Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mango Cucumber Israeli Couscous

Israeli couscous has to be one of my favorite grains for hotter weather (along with polenta and quinoa). It only takes about 10 minutes to cook. In those 10 minutes I slice up some veggies for a light salad.

Whole Foods is doing an Israeli couscous salad right now and I thought I'd take a stab at making my own version. Feel free to change up the veggies or fruit and have fun with it!

1/2 cup Israeli couscous
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped mangoes
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1 chopped scallion

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your couscous (let simmer for about 10 minutes). Drain water from couscous and combine with all other ingredients

I find that if I let this salad sit over night or the flavors meld together.

Try different fruits or add some protein for a heartier meal!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Fair

I mentioned last post that I was invited to the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Fair. This year festivities were held at The Salt Lick Vineyards. It had been raining the days before the event and there was quite a bit of mud about.

Obviously I could not avoid the mud. It seemed that others were not having the same problems as me. After a few samples of the wines there, I really didn't mind my messy foot. While I tried to take pictures of all my favorite stops, it was near impossible.

Chocolate? Yes please. Chocolate heaven = a sample of dark chocolate mocha bites that this stand handed out.

StandStone was one of my favorite Texas wines that I sampled (I even went back for seconds). McPherson was there as well and they are one of my favorite reasonably priced and easier to find Texas wineries.

Whole Foods provided a whole truckful of goodies for the taking!

I was tempted to take the whole truck!

If you're able to make it next year to any of the THCWFF I suggest this one because it's a whole day of wandering, eating and drinking. It's definitely worth the cost of a ticket.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Black Bean Burgers with Apple Fennel Salad

This weekend was The Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival and I was able to attend. I'm still feeling a little run down from all the wine tasting and food samples but I had a marvelous time. More on that later.

Before the shenanigans of THDWFF I cooked myself a healthy meal. It's my way of balancing the damage I knew I'd do with all that food and wine! I've made grain burgers before but this time I was feeling a little south western.

South Western Black Bean Burgers

1 cup leftover grain (I used millet)
1/2 a cup black beans
1/4 cup flour
2-3 Tsp fresh cilantro
1/4 of a medium onion- chopped
1/4 cup blue corn flour
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
Cilantro + Avocado to top

Place all ingredients (except the Blue Corn Flour) in a food processor and pulse until everything is combined. Form small patties using your hands (I've also found a biscuit cutter makes a great sized burger). You can either fry them in a skillet with oil or bake them in the oven at about 350 for 20 mins (depending on how big your burgers are)
I fried these and sprinkled them with salt when they were done.

Apple Fennel Salad

1/2 a tart apple
1/2 a bulb of fennel

Grate the apple and the fennel. Sprinkle with salt to taste and squeeze a little lemon on top. Simple and great for summer. I'd suggest adding cucumber as well


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lentils with Spiced Millet

I made a huge batch of millet/barley this week so I would be able to make meals in a flash.
Millet itself seems pretty bland to me. I've noticed that I get tired of it quickly and end up just making grain burgers with it. It's time I learned how to spice up this grain.

I saw this recipe and decided to work with it.
My version included

pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
1 cup cooked millet
1/4 cup dried Cranberries
1 cups water
salt to taste

Since this was an improv recipe I didn't measure anything strictly and i don't have much of a "technique" per se (the spices are usually a small palm full each) but this millet was divine. I suggest trying the recipe I found. It looks great, I just didn't have all the ingredients.

The lentils turned out well too, but that's a whole other story right?


Monday, April 13, 2009

Waverley Kitchens

I had an Indian-filled weekend! 1st I went to a bollywood movie party on Friday and then on Saturday/Sunday I dove into one of my Waverley Kitchens spice pacs.

The recipe was for a potato corn curry but I substituted chickpeas instead of the potato (I don't eat potatoes much for some reason and rarely have them at home).

The results:

FANTASTIC- according to those who tried it. Personally, I thought it was a tad bit salty but that's probably because I didn't follow the recipe to the T. The spice packets made the whole process less intimidating (Indian food is just INTIMIDATING to me- all the spice combination and roasting and whatnot).

I'm excited to tear in to my other two pacs. This is definitely a great way to get started with Indian cooking and I'm glad I got to try it out!


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Thai Tara

Always with the Thai food right? Okay, I had to try Thai Tara because it's within walking distance of my job and I treat myself to a lunch out 1 or 2 times a week. I've been to Koriente so many times that they recognize me so, I've decided to continue my restaurant exploration.

A carrot heart on top of my rice? Reason number 1 I will go back to this place. Yes, I have an affinity for food presentation and hearts (see previous post).

Reason number 2 I will be back: I heard the servers greet each other in Thai. I only remember how to say a few words and phrases in Thai and when I hear someone else speak them practically squeal with glee (not an exaggeration ask Cara, she was there).

Yellow curry with fried tofu. The fried tofu was phenomenal. It's most likely the fattiest thing I could have ordered but worth every calorie-filled bite. My one complaint, the potatoes were not cooked as well as they should have been. They should fall apart in your mouth and they didn't. It made me slightly sad but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and think it was just that one time.

Cara had the Pad Thai . Her comments about Pad Thai here in Austin have been that she's found them to be dry and not as saucy as she prefers it to be. Thai Tara's version was not dry at all, very saucy. It may have been her favorite Pad Thai since moving to TX.

I noticed that Thai Tara's prices are ever so slightly higher than I'm used to seeing. It's not expensive by any means but all the dishes are $2-$3 more than I usually pay for Thai. It's a good thing they have lunch specials! I'll be going back for those soon & sharing my find with friends from work.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Fennel Orange Quinoa Salad

Yesterday was my first Food Bloggers of Austin Potluck. I have to admit that I get a little nervous about foodie potlucks. Every person I meet is fantastic and kind but I feel THE PRESSURE. Must. Make. A. Delish. Dish.

As tempted as I was to fall back on an easy favorite I made up my mind to try a new dish.

Fennel Orange Quinoa Salad

1 bulb fennel
2 oranges (try blood oranges!)
2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
4 cups water
1/2 a red onion
salt to taste
1 Tbspn walnut oil (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)

Wash quinoa thoroughly before cooking.
Combine quinoa, water and a heavy pinch of salt in a pot (or rice maker). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until water has been absorbed (about 25-35 mins)

While quinoa is cooking, grate the bulb of the fennel (you can thinly slice instead. I found using a grater was faster). Zest both oranges and section one orange.
Finely dice 1/2 a red onion. Combine all your veggies and stir in heavy pinch of salt (this lets the fruit and veg release their juices). Let this mixture sit until your quinoa is cooked and slightly cooled.

Once the quinoa has cooled, add the veggies/fruit and walnut oil to your quinoa. Stir until combined. Sprinkle with a handful of finely chopped fennel leaves and pine nuts plus any additional salt as needed.

The dish went over well but this recipe makes A LOT of quinoa, I suggest cutting it in half unless you want leftovers. Time to start another busy week here. Have a good one!