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Archive for the ‘Grains’ Category

I know that some of you were probably worrying these past few days over what I was going to do with all of those leftover vegetables I roasted for the monster salad I made last week. All that food potentially going to waste, it would be such a travesty. Truth be told, I’m not always efficient at using the leftovers I have in my fridge and may often find a forgotten tupperware from dinners past in the fridge weeks later that I have to send straight to the composting. But not this time, no sir, roasted fennel and beets must be used to their maximum capacity and here I had to get a little creative.

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Here’s a two for the price of one post. These two dishes were high-ranking in my pre-Thanksgiving extravaganza, I think everyone had seconds and make a couple had thirds. You really can’t go wrong adding cheese or caramelized onions to anything (except maybe ice cream).

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I’m a little late to the fall game this year, and for that I am truly sad. Sure summer produce is wonderful, but I love me some soups and squashes. Not to mention it is much more enjoyable to spend time over the stove when it isn’t 6,000 degrees outside.  So, I have some catching up to do; first up is this awesome risotto that was perfect to serve on a cool fall evening to my first dinner guest in my new place.

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As promised, I’ve been experimenting this week with sweet potato orzo and am here to present the results. The first recipe was created by scanning some basic recipes I have found for roasted sweet potatoes and a need to use red onions. People who roast sweet potatoes apparently like to do so with a lot of rosemary and thyme, so I figured why not flavor my dish that way?

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Okay I know I keep crying wolf with “THIS is the best place ever”, “No, actually it’s THIS”, or “I think THIS is tops”, but I do seriously think I’ve found heaven. On Route 6 in Truro. The Atlantic Spice Company is a wood-framed  warehouse nestled on the side of the road on one of the thinnest and most remote parts of Cape Cod. Thus, you have to make an effort to get there, and believe me it’s well worth it. It is all because of Atlantic Spice that I have a relationship with smoked paprika, Saigon cinnamon, and Gumbo File. I’m telling you, a girl could spend many happy hours wandering this place and it’s probably only 1000 square feet. In my next life I’m going to own a spice shop…maybe even in this one.

Anyway, my most recent trip to Mecca unveiled a previously unexplored region of this store’s inventory, the grains. Uh oh, my wallet was not pleased. I’m just warning you now, I’ve stocked up on about six months worth of every kind of quinoa, cous cous and barley you can imagine so get ready for some heavy blogging. This week’s feature is actually a pasta (gasp!), right? Isn’t orzo a pasta? In any case, the sweet potato flavor caught my eye and after an extensive discussion with the store owner I learned that when he sampled this flavor he was surprised by the bold taste that can often be lacking from flavored pastas. Sold! Sweet potatoes aren’t typically a summer ingredient, so I used the pasta instead to get the flavor without the oven roasting. I’m going to tell you about the two versions I made this week and I think at some point my roommate is helping me to plan how to incorporate the orzo into a true sweet dish/dessert type thing.Versatility is the name of the game.

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Take a close look at the picture above and you may notice that the ingredients look strikingly similar to those that went in to the veggie tartine I just wrote about. Plus harvest grains blend, minus whole wheat baguette. I chose to blog about this meal because: a. it was good; and b. it was easy and efficient and demonstrates just how versatile your fridge and pantry can be when you’re thinking creatively.

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For my final quinoa trick (at least for a while), I felt it was only appropriate to give a shout out to the ancestral origins of this seed/vegetable ingredient. That, and I think I’m truly obsessed with all things Peruvian these days – pisco, quinoa, Macchu Picchu, you name it. I first came across ‘quinotto’ (quinoa risotto…clever,  or annoying? I’m undecided) during one of the best dinners I’ve had in Boston at Taranta and have been enamored with the idea of this dish ever since. Peruvian restaurants seem to be the new sexy thing in innovative haute cuisine and I for one am firmly seated and belted in to the bandwagon. Last week was a true Peruvian dining-lover’s paradise at my house: one roommate and I went to a cultural benefit dinner at a local restaurant where we sampled authentic cuisine and were treated to a demonstration on how to make ceviche (coming soon to an Esculent blog near you!), and another roommate returned from her trip to visit Peru bearing a wealth of spices for us to experiment with. Oh happy day! With that, the quinotto was finally ready to make its appearance.

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