Friday, September 27, 2013

Quinoa "Tabouleh"

This lovely salad is a riff on the Middle Eastern dish, tabouleh, which is traditionally made with bulgur, a cereal made from wheat groats. Instead of bulgur, I used quinoa in this recipe. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed that can be used like rice (or bulgur!).  Quinoa has been gaining in popularity because it is high in protein and quite tasty.  You can find white, black and red quinoa on most grocery store shelves these days.  I used red in this dish.  Looking for more quinoa recipes?  Check out these previous posts: Quinoa Pilaf and Quinoa, Red Pepper and Black Bean Salad.

Quinoa "Tabouleh"
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup fresh flat parsley leaves, chopped
3 celery ribs, 1/4 inch diced
3-4 green onions, 1/4 inch slices (include green parts!)
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (optional, but nice! I used dried cherries. Apricots or mangoes would also be nice)
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup roasted chopped almonds (unsalted)--walnuts, sunflower seeds or cashews would also work.

If it hasn't been pre-rinsed, then place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse with water for a minute or so.  In a sauce pan, combine water and quinoa with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until water is absorbed.  You'll know the quinoa is done when the white spiral-like germ of the seed becomes visible. Spoon into a bowl, fluff and let cool to room temperature.  When the quinoa is cool, add the parsley, celery, onions and dried fruit and toss to combine.  In a small bowl or jar, whisk (or shake) the lemon juice, oil, honey, salt & pepper until well-combined.  Pour over the quinoa and toss to combine.  Sprinkle top with nuts (or stir in if you prefer).  Makes about 8 servings as a side dish.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Honey Cake You'll Really Like!

Robert made this delicious honey cake last week.  It 's a bit late for Rosh Hashanah, but this cake is wonderful and worth making even if there isn't a new year to celebrate. If we had it, we'd have added a little whipped cream to the plate to take this dessert over the top!   This recipe, for Red Wine Honey Cake with Plums, comes from Melissa Clark's "A Good Appetite" column in the New York Times. We skipped the plums in favor of raspberries that are burgeoning in the garden right now.  My all time go-to recipe for honey cake has been the one published in Gourmet Magazine in September 2003 (and luckily still available on-line!).  I think this one might just replace it, though!

Melissa Clark's Red Wine Honey Cake (made by Robert!)
NOTE:  In her story about making this cake, she notes that the wine tints the batter "an unappealing grey, making it look more like concrete than cake." That color disappears with the baking--and the flavor is lovely.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1  1/4 cups olive oil
1 cup good, local honey
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices together in a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs then add the sugar, oil, 1 cup honey, wine and ginger and whisk until well combined.  Add the flour mixture to the honey mixture and whisk until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean--about 45-50 minutes. (You might need to tent the cake mid-way through if the top starts to brown too much.)  Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes then unmold and cool completely.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pickled Cauliflower in Honey & Beet Brine

These unusual pickles not only have a great crunchy pickle taste, they also look lovely in the pantry! I will, however, note that out of the jar, the cauliflower florets are more pastel-pink than the bright purple-pink they appear in the jar.

This recipe, with some modifications, came from Andrea Chesman's book Pickled Pantry (Storey Publishing, 2012), which I borrowed from the library and have really been enjoying.  I particularly like the way that she describes the flavors of the pickles and the helpful recipes at the end for using and cooking with pickles. The recipes also include small batches (1-quart) as well as recipes for fermenting.   When we crack open the first jar, I'll report back on the taste.

Looking for more pickle recipes to try?
Check out previous posts for:
honey pickled carrots
cherry tomatoes in honey brine
pickled garlic scapes

Pickled Cauliflower in Honey & Beet Brine

This recipe makes four pints (or two quarts)

2 small-medium beets well scrubbed, chopped (you don't have to be too meticulous here because the beets will eventually get strained out)
2 2/3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 2/3 cups water
3 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons pickling salt 
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
One large (approximately 6-8 inches)--around 6 cups--of cauliflower florets

In a saucepan, heat the beets, vinegar, water, honey and salt just to a boil and then simmer for five minutes.  While the vinegar heats, pack the cauliflower into sterilized wide mouth canning jars. (To sterilize, I place in a 225 degree oven for 20 minutes--consult any canning resource for guides about this.)  To each jar, add 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds and 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds.  Strain the beets out of the vinegar brine and pour the hot brine over the cauliflower, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Remove any air bubbles and then seal with lids.  Place in a boiling water bath (water should cover the sealed jars by 2 inches).  Bring the water back to a gentle boil and begin timing--the jars should be in the bath for 15 minutes.  Remove, cool completely, check that the jars have sealed and wait 6 weeks for the flavors to develop.  (Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lentil Salad with Delicious Honey Yogurt Basil Dressing

The dressing in this salad is, as the title proclaims, delicious and could be used for a variety of salads, especially a simple lettuce salad or even in a potato salad in place of mayonnaise.  It is from the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times.  I used it on this lovely lentil salad with cucumbers, red onions and celery.  The salad weeps a bit, so be sure to stir it well before serving.

For the salad:
2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup chopped cucumbers
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup finely diced red onion

Toss in a large bowl.

For the dressing:
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (the original recipe calls for rice vinegar)
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

Whirl the dressing ingredients in a small food processor until thoroughly blended and creamy.  (If you don't have a small food processor, then finely chop the basil and place all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid.  Vigorously shake until well blended!)

Pour the dressing over the salad, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate the salad for a few hours to chill.  Stir well before serving and check again for seasoning--add a bit more salt and pepper if needed.  Just before serving, you could also add a handful of sunflower seeds or toasted and chopped walnuts or almonds.

Serves four generously if this is a main dish and easily 6 as a side dish.