The Culture in kitchens

The Culture in kitchens

The process of education, as Socrates noted over two millennia ago, is simply a dialogue; one or more civil people exchanging embarrassing questions. Ideas are thought to be contagious in a congenial setting; a place like the dinner table, where the participants are fed well and therefore well bred.

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Cinnamon Streusel Muffins with Quinoa

 

For the quinoa:
3 c. water
1 1/2 c. quinoa

For the muffins:
2 c. dark brown sugar, tightly packed
1 c. grapeseed oil (You may substitute canola oil, vegetable oil, or any other light, flavorless oil.)
2 large eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk, whole
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground

For the streusel topping:
2 c. dark brown sugar, tightly packed
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 c. all-purpose flour

To prepare the quinoa, bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender and translucent, approximately 10-15 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool. ImageMeanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° and prepare the muffin batter by sifting the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Cream the oil and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, beating until just incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk and beating just until a smooth, uniform batter forms. Fold in the cooled quinoa. (Please note:  the instructions listed above will yield approximately 5 cups of cooked quinoa – you only need 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa for these muffins. You can store the remaining 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa in an airtight container for future use.)

Line 24 standard-sized muffin cavities with paper liners and fill each lined cavity approximately 3/4 full with the prepared batter. Drop the filled muffin tins firmly onto a hard surface to release any air bubbles in the batter. Set the batter-filled tins aside.

Prepare the streusel topping by combining the sugar, flour and softened butter in a large bowl. Using your fingers, mash and mix the ingredients into a rough crumble. Generously top the muffin batter in each cavity with several tablespoons of streusel. Bake the muffins for 23-26 minutes or until the streusel topping is slightly crisp and golden.

YIELD:  24 muffins

5 Tips For Baking With a Toddler

100_9399What’s that you say? Make an extreme mess with toddlers in the kitchen? The one who flings things everywhere and thinks it’s high class good times to blow chocolate milk out of their nose?

In a word: YES.

However much of a pain the butt it may be, creating things with your little ones is simply one of the best ways in which we can parent and spend time with our children. In my humble opinion. Toddlers love touching and discovering new textures. They really love to learn new skills – especially if it involves doing the everyday stuff that they watch you do.

They want to be all up in that business. Which, since I love to cook and bake…it’s not a far stretch to imagine that I’d suck up the mess and get into some baking with my little ones.

For however much I preach about the benefits of getting creative with young children, (whether be in baking, cooking or crafting), I cannot deny that there is a rather winning formula. A method to the madness if you will, that facilitates for less mess and stress; more fun and sensory play…

1. Say Good-bye To Perfectionism 
An egg (or two, or three), WILL get dropped on the floor. Get over that. Milk shall spill. Flour will get everywhere. Expect to mop the floor after. Nothing will be picture perfect, so forget those visions of fancy royal icing cookie creations dancing in your head.

2. Timing Is Everything
 Don’t start a recipe when your toddler is tired or hungry. This might go without saying, but it was worth reinstating. You also don’t want them bouncing off the walls either. Choose that magical time after a session at the park and a snack, for example – and wrap their cute little bodies up in an apron.

3. Prep Your Ingredients Beforehand
I never invite my little ones on the scene before prepping all that I can ahead of time. All tools of trade are out, as well as ingredients. Anything that I can do to make things flow better (like measuring), without actually doing the whole thing myself, I will.

4. Go With The Flow & Play It Safe
You don’t have to be so stringent as to have assigned tasks, but you can try and keep the potential for fight breakouts between siblings to minimum by putting one toddler on dry ingredients and another on the wet. This never lasts but it’s a good way to begin the process. Always keep the unsafe tools out of reach and practice/teach safety regarding the use of the oven and other culinary tools you might be using. Use non-breakable bowls and measuring cups. Let them taste test as they go and if you have really young toddlers in the mix, have play food and extra bowls on hand that they can just go nuts with. And by nuts, I mean nuts. You drew a bath beforehand to dump them in, right? Good.

5. Savour & Congratulate! 
Let them eat, eat and eat some more. High fives all over the place.

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Green Chili Polenta with Black Beans

ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Mexican stye cheese, finely grated

 

  • 1 7-ounce can whole green chilies, drained
  • 1 can cooked, black beans, drained
  • 1 cup drained canned corn
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack/Cheddar mix cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Mix first 5 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until polenta is tender and thickens, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and green chilis.

