Side Dishes

Cornbread Man: A Real Crowd Pleaser

Cornbread Man
Nina made this cornbread man at the end of the meal tonight. I couldn’t help photographing it, because it brought to mind what I wrote about in my previous blog post. The green torso is a stalk of asparagus. For the longest time, we’d struggle with getting Nina to eat more than the tip of that green. Then she started to eat the whole thing. I don’t know exactly how that happened, but I do know what we didn’t do. We didn’t discuss it to death, and cajole her, and make her eat the whole thing (okay, we might have withheld dessert one night, but, hey, we’re only human), and the next thing I know she’s just finishing her asparagus. It can happen.

The cornbread, well, that’s another story. Everyone will want to eat it from the start!

Everyday Celebration Cornbread

  • 4 cups organic flour
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal*
  • 1 light cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons canola oil
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch cast-iron skillet and a 4x8 loaf pan. Place the skillet in the oven to heat. The loaf pan can remain room temperature.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and oil. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones in the dry ingredient bowl. Stir until mixed through, and no more. Add the butter and stir again until it is all mixed together.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and fill it with the batter. Put the remaining batter in the baking pan. It should fill it about half way.

Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a sharp, thin, knife into the center. It should come out clean. Cool on a rack (or better yet, cut some slices, slather with butter, and enjoy).

*As for cornmeal, I suggest (and Santa Maria insists upon) Bob’s Red Mill, coarse ground.

Note: This recipe is adapted from Sam Sifton’s “Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well”; Sifton in turn adapted his recipe from Chris Schlesinger’s East Coast Grill. Sifton added frozen organic corn (1 ten-ounce package, for those who want to try it—Sifton says mix it in just before the butter). I in turn, omitted the corn, so I guess I’m back at Schlesinger’s recipe, though I did cut the sugar by a third. 

Note Also: This recipe is very easy to cut in half.

Simple Steamed Artichokes Blow Away Self-Doubt

There are many moments of parenting that result in stupendous self-doubt. If you have kids, you’ll know what I mean. And if you have kids, your moments of self-doubt are doubtlessly going to be different than mine. That I guarantee. There is one moment, however, when I have no doubts: serving artichokes.

“Artichokes?” you say. “How do artichokes and kids go together?” I can’t really tell you, other than you play the hand your dealt. Maybe your kid likes the piano. Or maybe your kid likes baseball. Or maybe your kid likes reading. And someone else’s kid likes playing in the mud. My kids like artichokes. At least one of them does.

A long time ago, before kids, Santa Maria introduced me to them, and we used to have them fairly often. They became notorious around our house because Nina is so proud that she likes them.  They are, she will tell you, her favorite vegetable. Now, if you know anything about the way artichokes are typically served, saying they are a vegetable is getting a little into the realm of the Reagan era, when ketchup in school lunches was allegedly declared a vegetable. I’m sure the thing that Nina likes about the artichokes is the copious amounts of melted butter that accompany each bite.

Tonight I served them again, and Pinta, who has typically spurned them, decided to try some. When she saw the cooked artichoke in the bowl, she said, “I thought that was a big mess of hair.” She gamely ate a few leaves, and a bit of the heart. Maybe she’ll like them even more next time.

There is a very good reason to introduce them around the house, even if your kid decides that they look worse than a big mess of hair. They are odd things, and if you are not taught how to eat them, you might not figure it out. You might end up like this grown lady, the “Anonymous Executive” blogger, who found herself facing artichokes for the first time at a business lunch and spent thirty minutes chewing on one leaf. At least I have spared my children that fate—even if they are still, at an age when they should know better, struggling to use a fork. Whew.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and give a recipe for cooking artichokes that you might not find anywhere else. Every recipe I’ve seen for an artichoke has been full of instructions to trim the top, trim the bottom, trim the inside, and trim the outside. I say forget all that and just do the following. I have no doubts about it.

Simple Steamed Artichokes


1 artichoke per person

Slice about ½ inch off the bottom of each stem.

Rinse well.

Place in a pot of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a low boil and cook until the outer leaves come off fairly easily, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of each artichoke and how many people you are feeding.

Serve with melted butter (with a bit of lemon in it) and eat thusly (courteous of the “Anonymous Executive.”)


