July 2009

crunchy avocado salad

by Heguiberto on July 31, 2009

crunchy avocado salad

crunchy avocado salad

We do most of our grocery shopping for the week either Saturday or Sunday. That means that by the end of the week our fridge and pantry start to look pretty empty. I like this cycle because it means going shopping again for fresh and exciting produce for the following week. I usually enjoy having a salad along with my dinner main course when we stay home. Trying to make a salad for dinner last Friday was a challenge. Upon opening my fridge I only saw things that I did not think matched well for salad. However, there were a few promising ingredients among them: a bunch of parsley, a recently harvested sweet onion, a couple of fresh green cayenne chili and a jar of Spanish capers. On the kitchen counter I had two beautifully ripened Hass avocados which I “discovered” after I moved to the US.

The reason I say ‘discovered’ is because avocados in Brazil were never eaten in savory dishes. The way Brazilians enjoy avocados may scare Mexicans or Americans. In my home country, they’re blended with sugar and milk or cream and made into either an ice cream or served as a kind of thick sweet creamy soup with the consistency of oatmeal that’s eaten with a spoon. It’s an acquired taste that I was never really able to acquire. My neighbors used to have a couple of avocado trees in their backyard. These trees where immense and prolific with branches that would reach over the fence toward our own backyard. My mum hated avocados and especially these beautiful trees when the fruit started to drop and crash into our backyard. What a mess! Our chickens feasted on them but there were so many fruits falling off the trees between January and March that they could hardly keep up! We used some of the left-over fallen avocados to feed our pigs. What a waste!

I learned to enjoy avocados here in the US first by eating guacamole and then I pretty much went on adding it to everything: sandwiches, salads or, like in Colombia, on top of a warm bowl of rice seasoned with a good olive oil and salt: yum! With regards to flavor and texture I would say that fully ripened avocados are creamy, buttery, floral and nutty. They melt in your mouth just like a delicious chocolate truffle. The fruit’s supposed to contain “good fat” that’s packed in monounsaturated fats. As you can see, the avocado is versatile. This salad incorporates various textures and flavors. It’s crunchy, creamy, sour, sweet, nutty, pungent and savory. The crunchiness and pungency come from the onions and fresh green cayenne peppers. Don’t worry! This pepper is not spicy! The creaminess comes from the avocados, of course, with more flavors and texture from the rest of the ingredients.
Here’s how to make this salad:

Crunchy Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

2 medium sized ripe Hass avocado
½ bunch chopped parsley
½ small onion cut into slices rinsed in cold water for a minute or so
1 tsp capers with 1 tsp brine
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (I like the brand name Regina – to me it has perfect acidity)
1 and ½ green whole fresh cayenne* wrinkled peppers cut in rounds
Salt
Fresh black pepper
A long drizzle of a good olive oil

Just toss everything together, taste to adjust flavors and voilà!

*I was told at the market I shopped that this pepper is green cayenne pepper and it is not spicy when green. I am not sure if the name is correct. In any case here is a pic of the pepper used in this salad. Write me if you have more information about this delicious pepper.

fresh green cayenne peppers

fresh green cayenne peppers

Pablo Picasso “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

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malbec, Malbec, MALBEC!

by Stevie on July 30, 2009

posing in the Andes in front of Aconcagua

posing in the Andes in front of Aconcagua

Ah, malbec! Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. This is what we thought a few years ago while vacationing in Argentina with a few friends. At that time the American dollar was very strong and the Argentine economy was in the dumps. We felt rich! As a result, of course, we gorged on food and wine. These days Argentina is famous for its malbec. They make a variety of whites, though that’s a bit ho-hum if you ask me. Why have white when you can drink red, I always say?!? And though they produce other reds, why mess with the best? It was pretty much malbec at lunch, dinner, sometimes in the afternoon, during wine tasting and once in a while in the evenings. We were there for about nine days—several in Buenos Aries and a few in Mendoza, a famous wine region near the Andes and the border to Chile. At any rate, you see the pattern emerging here. Malbec daily, which is a very good thing in theory, but in practice, it led me to grow really very over that fabulous wine. By the time we left for Brazil, I was convinced that the French, god bless them, had gotten the name right: malbec means something like ‘bad beak’ which I suppose one could loosely translate into ‘mouth.’ So there you are: I was sick of the bad mouth.

