Friday, November 5, 2010

quinoa with pine nuts and cumin-lime vinaigrette

quinoa with dried fruit

Can I tell you how hard it is to write a post about quinoa? I’ve been staring at the screen all morning, trying to figure out how to drum up excitement for something perceived as uber-boring. Let’s face it, “health” food isn’t sexy, it doesn’t come with the same cache of chocolate, or caramel, or homemade ricotta. Quinoa is that ingredient you read about in fitness magazines (yawn) and it’s told in health food stores (another yawn). In other words – boring, snooze-inducing, what-your-mom-would-want-you-to-eat food.

quinoa with dried fruit

The fact that there’s no mysterious dark side to quinoa is true. You even feel wholesome eating it – there’s absolutely no guilt associated with it (crazy, right?). There is no food coma afterward. You feel satiated, alert and healthy – it’s kind of boring, really. I’ve only been eating it at the Whole Foods’ salad bar and while always enjoying it, feeling a little bit unexciting afterward; it always tempted me to reach for a piece of bacon post meal (if only there was a piece of bacon to be found!). It might be why I had never previously purchased quinoa for the home.

sunshine yellow pepper

So why am I telling you about something that’s boring? Well, because it happens to be delicious, and shockingly exciting. After we got tired of rice, pasta, and potatoes (did I just write I got tired of potatoes? Someone please check to see if I’m running a fever!) – I decided to look elsewhere for our grain fix. And while reorganizing my pantry, I found a box of red quinoa sitting pretty on one of my shelves. Unsure of how it got there, I checked the expiration date and it seemed fine. And after trying to figure out how it snuck into the apartment, I assumed it must have been something a visitor brought in with them – as this apartment has served as a mini-hotel for so many. Perhaps my mom brought it with her, or maybe it was another sneaky house guest. There it was, staring me squarely in the face, as if issuing a silent challenge, “Can you handle me?”

Continue reading quinoa with pine nuts and cumin-lime vinaigrette.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

apple cobbler

apple cobbler

The very first time Andrew and I had dinner, we were, technically on a non-date. He had just moved to the city and it never occurred to me that our getting together was anything more than a new person looking for a familiar face to break bread with. I remembered how it was for me to move to New York – I didn’t know a soul, save for my roommate who pulled investment banking hours and spent her remaining free time with her boyfriend. It was lonely, stressful and overwhelming. I thought perhaps he might be going through the same thing and wanted to see a familiar face.

granny smiths

I, on the other hand, had other ideas. While I didn’t want to project an obligatory date, fearing rejection and embarrassment, I picked what I thought to be the perfect restaurant for a nice dinner that was relaxed enough to be construed as casual, but suggested subtle date-like hints. Braeburn was that restaurant – it had everything I wanted: lovely, thoughtful and comforting food; gracious and knowledgeable staff who knew the difference between attentive and overbearing; a room large enough for a few tables, but small enough for a quiet conversation; and a cozy, welcoming, and warm ambiance. Braeburn has and continues to strike me as a place that wants you to feel more like you’re in someone’s home than a formal restaurant, and I mean that in the best possible way.

lots of peels

Continue reading apple cobbler.

Monday, November 1, 2010

using your pastry scraper as a scoop

That pastry scraper you don’t think you use nearly enough, can moonlight as an effective scoop and transport of your chopped food to a bowl, pot, or a pan. Just slide the scraper under the pile of the pieces, and shift them onto the blade. You’ll see just how much more effective this process is than scooping by hand, over the blade of your knife, or lifting your entire cutting board to transport what you’ve chopped (which can get messy). I’m a huge fan of this pastry scraper – but other ones should do just fine.

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