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Quinoa and Beet Wraps

30 Jun

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My food intake has been uncharacteristically indulgent the past couple of weeks. I kicked it off with my very favorite beef tartar at The Greenhouse Tavern with my dad, followed by a gorgeous sushi boat at Pacific East with my in-laws and sister-in-law that evening. The next day, we went over my in-laws house for some of my mother-in-law’s homemade gravy (this one made with San Marzano tomatoes and deliciously tender meatballs – yum). Saturday we went back to the in-laws for her homemade bean burritos and summer corn. Then, on Sunday, we bid my sister-in-law farewell with a decadent stop at Li Wah for some dim sum, where I really outdid myself in eating just one more bite of everything.

So. I’m not just bragging about all of the awesome things I ate. Okay, yeah, I’m sort of bragging, but I only brought it up because after all of that, I needed something healthy. But it couldn’t be a ho-hum dish, because after all that rockin’ flavor day after day, my palate might have shriveled up and died in protest if I ate something boring for the first time in days and days.

This fit the bill perfectly. Beautiful sweet beets, nutritious and savory sauteed beet greens, salty feta, tangy-sweet apple cider vinegar, slightly crunchy and nutty quinoa, and the heat of crushed red pepper flakes wrapped up in a soft tortilla … it’s really a winning combination. Not that my crappy picture-taking demonstrates it, but this dish is also beautiful. The bright red beets look like little jewels, staining the quinoa a slightly red hue, set off by the emerald green beet greens and bright white flashes of the feta and tortilla. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as as the mouth. It also makes for killer leftovers – both reheated and room temperature. I made one room temperature and one reheated tortilla for lunch today and liked both equally.

Quinoa and Beet Wraps

Slow cooker roasted beets:

2 medium beets with greens attached

4 tbs. olive oil

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare beets by cutting off greens (reserve greens – see below), leaving about 1/4″-1/2″ of stem, and scrubbing clean. Place each beet on a square of tinfoil about 6″ x 6″, or large enough to encase the beet. Drizzle each beet with 1-2 tbs. of olive oil, and season generously with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Close each tinfoil packet and twist shut. Place beets in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

When beets are easily pierced through with a knife, remove from slow cooker. Remove from tinfoil packets and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel beets using a vegetable peeler or edge of a spoon. Cut off about 1/4″ of rooted end and top. Dice into 3/4″ squares and set aside.

Veggie wraps:

5 tortillas

Slow cooker beets (see above)

Beet greens (reserved from above)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

3 tbs. olive oil

3 tbs. apple cider vinegar

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup feta, finely chopped

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Add quinoa and water to a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. When the quinoa comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is cooked through. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste (start with a small amount of each, especially crushed red pepper, because you will be adding seasoning in each layer). Saute onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Add beet greens. Season again with a small amount of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until beet greens begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add reserved beets from above and saute about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar, cooking until only about 1 tbs. remains. Finally, add quinoa and feta and saute another 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are heated through and vinegar is absorbed. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Set aside, covered, to maintain warm temperature.

Heat tortillas in a large saute pan or in the microwave for 45 seconds. Spoon about 1/3 cup of seasoning into the center of tortilla and roll into burrito form.

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Bacon Jam

21 Oct

Yup.  Bacon jam.  A combination of sweet and savory porky deliciousness.  The combination of ingredients works together very well.  Smoky, porky bacon, sweet caramelized onions highlighted by brown sugar and maple syrup, slightly bitter coffee, and tangy-sweet apple cider vinegar play together to create something special.

The uses for this are endless.  On a fried egg sandwich, an English muffin, a crumpet, a piece of toast … you name it.  It’s also really easy – basically a set it and forget it recipe.  Don’t worry if the onions begin to look burnt to a crisp.  It’s just the coffee darkening things up (and making things extra super tasty).  You can make this any consistency you want.  I didn’t use an immersion blender at the end, and I like the relatively large pieces of bacon, but it’s a personal choice.

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Bacon Jam

Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 lb. hickory smoked bacon, roughly chopped

2 medium red onions, thickly sliced

Freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup brewed coffee

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Add bacon into the slow cooker.  Cook on high for one hour.  Drain off all the fat.  Add onions and cook another hour on high.  Add remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to low and cook another 6-8 hours, stirring every couple of hours.

If desired, use an immersion blender or food processor  to chop to desired consistency.  If necessary, drain off most of remaining fat first.

Store in refrigerator.  Use within a week.

Ricotta Barley Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

6 Aug

I wanted to make something like this as soon as I saw the patty pan squash in our CSA basket in Week Three.  But the temperatures were killer.  I did not want to have the oven on for any length of time.  On Friday I had a stroke of brilliance and realized I could get the squash totally cooked without turning on the oven at all.  Enter the slow cooker.

By cooking the squash to tender perfection in the slow cooker and then throwing it under the broiler for less than ten minutes to heat everything up to temperature and brown the top, I avoided having the oven on for forty five minutes or more.  It made a huge difference given the heat wave we’ve been having in Cleveland, all the more so because we do not have central air.

