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quinoa

A Duo Of Salads And Cod With Lemon Caper Relish

Spinach Salad - Jerusalem

Very few of us can live on salad alone. Or soup. I know I can’t. Although, after the indulgences of the holidays, we all felt a little need to detox. With my parents staying with me in Birmingham until last week, it was easy to find a balance of good-for-you meals mixed in with little indulgences here and there. Indeed, they had not until now tried white bbq sauce and not as much soul food but I fixed that pronto. Culinary moves that called for lighter but just as tasty meals in between.

As cliche as it may sound, if you feel nurtured on the inside, you show it to the ones you loved on the outside.

Halibut With Lemon Relish- Sprouted Kitchen

  Things have been busy and good. The blog qot a bit quiet and for good reason. After our holiday stint on the beach in Charleston, my parents came home to Birmingham with me. And I loved having them here. We cooked, went to the symphony, the movies. We ate out and in and tried to find balance between long days at work and short evenings at home. Or at least, it felt that way to me. Probably because the night still falls so early.

Halibut With Lemon Relish - Sprouted Kitchen

  There was nothing more heart warming than to see my mom set the table while my dad would cut the bread. Habits I grew up with that never seemed as important as they are now. With every year that passes, I realize how lucky I am that I get along so well with them for one and that they are still willing to put their own routine on hold to come visit for an extended period of time.

The difference this year compared to previous visits is that everything was a whirlwind (again…). A mix of driving back and forth, packing boxes, unpacking boxes. All this with super trooper pup Tippy somewhere in the car, who at 16 years old is decidedly the best dog ever. The minute we both got back in the house last week after we said goodbye to my parents, we both plopped down on our respective beds. I did not see that pup surface until dinner time. I pretty much did the same thing well, except for a big grocery trip to stock up on everything I needed to fix a few dinners and lunches.

Persimons

I was starting to feel my energy levels getting low and decided to nip that in the bud with plenty of greens, seafood and nutritious grains. Among the recipes I made are three I want to keep on rotation this year. A spinach salad from the cookbook Jerusalem, chock full of dates, almonds and spices, a pan seared cod with a tangy lemon relish from The Sprouted Kitchen coobook. My go to meal last week was a quinoa salad that existed only in my head for a long while. A mix of sweet and savory with red and yellow quinoa, lots of herbs and topped by a barely set soft boiled egg.

Persimon Quinoa Salad

I hate to say but all meals this week will feature plenty of hot soups and liquids instead. I am hoping my mother did not pass on her bronchitis on to me as a farewell gift but sure looks that way. Already perusing my favorite coobooks for nutritious soups.

If you have a favorite(s), please share!

 

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Quinoa, Butternut Squash & Kale Salad And An Apple Cardamom Crisp

Quinoa, Kale and Butternut Squash Salad


I hope everyone celebrating Thanksgiving had a wonderful time doing so. We surely did. The whole week was actually pretty darn good. It was rich in connections and reflections. The time spent in the kitchen with Laura reminded me of the time spent at home preparing a holiday meal with my grandmother and mother. It was comforting and soothing in so many ways.

It was a lot of fun cooking a huge feast with another like minded person. It’s easy to talk food, pies, gratins, table settings, photography while chopping, boiling, cooking, peeling, etc… We made a lot of dishes. We wanted to try new recipes and still some beloved family ones. We certainly did not hold back but we had plenty to box up for our guests to take home. I have learned years ago that Thanksgiving leftovers are a must!

Leaves


I will revisit a couple of the dishes for a later post but among the biggest hits were the Apple Cider Brined Turkey from Bon Appetit, Laura’s mashed potatoes with creme fraiche, a root & leek vegetable gratin and a fennel-brioche and sausage stuffing. And the greens beans! I must revisit those miso green beans soon and post the recipe!

Apple Cardamom Crisp


When everyone gathered around the table and shared some of their stories, time, themselves, my heart just fogged over. I was thankful for being surrounded by so much love and friendship. Many times I had to pinch myself that the day went as beautifully as it did. And continued the day after when Laura and her fiance Alex requested that I shot their engagement pictures. We had so much fun…well into the evening with dinner and drinks.

