Monday, August 27, 2012

Roasted Tomato Confiture - Summer's Finale

You say tomato, and I say..., let's roast them with herbs, a little apple cider vinegar and sugar to make a confiture.
At the end of summer, my garden is bursting with a tomato finale. The vines look tired, and my family and friends are over my elaborate ravings about each and every vegetable miracle.  I gather all the stragglers and throw them all together for this easy recipe.

It's a chunky, savory preserve that gives your burgers a POW! 
You can spread it on sandwiches (instead of ketchup), or use as a topper for homemade Pizza.
It's a tangy kicker to scrambled eggs, and about a bazillion other tasty uses.  Oh, did I mention how good it tastes on Hatch Chile Grilled Corn Muffins (click here for that recipe.)
We're not talking about hours of attention to cooking, either.  If the tomatoes are large, just a quick dunk into boiling water makes the tomato peels slip right off.  If the tomatoes are small, (cherry tomatoes) or you're like me and it doesn't matter, you can skip that step.
Then, simply chop and add everything to a pan to roast and that's it.  Done. Proudly fill up jars, or bowls with your "Looks so fancy, but it's not", Roasted Tomato Confiture.
I've never made this without "taste-testing" a big scoop onto a piece of toast before I ever shared it with anyone else.  Umm, what I mean to say is, it also makes a delicious and colorful Bruschetta topping. :D
Roasted Tomato Confiture is one of those little "secret sauces." You reach into the refrigerator, and quickly toss a little on slices of avocado or a corn muffin and watch everybody almost lick their plates while thanking you for cooking up something "so special and complicated."  Then, you smile and just say, "Oh, you're welcome, but I'm so tired, can someone else do the dishes (from yesterday and today?)  Shhhh, I'll never tell. 
RECIPE: Roasted Tomato Confiture

Tomatoes (peeled, large chopped)
Sugar (1/2 cup to every 2 cups of tomato)
Apple Cider Vinegar (1/4 cup to every 2 cups of tomato)
Fresh herbs (at least 1/4 cup to every 2 cups of tomato, but more is welcome according to preference.  The ones I use are Thyme leaves, Marjoram, Oregano, and Basil.)

1)  On a covered baking sheet pan, or in a casserole dish - spread the chopped tomatoes out evenly.

2)  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the tomatoes, then the vinegar.

3)  Top with fresh herbs distributed evenly.

4)  Roast in a 350F preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until most of the liquid has been reduced.  Stir every now and then (about every 20 minutes) just to distribute ingredients and liquid.

5)  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Pour into a bowl and stir to break up any large clumps and achieve your desired consistency.  I like it chunky, some like it put into a blender and very smooth.

6)  Store in the refrigerator in airtight jars or containers.  Good for a couple weeks if refrigerated properly.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quinoa "Build-A-Bowl" Party

It was Mother's Day and my request was for the family to join me in a party.  A Quinoa "Build-a-Bowl" Party.  Right now you're probably muttering to yourself just like my family members did, "why, and um...why, and really?" 
Yes, I can be a bit of a food nerd. But, I was so convinced that if they could just experience the flavors, the nuttiness, and the ease of this "perfect" grain they would fall in love with it, too. I'm not saying that Quinoa (Keenwa, Kinwa) can solve all the health problems in the world, but it's a start,'s a start.
The United Nations has named 2013 the International Year of Quinoa.  This ancient cereal contains 18% protein along with fiber, magnesium and iron.  It even has calcium, making it a great choice for vegans.  It's naturally Gluten Free and is one of the simplest foods to cook, ever.
Quinoa can be cooked like rice, or Quinoa flour can be used in baking and pasta, or the grains can be used in everything from baked goods to breakfast foods.  Gimme a flag, I'm ready to march!
I discovered Quinoa in cooking school when one of my favorite Chef instructors said, "If you're on an island and you can have only one food, pick Quinoa because it's the perfect grain."  Then we cooked some and it was bitter and I was so confounded.  

