Quinoa Pilaf with Dates, Pistachios & Caramelized Onions

Fall seems to be flying by at light speed.  I'm not quite sure where the past few weeks have gone, but they've been beyond hectic.  For good reason thankfully. More details to come in the next week or so....a little suspense builder for you.  Being busy has kept me physically from posting, but mentally, I've got at least half a dozen posts ready to go.  Sometimes I wish a little magic elf could jump into my brain and whip up a smashing blog post in a matter of minutes.  Alas, I'm attempting to catch up a bit on a gray autumn afternoon.  A good, long bike ride and a trip out to the Brooklyn Flea will have to wait until tomorrow or until better weather.  Instead, here's the quinoa recipe I've been wanting to post for over a week now.  I was pleasantly suprised having put it together without much thought - really just poking around my spice cabinet.  Bold flavors that make me feel like I'm off somewhere exotic and foreign, Marrakesh or Beirut come to mind.  Now to just pack my passport for real...   

Quinoa Pilaf with Dates, Pistachios and Caramelized Onions

Serves :: 4-6


1 cup black, red or golden quinoa
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
3 cardamom pods
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
white or black pepper and kosher salt to taste
2 cups waters or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup toasted, crushed pistachios
4 dates, chopped (or 3 tablespoons golden raisins)

*caramelized onions
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil


Toast quinoa in a dry saute pan or pot for 3-4 minutes. Add in olive oil along with garlic, spices and salt and pepper.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups of water or broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer about 20-25 minutes until water/broth has been fully absorbed.  Turn off heat, fluff with a fork and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Mix in pistachios, dates and caramelized onions.*


*For onions, saute on low heat in a separate small saute pan until golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. 

TAGS: fall, whole grains, quinoa

posted: 10.06.12


In the Kitchen :: Figs Gone Wild

I was recently bestowed 4 entire flats of fresh figs.  We're talking a couple hundred figs, easy.  My first thought, send a massive thank you to the California Fig Board.  Second thought, what the hell to do with a bounty of beautiful figs ASAP before they go bad.  

1. Start the fall off with a lovely dose of generosity and give some away to a lucky few foodie friends.

2. Make a BIG batch of fig compote with vanilla bean and bourbon.  Perfect for making any number of dishes a little more exciting.  I've currently been spooning it into my morning yogurt along with chopped pecans.  

3. Serve up fresh and pretty on a cheese platter with proscuitto and gorgonzola or as a lovely little snack with black pepper yogurt, proscuitto and honey (disclaimer: that gorgeous pic below is via Tomas Curi, exec chef at Corsino, who was one of the lucky recipients).  

4. Bake up the rest in a series of fig tarts and distribute to friends, family, office mates, the coffee shop dude...really anyone who will take a few figs off my hands. The tarts were a winner, so I'm including the recipe below.  I played around with gorgonzola and goat cheese - both versions were delicious depending on your mood.  

Fig Tart with Goat Cheese, Honey and Lemon Verbena

Serves :: 12


Almond Tart Crust

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

3/4 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon verbena

1 3/4 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

Fig Filling

3 to 4 ounces of goat cheese or gorgonzola
3 tablespoons honey, divided
fresh cracked black pepper
about 3 cups fresh figs, quartered


In a bowl, whisk together both flours, salt and lemon verbena.
 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and confectioners' sugar. Mix on medium-low speed until well combined, about 4 minutes. [You can also use a food processor to mix the dough, pulsing on and off for about 2 minutes.]

Mix in the egg and the yolk until well-incorporated. Add the flour mixture in half at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each half is added.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide dough in half, shape into flattened disks, and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. 
  You'll have an extra disc remaining which can be frozen for later use - it's great as a base crust for any type of fruit tart. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out 1 ball of dough for the crust.  Press gently into a 12” tart pan with removable bottom and fork a few holes in the bottom.  Cover with tin foil and spread about 1 cup of dry beans or pie weights over tops and blind bake the crust for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and crumble goat cheese or gorgonzola over top.  Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons honey over cheese and dust with a bit of black pepper.  Arrange fig quarters in concentric circles around the tart. Drizzle remaining honey over top.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until crust is golden brown and figs are nice and soft and glistening.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

TAGS: dessert, fall, tart

posted: 09.26.12


End of Summer Replay… and Farro with Grilled Peaches and Haloumi

I've been culling a smattering of random photos, collected over the course of this long, hot summer.  No better time than now to post them up with Labor Day and fall weather quickly approaching.  Here's a look back at some highlights of the past few months and a very memorable farro recipe that will most definitely be reappearing on my table next summer. 

*heirloom tomato salad with grilled peaches and fresh mozzarella + linguine with clams, summer herbs, lemon & chili flakes
*beet salad brunch on a summer Saturday

*The Montauk Fizz :: Hendricks gin, mint, lime, honey, fresh rhubarb compote & club soda

*an incredible taste of the South – dinner at the James Beard House with Poole’s Diner

*grilled scallops & squid with basil oil + summer corn + farro with grilled peaches & haloumi cheese
*a simple Greek salad
never gets old
*ruby red haze and Szechuan spice at Mission Chinese
*words can’t describe dinner at The Governor

*quiet and calm in the country - Bedford, NY

*more of that farro….

Farro Salad with Grilled Peaches, Mint, Basil and Haloumi

Serves :: 8


1 1/2 cups farro

2 peaches, halved and pitted

4 ounces haloumi cheese (or feta)

3 small yellow or red beets, boiled or roasted, peeled and diced

4-5 scallions, thinly sliced

1 small bunch purslane, roughly chopped *(leave out if desired)

1/4 cup torn mint leaves 

1/4 cup basil, chiffonade

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

sumac for sprinkling*

*sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that has a tart, lemony flavor and can be found at specialty markets or http://kalustyans.com/

*purslane is technically a weed, but is entirely edible, is high in omega-3 fats, and is commonly used in salads in Greece and Turkey


In a medium saucepan cover farro with salted water and lightly boil for about 20 minutes until tender.  Drain and allow to cool.

Brush peaches and haloumi cheese with olive oil and place on a grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until peaches are soft.  Dice both peaches and haloumi once cool. 

Toss farro, peaches, haloumi and all remaining ingredients together in a large serving bowl.  Sprinkle sumac over top and serve. 


TAGS: summer, salad, farro

posted: 08.24.12

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