Argentina is a wonderful country if you haven’t had the good fortune to go there. The capital is just like they say in the guide books: very European seeming. It reminded me oddly of Montreal or perhaps Toronto, two Canadian cities that are also often described as very European. I wonder if that’s meant as a compliment or as an insult? Couldn’t these places be creative enough to develop cities unique to their own regions or what? You’ll never hear anyone saying that Los Angeles or Dallas reminds them of places in Europe! Isn’t it good to do your own thing sometimes?

Hegui enjoying the Buenos Aires nightlife with some handsome Argentines

Hegui enjoying the Buenos Aires nightlife with some handsome Argentines

Anyway, back to the trip. Buenos Aires went by in a blur. This could be because I was horribly ill with a dreadful cold that I caught on the plane. We did see a lot and we had a mutual friend who had friends in the city. They met us at a silver shop that one of them runs. Already that’s cool. Argentina got the name supposedly because the Spanish discovered silver there. But these very nice guys also arranged for us to go out to some trendy hot spots for dinner, drinks—malbec of course—and dancing. Wow!

In Mendoza, we went wine tasting one day with a private tour. The next day, that same tour company drove us up into the Andes to see the famous Aconcagua. It’s the tallest mountain anywhere in the world outside of Asia. Really awesome!

Anyway all of this rambling is to say that I’ve gotten back in the Argentine malbec groove with our recent tasting of a great malbec.

try some Argentine malbec very soon!

try some Argentine malbec very soon!

2006 Bodegas Colomé Estate Malbec Valle Calchaquí Salta, Argentina:

This wine supposedly was recommended by Wine Spectator as a “Smart Buy” and placed number 38 on their Top 100 wines of 2008 list. They rate it at 92 points. I spent $22.99 for the bottle. A bit over budget for my $20 limit but as a little Tuesday night splurge, it was worth it.

The wine had an opaque dark purple almost inky color that looked intense. Hegui thought that it smelled of “heat; hot like the desert.” I still have no idea what that means but I love the description. It tasted almost bloody like a good syrah. It had a lot of body and a moderate finish. Not pure malbec, it also had 7% cabernet sauvignon and 8% tannat.

It was a great wine! I’m almost ready for a malbec home tasting sometime soon.

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groovy mango nectar

by Heguiberto on July 29, 2009

Mangoes look especially good this time of year. I bought several of them the other day because they were on sale at a Mexican market I shop at in the Mission. The whole week I was craving the fresh juice; the type of juice I grew up drinking in beautiful Brazil.

mouthwatering groovy mango nectar

mouthwatering groovy mango nectar

Most cities in Brazil have shops named casas de suco the literal translation being ‘juice houses.’ At these shops, fresh fruits of all kinds are nicely displayed everywhere: hanging on the walls, in doorways and on the counters. It’s a real fruit cornucopia, showing the bounty of Earth (maybe the bounty of the tropics?) In casas de suco you customize your own juice drink by pointing out whichever fruits appeal to you the most. They then blend them together for you. When you enter one of those stores the sweet and sour aroma of tropical fruits blow your mind. I always groove on the aromas of pineapple, guava, mango, passion fruit and papaya, just to name a few. It’s an amazing olfactory and sensual experience! So many colors, textures and scents! When you next visit Brazil, don’t miss out on trying it out. It’s so much better than Jamba Juice.

My mango nectar turned out really tasty, and resulted in 2 servings of about 16oz each. Since I don’t live in the tropics here, I’ve mixed temperate and tropical fruits to create a wonderful mix of “north and south.” You can mix it up further with your own fruit favorites. Here’s the recipe:

Groovy Mango Nectar

1 mango, peeled with seed removed and cut into pieces
½ cup of blueberries
3 Texas oranges, juiced (they are very sweet, great for juices)
some ice

How to:
Just place everything in a blender, add more ice or juice to make enough for two 16oz cups. Blend until smooth. Enjoy this drink for breakfast or just as a healthy snack!