Chilled Pea Soup with Tarragon

For those of you who have been following this blog over the years, you know how devoted I am to cooking, and how I often spend much of my free time being a Stay at Stove Dad. Well, I hate to admit it, but something has come between me and the kitchen, and I don’t see the kitchen having a fair chance of winning. That thing is called AYSO.

Other parents may know it. I’ve tried to avoid it. But there’s no resisting the power of soccer. My girls started playing it this weekend, and I don’t think things will ever be the same. Much has been written about the power of team sports to build character (though in my experience, I would have to say I’m the exception to the rule), and so I found myself on a soccer field at 7:40 a.m. on Saturday. And 10 a.m. on Sunday. And 1 p.m. that same day. Do you know how much cooking I could have gotten done in that time? Sheesh!

As it was, I was limited to a couple of quick meals of sage-and-cornmeal crusted pork chops, fresh cornbread, and fish tacos. I think I’ll survive, but it won’t be easy. As I said to me eldest at 6:30 in the morning when I got her up for her first game, “We can surprise ourselves by what we are capable of.” Little did she know that I was talking about myself.

So the modest amount of cooking I did this weekend, was weirdly harder than the massive amount I did last weekend, for my Easter with a small “e.” As I promised back then, here is the pea-soup-for-those-who-hate-pea-soup recipe.

 Chilled Pea Soup with Tarragon

  •  ½ cup sliced shallots (about three or four or five, depending on their size)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil (about; I never measure this step, and neither should you)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (must be homemade and fresh, though if you use canned I won’t tell)
  • 1 10-16 ounce bag of frozen baby peas (I think I mostly use 16 ounce bags)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon (in other words, a small fistful)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (or a half cup milk, if you’re not feeling sinful)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or thereabouts)

Sauté the shallots in the olive oil in a large saucepan until soft, but not browned.

Add the chicken broth and peas and simmer less than five minutes.

Puree in a blender with the remaining ingredients and salt to taste. (Be careful with hot liquids in the blender; hold that top down with an oven mitt.)

Pour through a fine sieve into a metal bowl (I have never done this step, ever, and I’ve enjoyed the soup nonetheless. However, if your lifestyle demands such elegance, I encourage you to do it.)

Set in a bowl in a lager bowl of ice and cold water and stir soup until chilled. (Or, as I often do, make it ahead of time and chill it in the fridge. That or just serve it room temperature. Seriously, you can’t lose with this recipe.) 

Note: As you might imagine, I’ve taken considerable liberties with this recipe, which is adapted from “Gourmet Every Day,” but I’ve been very happy with the results. I encourage you to experiment, too. I’ve doubled this recipe and it’s been more than enough to serve a large group. You want to go with a small bowl, in case your guests turn their noses up at “pea soup,” which—trust me—they won’t after they taste this.

The Quick-Meal Quest: A Shifty Trick to Cook Rice in Five Minutes

Cooking always takes time, and, usually, the quest becomes how to do it faster. Take one of the most e-mailed article in this weekend’s New York Times, “One Dish, One Hour,” which considers Martha Rose Shulman’s quick meals. I like Shulman’s approach:

You may have a different opinion than I do about what constitutes a quick meal. There are quick meals that involve little or no cooking — paninis and sandwiches, uncomplicated omelets, scrambled eggs, and meals that combine prepared items with foods that you cook — but I chose to focus on dishes that are made from scratch.

I like to cook things from scratch, and I have strong opinions on what a meal makes. A Panini? Call that a meal around my house, and I’ll tell you to call a cab and go home. I need to eat, and I need to eat a lot. A meal for me has a protein, a starch, and a green vegetable.

My answer to a quick weeknight meal is to shift the time-consuming parts of the meal to other parts of the day or other parts of the week. Yesterday morning, while making bacon and eggs, I started a pot of Bolognese—which will become Wednesday night’s super-fast pasta dinner. I’ve been making that sauce long enough now, so I can do those two things at once (though I did burn some of the bacon, so maybe I need more practice), and while we had breakfast and then played around the house, that sauce cooked down without my involvement.

Last week, I wrote about a new way to cook salmon, and I received a couple of responses from readers with good ideas for the fish. I’ll post those soon, but right now I want to talk about the side dish I served with my salmon. I have a super quick way to dress up rice, by seasoning it with a bit of ginger, garlic, and some scallions.

The first thing you need to do, though, is to get the cooking of the brown rice out of the way.  You need to shift the cooking from the p.m. to the a.m. Brown rice takes about forty-minutes or so, and if you do that in the morning, between making sandwiches and getting the milk and cereal on the table, you’ll have shaved a lot of time off making your dinner.