The weekend was spent quietly putting china and linens away, shopping at our farmers market and loading up on lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Taking some time to sit in the park with Bill and share a crepe and a cup of coffee. It finally started to feel like the holiday season (except for the 80F weather). Those simple things are all I crave for. They fuel me and refuel me times and times again. Just as certain foods do.

Pink Lady Apples


After a few richer meal than usual, I like the simplicity of a few good salads or soups. Without being a full blown detox, it’s nice to dig my fork into a lighter fare. Lately, it’s been lots and lots of variation around quinoa salad and this one is the one I have made countless time in the past couple of weeks. It’s versatile enough to be a side dish or main course (with a poached egg on top…fabulous!). Kale and butternut squash are abundant this time of year but any seasonal vegetable would work.

I generally pass on desserts in favor of a good juicy apple or pear this time of year. I do however have the habit of making dessert for our Sunday suppers with friends and crisps and simple tarts are always high on the list during Fall and Winter. Having a spoonful of a little sweet something always makes me feel like I am ending the weekend well and ready for the week ahead.

Apple Cardamom Crisp


The quinoa salad is one I intent to serve for lunch during the Food Photography Workshop I’ll be teaching in Charleston on December 10th. Yep, I enlisted Laura to assist and help prep some great foods for all the attendees. On a side note, there are 3 spots left for that workshop!

I am curious though….what do you like to cook or bake to give your body and self a little break this holiday season? Looking forward to being inspired with your answers! Thanks for sharing!

Quinoa, Kale and Butternut Squash Salad



Apple Cardamom Crisp:

Makes 6 to 8 (depending on your ramekins)

Ingredients:
For the fruit:
6 regular size apples (your choice) or about 12-15 lady apples
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons honey
juice and zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cardamom

For the crisp:
1 cup Jeanne’s all purpose gluten free flour mix (or same quantity regular flour)
1/2 cup (100 gr) light packed brown sugar
1 stick (113 gr) butter, softened

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F (convection or regular) and position a rack in the center. Prepare the fruit:
Peel, core and slice thin the apples. Place them in a large bowl with the cranberries, honey, lemon zest and juice, cornstarch and cardamom. Toss well and reserve.
Prepare the crisp topping:
In a medium bowl, combine with your fingertips or a pastry blender the flour, sugar and butter and form large clumps of dough. Refrigerate at least an hour or freeze overnight.
Assemble and bake:
Divide the apples evenly among 6 gratin dishes or ramekins. If the crisp dough was refrigerated, just break apart clumps of it over the fruit with your fingertips. If it was frozen, you can simply grate it on top with a large cheese grater.
Bake for 20-30 minutes. Let cool.

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Quinoa Salad:

Makes 4 to 6 servings as a main dish.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups peeled, cored and diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped kale (previously washed and cleaned)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
vinaigrette (recipe here)

Directions:
In a large pot, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered until all the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes). Remove from the heat, fluff with a for and place in a large bowl to cool for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, heat one teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion and cook until it turns translucid. Add the garlic, butternut squash and kale. Cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Remove the lid, check that the butternut squash is tender but not mushy or hard when you poke a piece with a knife. Add the thyme and continue cooking until the all the liquid creating by the cover has evaporated.
Let cool to room temperature. Gently fold the cooked quinoa and the cooked vegetables together along with the vinaigrette.
Serve room temperature or cold.

Comforting Recipes: Quinoa, Watermelon & Feta Salad, Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart, Peach & Nectarine Granita

Quinoa, Watermelon & Feta Salad


We’re back home. Everything and everyone is getting back to normal. Groceries, laundry, walks with the pups. And yet, everything’s different. Every move taken and every thing said is tinted with a veil of deep sadness and compassion.