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stuffed cabbage drama

by Heguiberto on July 28, 2009

Stuffed cabbage is another great dish that is a result of the cultural confluence of some East European countries and Asia Minor. Aleks prepared it for our Macedonian parté recently. I believe that in this dish Europe is represented by the preserved cabbage and Asia by the rice. The blending of cultures is so romantic! I really love it.

stuffed cabbage Macedonian style

stuffed cabbage Macedonian style

It was a bit of a pain to make not only because it is labor intensive but also because it requires a lot of whole preserved cabbage leaves. We only found one jar of whole leaves after much peregrination through stores specialized in Eastern European and Middle Eastern foods. John and Aleks looked in the East Bay and Steven and I here in San Francisco. Are these a seasonal product or what? I thought that the whole point of preserving the cabbage was to make it available later in the year!?!

Well I must confess I enjoy the task of searching for obscure ingredients. It is such a joy when you finally find them, even when you realize that you can only take a bit home. It’s sort of a challenge. This time we were not the lucky ones. I think we exchanged at least half a dozen emails with the East Bay-ers, not to mention phone calls, on the subject of the “cabbage DRAMA.” How could we make this dish without the essential ingredient?
Stuffed cabbage goes by various aliases, depending on the country where it’s made. In Macedonia it’s called Sarma; in Turkey, Domae; in Poland, Golumpki. Here in the Bay Area it should probably be called Cabbage Drama, which rhymes with Sarma which gets us back to the Macedonian party! Yeah!!

Stuffed Cabbage Drama

Here’s the recipe:

this is the cabbage that we used

this is the cabbage that we used

2 cup of rice, mixed brown and white long grain
1 can (8 to 12oz) of fire roasted tomatoes in chunks with juices
1 cup of pine nuts
2 small chopped onions
1 tbsp smoked paprika (Hungarian)
1 can preserved cabbage with its juice (whole leaves)
1 can preserved cabbage cut up
Salt and fresh black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

How to:

Sauté onions in olive oil on medium heat till opaque in color. Add rice, pine nuts, paprika, salt and black pepper and stir. Add tomatoes. Cook on low heat till juices are absorbed. Rice will be 1/3 of the way cooked. Turn heat off. Let cool a bit, so you can handle the rice to stuff the cabbage.

Place a thin layer of cut preserved cabbage at the bottom of a pressure cooker. Drizzle some olive oil over it. Make the Cabbage Drama by stuffing each leaf with a portion of the rice mix. Place rolls tightly together at the bottom of the pan. You can pile them a bit if necessary. Partially submerge the rolls with juices from cabbage brine. Cover cooker.

Turn the heat to max, wait for 4 whistles of your pressure cooker, turn temp to low and cook for about 5-8 min. The rice will swell inside the cabbage, absorb most of the juices and hold everything together. Bon apétit!

Note: taste brine before using in the recipe. If it’s too salty use less of it and top up the pressure cooker with good ol’water.

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Lately I’ve been looking at some of the fun home videos of other Twilight ranters as well as some of the written comments that people have been making about the series. A lot of this stuff seems to be complaints about the crazy fans, complaints that Steph has totally cashed in on the whole series, moaning that the series doesn’t offer good advice for kids or that the writing has stylistic problems and therefore is not worth reading. I think that these other writers are funny, particularly for the last comment. How can you complain that all of the books after the first, “Twilight,” are badly written and boring and have any credibility when it’s obvious that you’ve read them all completely and in great detail?!?

sometimes Bella does seem hard to love

sometimes Bella does seem hard to love

I do agree with that one ranter, nuttymadam3575. She attacks some of the others who bash down “Breaking Dawn.” She’s right, the book is unexpected but it’s also pretty cool. As to issues related to sexism, appropriate messages for younger people and Steph’s financial empire, I’ve already written about those elsewhere. But in summary, I’ll say that I believe that these concerns are misplaced. About the other fans, I could care less what they’re doing, so long as they keep reading what I’m writing about the series.

