Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eating With Your Eyes

You know how people on the Food Network are always telling you eat with your eyes first and your mouth second? Or did I make that up?

Anyway, it's true as evidenced by my making something I saw in a movie. Come to think of it, this is the second dish I've pulled from a movie. The first being a bagel Mel Gibson mentions on the smash hit, "What Women Want."

I think everyone that saw "Julie and Julia" will agree that the bruschetta Julie makes at the beginning of the movie made all of our stomachs start to grumble - then by the end of the movie we were ready to fly to France and move into a tiny bistro kitchen and live under the fridge in the hope of getting scraps.

No need. I kind of improvised this recipe and it turned out delicious so here it is. Please, please, please make sure you're using the best and freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. This recipe is so basic that without the best summer tomatoes and real basil it's going to be just meh. Don't settle for meh-ness!

Multi-Colored Tomato Bruschetta
Serves 2 (as a side)

3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 medium orange tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 medium red tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tblsp fresh basil, chopped
Kosher Salt (Texture and taste are better than table salt) and Pepper
1 small baguette, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces

1. In a small non-stick pan heat the olive oil on low heat. Add garlic and cook on low for about a minute, just to flavor the oil. Make sure the garlic does not burn in any way, shape or form.
2. In a medium bowl put in orange tomatoes, red tomatoes and basil. Add olive oil/garlic mixture. Toss gently to coat tomatoes then add basil and toss gently again. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover and put mixture aside to let flavors develop.
3. Meanwhile, in the same pan that you used for olive oil, melt about a teaspoon of butter or a small slice of butter on medium high heat. Then place a few slices of bread in the butter side by side and cook until one side has browned slightly. Remember not to crowd the bread.
4. Repeat on other side of bread slices and repeat until all the bread has been toasted with butter.
5. Put tomatoes on bread and feel happy.

I really do hope this recipe delights you the way it delighted me. It's so simple, yet so satisfying and a good reminder that the best way to make a great meal is to start with incredible ingredients.

Fresh ingredients are not only delicious but all the better for you. The longer a vegetable sits in the grocery store the more nutrients it loses, not to mention flavor. If you can, shop at farmer's markets, join a CSA or even just try to buy what's local at your grocery store. Your taste buds, stomach and health will thank you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quinoa: Magic? Or Cousin of the Tumbleweed?

Both actually. Quinoa is a wonderful grain-like thing I discovered a few years ago and I have never looked back. I call it a grain-like thing because that's exactly what it is. It's not quite a grain or a seed. And it's related to the tumbleweed. Make of that what you will.

Anyway, it turns out our friend quinoa is a superfood. It is a good source of fiber and phosphorous and it is high in iron and magnesium. It is a complete protein and has a very unique set of amino acids. It has a ton of folate (holla at my preggos!) and is gluten-free. It's pretty tasteless so you can put it in anything. It makes a fantastic gluten-free substitute to couscous. I mean, what more could you want out of a grain-like thingie?

So a few words about this salad: Brandon and I are partial to rib-eye steak but it's pretty marbled, so if you don't want to fight with the fat as you're cutting it, just get a sirloin. Or make it vegetarian by omitting the steak entirely.

Also, I do all of the seasoning on this salad at the very end when everything is on my plate and I'm about to eat it. I add olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper much like I would to a green salad. I put those ingredients on this recipe but please feel free to add your own fixins'. Different types of vinegar, steak sauces, you name it. And let me know how it goes!

Cold Steak and Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

1 cups quinoa

1 ½ cups of water

Steak - about 10 oz.

Canola Oil

1 red pepper, sliced

2 red onions, sliced

2 cups halved Cherry tomatoes

2 tblsp parsley, finely chopped

Feta cheese to taste, I like alot

Olive oil for drizzling

Red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

  1. Cook quinoa by placing it in a 3 quart(ish) pot and adding the water. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer until water evaporates and quinoa is cooked through – about 10 minutes. Quinoa should be transparent when fully cooked, unless you bought red quinoa....then it'll be maroonish. When cooked, place quinoa in a large bowl.

  2. Meanwhile, cook steak on a non-stick pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Do not tent in foil, this overcooks your steak, just put steak on a plate and walk away. Once steak has cooled and rested for about 20 minutes, slice thinly perpendicular to the grain of the steak and set aside or refrigerate if you so choose.
  3. In a medium pan heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot it should move around the pan easily, like water. Once the oil is hot, place the red pepper and cook, stirringly often, until soft, but not falling apart - about 4 minutes.

  4. Once the red pepper is done remove from heat and place in the bowl with the quinoa. Return pan to heat and repeat process with the onions, adding more oil if necessary. Then add the onions to bowl containing the quinoa and the peppers.

  5. Add cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and parsley to quinoa bowl and mix gently. Spoon quinoa salad onto a plate and top with a few pieces of steak, and then drizzle with olive oil and bit of red wine vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve this cold, or at least at room temperature. The steak and the salad keep really well so please eat the leftovers. Or I will.