As some of you may have learned, one wonderfully kind and talented food blogger, Jennifer Perillo, lost her husband suddenly this past weekend. I did not know Jennifer well. We had met briefly at several conferences in the past. We were Twitter and Facebook friends. We did not live close. We did not email. We did not talk on the phone. Yet, if I could wrap my arms around her today and hope it helped a little, I would.

Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart


Over the year, I have come to deal with the fact that I don’t care that much of August. I have a love-hate relationship with August actually. My brother passed away in August. My grandmother too. It’s my mother’s birthday in August. And my grandfather’s too. He’s 101 this year by the way. Talk about witnessing life and mortality.

I am finally ok with August being a crappy month for myself. I hate, hate, hate the fact that now it will be a difficult time for Jenny and her daughters. I, and others who have lost dear ones, know the journey ahead. And we hurt inside for Jenny and her daughters already. How to make it better? How to make it easier?

Peaches


Just like finding a few dishes prepared for you when you come back from travels, or finding the fridge a little fuller than when you left. Just like noticing a full basket of fruits on the counter and a "welcome home" note; we can be there for Jennifer and her family just the same.

Those little gestures mentioned above done by my mother in law right before we walked in the door, were immensely appreciated and resonated deeply within us. Caring for one another does is not about climbing the highest peaks or diving the deepest sea. Little gestures. A meal. A note. A walk. A hug. Expressing respect. And compassion.

Quinoa, Feta and Watermelon Salad


When I went back home to my brother’s funerals, I came back to many cards of condolences, many phone calls and texts. I also had many friends drop by with a bite to eat. They knew food was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to disappear. I was numb. But mechanically, I ate the dishes they brought over. It was sustenance. I let Bill rocked me too sleep many many nights. It was a necessity. I still sleep as little now as I did then.

For weeks, life was on auto-pilot but I do remember the comfort of sharing memories with people who came over with a giant green salad or a pint of sorbet. I remember those moments gently pulled me out of this quiet space I had made for weeks. The comfort of my neighbor Camille’s voice as she scooped her famous peach granita into little cups for us and her kids. The warmth of the oven touching my cheeks as I opened it to retrieve the first tart I had made since…since Thierry had left us.

Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart


Normalcy mixed with extraordinary circumstances. Jennifer and her family are going through this as I write it. They need us, our thoughts, prayers and memories of them for those who knew them. They need them now but they will need them months and years form now. Thankfully, and because the food community and humanity in general is pretty damn grand, reaching out to them is already happening.

Erika from Ivory Hut, who went through her own tragedy last year, losing everything in a house fire, is gathering the troops to help out. A care package program is being organized for those who are not in Jennifer’s area so a little piece of love and care can be delivered now and for months to come right to her doorstep. Locals are also organizing a relief effort to show her that not only we care but we are here for her.

White Nectarines


To get more details and to lend a hand and a comforting gesture, please email Erika at erika@ivoryhut.com

My heart is heavy for the Perillos right now. But it is also full of hope. I know there will be many a smiles in their future even only through the solace of your thoughts and words for them.

When someone around Bill and myself is going through tough times and could use a night off, we volunteer to take care of their kids, their pups or we just drop off a collection of dvds and a good meal. It’s small compared to the void we cannot fill but it’s a start. Food I can do. Which is why I am sharing three recipes (click on "continue for recipes" that are good options to bring to someone who might need a little comfort and a lot of hugs.

Peach & Nectarine Granita


This post is dedicated to Mikey, Jennifer and their daughters. We don’t know each other all that well, but I really wish I could change your August. Now and forever.

Please read this.

Quinoa, Watermelon and Feta Salad:

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

When it comes to food and comforting friends with a little something to nosh on, I always gravitate towards dishes that can easily last a few days and only get better with a bit of time. Lately, we have been feasting on bowls after bowls of Quinoa, Watermelon and Feta Salad many days in a row. Sometimes with a poached egg on top. In the heat of the summer, this salad is not only healthy and light but also super refreshing.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups quinoa
3 cups water
1 cup watermelon, rind removed and cut into small cubes
2 oz feta, crumbled
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped thin
1/3 cup loosely packed mint, chopped thin
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
In a large saucepan, bring the quinoa and water to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot halfway and cook until the water is completely absorbed and the quinoa is translucent (about 20 minutes). Let cool completely.
When the quinoa is cooled, add the remaining ingredients and fold carefully. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Roasted Red Pepper & Ricotta Tart:

Serves 4 as a light main dish.

