Monday, February 18, 2013

Quinoa Porridge

Yummm! I have a new love.  This porridge.  I went to Philadelphia this weekend to visit my sister and we went out to brunch on Sunday morning before I left.  After days of heavy eating, I felt like something light and ordered the quinoa porridge, figuring it would be warm and satisfying and oatmeal-esque.  It was, and it was delicious.  I came home and browsed recipes last night (don't all people look at quinoa porridge recipes at night??) and made it for breakfast this morning.  It is my new favorite thing.   It is easy -- done in 20 minutes -- and  I made extra which can easily be rewarmed for breakfast before work this week. 

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is grain-like but is actually a seed and has a wonderful texture and, unlike oatmeal, it keeps you from getting hungry because it is high in protein.  It is also high in amino acids,  magnesium and iron and is a source of calcium.  How cool is quinoa?!  Basically, it is really good stuff. 

You can vary this recipe easily.  The liquid to solid ratio for quinoa is 2:1 and you can use milk, water, or a combination.  Or to make vegan/lactose free, use a milk substitute such as soy milk, almond milk, etc.  I used 1/2 water and 1/2 milk, topping off the milk with a bit of heavy cream.  You can use any combination of dried fruits, spices, nuts, or fresh fruits.  Like oatmeal, the fun is in the toppings!

Quinoa Porridge
(4 large servings)

4 cups liquid (milk, water, or 1/2 and 1/2)
2 cups quinoa 
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup dried fruit (such as raisins,  golden raisins, apricots, currants, dates)

Optional Toppings:

toasted sliced almonds (or pecans)
fresh fruit (such as blueberries, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
warm jam or berry compote
seeds (try pumpkin or sunflower seeds)


In a saucepan, warm milk and/or water over medium heat until simmering.  Add quinoa and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, stir, and let simmer another 5 to 10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed or texture is to your liking.  Serve with toppings of your choice.  Enjoy!


Lebonese Chicken and Chickpea Stew

I am not a huge fan of winter.  I tolerate winter.  I don't ski or snowboard or go sledding and the days of snow men and snowball fights and whatever allure they once had are long gone.  I mostly just, um, stay inside.  But there are a few things I love about winter.  One of them is the foods you get to enjoy and feel entitled to eat.  Some of my favorite foods are clearly winter foods -- stews, soups, rich pasta sauces --  foods I would never want to eat if I lived somewhere where it was always warm.  And that would be sad. 

This Lebonese-inspired chickpea stew with chicken thighs is one of these foods.  It is hearty and warm and wonderful.  It is from Bon Appetit, February 2012.  I changed the original recipe by adding more chicken -- 4 thighs instead of 2 -- and by subbing chicken stock for the water.  The cubes of country style bread I toasted after tossing in a little olive oil, salt and pepper to make them crusty before adding them at the end.  Here is the recipe.

Chickpea Stew
adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2012 
serves 4
4 T olive oil, divided
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
kosher salt
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. ground cumin
2 Tbs. tomato paste
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from a jar
2 Tbs. (or more) fresh lemon juice
2 cups 1" cubes country-style bread
3 Tbs. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley


Heat 2 Tbs. oil in medium heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt; add to pot and cook, turning once, until browned, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

2.  Reduce heat to low and let oil cool for 1 minute; add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30-60 seconds.   Add cumin, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute. 

3.  Add reserved chicken, along with any accumulated juices, bay leaves and  cups water (or chicken stock).  Scrape up any browned bits.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

4.  Transfer chicken to a plate.  Add chickpeas to pot; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, shred chicken.  Add shredded chicken to stew.  Add red peppers.  Stir in remaining 2 Tbs. oil and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice; simmer for 1 minute.

5.  Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired.

6.  Divide stew among bowls, garnish with parsley.  Top with toasted bread cubes (or put bread cubes in bowl and top with stew).