I cook my rice like I’m making pasta. I boil a big pot of water, salt it a bit, and then dump whatever amount of rice I think I might want—say a cup and a half or so—into the boiling water without measuring anything. I bring it back to a boil, uncovered, and simmer until its done, about forty minutes. I test it when it is getting close to being finished by biting into a grain or two. When it is ready, I strain the rice, discarding the water, and then I let the cooked rice, in the strainer, sit on the stovetop all day long, with a cover on it. I don’t bother to refrigerate it, and it keeps just fine (I usually stand the strainer over the pot I used to cook the rice, thus shifting the cleaning of that pot until much later, too).

When I come home from work and I want a flavorful side dish, I chop a bit of garlic, some fresh ginger, and I slice up some scallions. I sauté the scallions a bit first, with a chili pepper, and then add the garlic and ginger, followed by the rice. I give it a good swirl with the spatula, and I’m done. One part of a quick meal is easly at the ready.

“Five-Minute” Spiced Rice

  • Cook the rice ahead of time (see above).
  • A bit of canola oil (one tablespoon or much less, depending on how much rice)
  • 2 or 3 scallions, trimmed and sliced into little disks
  • Couple of cloves of garlic, minced
  • A bit of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • Maybe one chili pepper, if so desired 

Sauté the scallions(and the chili pepper, if you are usuing it)  for a minute or two in a bit of canola oil.

Add the ginger and garlic and sauté a few minutes more.

Toss the rice in the pan and give a good couple of stirs.

Turn the heat off and serve when ready. 

Brussels Sprouts! Brussels Sprouts! Brussels Sprouts!

The family dinner last Sunday was real treat. The company was a pleasure and because Monday was a holiday, there was no real pressure to get back to work, get back to school. It’s a shame that the only time we’re so relaxed on the weekends is when there’s a long weekend, but such is modern life. I don’t think I’m the first parent to complain about the pace of things…

And as I mentioned earlier this week, the apple-and-sage pork roast was a big hit. I liked it because it was easy and delicious (to say nothing of cost effective), but the real star of the meal were the Brussels sprouts we had on the side.

They were so enticing for a couple of reasons, the first being that my sister did all the hard work in getting them ready. It was her amazing, completely unsolicited contribution to the meal, and I think it allowed me to watch the second half of the San Francisco-Atlanta game in peace. Or rather, it allowed my visiting friend (who is always cooking for his family) to watch it in peace (or read the paper, or whatever it was he was doing—that game was great, and I was distracted), because my plan all along was to have him cut up the Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables, but like any good marriage, they’re a lot of work—too much if you ask me, so I hardly ever make them. In this case, I knew my friend could do the peeling and cutting and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. But my sister stepped up, and took care of this herself. She even par boiled them, so all I had to do was gently brown them in the oven, while the pork roast cooked, naturally, and while San Francisco came back to defeat Atlanta. What a day!

Roast Brussels Sprouts, Football Sunday Way

Using as many Brussels sprouts as you need for your gathering, cut the base off, and remove hard outer leaves.

Bring a steamer pot to a boil, and parboil the sprouts for six minutes.

After they cool, cut them into quarters.

Mix the sprouts with a bit of oil, not too much, and plenty of salt and pepper.

Spread them on as many baking sheets as necessary (do not crowd--keep to one layer) and roast them in a hot oven (350 to 400, it doesn't really matter) for about twent minutes or so. Watch that they don't burn on the bottom. Stir and move around maybe once, with a spatula. Cook until they are done, and no longer. You don't want them mushy, but you do want them browned. 

Post-Thanksgiving Recap: Wonderful Holiday Yields a Cornbread Recipe

Halfway through the Thanksgiving meal—after cooking for three days, downing a glass and a half of champagne, and about halfway into a glass of a silky 2005 Barolo—I found a half-baked aphorism on the tip of my tongue. “Much like family,” I said, “I didn’t understand the appeal of hosting Thanksgiving until I had one of my own.”

I have never, ever, ever—in all the years I’ve been cooking and entertaining, through all the people I have fed and meals I have made—never, ever, ever had so much fun. I wasn’t even that big a fan of turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, and all the fixings. But after I smelled my kitchen filling with the scent of the turkey roasting, after so many of my siblings and their families came over, and as we sat at the long, T-shaped table I assembled from the Home Depot special and my regular dining room table, I understood.