Another dish that I always find easy to fix, transport and leave in someone’s fridge or freezer for them to reheat easily and quickly is a gluten free Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart. Accompanied by a green salad and you have something satisfying and nourishing. A little balm for the heart. And the belly.

Ingredients:

For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (or pinch red pepper flakes)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3 egg yolks (save one white for the filling)
pinch salt
1/2 cup (80gr) brown rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) potato flour
(or 1.5 cups of all purpose flour if not using gf flours)

For the filling:
3 to 4 bell peppers of various colors (red, yellow, orange)
1 cup ricotta
1 egg white
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip together the butter, piment and mustard on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add all the different flours and mix briefly. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your preferred tart pan. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
You can freeze the dough for up to 3 months and prepare it up to 4 days in advance.

Prepare the filling:
Method 1:
Preheat the oven to 400F and then roast the peppers until their skin turn black, remove from the oven, place then in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them cool completely. Remove the plastic, and peel the skin right off the pepper, seed them too and cut them in halves or at least fairly large pieces.

Method 2:
Blacken the skin of the peppers over an open flame such as a gas stove or grill. Place then in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them cool completely. Remove the plastic, and peel the skin right off the pepper, seed them too and cut them in halves or at least fairly large pieces.

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, egg white, salt and pepper. Layer at the bottom of the prepared tart shell. Layer the roasted pepper pieces on top.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

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Peach and Nectarine Granita:

Makes enough for 8

Since it’s August, and it’s still mostly to very warm just about anywhere, I got to say that the most comforting thing for me and many others I know, is still to dig my spoon in soft soothing ice cream. Or sorbet. Or granita. In this case, I was pressed to use the four peaches and nectarines we still had from our trip to the market before heading down to Florida. So easy to make and since it’s stored in the freezer, it’ll be there anytime you need a little cooling treat.

Ingredients:
2 peaches, skin and pit removed
2 nectarines, skin and pit removed
1/4 cup honey
juice of one lemon
1 cup Greek yogurt or creme fraiche

Directions:
In a food processor, puree all the ingredients together. Place in a large baking dish and freeze. After two hours, run a fork along the length of the dish, breaking up the fruit mixture into a granita. Repeat the process every hour or so for about 4-5 times until the mixture is completely frozen but you get a shaved ice consistency all the way through. We like ours chunky but the more times you run your fork in the mixture, the thinner the shavings will be.

Summer Fare: White Nectarines Pineapple Sage Galette, Chanterelles Tartines & Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh

White Nectarines Galette


Don’t judge but a slice of this white nectarine galette has ben breakfast for the past two days. Tomorrow also. Even though we are taking a road trip cross country, B. requested I’d pack the galette along for the ride. I am not that interested in breakfast usually. Unless there is pie. Or eggs and bacon. These would seriously get me in trouble. As a gourmande through and through, I’d happily sit down and cut myself a not-so-shy piece of pie if you’d let me. Especially when filled with juicy white nectarines from the farmers market.

White Nectarines


The moment I took this one out of the oven, I made another one. Certain that we would appreciate waking up to share a piece while sipping our coffees. We are indeed on the road, heading to The Pionneer Woman’s Ranch. The macaron and photo workshop weekend is finally here! And well, instead of spending time in airport, airplanes and muttering over missed flights and too short connections, we decided to pack up the van and take a littlelong trip out West.

White Nectarine Galette


I did leave a few goodies and cookies for the house sitter but not this pie. Nor the leftover sautéed chanterelles we shared for lunch under the shade of a huge oak tree in the middle of nowhere Alabama. Nor did I leave the couple of servings of the quinoa and fig tabouleh our gluttonous selves could not finish the night before we left. All three were packed up and enjoyed quietly. And well.