One of these video ranters, Rachel, is very intriguing. She goes by basketcase23 on U-tube where she narrates a series of at least four videos called straightforwardly enough: Twilight Rant, New Moon Rant, Eclipse Rant and Breaking Dawn Rant. (Originally I had links to these videos but in March 2011 they were removed from U-tube. Sorry that you cannot seem them as they were classic.) Basically she tells the plot of each book over about ten minutes apiece while making a lot of commentary. It’s especially delightful in the “Eclipse” version when she uses little plastic action figures to represent the various characters. Rachel is like some of the other critics in that she trashes the books while showing acute awareness of their content and nuances. That makes me think that she’s just saying these things to be melodramatic. I have the feeling that she’s very into it, just like me.

My point in bringing this up though is that I noticed that throughout her comments, basketcase23 is persistently down on Bella though more erratic in her negativity towards other characters. Occasionally she’ll criticize Edward (objectifying him here with, “Edward’s sperm’s good. Makes good babies”) or Rosalie (“I don’t like Rosalie”) or maybe some of the others too (“Jacob puts the moves on Bella and that’s date rape and date rape is wrong”), but pretty much the whole time “it’s all about Bella.” “Well, that was ‘Twilight’ in a nutshell. It sucked, sucked, sucked. It did not swallow but it sucked.” “New Moon is worse because it’s all about Bella!” “Bella’s just not worth the trouble. Just punch her in the face and she’s done.” “Renesme is super intelligent which I don’t get because she’s Bella’s daughter.” What’s all of this Bella hating about?

Do people out there in the Twilight Universe really think that Bells is a pathetic wimp?

Well, she is a klutz. And compared to other kids, let alone the werewolves and the vamps, she’s not particularly athletic. I admire her for trying things, though. She did learn to ride a motorbike for instance. That takes some dexterity and strength. She also managed to successfully cliff dive, something that I’m sure that I would never do. What I like about her is that she’s so stoic in the face of constantly getting hurt. In every book, she either trips, breaks her bones, cuts herself, falls off stuff, gets attacked or what have you. For the most part, she hardly complains, is more concerned with others being upset and she even refuses more analgesia in the hospital. After the very painful transformation into a vampire, she cheerily tells Carlisle that it wasn’t that bad, clearly downplaying the sheer agony. Not everyone could be that tough.

I don’t have the feeling that Rachel is talking about the physical side when she calls Bella “stupid” and keeps having her Edward telling B to just “shut up!” It’s her emotional state that’s the “problem.” It is true that she’s head-over-heels for Edward and that probably does affect her judgment here and there. I get the sense that it’s mutual. Eddie seems to act like a fool in love a lot too. Naturally there’s a bunch of squishy feelings that get expressed throughout their romance. That seems kind of normal though could be tiresome to others, particularly if you’re inexperienced with these feelings yourselves, as I imagine a lot of the fan base might be because they’re very young.

Rachel seems more intent on bashing Bells down not so much for that, either, as for the ambivalence and inconstancy of her moods, expressions and decisions. In “Eclipse” Rachel’s Rosalie tells Bella, “You’re not pretty. You’re whiny; very, very whiny.” Bella is “so stupid” to get herself “in this situation” with James. When describing Bella’s anguish with the loss of Edward in book 2, Rachel rolls on the floor in mock despair, clearly dismissing the very idea that B could be upset. “Bella…she’s the paragon of self control in every aspect of the book…not!”

I get it that B’s changeable. But in her defense, look at her background. Her parents split up shortly after she was born. B must have heard endlessly from Renee about the dangers of romantic relationships as her mother licked her emotional wounds over her failed marriage to Charlie. And not only that: Bells was subjected to the ongoing chaos of her mother’s absurd life and regular dalliances. No wonder she skips town as soon as Renee is in the semblance of a stable relationship!

Her father is really not better though for the opposite reason: he’s too emotionally withdrawn. Charlie takes a radical hands-off approach to parenting possibly bordering on neglect. But look at it from his perspective for a moment. Bella is already 17 years old when she shows up on his doorstep, so virtually a woman; and he’s had no experience until just then of being a father aside from brief summertime visits which are more like vacations than parenting.

In any event, neither parent has properly prepared Bella for the emotional whirlwind that she enters in Forks. I’m not trying to blame them. They’ve tried their best. It’s simply that people learn from what they observe around them, and Bells has learned some unusual ways of coping with things. As a result, at times she can seem a bit wishy-washy. There are numerous examples of this but I‘ll just mention a few.

