Last weekend I wanted to cook something light in anticipation of the heavy feasting later this month. A quinoa chowder from Deborah Madison fit the bill perfectly. The creamy feta is a nice counterpoint to the smoky heat of the chipotle chiles.
Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta and Scallions
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
3/4 cup quinoa
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely diced *
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
3 cups finely sliced spinach leaves
1/4 pound feta cheese, finely diced
about 6 quarts water, divided
* Used about two chipotles in adobo.
Simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Then drain and reserve the liquid.
In a braising pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and chile. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the cumin, a good pinch of salt and the potatoes. Cook briefly without letting the garlic take any colour. Add the quinoa water and top it off to about 6 quarts. Add half the scallions and simmer until the potatoes are tender about 15 minutes. Add the quinoa, spinach and the rest of the scallions and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir
in the feta.
As you might know if you have been following me for some time, I'm a bit of a fan of Mark Bittman. So when I learned that Sue from Couscous & Consciousness along with Alex from A Moderate Life, Christy from Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy, Dr Laura from Who is Laura? and Chaya from My Sweet and Savoury are hosting a monthly blog event of his recipes, I just had to pour over my copy of How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and look up a new recipe to try. I settled on a bulgur chile, because there was a packet of bulgur sitting in the cupboard, which I had bought just out of curiousity. (somehow this is the way I end up trying something new most of the time)
The chile was nicely spicy, but not too hot. Better cook up a bigger batch while you are at it. It lends itself well to reheating, as the bulgur will not turn mushy over time.
The host of this month's blog hop is Sue from Couscous & Consciousness.
Adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, any colour, cored and diced
2 carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbp tomato paste
about three chipotles in adobo
3 cups tomatoes, chopped (or pomodoro passata)
1 quart vegetable stock or water
salt, black pepper
1 cup fine or medium-grained bulgur
sour cream for garnish
In a braising pot, heat the oil and sweat the onions. Fry on medium heat until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, then add the bell pepper and carrot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste,let it take some colour and stir in.
Add the chipotles, chopped tomatoes, stock and some salt and black pepper.
Let bubble on low heat for about 30 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for about 15 minutes. Garnish and serve.
The latest choice for a foodie-book from the Cook the Books Club was Heat by Bill Buford. I enjoyed reading the book when it came out and just re-read some sections which describe the work in a tuscan butchery.
Making sausage has been on my to-do list since I had read Ratio and Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman, so now was the perfect time to try. To avoid the hassle of filling the ground meat into casings, I wanted to make some cevapcici-like fingerlings and wrap them into caulk fat. Sounded like a good enough plan, but unfortunately I ran into diffculties from the get-go. First, the nozzle of the (new and not-that-cheap) hand-cranked meat grinder was so low, I couldn't use an ice bath but had to catch the meat in a glass casserole. Then the suction cup on the bottom of the meat grinder gave in, which made grinding meat really hard and very time-consuming work. Due to the slow going the fat and meat (predictably) warmed up and began to clog the die. After going through maybe 200 gram of the 1.25 kg total (I used a half-batch of the recipe given below.) I decided to form the ground meat into a fingerling, skip the wrapping in caulk fat and just fry it. The Bratwurst had a nice and hearty taste, but I didn't want to slog on going through all that meat with the half-dead grinder. So I diced some onions and minced a garlic clove to make a bolognese-style stew with the diced meat.
It has been said somewhere, that a food blogger has to take on many varied roles from dish washer to cook to fotographer to food stylist and so on. Among those many tasks also may come the role of Chief of First-Aid Operations. In that role you may want to use a quite moment to ponder one or two questions.
Do you have a First-Aid Kit of some description which has not yet seen its Use-By date?
Is said kit in a place and a state of packaging where you are very, very confident to be able to put it to its intended use with one hand tied to your back?
Adapted from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
4 pounds pork shoulder, diced
1 pound pork backfat, diced
1.25 ounces kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped marjoram
1/2 cup white wine, chilled
caul fat (optional)
Mix together all the ingredients except the white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
Grind through a small die into a bowl set in ice water. Using a silicone spatula, fold in the wine until fully incorporated. Take off a small sample of the mixture, press it into patty-shape and fry it in a pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Divide the mixture into patties or fingerling shapes, wrap in caul fat if using and fry in small batches without overcrowding the pan.