucepan, then pour in the lentils and cover them with cold water.  Bring to a boil, add a large pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to keep it at a lively simmer.  Scrape off any white foam that comes to the surface.  Cook just until the lentils are tender, avoid having them go mushy, about 10-12 minutes.  Drain and add to the quinoa.

Once everything is cool (room temperature is fine), stir in the olive oil and the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and some black pepper.  Crumble in the cheese and fold in the mint.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  This salad will keep and taste great the next day, but the mint might turn black.



Editing is Important

April 25, 2012

Part of cooking well, like dressing well, is knowing when to edit.  There is a point where the dish is close to being just right and you can either just trust that it is good, or you can keep adding to it and potentially ruin it.  I think this is a particular danger with vegetarian food.  Without the protein anchor, sometimes it might feel like you need to keep adding layers of flavor to make up for what is “missing”.  Too many layers of flavor is my main critique of Seattle’s vegetarian restaurants and why I almost never frequent them.

A dish doesn’t have to have a whiz! bang! pop! to be lovely.  I first got this idea from Tracy and her Angel Hair Pasta with Arugula and Lemon.  Every so often a dish sticks in my overstuffed brain and lately it has been this one.  As we were driving back from our decadent weekend in Walla Walla, I started dreaming of superfine pasta stuffed to the gills with arugula.  I had recently bought some angel hair in a lovely package and we were lucky enough to visit a goat cheese farm while in Walla Walla and had purchased some delightful mild feta.  I decided that, rather than make Tracy’s dish to the letter, I would just riff on it.

As it turns out, my dish is not much like hers.  That is what you get when you don’t actually consult a recipe you are trying to riff on!  But we loved this light and sunny pasta and it came together in no time.  I put some small cherry tomatoes in the oven to roast, got my pasta going, then satuéed shallots and red pepper flakes in a bit of olive oil.  I grated in the zest of a Meyer lemon and then waited for the pasta to cook.  Once it was just shy of al dente, I scooped it into the pan with the shallots and added lemon juice, lots of arugula, small cubes of feta, and the roasted tomatoes.  I used the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.  As I was tossing it all together, my mind was saying, “Olives! Pine Nuts! Parmesan!”, but I was able to edit and keep it simple.

One Year Ago:  Brown Sugar Pound Cake (I’ve probably made this cake more than any other)
Two Years Ago:  Zucchini and Olive Salad
Three Years Ago:  Ricotta Calzones with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Pasta with Lemon, Arugula, and Roasted Tomatoes
Dana Treat Original (but thanks Tracy for the inspiration)
Serves 2-3

My noodles were actually more like a cross between angel hair and spaghetti, so I’m suggesting you use spaghettini in the recipe below (it’s a thinner spaghetti).

Olive oil
20 small cherry tomatoes
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, finely diced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
4 ounces feta cheese, cut into small cubes
4 ounces arugula, plus more for garnish
8 ounces spaghettini

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Place the tomatoes on a small baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until they soften, brown in spots, and start to collapse a bit, about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the shallots, red pepper flakes, and a large pinch of salt.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until the shallots soften and start to brown in spots, about 5 minutes.  Grate in the lemon zest and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then add the pasta.  Cook according the package directions until just al dente.  Taste it to make sure.  Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the skillet with the shallots.  Turn the heat to low and stir to coat the pasta with the shallots and pepper flakes.  Ladle in some pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.  Add half of the arugula and keep tossing the pasta so that the arugula wilts.  Add the other half of the arugula along with the lemon juice, feta cheese, and the tomatoes.  Add more cooking water if the pasta seems too dry.  (You can also use olive oil if you prefer.)  Toss carefully.  Serve each portion topped with more of the arugula.



Sunday Night Chinese Food

April 17, 2012

My parents are both Jewish and both from New York.  That means that, on a lot of Sundays, we ate Chinese food.  There were different places we went, some in Seattle proper, some on the little island suburb where I grew up.  No matter which restaurant we went to, several things remained constant.

First it was the tea.  My parents would let us drink tea with as much sugar as we wanted in it.  I think it was the late 70′s/early 80′s version of an iPad.  Something to distract us three kids so that they could attempt to have a conversation.  We would pour and pour and pour that sugar until it was a thick slurry at the bottom of the little tea cups, and then we would spoon it up like soup.  And then there was soup – wonton soup to be exact.  Those little perfect parcels in burn-your-tongue hot broth, just waiting for my teeth to burst them open.  I was always disappointed by the small ratio of wontons to broth.  I could have eaten 50 of them.  My parents always ordered “bean curd” which only they enjoyed since we three thought it was disgusting.  If only my ten-year old self had known how much I would grow to love tofu!  And finally, pork fried rice.  (Yes, Jews eating pork.  We were far from the only ones.)