Pour half of polenta into prepared dish. Cover with  half of corn and black beans. Sprinkle with half of cilantro and 1 cup Jack cheese. Spread a thin layer of prepared or homemade salsa on top.  Spoon remaining polenta over. Cover with remaining chilies, corn, cilantro and cheese. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.) Bake until polenta puffs and cheese begins to brown.Top with remaining salsa

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Strawberry Rhubarb Terrine

Strawberry Rhubarb Terrine                    serves 8-12

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Molded strawberry rhubarb dessert terrine, with fresh strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, and orange zest.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch segments (if rhubarb stalks are large and stringy, peel first)
  • 3 cups water, divided into 2 cups and 1 cup
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • Grated zest from one orange
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 quarter-ounce packets of plain, unflavored gelatin
  • 3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 5×9 loaf pans

 METHOD

Bring 2 cups of water, the orange zest, and the sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the lemon juice and rhubarb pieces. Bring to a simmer. Let cook for about 4 minutes, until rhubarb is just tender, but not disintegrating. Remove the pan from the heat.

While the rhubarb is simmering, put 1 cup of cold water in a small bowl. Pour the gelatin from the packets over the water. Stir to make sure all of the gelatin powder is wet. Let soften for about a minute.

Put the gelatin water into the rhubarb sugar mixture. Slowly stir so as not to break up the rhubarb, but to make sure the softened gelatin is completely dissolved.

Pour mixture into two loaf pans, evenly divided, or one large casserole dish. Add the strawberries to the pans, gently distributing them among the rhubarb pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours, or overnight, until firm.

To unmold, fill a large bowl or basin with very warm water. Dip the bottom of one of the loaf pans into the water and count ten seconds. Remove from the water and run a blunt knife along the edges of the pan to break the suction. Place a serving platter upside down over the pan and gently turn the pan over. You might need to give it a little tap to release the terrine from the mold. If it’s stubborn, place it back in the warm water for a few more seconds.

 

The Benefits of Quinoa

If you’re not familiar with quinoa, then it’s a perfect protein to start incorporating into your diet. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals and is a good source of manganese as well as folate, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. In addition, it’s a great source of the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Because it’s such a complete protein with such a well-balanced amino acid profile, it’s a perfect alternative for vegetarians because it’s one of the few (non-meat) foods that provide all the essential amino acids that our bodies need.

Quinoa has a light and fluffy texture and a slightly nutty flavor when cooked. And it’s extremely versatile. It’s perfect in savory dishes or here, in my quinoa breakfast bowl. For this recipe, you can add just about anything you like to it such as cranberries, raisins, fresh fruit or even shredded coconut all work well with the recipe. And you can also substitute the honey with either agave nectar or maple syrup if you prefer. But here’s my favorite way to enjoy it:

quinoa breakfast bowl               serves 1

If you’re looking for an alternative to a hearty bowl of oatmeal that’s still nutritious, then this recipe is a great option. Quinoa, which is packed with protein, is a great substitute for the more traditional bowl of breakfast oatmeal. I make my version using a combination of both milk and water to cook the quinoa because I love the creaminess the milk gives the quinoa but you can simply use all water if you prefer. Serve it plain, with yogurt and toasted almonds or with your favorite dried or fresh fruit.

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk, divided
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped toasted almonds

1. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa, 1/2 cup milk and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Grains will be translucent and germ ring will be visible when done.
2. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, honey and remaining 1 teaspoon milk.
3. Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl and top with yogurt and almonds and serve warm. Image

The Whole Truth about Whole Grains

THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT WHOLE GRAINS

It’s amazing to think that something as simple as a whole grain can pack so much energy and vitality. Sure, they may look innocent enough from the outside, but the real magic lies within. Which leads us to one of the most common questions we get asked, ‘What’s the difference between a whole grain and a processed grain?’ To put it simply, a processed grain is missing some of its most nutritious parts, whereas a whole grain contains all of its nutritional health benefits.

Here’s how it works.
The edible part of every whole grain is known as the kernel and is made up of three major parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Processed grains lack the bran and germ, which are removed during the milling process. The remaining endosperm is what creates a flour’s smooth texture and longer shelf life. Without the bran and germ, the flour is void of the dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins.

Whole grains, on the other hand, include all three parts of the kernel and provide the body with nutrients like fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and antioxidants. Now that you know the difference, it’s easy to see why I only use whole grains.