I do have a confession to make, however: I didn’t do the whole thing on my own. All of my siblings contributed something to the table, and my mother came to visit for the three days prior and she did much of the chopping, and the planning, and the hand-holding. She did everything from making the turkey stock to filling the salt and pepper dishes. She was the mortar between the bricks; without her the holiday could not have stood.

Most everything went swimmingly with my mother, except for one thing. Almost every time I consulted Sam Sifton’s book, “Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well,” she rolled her eyes. Well, she didn’t actually roll her eyes, but she didn’t like it. And the day after the holiday, on the phone with me, she made her opinion clear. Addressing my tendencies towards perfection (in parenting and in the kitchen) she said of the book, “I would just throw it out.”

What was it that irked my mother about Sifton’s book? An inkling comes from Emma Allen’s recent New Yorker blog post about cooking a meal according to its directions. She accuses Sifton of being a kitchen bully, of scolding and hectoring her with his instructions.  I’m not saying that I know of any other kitchen bullies, who might hector or scold, but I will admit to the apple not falling far from the tree.

The truth is that Sifton’s book is amazing, and full of great recipes. The same, of course, is true of my mother, but that goes without saying. One thing my mother did agree with Sifton about was the cornbread that we used as a base for his Three-Pepper Sausage Cornbread Dressing, of which Sifton says, “Rare is the month where there is not a frozen bag of this stuff in our freezer, ready to be deployed.”

The dressing was remarkable, but in our house we’re less likely to have it as much as we are to have the cornbread base. On it’s own, this cornbread stands tall. It is perfectly crunch, soft and crumbly. It will become a regular part of our cooking, I can tell. In fact, I made another batch today, to go with some chili tonight.

Everyday Celebration Cornbread

  • 4 cups organic flour
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal*
  • 1 light cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons canola oil
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch cast-iron skillet and a 4x8 loaf pan. Place the skillet in the oven to heat. The loaf pan can remain room temperature.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and oil. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones in the dry ingredient bowl. Stir until mixed through, and no more. Add the butter and stir again until it is all mixed together.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and fill it with the batter. Put the remaining batter in the baking pan. It should fill it about half way.

Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a sharp, thin, knife into the center. It should come out clean. Cool on a rack (or better yet, cut some slices, slather with butter, and enjoy).

*As for cornmeal, I suggest (and Santa Maria insists upon) Bob’s Red Mill, coarse ground.

Note: This recipe is adapted from Sam Sifton’s “Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well”; Sifton in turn adapted his recipe from Chris Schlesinger’s East Coast Grill. Sifton added frozen organic corn (1 ten-ounce package, for those who want to try it—Sifton says mix it in just before the butter). I in turn, omitted the corn, so I guess I’m back at Schlesinger’s recipe, though I did cut the sugar by a third. 

Arsenic Leads to Better Way to Cook Brown Rice

Over the past few months, I’ve migrated to a cooking style that really suits my needs. On the weekends, I make a big pot of something—Chili, Coq Au Vin, Tagine, or the like—and I eat it a couple of times that week. I typically get one solid family meal out of it, and then a multitude of lunches. I’ll have more big-pot ideas going forward, as I plan to add to my repertoire.

But first, I want to return to the issue of arsenic in rice, something that hit the news media a few weeks ago, as I often serve those dishes over a starch, typically rice. In light of the reports that rice, especially brown rice, can carry high levels of arsenic, I have changed the way I cook the grain. Apparently, rinsing it first, and then cooking it in an excess of water (the same way one might cook pasta) can reduce the amount of harmful compounds present.

The good news about this new method is that it’s easier, and the rice turns out better. There’s no more measuring, worrying about keeping the heat low, or ending up with a soggy mass at the bottom of the pot. Here’s how I do it:

  • I start by putting a large pot of water, the size I would use to cook pasta, on the stove to boil.
  • I salt the water, a bit less than the amount I would salt it for pasta.
  • I take a given amount of rice, say two cups, and I rinse it a few times before cooking.
  • Once the big pot of water is boiling, I toss in the rice.
  • I bring it back to a boil, and then cover loosely and let simmer on a low heat. I use one of the small burners at the back of my stove; you can experiment with your stove and see what is best for you.
  • About twenty-five minutes later, I use a spoon to check a few grains. I taste them, looking for a soft but not mushy texture. Once I get that, I drain the rice in a strainer, just like making pasta.