Chanterelles


It’s been ages since Bill and I went on a long road trip together and when I mentioned the trip to Ree he turned to me with a big bright smile “I am free that week! Let’s just get in the car and see the country!”. I gotta love his enthusiasm because if you know me, you also know that I fall asleep the minute I get in the car. There is something with enclosed spaces that make me go “ka-plunk” asleep. I feel terrible about it. Really!

Chanterelle tartines


There is nothing I enjoy more than having the time to catch up with Bill as we pass through towns along this big vast American soil. I just love this place. Its complexities and diversity. Its textures and personas. So far, I am doing good on this trip. Proof is that I am writing this as he drives. We have been able to catch up on family stories as we drove through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and now Mississippi.

Chanterelle Tartines


We just enjoy those rare moments now when both our schedules allow for some free time together. What can I say… Fourteen years have passed since our first excursion together and we still dig just being with the other. In the moment. And I want to believe it’s not only because of the delicious foods I pack up when we head out.

garlic


These four recipes are perfect for a picnic, on the side of the road, at the local park or even on a hot day at the beach. They pack easy and well and last a while since they are better at room temperature. As I was preparing them, I wanted nothing less than to set aside some time to pull out a blanket in the backyard and have an impromptu picnic by the creek. But there was more cooking to be done before heading out!

Chanterelle tartines


When Jason at the market said he’d have freshly picked chanterelles, I literally jumped in my seat. My mind going only in one direction. Chanterelles sauteed in butter with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Served on toast with a sliver of pecorino. That’s all I could think about. This is by far my favorite way to enjoy wild mushrooms.

Tomato Zucchini Salad


This salad of heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini and feta is actually a take on a salad I ate while in Salt Lake City during a pot luck. The original version featured zucchini, sliced thin, with feta, dill and a drizzle of olive oil. I loved the combo so much that I started my own riff on it as soon as I got home. My advice? Make more than what you think you will need. You’ll eat it all. And more!

Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh


The quinoa and fig tabouleh is an interpretation of a recipe from Elle a Table. I was intrigued by adding figs to a savory grain salad. Figs and savory are opposites and harmonious at the same time. Such a perfect fruit to pair up with tomatoes, mint and lots lemon juice! We are full blown in fig season down here and I can’t stop filling my basket with them.

Figs

Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh


I think the most doubting soul that the combo would work was Bill but as soon as I was done taking those pictures, I handed him a spoonful and before I knew it, I was almost prying the bowl from his hands so we would have some left for dinner! The tabouleh also works great with millet or other whole grains.

Galette


I will try to post some pictures and updates of the weekend on the ranch as soon as I get back, if not sooner! Have a great rest of the week!

White Nectarine Galette:

Makes one 6-inch galettes

Ingredients:
For the crust (pate brisee)
2/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup superfine white rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
(or you can use 1&1/4 cup all purpose flour instead of the 3 flours mentioned above)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
8 tablespoons butter, very cold and cut in 1/2 inch dice
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup ice water
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water (to brush on the top crust)
Or milk to add some color to the crust
chopped nuts for topping (optional)

For the filling:
4 small white nectarines
1 tablespoon pineapple sage, freshly chopped (or mint, lemon thyme, lemon balm, etc…)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions:
Prepare the crust
In a large bowl, mix together the millet, rice and sorghum flour. Add the powdered sugar and mix. Add the cold butter and mix with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough comes together in a ball. Flatten into a disk in between your hands and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes (you can make it the day before too).

In the meantime, prepare the fruit:
Cut the nectarines in half and remove the pits. Cut each half in thin slices. Mix them together in a large bowl with the herb, honey and cornstarch. Let stand 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
When ready to assemble, roll the dough in between sheets of plastic to about 1/8-inch thick to make a rough 9 to 10-inch circle. Place the nectarine slices inside that circle. Bring the edges over the fruit to create a 2-inch border or so and repeat the procedure until a complete border is created. Brush with the egg wash or some milk if desired (adds color to the crust), sprinkle with nuts with desired, and bake for about 30 minutes.