Here is where I admit that I had never, until last night, made fried rice.  Here is also where I admit that the word “fried” scares me.  You will not find much fried stuff here.  I don’t make donuts and I can count on one hand the number of times I have deep fried.  I am scared of the technique, the mess, and the amount of fat in the food that is fried.  That last reason is why I never order fried rice in a Chinese restaurant, truthfully why I don’t often eat in Chinese restaurants.  (This is a gross generalization but I find Chinese food, in Seattle anyway, to be much greasier than other Asian food.)

Here is why I went for it.  I’ve been making this tempeh for my Spanish cooking classes.  It goes in the paella.  It is so good that, after the class is over and I am washing countless dishes, my fingers keep sneaking into the almost empty pot, hoping that some previously uncovered piece of tempeh will appear.  Doing this search reminded me of the pork fried rice of my childhood and how I would clumsily attempt to get as much of that pink-hued pork with my chopsticks.  I also realized that I sometimes have cold rice in the refrigerator and making something new with it is much more interesting than sprinkling it with water and microwaving it.  And finally, when you make something yourself, you can control how much oil goes into it.

I made this version with a bunch of scallions, a much-more-than-what-you-might-think amount of ginger, cold rice (every recipe you look at will tell you it has to be cold), my magical tempeh, frozen peas, a bit of sesame oil, and a fried egg on top.  The fried rice I remember had bits of scrambled-then-cut eggs throughout the rice, but I have finally realized that, since I go a little swoony every time a dish is described as being topped with a poached/fried/soft-boiled egg, it’s time to do more topping with eggs.

Want to know a little more about tempeh?  Check out this post.
One Year Ago:  Pane con Formaggio (Cheese Bread), Banana-Date Tea Cake
Two Years Ago:  Cinnamon Chocolate Ribbon Cake (I really like this post), Tabasco and Asparagus Quinoa
Three Years Ago:  Orange Cinnamon Biscotti, Southwestern Sweet Potato Gratin

Ginger Fried Rice with Roasted Tempeh
Dana Treat Original
Serves 3-4

I know some people like to grate their ginger on a microplane rasp, but I think it works best here to just chop it really fine.  Don’t skip the steaming step for the tempeh, it can taste bitter if it is not steamed first.

For the tempeh:
1 8-ounce package of tempeh (any flavor)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika

For the rice:
3 tbsp. canola or peanut oil, divided
1 bunch of scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Kosher or sea salt
About 4 cups cold rice
2 tsp. sesame oil
½ cup frozen peas, unthawed
3-4 eggs

Make the tempeh:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Cut the tempeh into ½-inch dice.  Place in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, the oils, and the paprika together in a small baking dish.  Pour the steamed tempeh into the same pan and place in the oven.  Roast, stirring occasionally, until the tempeh has absorbed all the marinade and it is starting to get browned in spots, about 25 minutes.  Set aside.  (The tempeh can be made up to 1 day ahead.  Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator.)

Make the rice:
Place a large shallow pan over medium heat.  Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the canola or peanut oil, then add the scallions, ginger, and a large pinch of salt.  Sauté until softened and starting to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add the rice, breaking up any clumps with your hands.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Drizzle in the sesame oil, give the rice a good stir, then add the peas and the tempeh (you may not want to add all the tempeh).  Cook for another 5 minutes while you make the eggs.

Place a large non-stick pan over medium heat.  Drizzle in the last tablespoon of the oil.  Crack the eggs one at a time into the pan and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft, about 4 minutes.

Serve the rice in bowls and top each with a fried egg.



My Never-Ending Love of a Good Salad

March 16, 2012

When Gail Simmons, she of Top Chef and Top Chef Desserts fame, was at Book Larder last week, someone in the crowd asked where she likes to eat in New York.  It was at just that moment that she asked me to take a bowl of egg whites into the back room with the hand mixer for a good whipping.  (This was something we had worked out that I would do ahead of time, she was not being bossy.)  I heard her say “ABC Kitchen” and then did not hear the other suggestions because the door was closed and I had an earful of mixer.

Later, after most of the people had left and she was signing our books, I told her that I would be in New York for a quick stop before my college reunion, that I am a vegetarian, and asked her where I should eat.  She again said ABC Kitchen.  So the moment I got home, I checked out the web site and put an email out to a college friend asking if she wanted to check it out.

