Friday, April 04, 2008

Not So Keen On Quinoa

This is the second time I have cooked quinoa and used it in a recipe, and the second time I have been underwhelmed. But it's not that I don't like the cooked quinoa, because I really, really DO like it. It's just that once it starts trying to be something else, it loses some of it's appeal for me. So from now on, I resolve to treat it more like the simple grain that it is and use it like I would use rice...as a side dish with a pat of butter or a little of some kind of sauce drizzled over.
Anyway, WFDW this week was Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella:


Aside from the smoked mozzarella, the ragu part of this dish was pretty good. Except that I kind of don't and never have really gotten eggplant. It tastes like nothing and is kind of a lot of work to deal with because recipes usually ask you to salt and drain and pat dry and blahblah with it before you actually DO something with it. Texturally, I guess I think it lends an interesting thick, silky quality to things, but I'm not sure that's enough of a trade off. And in this case, I found it to be still bitter and texturally unsatisfying after the short, 10 minute simmer the recipe calls for. But after I let everything simmer with the addition of some chopped fresh rosemary for an extra 45 minutes or so, it all came together and was much yummier. I used very, very little of the smoked mozzarella because it was overpowering and just sort of awful tasting, IMO. It's not an ingredient that I have a whole lot of hands-on with, so I don't know if it was just the brand I happened to have or what. Either way, I won't be looking forward to using that again anytime soon, because throwing 90% of a $6 ball of cheese in the garbage makes me a little crabby.

On to what's up in the studio corner.
The olive and orange messenger bag was super quick to find a home (thank you Stephanie! I hope you love it!) so I got right to work on another color/pattern combination that had been calling out to me from the worktable:

This little darling is in my shop now, and I am completely loving that black print lining. Cute but not annoyingly so, and quite modern, I think.

BTW, some of you have inquired in the past about custom bags, accessories or whatever, and I think I am finally at a place, pattern-making-wise, where I can accommodate those requests and produce one-off's of things that still meet my requirements as far as quality. If you've got something in mind that you'd like to have made, email me at splatgirl at gmail dot com with the details.

Have a great weekend everyone! Boy and I are super excited for the return of Battlestar Galactica tonight, so here's to lounging in front of the bigTV with a bowl of popcorn for some favorite show watching!

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Comments:
After seeing all your cool messenger bags, I am so bummed that I shelled out 70 bucks for a gay Hara-Juku Lovers bag. dang
 
The best way to 'get' eggplant, is to halve it lengthwise and grill it over wood, until creamy in the center. It will all become clear then. : ) I've never tried to grill slices, but I'm sure they would work perfectly if they were carefully watched so they don't burn before they are cooked through.

I never got eggplant either until I read about how key it is to grill them this way. Not sure charcoal would work, I think it must be wood. Give it a try!

PS: I'm still loving my little keychain fabric moo pocket! It's held up perfectly, thank you!
 
quinoa makes a mean tabouleh salad, and is a great summer dish...
 
I only do quinoa two ways:
- cooked and tossed with peas and cashews (just like the first time I had it)
- stirred raw into whole wheat bread dough and then baked

yeah. sometimes a quinoa is just a quinoa!
 
Quinoa salads are a staple of mine during the warmer months. Generally roast veg + herbs (lots) + tiny tomatoes + quinoa + simple dressing (olive oil and lemon or lime usually). Add meat for those so inclined (I like smoked trout), and optional extras like fetta or bocconcini, olives, preserved lemon, barberries etc. Eat warm or room temp. I could eat quinoa like this everyday - yum! (and grilled eggplant slices wrapped around a mix of fetta, fresh mint, olive oil, lemon and chilli is brilliant too - think it's from Nigella)
 
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