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Chanterelle Tartines:
For 2 hungry people

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
half a pound fresh chanterelles, cleaned of dirt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf pasley
salt and pepper
thin slices of pecorino or other hard fragrant cheese.
Freshly toasted whole grain bread

Instructions:
In a large sautee pan set over medium high heat, melt the butter until it sizzles. Add the mushrooms, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and cook until nicely colored, about 8-10 minutes.
Let cool slightly and spoon a bit of that mixture onto pieces of toast with a little sliver of cheese. Serve warm.

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Tomato Zucchini and Feta Salad:

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Ingredients:
3 tomatoes (heirloom if you can), cut into small cubes
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, shaved
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
salt, pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:
Combine all the ingredients together and let sit in the refrigerator at least a couple of hours before serving so all the flavors have time to meld together.
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Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh, adapted from Elle A Table:

Serves 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:
1.5 cups dry quinoa
3 cups water
6 large figs or 10 small ones, diced
3 tomatoes (heirloom if possible), diced
4 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts included
1/3 cup to 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh mint
juice of two lemons
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:
In a large pot, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered until all the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes). Remove from the heat, fluff with a for and place in a large bowl to cool for 20 minutes.
Add the figs, tomatoes, green onions, mint, lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and the oil. Let sit at room temperature for another 20 minutes and refrigerate after that if not consumed right away.

Quinoa, Mixed Peppers and Avocado Cream Verrines

Quinoa, Mixed Peppers and Avocado Cream Verrines


Living with food allergies sucks. Living with food intolerances also sucks. Don’t ask me which one is less sucky. It all depends on the person and how they see the sun shine when they get up. I can only talk about personal experiences and of those around me.

Lauren at Celiac Teen for example is allergic to gluten. I am gluten intolerant. While she will get really strong physical reactions within hours, mine will build over days. Hers will manifest after one speck of gluten ingested by taking her digestive track for a spin, making her brain as cottony as the pillow she’ll use to sleep it off. It will take several days of glutenized meals for me to get vertigo, tinnitus, aura fullness where I’ll have to lie down and hope it stops soon so I can get back to work again.

Roasted Mixed Baby Peppers


Instant. Over days. Stomach. Ears. Brain fogged up. Lying down. It just sucks. And as far as I can tell, we’re not wearing a line on our foreheads that reads "gluten can’t pass these lips." We just deal with it. So when my friends, family or anyone coming to eat at my table says "I am allergic to this or that." I don’t question. I accommodate.

I get terribly aggravated when I have to explain I am gluten intolerant and can’t have "regular" flour and I can tell the first thought in some people’s mind is "here’s another low card fad freak." Ugh no. I can have carbs. I can have truckloads of carbs. I can swim in carbs if I wanted to. They just should not contain gluten. That kind of thoughtless reaction bugs the heck out of me. If I were to say "I am allergic to dairy" I’d probably get a sympathetic "Oh you poor thing!". How can they tell that I am not using that as an excuse to avoid calorie ladden ice creams sundaes (just an example. I love sundaes. There)

Quinoa, Mixed Peppers and Avocado Cream Verrines


Somehow, some people make these kinds of decisions in their mind about what is an ok allergy and what just looks like a fad. That’s sad. And wrong. It can create a whole lot of discomfort for someone you don’t know and who places a part of humanity upon you. Trust. I was raised by a father who used to say "if someone says they don’t like this, don’t ask them why. Don’t put them on the spot and don’t make them feel uncomfortable. Trust that they know what they need."

When Flo Makanai sent me a copy of her book "Les Intolerances Alimentaires", it took on a whole level of compassion with me. Flo’s daughters have a lot of different food allergies they must deal with on a daily basis. And in France no less where allergy awareness is still in baby steps. Flo’s book is the best thing that could happen to keep on educating people on food allergies and intolerances. I love my peeps but when I hear things "oh yes, the grilled veggies with camembert sandwich is dairy free." I just get very, very worried.