First, she recognizes right away that Jacob is more fond of her than she is of him, yet she seems to selectively tune into this and almost encourage his attachment with mixed messages until the final resolution in “Breaking Dawn.” This leads to the much talked about ‘Edward versus Jacob’ plotline in the novels. Why does she allow this very awkward state of affairs to continue? I think that it’s quite simple really. Bella is used to loving two very different people, with almost opposite temperaments, who have an intense though somewhat antagonistic relationship with one-another: her parents, Renee and Charlie. This Jacob/Edward thing is very similar.

I’ve wondered about Bella’s easy acceptance of Edward’s abrupt departure at the start of “New Moon” and her difficulty at the end of that novel in recognizing on the plane trip home from Italy that he was back in her life to stay. Rachel noticed this peculiarity as well. But why?!? Well, isn’t this sort of like her parents? Charlie is always off at work or fishing. Renee is always doing her various and sundry hobbies. Both abandon Bella on a whim and a moments notice. How could she expect Edward and his crew to be any different? And if experience is her guide, then just because he returns with her to Forks at the end doesn’t mean that he won’t up and vanish later.

The third somewhat persistent Bella criticism that comes up a lot throughout the series is her tendency to apologize to others, particularly Eddie and Jake, and focus on their feelings while ignoring her own when she’s placed in dangerous situations by them. Sometimes this can be quite witty: for example when Ed invites her to meet his family for the first time. Instead of being alarmed by entering a house of vampires, she’s more concerned about whether or not they’ll like her. More disturbingly, in “Eclipse” to hold onto Jacob just a bit longer, she consents to kiss him though it’s clear that he’s blackmailing her with his own threats of suicide via newborn murder. This certainly is risky business with a jealous vamp boyfriend hanging around the campsite. Shockingly, she feels bad that Jake’s upset. Instead she should probably be outraged by the whole thing. It happens everywhere in the series so two instances of it should suffice.

What does this pattern mean? Steph has already set the stage for the answer. Bells has been raised to be a parental figure to her wacky parents. Parents frequently take on the feelings and problems of their charges in an attempt to help instead of expressing their own anger and frustration with the problem situations. Of course, Bella takes on a parenting role with Edward and Jacob. That’s how she’s most comfortable. Maybe it’s not appropriate, but it does make sense. In fact, I would say that’s a very important role that Charlie, Renee, Carlisle and Esme could learn more about.

Finally, on-line critics seem outraged that Bella gets married, has sex and a child, all while quite young. Rachel even refers to B’s first sexual encounter with Edward on their honeymoon in Brazil as “date rape.” I really cannot agree. Bella and Edward were nervous it’s true. But both were consenting adults and married to one-another at the time. Neither of them had any sexual experience so of course it was hard to predict what would happen. That’s hardly rape in my book.

I touched on the saccharine yet satisfying series ‘happy ending’ last week but it seems relevant here. To me this criticism appears to be the opposite one of Bella as a spineless, dithering wet blanket like we were just saying. Bells pulls her shit together by the series close as all classic romantic heroines do. She becomes more decisive; she sticks to her decisions when tested; she rises above her circumstances and ultimately prevails. Bella achieves what few of us ever do: she moves beyond the limits imposed on her by her upbringing.

I think that B is made of tougher stuff than most folks give her credit for. Sure, she messes around for a while and she is a bit silly about some things. But she really manages well especially given her limited role models. I applaud her!

more “Twilight” rants

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welcome to Golden Era!

welcome to Golden Era!

Vegan “meat” is delicious cooked Asian Style in the Tenderloin. Golden Era has a huge menu full of exciting dishes cooked up in a spicy Vietnamese/Chinese fashion. A few of us had been talking about going for many months, as our friends eat more vegetarian foods since they became pescatarians.