As it turns out, we will most likely go somewhere else but looking at the ABC Kitchen menu online, my eyes got stuck on a number of dishes.  The “entrée” section is all meat but almost all of the pizzas are vegetarian as are a few of the pastas.  (Please tell me I am not the only one who enjoys looking at restaurant menus.)  And then this:  roast carrot and avocado salad, crunchy seeds, sour cream, and citrus.  I had to make that.

I think my love for salad has been well documented on this site.  I could happily make it my life’s mission to introduce people to really good salad.  No boring overdressed greens here.  No iceberg lettuce and bottled dressing.  And really, my plan was to have no greens at all in this beauty.  But whenever I make salad, especially if it is for friends, I make a lot.  And then I add to it.  I eat a lot of salad and I want to be sure there is enough for everyone.  (I have a chronic fear of not cooking enough food.  Yes, I am Jewish.)  I had two friends coming over for dinner and as I was eying the salad bowl, it looked a little skimpy for three so I threw in a handful of spinach.  It was nice with the greens but I think it would have been better without.

So what did I do?  I cut carrots into diagonal coins, drizzled them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them until they were just a  bit brown.  I cut a huge avocado into healthy chunks, suprêmed a grapefruit and two tangerines and saved the juice that I squeezed from the membranes.  I used some of that juice, a dollop of crème fraîche, and touch of salt for the dressing.  I made the seeds from Tara’s site that I have been wanting to make ever since I first ate them sprinkled over rice at Nettletown, and even more so after I heard the incredibly sad news about Christina Choi.  Those seeds, which I am tempted to put on everything, garnished the salad beautifully.

One Year Ago:  Sweet and Salty Popcorn with Orange Blossom Honey, Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam and Broccoli Rabe, and Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes, Arugula and a Poached Egg (also inspired by a menu)
Two Years Ago:  Sautéed Tempeh with Coconut Milk and Peas
Three Years Ago:  Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Ginger Biscotti, Tropical Gazpacho

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Citrus Crème Fraîche Dressing

Dana Treat Original
Serves 3-4

I made this salad again with arugula instead of spinach which I liked better.  Still, I think it would be best with neither.

6 large carrots, peeled, cut into coins on the diagonal
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large avocado, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large pink grapefruit
2 tangerines (or Blood Oranges if you can find them)
1 heaping tbsp. crème fraîche
3 tbsp. Nettletown Seeds (recipe follows)
2 handful greens (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Place the carrots on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with the olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Roast in the middle of the oven until the carrots are brown in spots and completely tender, about 15 to 18 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.

Using a small serrated knife (a tomato knife is perfect for this), cut the peel off the grapefruit.  Using the same knife, cut in between the membranes to release the fruit into a bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a separate bowl and reserve.  Cut the peel from the tangerines and then slice them into ½-inch thick slices.  Cut the slices in half and put in the same bowl as the grapefruit pieces.

Place the crème fraîche in a small bowl and add about 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Whisk well to combine.  This will be your dressing.

Cut the avocado into chunks and place in a salad bowl.  Add the citrus and the carrots.  Also add the greens if using.  Pour in the dressing and toss to coat gently.  Garnish with a healthy sprinkling of the seeds.

Nettletown Seeds
Makes about ¾ cup

3 tbs sunflower seeds
3 tbs pumpkin seeds
2 tbs sesame seeds
1 tbs flax seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp salt



Tartines and a Bialetti Pan Giveaway

March 8, 2012

Up until the age of 20, one of my favorite things to eat in the world was a tuna fish sandwich.  That was my go-to lunch whether eating out or at home.  There was a deli in my college town that put an absurd amount of tuna salad on a large soft roll and I would talk friends with cars into taking me to get one.  At home, I mixed my albacore with plenty of celery, a little mayo, and a dollop of mustard.  I piled it high on rye bread and topped it with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce.  Then, four years after I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating fish.  I contemplated having a special disclaimer for tuna fish sandwiches but ultimately decided that tuna fish is still, you know, fish.  So I said goodbye to my beloved sandwich.

Since then, sandwiches and I have not really gotten along, especially when eating out.  My experience of vegetarian sandwiches in restaurants go a little something like this:

  • Dried out rye bread smeared with too much mayonnaise and topped with a slice of Swiss cheese that has started to go crusty around the edges, a not-quite-red tomato, and a hunk of iceberg lettuce.
  • Massive slices of oily greasy foccacia slathered with oily greasy sun-dried tomato hummus on one half and oily greasy tapenade on the other, topped with oily greasy roasted vegetables.
  • Very earnest whole wheat bread, smeared with cream cheese and topped with every vegetable under the sun including an entire garden’s worth of sprouts.

 

At home, it’s better.  Grilled cheese when dunked into amazing tomato soup is nice.  And I’m a total sucker for a tofu Bahn Mi.  But really, I prefer a wrap or a salad.  Or noodles.  Or really anything else.  I’m just not a sandwich gal.

