Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quinoa and Raw Asparagus

I had made a huge batch of chick peas and was looking for a new way to use some up. I have been enjoying quinoa more lately and thought a salad with chick peas, quinoa and veggies with a Spanish inspired dressing would work great. This could work with almost any fresh vegetables or other beans or rice. This is also one of those recipes where the quantities do not matter much, go with what you have and enjoy.

Quinoa Chick Pea Salad
about 1 cup cooked chick peas
2 - 3 scallions
bunch parsley
2 - 3 tomatoes
2 - 3 ribs celery
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 to 2 cups water or stock
about 3 - 4 Tbs EVOO
about 1 - 2 Tbs vinegar (I used red wine)
salt and pepper
about 1 tsp cumin
about 1 tsp paprika
about 1/2 tsp oregano

Chop the vegetables and toss in a large bowl with the chickpeas.

To prepare the quinoa, place it with the water or stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes, stirring the pan a couple of times. Let cool before adding to the veggies.

To make the dressing, crush the garlic, with a pinch of salt.

Add the rest of the herbs and blend to form a paste.

Add the vinegar then the oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and pour over the quinoa and chick peas.

It is the height of the asparagus season, it does not get much better than now. We picked up some purple asparagus at the farmers over the weekend, and I was looking for something new to try. I had recently come across a recipe for a raw asparagus salad and loved the idea with the purple showing.

Raw Asparagus Salad
vinegar (i used white wine)
salt and pepper

Shave the asparagus using a peeler or a cheese plane. I found the cheese plane made thinner strips. It is easiest to start at the base and work toward the tip.

Toss the asparagus with EVOO, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Serve with shaved Parmesan on top.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baby Food 101

I cannot understand why anyone would buy baby food, it could not be easier to make. It requires not more advanced tools than a pot and some way to blend, a food processor, blender or food mill.

By making your own, you have endless variety and can make everything 100% organic, and there are no hidden ingredients. I make a bunch at a time and have them ready to go in the freezer, then can mix and match to create all different meals. This technique (if you can call it one) works with any fruit or vegetable. I like to leave the skin on, but you can remove it if you prefer.

We received a lot of pears last week in our fruit basket from Irv and Shelley's.

Core the fruit and skin if desired. Then add enough water to prevent it from sticking.

Cook until soft. Then puree or blend until smooth.

Then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the tray and place in a plastic bag.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Asparagus and Potato Soup

Early spring is asparagus season. It is ever present at the farmers markets which have recently opened.

This is a fairly easy and tasty soup. Topped with fried garlic and fresh basil gives it a great finish and boost of flavor.

Asparagus and Potato Soup
1 - 2 shallots or small onions, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces tips reserved
1/2 lb potatoes
5 - 10 leaves fresh basil (set aside a few leaves for garnish)
4 cups stock or water
4 or 5 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper

In a large pot, saute the onion in oil with salt for about 5 minutes over medium until soft.

Cut the asparagus into 1/2 pieces and reserve the tips.

Add the potatoes to onions and cook for a few minutes.

Then add the asparagus pieces, stack and basil. Add about half the garlic.

Cook until everything is soft, about 20 minutes. Puree in a blender or processor until smooth. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the tips, boil water with salt and cook the tips for a few minutes until just slightly cooked.

To prepare the garlic, warm a small amount of EVOO and add the remaining garlic. Cook until slightly crispy.

To serve, top the soup with a few tips, little of the garlic and a touch of the oil and a little of the reserved basil.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grilling again...sort of

So many of you will know that I have been without a grill (or at least a working one) for several years now. Because we don't eat meat, it has not been that much of a set back. I have also relied on cast iron grill pans, which work wonders. But in my obsession to make great pizza, I decided that grilling or at least some crazy combination of grilling and stones would due the trick.

Spring is here and the farmers market has opened again. Last week, I picked up some great asparagus and great looking mushrooms. I topped these with a simple dressing of Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and balsamic and EVOO.

I figured I would go all the way and use real charcoal... the only issue was I didn't heat up enough charcoal to cook my pizza, live and learn.

I just simply grilled the veggies.

And topped it with Parmesan.

Luckily I had a hot oven, and was able to make the pizzas in the oven. Here is a caramelized onion with hots.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cooking with Auden: Tony the Pizza Champion

I had pointed my friend Brad to Tony's Pizza in San Fransisco after a review on my favorite pizza blog, Slice.
As it turns out, Tony is a World Champion
Pizzaiolo. Brad sent us a great gift package with a book about Tony.

I thought what a great thing to do with the kids in Auden's class. So I read them the book and we all made pizza.

Each kid got his own little pizza station.

They played with the dough.

They each got to make their own pie, just the way they like it.

It's not exactly the same using a toaster oven, but the pizzas were a huge hit.

Even Auden got in on some of the pizza tossing acrobatics.