I’ve been going to Golden Era for a long time because I live nearby, but I found out it’s a haven for vegans everywhere. People come from all over the City to eat there because it’s so delicious. There is no dairy or eggs in any of the dishes but they won’t be missed because the flavors are bold and stand on their own. Choices are numerous for entrées including: rice plates, specialty clay pots, soups, and noodles. They’ve got plenty of good appetizers, too, like the Vegetable Fu-Young, something that we tried when we went. It’s a rich tasting fried patty of various onions and veggies spiced just right. It could be a meal in itself so make sure you have someone to share it with!

vegetable fu-young

vegetable fu-young

I love the Pot Stickers. They’re soft, warm and have a hint of sesame with the dipping sauce. They taste just like meat ones (not that that should matter) but they are made with tofu! Oh, and the Vietnamese Spicy Sweet and Sour Soup #12 is a nice starter for two or meal for one. It has the sweetness of pineapple but sour lemony and pizzazz of peppers and veggies. It’s served over a flame so it cooks on the table.

Prices are not bad-ranging from 8-12 dollars a plate. My husband and I always get the “chicken”#46 it’s a deep fried soy protein spiced so it tastes like sizzling chicken. The texture is crunchy and on the hotter end of spice meter! The Pho soup #16 is warming to the soul and belly with the added protein soy like chunks thrown in. Loke the more traditional beef pho, this one is served with bean sprouts, basal, and jalapeño’s for a finishing touch!

vegan pho

vegan pho

The most recent time that I went, I bravely ordered something out of my comfort zone that was new to me: # 31 Vermicelli w/Fried Rolls & Tofu. This it’s what was left-after gobbling the tofu rolls! It was so nice to wrap lettuce with the noodles and fried tofu rolls. It sort of feels like you’re creating your own dish right at the table.

They don’t have liquor, beer or wine and unfortunately don’t permit corkage. I like to think of it as a chance to rest your liver! There were several non-alcoholic beverages like Thai Iced Tea and Young Coconut Drink. Of course water is always available. Their vegan desserts are kind of exciting. The Vegan Strawberry Cheese Cake is surely something to savor.

Golden Era is located on 572 O’Farrell Street between Leavenworth and Jones. Go to Golden Era for a yummy time and order up a storm, then take the rest home for a meal later.

spicy vegetarian chicken

spicy vegetarian chicken

neon vegetarian

yummy spicy tofu

yummy spicy tofu

looking for inspiration from above at Golden Era

looking for inspiration from above at Golden Era

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quinoa love

by Heguiberto on July 25, 2009

it's always a party with quinoa love!

it's always a party with quinoa love!

This is the best time of the year for locally grown produce: Summer! Last Sunday we went to the farmers market at the UN plaza and found beautiful vegetables on sale for cheap! In fact vegetables are always cheap at this market. Many times they are organically grown or at least grown free of pesticides which is a good thing. This week the organically grown collard greens were on sale: 3 large bunches for only 2 bucks. The dry farmed cherry tomatoes were just a dollar a pound. You really can’t beat that anywhere else in San Francisco. Dry framed tomatoes may not be the cutest but I think that they’re especially flavorful due to the stress the plant goes through receiving only rain water. Don’t be afraid of vegetables that don’t appear classically shaped or colored. In the case of tomatoes, for example, the oddly shaped and colored ones tend to be more packed with flavor that the more conventional round, plump red ones. I almost wonder why they still even produce the flavorless tennis-ball varieties anymore.

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

The same day that we went to the farmer’s market we were also invited to our friend, John’s house for dinner, sort of last minute. I was already preparing Quinoa Love, so we offered to bring it over. Amazingly, John was thinking of making the same dish himself that very night! It was kismet, no?

How could we decline having a meal with friends? The food always tastes even better and more company makes the conversation more lively. Plus Clarence, our bulldog, was invited. He really enjoys visiting John’s. So it was a win-win situation all around.

This recipe is simple though it requires several steps to make. It is a complete meal packing everything you need including lots of protein coming from the tofu and quinoa. The meal is ultra healthy and light and tasty. This is not one of those old-fashioned hippie vegetarian recipes with no flavor that makes you run to the loo the whole next day, so don’t worry! It has tons of flavor, interesting textures and is a real crowd pleaser every time. I’ve served this to people who’ve never had quinoa and to regular meat eaters and never had any complaints. Actually they ask for more most of the time.