This is not a sandwich.  It’s a tartine.  Verrrrrry different.  French.  Open faced.  One piece of really good bread.  Interesting and varied toppings.  Think crostini or bruschetta but bigger pieces of bread.  More like, um, a sandwich.  I like these very much.  They are terrific when you want to make something for lunch or dinner but don’t want to shop.  They are also terrific if you have a soup or salad that you are excited about and you just wanted something yummy to round out your meal.

Last week, I planned to make a salad that I was excited about and I had a new pan I was excited about and so tartines it was.  I made one with a labneh (kind of like a yogurt cheese), roasted tomato, and cilantro.  I made the other with a frittata made with shallots, cilantro pesto, harissa.  Except I was out of harissa so I used sambal oelek (a chile sauce).  Nothing super fancy but both were so much better than the sum of their parts.

So how about that pan?  One of the most common questions I get in classes is about what kind of pans I use.  I am lucky to have a decent arsenal of high quality stainless steel pans (All-Clad), a few Le Crueset pots, a beautiful copper double boiler (that is too pretty to use), and a few other assorted others. I rarely use use non-stick pans.  There are a few reasons for this.  It is nearly impossible to get a good brown on an onion (or a steak for that matter – not that I would know) with a non-stick pan.  Until recently, the coating on most non-stick pans would emit dangerous chemicals into your kitchen if left on high heat.  And really, I am just in the habit of using stainless or cast-iron for most things.

Except eggs.  And pancakes.  And grilled cheese sandwiches.  There is no substitute for non-stick in those situations, in my opinion.  I have a huge All-Clad non-stick pan that I use for very large frittatas but it isn’t the best for smaller quantities.  So when the Bialetti people offered to send me a new brightly colored perfectly sized pan, I jumped at the chance to say yes.

What can I say, this is a great little pan.  It is lightweight, has a handle that stays cool, a white bottom so you can easily see your food (why has no one else thought of this?), and is super SUPER non-stick.  I love it.  And I know you would too.  Want one?  Just tell me about your favorite pan in your kitchen and what you like to make with it.  I will randomly choose a winner on Tuesday, March 13th.  This contest closes at noon (PDT) on that day.  UPDATE:  This contest is now closed.  A winner has been chosen.

One Year Ago:  Sweet Potato Tian
Two Years Ago:  Tofu Cauliflower Kahri
Three Years Ago:  Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Tartine with Labneh, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, and Cilantro
Inspired by Dianna Henry’s Plenty
Serves 4

The labneh needs to sit overnight in the refrigerator overnight, so plan accordingly.  If you are going to go through the trouble of slow roasting tomatoes, you might as well do a larger batch.  Lay the leftovers in layers drizzled with olive oil in the refrigerator.

1½ cups 2% Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, put through a press or very finely minced
Kosher or sea salt
8 plum tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
4 thick slices sourdough bread

Place the yogurt, garlic, and a pinch of salt into a bowl and stir well.  Line a sieve with cheese cloth and scrape the yogurt mixture into the sieve.  Place a bowl under the sieve and put the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300ºF.  Place the tomato halves on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and roast until very soft and kind of shriveled, turning half way through the baking process, about 1 hour.  Set aside.

While the tomatoes are roasting, place the bread on another baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake until just a tiny bit crispy on top, but still soft, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Smear a bit of the labneh on each slice of bread (you might have have some left over).  Lay down two tomato halves and scatter cilantro leaves over the top.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tartine with Shallot Frittata and Cilantro Pesto
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

1½ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
3 large eggs, beaten
4 thick slices sourdough bread
Harissa, or other hot sauce

Preheat oven to 325ºF.  Place the cilantro and walnuts in a food processor.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Process until a coarse paste forms.  Pour in the olive oil and pulse until you have a relative smooth pesto.  Set aside.

Place the bread on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake until just a tiny bit crispy on top, but still soft, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Place a non-stick pan over medium-low heat.  Drizzle in a bit of olive oil and then add the shallots and a pinch of salt.  Sauté until very soft and starting to brown, about 4 minutes.  Pour in the eggs and swirl the pan around so that egg covers the surface of the pan.  Keep lifting the edges of the eggs up so the uncooked top layer can get a chance at the heat.  If you are very dextrous, you can flip the whole frittata over.  If not, just make sure the top of the frittata is cooked, then remove from the heat.

Slice the frittata into quarters.  Lay a quarter on each slice of bread and spoon a bit of the cilantro pesto over top.  Add just about a teaspoon of chile sauce to each tartine.

 

 



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