I wasn’t happy to learn about the risks associated with eating rice, something I thought was so basic, safe, and healthy that I would never have to worry about it, but I happy that my new method is both better for me and better tasting. If you want more details on the situation with rice and arsenic, this post at CommonHealth is helpful.  

Discovering Arsenic in my Rice

For me, discovering new things is one the best aspects of home cooking. There’s always a new recipe, a new ingredient, a new wine to be had (there's a reason why I christened my kids and wife Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria for this blog), but there are also times when a new discovery is most unwanted, and it recently came to my attention that much of the rice grown in this country is full of arsenic.

How much arsenic, I can’t really tell. Arsenic is typically measured in “parts per billion,” and I’m about comfortable with big numbers as a young voter might be contemplating all the zeros in the Federal deficit figure (I think it’s six zeros, as the Treasury Department calculates the debt in “millions of dollars”: the latest figure is, therefore, $16,066,241,000,000, for those keeping score). One thing I do know—that arsenic is bad for you, and bad for your kids.

(Consumer Reports and the FDA, who have analyzed and revealed this issue, have the exact numbers, for the rest of you keeping score.) Rice, unfortunately, is a major staple of our diet. The only thing I can do—besides trying to quantify the risk of eating it by breaking out my calculator and consulting the EPA—is to cut back on it. 

I don’t think we can eliminate rice entirely, and there are some nuances that effect exposure: brown rice has more than white (because the husk, which was previously considered so healthy, is where the plant holds much of it), and rinsing the rice before cooking it can cut down on the amount of arsenic ingested. Those links above, to the Consumer Reports article, contain specific recommendations.

The other thing I can do to decrease my risk is to diversify my grains. So I’ve started to eat more quinoa. A few weeks ago, back when I made the amazing Crispy Chorizo, Brussels Sprout and Quinoa salad, I cooked a big old pot of the mother grain. I thought I might turn the leftover grains into a breakfast cereal, but I never got around to it. Instead, I started eating the quinoa with my chili, and more recently, with my Green Olive Beef Tagine. The quinoa kept for a long while in the fridge, after it was cooked, and it tasted just fine beneath those flavorful dishes.

What kind of other grains do you incorporate in your diet? I have the feeling I need to discover some new ones. 

Green Olive Beef Tagine

  • 1 1/2 lbs braising beef
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (or less; to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  •  4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  •  4 shallots (or more), quartered
  • 1 large potato cut into small cubes
  • 2 large carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 28oz. can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives, sliced in half

Trim the beef and cut into 1-inch pieces. Mix together the five spices with the garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil and the tomato puree. Turn the beef in this mixture and leave, covered, in the refrigerator overnight (or longer).

Heat the remaining oil in the tagine base. Fry the shallots, potatoes and carrots until they begin to colour, lift out.

Fry the marinated beef until sealed on all sides. Return the vegetables with the chopped tomatoes any remaining marinade, the parsley and a little salt.

Cover and cook over a low heat for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is tender.

Stir the olives into the dish and allow 15 minutes to heat through.

Serve with couscous (or quinoa!)

Note: The recipe can be doubled, and that is what I have been doing lately—making big batches of chili or stew on the weekend and getting multiple lunches and dinners out of them all week. I doubled using a Dutch Oven and poured all the tomato juice (from the two cans) into that pot. 

New Cookbook: Small Plates & Sweet Treats: My Family's Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking

As Santa Maria mentioned recently, we had friends over for brunch this weekend, and I made a new salad. The salad was a big hit, and I wanted to share the recipe with you. But first, a bit about where the recipe comes from: “Small Plates & Sweet Treats: My Family's Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking” a great new cookbook coming out at the end of the month.

The book is a collection of gluten-free recipes, but I have to say that flavor, more than anything else, seems to be its driving force. Written (and lovingly photographed) by Aran Goyoaga, of the blog Cannelle et Vanille, the book is a rare combination of the practical and the aspirational. I can tell from reading it (and from having met Aran) that she cooks for her family on a regular basis. Unlike some other folks who I know who cook for their families and blog about it (ahem, I mean me), she’s actually qualified. She’s a culinary school graduate, and she comes from an old-world family (she grew up in Spanish Basque country, and when she was a child her grandparents raised their own pigs to make their own chorizo.) I mean, she is serious about good taste.

