Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mediterenean Quinoa Salad

Here's a fresh, simple, healthy and delicious salad, perfect for a hot summer day!
(No need to say more...just enjoy!)

For 2 approximately servings:
1/2-3/4 cooked quinoa
1 zucchini
3-4 mini peppers
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half or whole if really small
1 cup green peas
2-3 green onions
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil, or more

Cut the zucchinis in whatever shape you feel like(rounds, half-moons, or quaters, you decide!).
Chop the peppers into small pieces, as well as the green onions.
Cut the tomatoes, and sprinkle with salt so they release their juices and flavor!
If you use frozen peas, thaw them nicely in the micro-wave...(did I mention this salad is sooooo easy??!)
Mix all the veggies together, add the quinoa, basil, lemon juice and oil, salt and pepper to taste and that's it...

Add a nice crusty bread on the side if you wish and bon appetit!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Plum Chutney/Jam

I have to admit right away I had NO idea whatsoever what I was doing when I made this. It's simply a bunch of fruit, either too ripe to eat or too sour for my personal taste, thrown together in a pot with some sugar and a bit of liquid, simmerred until it was all cooked and reduced by about 1/3...I thought it was gonna be more like a chunky jam, but it turned out more like chutney. Either way it's amazing on toast, or meat. So it's both!

I used black plums, the mini ones. They were a little too sour for me, even after sitting on the counter for one week. I just chopped them up in quaters, without peeleing because the peel here gets really soft. I think I had about 2 cups of those. Also in there I threw in some ground cherries. Unusual I know but they were also dying in their little basket so in the pot they went. I cut the bigger ones in half and left some whole. Total amount here is unknown...I'm guessing about 1/2-3/4 cups..?(I'm really bad with mesuring when I cook!) Finally I tied it all with an apple, peeled and chopped finely.
In a pot with about 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup apple juice, I let it simmer and stirred occasionnaly for about 30 minutes, or maybe 45...added some golden raisins about half-way(i believe it was about 1/2 cup...), 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a bit of cloves, pinch of salt and a squeeze of honey. Here it's up to you to add more sugar, depending on how tart you like things...
When it got to a nice thick consisitency I turned off the heat and let it cool.

Now I have to apologize for the lack of pictures...it was a little tricky to get the right color to come out...this is the only one I was able to get that actually looks like it really is! Dark and chunky and really delicious. Alos I didn't know how it would turn out so I didn't really "document" anything during the process...sorry...next time...

I can't wait to experiment and make other sorta chutneys and jams with different fruits!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Whoever invented/came up with using bananas for baking is a genius. I mean, really! They're amazing for muffins, and cakes, and well, bread. And it's kinda recomforting to know that when there's 2 bananas on the counter, dying and blackening as days go by, it's not a total loss...in fact I almost, sometimes, let them "mature" on purpose, so that I have an excuse to bake something!!
So this week I was gonna, again, make muffins, but I decided to make a loaf for something different, and for some new material for this blog(yes, I'm still thinking of you, readers, even if I don't show up on here all that often..:))
This recipe came form "Healthy Oven", yet again. It uses buttermilk, but if you're unable to find buttermilk(or in my case decide at the last minute to make a loaf rather than the usual muffins...)make your own:
2/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt+1/3 cup 1% milk=1 cup buttermilk.
It's that simple, and it works!
On to the recipe:

Dry ingredients:

2 cups flour(mix half whole wheat, half all-purpose...)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas(about 2 bananas)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg
1 TBSP canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


Mix all the dry ingredients and set aside.
Mix all the wet ingredients, by hand or with a mixer for about 2 minutes, making sure everything is well combined.
Pour the wet in the dry, add chocolate chips and mix, without over mixing though or you'll end up with a tougher loaf. In this case it's ok if there are still lumps of flour here and there...
Pour in a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan, smooth the top with a spatula and sprinkle more choco chips on top(!!!).
Bake in a 350F oven on the middle rack for 55-60 minutes.
Cool for 10 minutes while still in the pan, unmold and cool completely on a cooling rack...

or...if you have no self control like me have a few slices while it's still too hot and burn your tongue...(no seriously, don't. it hurts...)

It's an AMAZING loaf, really, even after 4 days!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carrot Raisin Bread

It seems like it's been forever since I last made a loaf of bread...but I'm happy to say I haven't forgotten the pattern!!

I had the day off today, and with a big ol' bag of carrots in the crisper, begging to be used for something, I came up with this recipe. The carrots and raisins add sweetness, and the quinoa taste comes out really nicely. I used bread flour AND all-purpose flour, to make the dough lighter, but also because I ran out of bread flour(oups..). If I make this again eventually I will use more ginger and maybe even a little cloves, to spice it up a bit.
I was also really pleased with the nice color of the finished loaf. And this time I got the braid pattern right!
So here's the formula:

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2-3 carrots
2 TBSP light olive oil
1/2 cup raisins
1- 1 1/2 cup carrot's cooking water
1 TBSP honey


-Peel and cut the carrots in small cubes and boil until tender. Let cool and RESERVE THE WATER!!
-In the carrot water, soak the raisins, add in the honey.
-Mix flour, quinoa, yeast, salt and ginger.
-Mash the carrots with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
-Pour the water in the flour mix while stirring with a fork, when it starts coming together add the raisins and the mashed carrots and mix until in comes together in a ball. You may need to add more water or flour, so have the bag of flour on hand. I keep some in a small bowl so that my flour remains plain and "virgin" so to speak...
(*On a side note, this part was really messy for me. Stickyness, lumps of dough and carrots and raisins stuck to my fingers, I kneaded in the bowl for about 5 minutes before transfering to the table. But it worked out fine in the end...That's the thing about bread, even if it seems like it's not happening, it most probably will, it just takes time. Patience is a virtue in this case...)
-Transfer to a working surface, floured lightly and knead until the dough is soft and no longer sticky(mine was still a BIT sticky, but it's better that than tough and dry!).
-Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
-Punch the dough down and shape(braid, or whatever...)
-Put the loaf in an oiled pan and let it rise again until doubled, another 30-45 minutes.
-Brush with milk and bake in a 375F oven, on the middle rack, for 10 minutes, turn down the heat to 350F and bake 25 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the bread in for about 5 minutes.
-When it's done it'll sound hollow when tapped at the bottom, or an instant thermometer will read 170F.
-Cool on a rack and marvell......

I will submit this to yeastspotting, a nice site about bread and baking.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tomato and Basil Spaghetti

Yes, this is a new post...
I really have to apologize, again, for being so distant...it's not you, it's me...

So. Yesterday I actually COOKED! Well, it was a quick, under 30 minutes easy meal before running out the door, but still. Last time I made a plate of pasta...I don't even know.
This is not really a "recipe", per say, but all things that match so well thrown together for a fresh little lunch:

Cooked spaghettini
Different colored tomatoes, cut in 4(or half if they're small...)
Button mushrooms
Fresh basil(yes, the plant is still alive!!! and H-U-G-E!)
Olive oil and butter

Sautee the garlic and mushrooms in the butter and oil until it's semi-cooked. Preferably on medium heat and stir often so the garlic doesn't burn...Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cook for a few minutes until soft but not totally mushed. The idea is to keep the tomatoes chunky and looking like tomatoes, rather than sauce. Add basil at the end, throw in the pasta, stir to combine and voila. It's easy isn't it? Oh, and if you'd like you could drizzle a little olive oil on top, but I was a little generous with the oil in the beginning so I passed on the drizzle...

I should really start cooking again...