A note on quinoa, I thought that quinoa was a cereal much like rice or corn, but I was wrong about that. It’s what they call a “pseudo-cereal.” Apparently it’s related to beets and spinach. Even so, you can cook quinoa much the same way you would when making rice. In the taste department I would say it is nutty and smells a bit like oatmeal. Quinoa is another exquisite and nutritious contribution from the Americas to world cuisine.

Quinoa Love

TJ's quinoa

TJ's quinoa

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup of dry quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch of collard greens, rinsed, stems* removed with leaves cut in thin strips 2-3 inches long
1 ½ lbs. cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp sugar
5 ears of fresh sweet corn
½ bunch of Italian parsley chopped
1 block of tofu cut into 5 squares
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
½ cup pesto American Style
½ jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into strips
4 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
¾ cup pumpkin seeds

*Collard green stems tastes like broccoli, don’t discard them just steam them and add to salads, soup, rice, etc

How to:

Cut tomatoes in halves. Toss with sugar, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place tomato halves on a cooking pan cut side up and bake it in the oven for about 50 minutes at approximately 380F.

Add quinoa to a pan with 2 cups of water and salt, heat to boiling then turn temperature to low. Simmer covered for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest for 5 min.

chopping collard greens

chopping collard greens

Lay tofu squares on a dish, sprinkle salt, black pepper, cayenne and nutritional yeast over it on both sides. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a pan and sauté tofu squares about 5 min per side. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over them. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, add two tbsp of olive oil and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Sauté till fragrant. Add collard greens. Toss to coat with olive oil. Sauté for about 5 minutes until collard greens have wilted to about half of the original volume and the color is bright green. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, heat 4 tbsp olive oil and the remaining garlic. Sauté till fragrant then add corn, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook corn for about 5 minutes while occasionally stirring. Add parsley to corn about half way through cooking. Remove from pan and set aside.

To assemble the dish mix the quinoa, corn, collard greens, pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes together in a large bowl. Stir in pesto. Place mix in a large serving dish. Cut tofu squares diagonally into triangles and lay them on top of the quinoa mix. Top with baked tomatoes, along with their juices. This dish makes about ten to twelve servings. It tastes great the next day too.

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is this the bibich riserva or a zinfandel?!?

is this the bibich riserva or a zinfandel?!?

Our very good friend John brought this exciting wine to try for our recent Macedonian celebration. Perhaps with this Croatian wine, we should re-name the party a “Greater Macedonian Celebration?” John shops at K and L Wine Merchants in San Francisco, just like me. They have a marvelous website but unfortunately he couldn’t locate a Macedonian wine for the theme. Instead he got this Croatian Bibich Riserva. Geographically I suppose that Croatia is close.

This wine was a pale somewhat transparent brownish red with a cherry nose. Interestingly the taste was initially bitter but gradually this flowed into a pleasant fruity finish with cherry notes. Party-goers likened it to Chianti from Italy due to the earthy bitter taste. I don’t agree. Chiantis and other Italian reds generally start out fruity and end with an astringent, bitter finish. This was the exact opposite. It was fun to try. The wine itself is made of grape varieties that I’d not heard of before: babich, plavina, and lasin. The wineshop website says that these are related to Zinfandel if that helps put them in perspective at all. I wasn’t thinking zin with this wine though. Maybe more of an Italian pinot nero or something? Kevin in particular adored this wine. He drank it throughout the night in between glasses of champagne and Spritx.

2006 Bibich Riserva

2006 Bibich Riserva

2006 Bibich Riserva Skradin North Dalmatia, Croatia $15.99

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eggplant parmigiano

July 23, 2009

I rarely make this recipe now that I’ve entered “middle age” with all of the inherent health “issues.” However, once in a while it’s fun to be a bit naughty and Hegui loves the dish. When I was a kid, my mother would regularly make it, or the meaty versions with chicken or veal, for […]

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Maverick, San Francisco

July 22, 2009

We went to Maverick the other day to celebrate the 29th birthday of our good friend, John. I haven’t been to this spot on 17th Street between Valencia and Mission since it housed the original Limon Peruvian restaurant. Though the restaurant is quite small and intimate, they were able to accommodate a reservation for eight […]

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