Did healthy have to be so bad tasting?  As it turned out, we had bulk Quinoa which needs to be rinsed to get the natural coating off of the grain that makes it bitter to taste and (hello, perfect universe) keeps the birds from eating it before it's harvested. When we cooked it correctly, I became a self-appointed ambassador.
Most Quinoa sold in stores has already been pre-washed and the instructions will guide you to just give it a quick rinse before cooking.  I recommend that for rice and all grains.

I'm convinced that anyone who thinks they don't like Quinoa has simply not found the way they like it.  Perhaps they cooked it in unseasoned water, then judged it to be bland. It's a food canvas that takes on the flavors you bring to the whole picture.
At the Quinoa Build-a-Bowl party, I put out tons of choices to mix and match, toss and turn, and pick and nibble.  
At one end of the table there were two choices of Quinoa. Both had been cooked in Vegetable Stock.  The Red Quinoa Mixed was warmer with a toasty bite.  
 Some of the items for mixing into their Quinoa bowls were for the meat lovers (tarragon roasted chicken and bacon.)
In another section, I had varied offerings of vegetables (red peppers, grilled corn from the cob, caramelized onions, grilled squash, black beans, rocket arugula, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans,etc.) 
There were toppings (nuts, cilantro, red onions, shredded cheeses, etc.)
I included fruits and nuts to show just how different Quinoa can be used.  My daughter eats Quinoa for breakfast, warmed with fruits and Almond milk.
To toss in or drizzle over the Quinoa, I made two different pours:  Honey Lime Cumin Vinaigrette and a Cinnamon Coconut Milk.
Of the seven members of our family there that day, four of them were guys.  They are loving and tolerant and very supportive, but I knew I was really testing their humor asking them to go along with my idea and call it their lunch.  Like I said, I waited til it was "Mother's Day" (sneaky, huh?)
After my little spiel about my "love for Quinoa", I let them party with simple directions to start with some Quinoa and then just have fun, you know, "building-a-bowl".  
We had some wine, some waters, some music going and a lot of jokes (mostly at my expense) flying around the room. 
I'm not kidding you, the buffet table was almost empty at the end of this meal.  For as much "guff" as I took, I also watched every single person return to that table to try another combination.  My Firefighter, 6'3" son who listened to my preaching with a patronizing grin admitted that he couldn't stop eating "this stuff."  
The conversation around the table turned into recommendations for the "perfect" bowl, and the right time to "garnish". 
They actually said the word, garnish. Which means they listened to me.  Huge Mother's Day gift.
So, maybe you don't need to have a whole party to try some of these combinations (although it was seriously fun.)  I just hope that your "take away" from my recap is a sense of confidence that you can create a wonderful, healthy and simply delicious meal from Quinoa.
And, no, I haven't been compensated or sponsored by any National board for the Inca Indian grain that is so mispronounced called, Quinoa.  Like I said, I'm a bit of a food nerd and I just love making you a star in your own kitchen.

**photos by ShowfoodChef and LVKM** 


1 cup Quinoa grains
2 cups Liquid (Stock, water, coconut milk or combo)

1) After rinsing the Quinoa and draining it, pour it into a saucepan with the liquid. 
2) Bring to a bowl, season, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover and Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the little grains sprout.  Check after 15 minutes.
3)  Fluff with a fork and serve warm, or cool and then keep in refrigerator for up to several days and use as needed in recipes.

RECIPE: Honey Lime Cumin Vinaigrette

1 oz. Honey
1 Lime (juice)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 oz. Olive Oil

1)  Whisk the honey and lime juice together.
2)  Whisk the cumin and olive oil together.
3)  Add the oil into the honey citrus, season with salt and pepper.  Whisk briskly to form an emulsion (or use an immersion blender.)

RECIPE:  Cinnamon Coconut Milk

1 Cinnamon stick
1 Cup Coconut Milk

1)  Pour the milk into a small sauce pan, add the cinnamon stick and bring to an almost simmer over low/med. heat.
2)  Remove from the heat, cover and allow to infuse for at least 15-20 minutes.
3)  Remove the cinnamon stick and chill the milk or serve warm.

Here are a few other Quinoa recipes for you to enjoy: