Recipe: Quinoa, Roasted Corn and Heirloom Tomato Late Summer Salad (aka the “Budget Lunch on the Fly” Post)

Today’s mission: Make something out of nothing. That’s good for you. And do it fast.

I’m on a shoestring budget this week, which means it’s about time to get into the bag of quinoa that’s been sitting in my cupboard since an inspired health-food kick some months ago. I’ve long been fascinated with the South American grain (pronounced “keen-wah”) as it tastes good (it has a light,  nutty flavor), and it’s incredibly good for you — quinoa is packed with protein and amino acids. When cooked, the small, round grains become light and fluffy. Think of quinoa as the couscous of the Andes.

A quick survey of what else fresh I had on hand — some baby heirloom tomatoes, broccoli — and a bit of hand-holding from the ever patient Mark Bittman, whose tomb “How to Cook Everything” I frequently turn to for basic techniques, and, voila.

***

Quinoa, Roasted Corn and Heirloom Tomato Late Summer Salad

This easy, breezy, colorful dish would do as well served warm or at room temp, and would play nicely with a beautiful piece of protein.

Ingredients:

2 Tbls. E.V.O.O.

1 1/2 c. corn kernels, rinsed and drained

3/4 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 c. stock or water*

1 c. small broccoli florets

12 small tomatoes, halved (I used baby heirloom tomatoes)

block of Parmesan (always best freshly grated)

sea salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

1.) Heat E.V.O.O. in a large skillet; sautee corn over medium-high heat until it begins to turn golden, approx. 10 minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

2.) Add quinoa; sauté mixture until grains begin to brown, approx. 5 minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

3.) Add stock or water. *I didn’t have stock and so cheated a bit by adding in a chicken flavor seasoning packet left over from a packet of ramen noodles.

4.) Once water begins to boil, give the mixture a final stir. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook for 15 minutes.

5.) While quinoa cooks, boil water in a saucepan. Blanche broccoli florets 2 minutes, or until they turn bright green. Immediately drain into strainer and run under cold water.

6.) Test quinoa for doneness: grains should be fluffy and soft. If the kernels are still hard, add a touch of liquid to the pan (so that the bottom stays moist) and return to heat for another 3-5 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and grains are fully cooked.

7.) In bowl, top quinoa and corn mixture with broccoli florets and tomato halves. Grate with fresh Parmesan to taste.

Serves: 2

Magnolia Bakery Shows Some Pride (aka the ‘Who Doesn’t Love Rainbows and Sprinkles?’ Post)

Pride is back! New York City’s annual Gay Pride parade is set for Sunday, June 26, which means it’s that time of year when the West Village nearly bursts at the seams with pride of all shapes and forms, from leather to rainbows. On the sweeter end of the spectrum, today through Sunday Magnolia Bakery will be selling Gay Pride Cupcakes — a vanilla or chocolate cupcake topped with buttercream frosting and edible rainbow decorations. Considering the original location of the bakery that sparked the country’s cupcake craze is on Bleecker Street in the heart of the Village, we vote they keep this limited edition treat on the menu year round.

Magnolia Bakery, 401 Bleecker Street, 212-462-2572. For information on all locations, visit magnoliabakery.com.

Meet Pichet Ong’s Impossible to Pronounce Cocktail, the Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit

The Krungthep

Yes, this cocktail is for real, and it’s a delicious (and cheap!) one at that.

The Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit — known as the “Krungthep” for short — could even be considered the house cocktail at Qi, Pinchet Ong’s pristine new temple to Bangkok-style Thai, as that string of indecipherable words is a name for Old Bangkok, more than one server confirmed.

While sheer audacity of the name is what caught my attention — (“Really, five lines for the name of a cocktail in a bar menu? Is this some sort of gimmick?”) — in actuality, the Krungthep is a lovely cocktail composed of gin, vodka, star anise, ginger, yuzu, lime, Thai iced tea and guava juice. It’s fruit-forward without being too sweet, complex without being pretentious. When the heat of the spicy beef mango salad flared up, a sip of the Krungthep would set things right. Likewise, this cocktail has the backbone to withstand any heat it may receive for its name. (e.g. “Couldn’t it just be called “The Krungthep” from the start?“)

Qi Bangkok Eatery, 675 Eighth Ave., btwn 42nd and 43rd sts., 212-247-8991.

Published: Big Plans in Store for a Sliver of a Storefront in the East Village

Sweeettt.

Always have had much love and much respect for the Village Voice, a godfather in the alt-press universe. Yesterday, my first freelance post for their excellent food and drink blog, “Fork in the Road,” hit the Internets.


Cienfuegos
, a rum punch bar debuting soon in the East Village, has been in my sights for a while and I’m stoked that I was able to get the post written and up on the Voice’s site before the New York food blog with “exclusive” rights to photos and other as-of-yet-unknown details got theirs out. (I still haven’t seen it, but guessing it’s Eater NY.)

Click here for the full post on Cienfuegos, including a recipe for one of the bar’s signature rum punch drinks, Port of Mischief.

Cienfuegos, 443 East 6th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, 212-614-6817

#storyoftheweek CNN, HuffPost Counting on the Fact That You’re Hungry for More

Sometimes, no news is good news. And then there are the times when good news is, in fact, great news. This week’s tweets announcing new food channels on CNN.com

…AND at the Huffington Post:

were, in my book, decidedly of the later kind of “great” news.

As the Village Voice‘s food blog, A Fork in the Road, notes, Huffington Post Food and Eatocracy are just the two latest foodie news feeds to have launched: “Last spring, The Atlantic launched its Food Channel, Salon got its Food section last fall, and NBC New York debuted Feast earlier this year.”

To which I add, the New York Daily News recently launched a supplemental Sunday food section, and the Wall Street Journal hired a restaurant reporter to cover the beat for its soon-to-debut New York section (via The New York Observer).

Not everybody’s happy about it (e.g. this retweet today from the Houston Chronicle‘s food critic, Alison Cook):

But here’s the thing.

Not only do more food news sources mean more food news production — (which equals more potential freelance opportunities for this writer and many others, joy!) — but this burst of growth is just the latest evidence that something really is afoot. Food isn’t just what’s for dinner anymore.

As HuffPost blogger (and celebrated foodist in his own right) Craig “Meathead Goldwyn so undeniably illustrates in his slideshow essay introducing the new section, “Food for Thought and Thought for Food,”

Food may be the preeminent topic of our times. An exaggeration? Food weaves through, nay, encompasses all the major topics…

…from politics to religion, from health to business to entertainment, food touches every sector of our lives.

And people are figuring it out.

Editor’s Note: iPhone Down. (aka the “To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade Photography?” Post)

For better or worse, thus far one of the conceits of the BLD Project is to use photos taken with  my iPhone.

avg. iPhone low-res photo

Which means no flash, no high-res, can’t get too close otherwise, no focus, either.

Pros: On the other hand, having taken thousands of photos with the iPhone camera, I’ve gotten fairly good at it.

Plus, taking photos with an iPhone allows me to fly in stealth mode as much as possible, which is always a good thing.

Cons: Yeah, I know. Often, the photos sort of suck. Particularly the dark and blurry ones. (But isn’t that okay?)

This is going to be a moment of reckoning for the BLD Project.

using a 5.1 MB digital camera

Most likely, my iPhone is truly lost (still in denial). Most likely, I’m not getting a new iPhone until the 4G comes out in a few months.

But I’m certainly not taking a break from blogging.

So what to do?

Digital cameras are so small and amazing in 2010. Should I embrace the moment and upgrade BLD Project to photos worthy of food porn status? Or should I stay true to the blog’s guerrilla style?

The Collective: Sorta Like Grandma’s House Went Down the Rabbit Hole … and Ended Up in MePa

How to describe The Collective. It’s sorta like grandma’s house went down the rabbit hole…

Pillars are draped in faux bling, bound in cable ties to look like a bristle brush or covered in a knotted weave of those skinny, noodley balloons (called twisting balloons) used to make balloon animals.

Tables have been inlaid with incomplete Scrabble tile sets purchased on eBay; street signs, bath tubs and even a classic “Walk/Don’t Walk” sign (which makes for a particularly warming seat) are now chairs.

The light fixtures are striking, particularly the prescription pill bottle chandelier with its surprisingly delicate orange glow and the giant sculptural ceiling light made of styrofoam. It just goes on and on…

Bottom line: Thanks to the craftsmanship of some crazy, brilliant, out-there motherfuckas, what’s old is new again and hardly anything is what it seems.

Which is exactly the point, said The One Group‘s CEO, Jonathan Segal, when he stopped by our table (I was here for a press function). Everything in the restaurant is reclaimed or redone somehow, or used in an unexpected way.

I like, I like. Makes for great eye candy … and I’m not referring to the statuesque Meatpacking crowd that had begun to settle in at the the bar.

Even the truffled deviled eggs (pictured, $10) came out lined up in an overturned egg carton, and the chicken-n-waffles ($12) — a table favorite — came out in a hot cast-iron skillet, presumably the one that had something to do with how the dish was cooked.

But then, everything else was presented on … white plates. Rectangular white plates, oblong white plates, white bowls, all uniform white, white, white.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if all the plates, glasses and flatware were mismatched, too?” our table mused. “They could be sourced from flea markets or … bought up at auctions from restaurants or wholesalers in incomplete sets. Something…”

Really, so insignificant. But we just loved the decor so much we wanted it to go all the way, down to the level of detail where that aesthetic would still be there even when we finally pulled our eyes away to look down at our food.

Oh yeah, the food! Lands solidly in the “grub” category. There are more ladylike dishes on the menu, but the best of what I sampled was the hands-on finger foods.

So whether it’s Hong Kong ribs (pictured, $20) at 10 p.m., a late-night dessert of the (darling) housemade fudgesicles on a stick ($8), or a 4 a.m. order of disco fries ($12) to sop up the booze, just get messy.

The Collective, 1 Little W. 12th St., at 9th Ave., 212-255-9717. More information can be found here.


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