Making Guacamole


I truly feel for her young daughters going through trial and error of finding what they can and cannot eat. No to mention the reactions from others at times must be hard to bear for such young souls. I love how fierce a fighter Flo is for her daughters. I am not a mom but I know that’s what mothers do. I know I would not let go until I’d see my daughter smile again.

Flo did it. She then wrote it all down in such a detailed and simple, precise and researched way that I can’t recommend her book strongly enough to anyone who reads/speak French. I know, here I am recommending a book in another language that only some of you will be able to read. For those who can’t read or understand French as well (or at all), I only hope I was able to transmit the notion that food allergies are real, and we should keep on getting educated about them. In whatever language you speak.

Homemade Goat's Milk Yogurt


When friends came over for dinner, one of them gave me a call the day before saying that he was bringing a guest who was allergic to cow’s milk. Dairy was ok. Just not from a cow. No problem I was wasn’t planning on serving any dairy….oh wait! Duh! I was. One of the dishes I wanted to do, (inspired by Flo’s quinoa and green lentil dish, was a verrine of layered quinoa, roasted peppers and avocado cream and it did contain yogurt. Zut alors! (yikes!) That was by far the easiest allergen orientated change one could have to make. I used goat’s milk yogurt instead.

I know some people who because they don’t think these things are "real" would have said, "oh well, the recipe calls for just 1/4 cup. That’s nothing! That can’t possibly hurt her." Yes it can. It will. Changing a recipe to help someone enjoy the evening and the hours afterwards can be a learning curve but it can also lead to very tasty discoveries in the kitchen. It sure did for me in this recipe. The goat’s milk yogurt gave more of a cheesy creamy bite than cow’s milk yogurt did in previous occasions. I don’t think I’ll change the recipe again after this, actually!

Hope you enjoy this as a refreshing appetizer or light side dish. Everyone at our table was able to partake. That’s what matters.

Quinoa, Mixed Peppers and Avocado Cream Verrines



Quinoa, Mixed Peppers and Avocado Cream Verrines:

Makes 6 to 8

For the quinoa:
1 cup raw quinoa
1.5 cups water
pinch of salt

For the mixed peppers:
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
or one 10 oz box of mixed baby peppers
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the avocado cream:
1/2 avocado
juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 green onion, finely chopped (or 1 tablespoon red onion, chopped)
1/4 cup yogurt (your choice)

Prepare the quinos:
In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes until the quinoa feels tender. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the mixed peppers:
preheat the oven to 400F. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle with a splash of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast until the peppers start to blister (20 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and set the peppers aside.

For the avocado cream:
In a large non reactive bowl, mash the avocado with the rest of the ingredients until smooth with the back of a fork or a potato masher.

Start layering the verrine with some a layer of peppers, a layer of avocado cream, a layer of quinoa, repeat once or twice depending on the size of your glasses and finish with some of the cream on top. Add a couple of blanched asparagus tips if desired for garnish.

Good For The Heart Grilled Salmon Pasta & Salmon Swiss Chard Quiche

Spaghetti With Grilled Salmon, Grape Tomatoes & Capers


Real evening off with my honey. Not the kind where I have to scoot off back to my desk to finish one more chapter. Real walk with the pups. Not the kind I quickly run them around the block wishing they wouldn’t play hide and seek for 20 minutes. Real adult conversation with my mother. The kind that leaves me feeling punched to a pulp but hopeful and strong. Real shower. So hot and rejuvenating my fingers get wrinkly and my skin becomes red. All real.

It’s easy to think of everyday things as regular happenings. Amenities, privileges and responsibilities to others. They’re not. I look at my window overlooking the creek and all I see is marsh land gently swayed by the breeze and the incoming tide. I realize then that what we, B. and myself, work so hard to maintain, even when we struggle, is never taken for granted. I am thankful that my feet are grounded into grasping what is important. We enjoy running water and electricity, education, freedom of speech and assembly.