As I mentioned in my last CSA post, Zak is not a huge fan of patty pan squash.  I get his objection – it’s not a super flavorful squash, though it’s shape is cute and texture is creamy.  Here, it works great as a vessel for a cheesy barley and herb mixture.  The soft insides add an extra layer of “creaminess” to the barley.  There was a nice mix of textures and flavors from the tender squash, smooth ricotta, acidic tomatoes, fresh basil, and toothsome barley.  I would definitely make a variation on this again the next time we receive patty pan in our CSA basket.

Ricotta Barley Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

2 patty pan squash

1/2 cup barley, cooked according to package instructions

1/3 cup ricotta

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Stab squash a few times with a fork.  Place squash in a slow cooker with about 1/4 cup water.  Cover and set on low.  Cook on low 4-5 hours until tender.  Remove from slow cooker and let cool until cool enough to handle.  Once cool enough, cut 1/4″ off top, near stem.  Use a spoon to remove seeds and create a “bowl” for the barley mixture.  Season inside of squash liberally with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler.

Mix together barley, ricotta, Parmesan, tomatoes, and basil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place patty pan on a sheet tray and place under broiler for 8-10 minutes until heated through and top is lightly browned.

Miso-Sriracha BBQ Pulled Pork and Kimchi Sandwich

17 Mar

I have a whole mess of leftover ingredients from making soondubu jjigae a bit back that inspired the “barbecue sauce” for this pulled pork sandwich.  The pork is tender and juicy.  The miso-sriracha bbq sauce is salty and savory from the miso paste and soy, sweet from the brown sugar, and spicy from the sriracha.  Paired with the spicy and pungent fermented kimchi, this made for a sandwich that was an absolute explosion of flavor.

I had another sandwich for lunch sans-kimchi and served instead with some thinly sliced cucumbers and plain Greek yogurt and that was also really good.  Ditto to the pork reheated and used to top some polenta (one day I used creamy and cheesy polenta the next day, pan-friend, crispy polenta).  This is the perfect slow cooker meal, because you can make it one evening for dinner (in my case, on a Monday) and you’re set for lunch for the rest of the week.  The recipe below makes enough of everything for about half a dozen sandwiches, depending on how overstuffed you like things.

Miso-Sriracha BBQ Pulled Pork and Kimchi Sandwich

Miso-Sriracha BBQ Pork:

1 lb. pork shoulder or butt

1/2 recipe miso-sriracha bbq sauce (see below)

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

3 1″ pieces of ginger, peeled and smashed

1 cup water

Add pork to slow cooker.  Pour miso-sriracha bbq sauce (see below) and water over pork.  Add garlic and ginger.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.  If possible, occasionally (every 3 hours or so) remove cover and shred meat with fork.  Most of the miso-sriracha cooking liquid should be evaporated and/or absorbed by the pork.  Shred pork with forks completely and follow “Sandwich” instructions (see below).

Miso-Sriracha BBQ Sauce:

5 tbs. brown sugar

4 tbs. sriracha

3 tbs. white miso paste

1 tbs. soy sauce

2 tbs. sesame oil

2 tbs. rice wine vinegar

Whisk together all ingredients.

Sandwich:

4-6 buns

Miso-sriracha BBQ pork (see above)

1/2 miso-sriracha bbq sauce (see above)

1 1/2 cups kimchi, roughly chopped

2 tbs. sesame seeds

Mix together miso-sriracha bbq pork with remaining mio-sriracha bbq sauce.  Add sesame seeds and stir to combine.  If desired, toast hamburger buns in a broiler for 1-2 minutes or in a preheated cast iron pan.  Add desired amount of pork to the bottom bun.  Top with a few tbs. of kimchi.  Add top bun and serve immediately.

Spiced Orange Brined Chicken Thighs in a Slow Cooker

3 Mar

As much as I am a huge fan of a whole roasted chicken, I am equally enamored of chicken thighs.  Though a whole roasted chicken is almost criminally easy, when you own a slow cooker, chicken thighs are even easier.  Though my schedule has finally died down now that my moot court competition is over, it’s still nice to come home to dinner that is basically done.  Most of this recipe can be done the day before.  I marinated the chicken thighs overnight and then quickly seared them off while boiling the brining liquid as my coffee brewed in the morning.

After a day of slow cooking in the marinating liquid, this chicken was tender and falling off the bone.  The meat was very flavorful, and the skin was sticky and sweet.  Just look at the deep caramelization of that chicken skin.  Mmmm.  Served with some fluffy white rice, this was a delicious and hearty meal with hours of slow cooked flavor but very little work involved.

Spiced Orange Brined Chicken Thighs in a Slow Cooker

2 chicken thighs

2 cups water

1 orange, zested and quartered

2 whole cloves

1 tbs. whole black peppercorns

1 tbs. kosher salt

1 tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. ground cardamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Small pinch ground mace

1/2 cup orange juice (preferably with pulp)

1 tbs. butter

1 scallion, dark green parts only, for garnish

Bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Whisk in salt, sugar, and spices.  Add orange zest, orange quarters, and orange juice.  Let cool to room temperature, placing in the refrigerator if necessary.  Transfer marinade and chicken thighs to a large zip lock bag.

Let brine 6-8 hours in refrigerator.

Remove chicken thighs and transfer brine to a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and boil, covered, 2-3 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium sauté pan.  Add chicken, skin side down down, and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown.

Transfer all ingredients to a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Remove chicken from the slow cooker and serve with a few spoonfuls of the braising liquid, garnished with scallions.

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