Quinoa & Tangerine Salad

Quinoa Tangerine salad

“Interesting combination” said the eight-year-old, . . . “fantastic” said the husband, helping himself to thirds. “It’s worth repeating”, said the cook. . . who enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast this morning.

 

Quinoa and Tangerine Salad 

 

11/2 cups quinoa
Scant 2 cups water
Several generous pinches salt
3 tangerines or clementines, 1-2 oranges (or whatever similar citrus fruit you have), broken into sections and cut in half, crosswise. If you want to be fancy and are using oranges you can peel the whole orange with a  sharp knife, including all the pith, and then slice out all the individual sections carefully along the skin on both sides of the section, leaving only the skin and core on the cutting board. But this really isn’t a fancy salad so I’d say skip it!
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped and stems finely chopped
2 scallions, greens and all, thinly sliced or a chunk of red onion, sliced as thinly as you possibly can
Zest of  1 lime (microplane works well for this job)
Juice of 1 lime (or more)
3 or more tablespoons good olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Put the quinoa in a pot with the water and some salt. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook, covered, on low heat for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Let sit, covered, with the heat off to steam for at least 5 minutes if you can. Then put the quinoa in a salad bowl and toss in the tangerines, Let cool for a few minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients. Toss and taste and adjust seasoning with lime juice, oil, etc.

 

If I’d had toasted filberts (or walnuts or pine nuts) on hand I would have added some and am quite certain that this would be a lovely addition.  Please report if you add nuts!

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

hazulnut choc cookies

I scraped the smudge of cookie dough that had adhered to the counter after rolling the dough into logs, off the counter with an off-set spatula so I could enjoy ever last gram of it. Though said smudge didn’t include chunks of toasted nuts and bittersweet chocolate that otherwise riddle this dough, it was well worth the special tool. The finished cookies are maybe even better.

 

–adapted from Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome/Rome Sustainable Food Project

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

 

I used  more or less 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all purpose flour. I used all brown sugar instead of both brown and granulated and reduced the sugar just a tad. If you can get your hands on bulk filberts/hazelnuts, cracking them doesn’t really take that long and toasting them in the oven takes another 15 minutes. Do a lot at once and you’ll have the best snack imaginable on hand as well. This also makes these nuts affordable.

 

8 ounces hazelnuts, toasted at 350 for about 15 minutes, cooled, skins rubbed off as best you can and coarsely chopped
9 tablespoons butter (1 stick + 1 tbs)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown since that’s what I had but use light if that’s what you have)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Scant 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or a little less if you have finer salt)
1 egg
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (see headnote)
3/4 cup all purpose flour minus 2 tbs (see headnote)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Add the vanilla, egg and salt and mix well. In a small bowl mix the flours with the baking soda. Add the flour mixture and nuts and chocolate to the butter mixture and stir and then use your hands to bring it together and finish incorporating the flour and nuts/chocolate. Don’t over mix. Let the the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic. Then turn the dough onto the counter and break the dough in half and shape into two logs, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour or several months.

When ready to bake remove logs from freezer and cut into 1/4- 1/3-inch rounds with a sharp knife. You need a sharp, heavy knife to cut through the nuts. Arrange on a baking sheet and let come to room temperature (about 10 minutes). Bake for about 10 minutes until the nuts start looking golden and the edges are browning a bit. Cool on the sheet pan for a few minutes and then move to rack. When cool the cookies will be crisp.

 

Red Curry w/ Lots of Vegetables & a Little Chicken

red curry chicken
It takes an extra trip to the store (which I usually shun) but it’s occasionally worth it to make homemade curry paste. The paste recipe below makes enough for about 4 meals (for 6 each) for my family’s spice-level. If you like things mild-medium you might get more meals out of it. It keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

You can change the mix of vegetables to suit your taste/what you have on hand.

red curry paste

For curry paste:

3-4 tablespoons thinly sliced, then chopped fresh galangal (looks a bit like ginger with a translucent skin)
2 stalks lemongrass, fibrous outer layer or two removed, root end and stalk end trimmed a bit and the remainder sliced thinly
Zest from two kaffir limes (I peel it off with a sharp knife-it’s too bumpy for a microplane and you want all that zest, just not the pith)
generous 1/2 cup of garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped
3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper corns
8-10 dried hot peppers (I used Joe’s long cayenne–quite a bit less spicy than typical cayennes, Chiltepec and Costeno Peppers–all from Ayers Creek farm–I think they’re less spicy, all of them, than dry Thai red peppers but I’m not sure. My paste was still plenty spicy. Reduce the number of peppers if you’re unsure)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

dried red chilies for curry paste

Soak the dried peppers in boiling water for 20-30 minutes. Drain, removes stems and seeds and roughly chop the peppers.

Toast the seeds and peppercorns in a dry skillet for about 3 minutes until very fragrant and toasty smelling. Be careful not to burn. Put them in a mortar and pestle and when cool, grind them up.

Put all the paste ingredients in a food processor and process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Process until fairly smooth. Don’t be surprised if you eyes water–it’s strong stuff!
Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

For the curry itself:

3-4 tablespoons curry paste (above recipe), or less if you think your paste is very spicy. It will mellow out as it cooks and you can always add a bit more part way through if it’s not spicy enough.
1 can full fat coconut milk (it really doesn’t work with “lite” coconut milk)
2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2-3 carrots, scrubbed and trimmed and cut into rounds
1 large head broccoli, stem peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces and head broken into smallish florets
1 large potato, sweet potato or some winter squash, cut into large dice (peel if using sweet potatoes or winter squash)
1 cup leftover, cooked chicken (optional)
1/2 cup basil (optional) or cilantro, which is totally inauthentic but still good
Rice fore serving

In a large wok or heavy pan cook the curry paste, sugar, fish sauce and 1 cup coconut milk (the thickest part that’s usually at the top of the can)–you’ll use the rest later–over medium high heat for about 15-20 minutes. Stir often as it reduces and thickens. Towards the end you should see little bubbles of oil (from the coconut milk) on the surface. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

While the curry paste is frying bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and carrots (or any vegetables that will take a bit longer to cook) and cook for 10 minutes or until just tender. Remove the vegetables from the pot with a slotted spoon. Add the broccoli (and/or another vegetables that just take 3-4 minutes to cook, like green beans or peas) and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain those and add to the potatoes and carrots and set aside.

Now add the remainder of the coconut milk and chicken stock (or water or broth) and mix well to integrate the curry paste into the liquid. Bring it to a simmer. Add the chicken and reserved vegetables and heat it through. Add the whole basil leaves, if using. Serve hot over rice.