Swiss Chard & Salmon Quiche


I spent pretty much the last two weeks split between the work laid out before me and the TV turned to Egypt. It made everything we were doing, him grading paper and me writing the final chapters of my manuscript, trivial and small. And it was. And it was not at the same time. One more time I was privileged to watch another Berlin wall fall, another Romania do away with dictatorship, another Kosovo say no more to oppression and fear.

And once more I was reminded of the privilege I had to work my passion for a living and to be given the tools and freedom to do it right. So with one eye glued to the television and the other on the computer screen, I buckled down and finished writing the last chapter and appendices. When everything was uploaded to the server around noon, I crashed. We both crashed actually. Wiped out. My brain could not come up with one more proper sentence. My heart was happy for I had exercised one of my fundamental privileges, to be free to write.

Rainbow


We took the rest of the day "off". A luxury these days but we drew the curtain closed, put on old LPs, a sea of pillows down on the floor and just chilled. Bill, who held me figuratively and literally for the past three months I was writing held me one more time as I fell asleep in his arms. All the Valentine’s day commercial things might have gotten to me, but he’s my rock. And we take care of each other.

Even when things are crazy busy, there are a few things I will not make compromises about. Quiet time just the two of us with no radio, no shop talk, not bank/house talk is one of those. The other is food. Nourishing, well prepared and wholesome food. It’s one of the few things we can do to keep us going. Share with friends is even better.

Herbs


When I made this salmon and Swiss chard quiche, I actually had enough for a second one so I grabbed the phone and told our friends the house was open if they wanted to come and have a bite with us. And then I made a big plate of grilled salmon and spaghetti so I called another set of friends. Before I knew it we were 10 around the dinner table sharing a good meal and a few good laughs. Taking some time off and making sure that we eat well is one of the best thing I did these past few days.

These coming two weeks are going to be packed crazy. Virginia Willis, Angie Mosier, Gena Berry and crew are going to be here this whole week for the second round of her book Basic to Brilliant Ya’ll with Ten Speed Press. I am so excited I can’t stop bopping around. We work hard but at the end of the day we play just as hard…ehehe! The week after that I am starting a photo shoot for a more commercial client and pairing with a dear friend of mine on the project. Details soon but it’s going to be some good grub too!

Anyways…I know tomorrow there is going to be a deluge of sweet things and chocolate on the blogosphere so I thought I’d give you a couple of savory recipes with salmon which we all know is wonderful for the heart… The grilled salmon and pasta dish was so refreshing and light that I made it again the day after!

Swiss Chard & Salmon Quiche



Salmon and Swiss Chard Quiche:

For one quiche (serves 6)

Note: If we don’t wish to make this gluten free, reduce the egg yolks to 1 and use 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flours instead of the brown rice, millet, sorghum and cornstarch.

For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1/2 cup (80gr) brown rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch

Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip together the butter and mustard on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add all the different flours and cornstarch and mix briefly. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. (I went with rectangular this time) If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 15-20 minutes until completely done. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 5 days if not using right away or freeze it for up to 3 months.

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (I used 1/2 of a giant sweet Vidalia), sliced thin
1 cup packed Swiss chard (red – green rainbow – your choice), washed and patted dry
One 4-oz salmon fillet, raw and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

Prepare the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Heat the oil in a large sautee pan over medium high heat and cook the onion until translucent (about 3-4 minutes), add the Swiss chard and cooked until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme and parsley. Layer the onion and Swiss chard at the bottom of the crust, top with the pieces of salmon and slowly pour the egg mixture over it.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the tart starts getting golden brown and the custard is cooked.

Grilled Salmon Spaghetti with Grape Tomatoes and Capers:

Serves 2

One 6 oz salmon fillet
3 oz dry gluten free spaghetti (we go with quinoa pasta usually)
3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
2 teaspoons capers
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh oregano

Pan grill or grill the salmon until cooked to your liking. Let it cool and chop it roughly or just shred it apart with your fingertips. Place it in a large bowl.
In the meantime, boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, drain, and mix it in with the salmon, halved grape tomatoes and capers. Mix and adjust seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and prinkle with a few fresh leaves of oregano.