And—here’s where the book gets aspirational—she an amazing photographer. Unlike other bloggers who can’t do better than to muster a quick snapshot (ahem, me again), she’s a professional. I met Aran on my recent trip to Alaska, and she was one of the many women on that trip who routinely carried more cameras than your average A.P. pool photographer—they turned every meal there into a Presidential press conference, snapping endless shots of salmon, crab, and oysters as if the fate of the free world depended upon it.

Her photos in this book will stop you in your tracks. Santa Maria, who loves Basque cuisine, and I recently spent a rare hour of leisure the other night just flipping through its pages. The book is organized by season, and it shows that a lot of time and effort went into its creation. She must have been photographing for years to come up with the captivating images in here.

I haven’t attempted any of the baked recipes, but based on her general approach, I’m confident that they will be great, too. If you make any, please let me know how they go. In the meantime, here is the recipe for the salad, thanks to Aran.

Warm Roasted Brussels Sprout, Black Quinoa, Pear, and Crispy Chorizo Salad

  • ½ cup black quinoa, rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces dry Spanish chorizo, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 Anjou or Bosc pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup arugla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Put quinoa in 1 cup of water with a ¼ teaspoon of salt, cover, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook about twenty minutes, and/or until fluffy.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet (or two, if necessary) and roast for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a small saucepan, heat a bit of the oil, add the sliced chorizo, and cook on a medium-high heat until the edges are crispy (I then took the sausage off the pan and drained on paper towel).

In a large bowl, toss the quinoa, roasted Brussels sprouts, chorizo, sliced pears, lemon juice, and arugula. Serve warm.

A few notes: I couldn’t find black quinoa, so I used red quinoa, and it was great. My oven was set at 375, becaues it's being balky again, but it didn't matter. Also, I sliced the chorizo in half lengthwise before cutting into ¼ inch slices, figuring that I wanted to spread the flavor around the salad. It was a good choice. And I ended up using baby Brussels sprouts because that is all that I could find. Another good choice. And, finally, I decided to dress it with more olive oil and lemon.

Also, I cooked a cup of quinoa so I would have some extra left over (more on that later) and I didn’t measure how much I used in the salad. I was actually making two versions for the party; one without the chorizo and one with, so I was winging it. The nice thing about a recipe like this is that it has such an inspired combination of ingredients that it is almost impossible to mess up. And it was a great party dish—easy to make ahead of time and good looking on the table. We ate it all up, obviously. 

Mouthwatering New Cookbook

I’ve had a rewarding but exhausting weekend (compounded somewhat by multiple margaritas at a dear friend’s fiftieth birthday party on Saturday night) and Santa Maria kindly volunteered to write the lastest post, about a little brunch we threw on Sunday, a great new cookbook, and a stellar salad. I hope you enjoy it.

Stay at Stove Dad recently met the lovely author of the forthcoming cookbook “Small Plates and Sweet Treats," the gluten-free chef par excellence Aran Goyoaga, and for our pleasure cooked one of her superb salads today:

 “Warm Roasted Brussels Sprout, Black Quinoa, Pear and Crispy Chorizo Salad.” 

The occasion for the salad: Over a year ago, friends invited us over for a brunch the morning after our move into the neighborhood, correctly surmising that we would be exhausted and have a bare larder.

In their honor, SASD created a brunch to appeal to both carnivorous and vegetarian palates:  scrambled eggs with fresh dill; fresh Brooklyn bagels and cream cheese; and Aran’s yummy salad. It may have taken a while for us to get around to hosting the brunch, but, perhaps, this salad made up for it.

What is so amazing about the salad:  it’s ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS (granted, I’ve spent many years addicted to his other quinoa salad preparations). It has a point/counterpoint marriage of sweet (pear) and salty (chorizo), crunchy (quinoa) and tender (roasted Brussels sprouts) and the slightly bitter vegetal surprise of arugula.  Plus, it’s high protein, gluten-free (if that is important to you), eye-catching, and incredibly nourishing. Quinoa, a staple of ancient Incas and modern Brooklynites alike, has the highest protein of any grain. It is known as the “Mother Grain.”

I’m going to check with my friend Aran about posting the recipe. In the meantime, I strongly suggest you order a copy of her book. It’s a remarkable cookbook, and I’ll have more to say about it shortly, I'm certain.