Quinoa and Coconut Porridge 

This morning I was browsing Instagram (as I am known to do) when I came across this photo of a Vegan Quinoa and Coconut Pudding. I hadn’t had breakfast and it looked damn good so I started looking in vain for the recipe. 

Nowhere to be found. 

Not one to be deterred by the lack of instructions, I headed to the kitchen and got busy with my craft. I came up with the following as a start.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk (I’m not vegan and I won’t ever be one)
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk (Thai Kitchen, organic)

Of course, I washed the quinoa first and then set the ingredients on the stove and brought them to a low boil. I turned down the heat and covered the pot with a lid. After about 15 minutes I checked on things. 

Despite the fact that most of the liquid was absorbed, the quinoa didn’t look like it was done — the hulls were still completely intact.  I figured that there must have been something about the milk/coconut milk mixture that prevented this — I hypothesized that it was the fat content of the coconut milk but that’s just a guess. 

So I added 1/4 cup of water to the pot and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. When I checked, the quinoa was done. 

I garnished the porridge with chopped walnuts, honey and raspberries. It turned out really good and packed a full 15 grams of protein to boot!

Here’s the final recipe:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk (I’m not vegan and I won’t ever be one)
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk (Thai Kitchen, organic)
  • 1/4 cup water

According to MyFitnessPal the porridge packs 290 calories, 11 grams  fat, 37.2 grams carbohydrates, and 10.6 grams protein. (The walnuts made up the difference here folks)

Fresh Fruit Salsa

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Sometimes, a little fruit salsa is exactly what a dish needs to make it complete.  I like to serve a fruit salsa with grilled fish, especially swordfish and tuna.  This is one of those recipes where the basics are constant and the star ingredient (the fruit) can change.

Fruit Salsa

1/2 Medium Onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 jalapeno (optional)
Fruit of your choice, chopped (peaches, pineapple, mango work well)
Juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let the mixture of goodness sit in the fridge for at least a half hour.  Serve with your favorite grilled fish or with tortilla chips.

BBQ Pork Tacos with Confetti Veggies

Okay, so I’ve been dormant for a long time.  My apologies. Maybe this will make up for it.  Maybe not.

Sometimes, you just need to get creative.  Sometimes, creativity comes out of necessity.  Sometimes, it just happens.  That’s what happened tonight.  I hadn’t planned my dinner very well, and found a fridge full of good things, but none that seemed to go together.  I had a smattering of different ingredients, but nothing that really added up to a full on meal.  Or so I thought….

Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Confetti Veggies

Pork Rub

1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/4 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 pork tenderloin (about 3/4 to 1 lbs)

Veggies

1 yellow squash
1/2 Vidalia onion
1 red pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Prep

Rub a single tenderloin with the aforementioned mixture and set aside for a good 30 to 45 minutes.  Light the grill and bring it to a cool 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Use a thermometer.

Cut the veggies into small bite sized pieces, about a half-inch thick (they will contract/shrink on the grill).  Toss them with olive oil and spices.

Veggies Cooking

Use a grill basket.   Place veggies on the grill basket and walk away.  Have a beer, or a whisky, or something to occupy your time.  These suckers will take a bit of time at 350F.  Give them the time they deserve. About 10 minutes later (you should be done with your beer) go and turn them with a pair of tongs.  Put your meat on the grill.



Meat Cooking

You’re going to want to cook this slowly, because it’s pork.  If you cook it fast at a high temp, it will be tough.  I’m not suggesting an all day affair, but give yourself 20 to 30 minutes to cook your tenderloin.  Turn it as often as you like, but make sure you get some good black grill marks on the meat.

Tortillas

I like flour tortillas.  You can choose your own favorites here, really.  I used some small taco sized flour tortillas and just laid them on the grill for about 2 minutes a side.

The Final Product

So far we have some grilled pork, a few tortillas, and some grilled veggies.


The magic happens when you combine them.  Slice the pork into nice bite sized bits, preferably on a bias.  Pile about 2 ozs of pork on each tortilla, add as many veggies as you can fit, and garnish with some cheddar and salsa.

 

Grab a cold one and enjoy!

Onion and Mushroom Sauce

As the days turn cold, I’m hankering for some warming comfort food.  Things like soups, stews, mashed potatoes, and roasted meats are coming to mind.

Last night I didn’t have a plan for dinner, which was not too out of the ordinary for a Friday.  I was planning to go to the store and just figure it out.  One thing led to another and before I knew it, my wife was going to the store and I was staying home with our son.  Mrs. TKD asked if there was anything I wanted but I really was at a loss, so I told her to get whatever she felt like and I’d cook it.

Mrs. TKD came home with fixings for turkey burgers and some bone in pork chops.  I suggested that I’d like to make meatloaf with the ground turkey.  Mrs. TKD was not a fan of that idea last night.  So I needed to come up with something to do with the pork chops.  I did not want to grill them because I really wanted a “Fall” type meal.  So I decided to bread them and bake them.  Mrs. TKD said that she thought some mushroom gravy would be good.  So I put together this sauce based on guidance from Mark Bittman’s book, How to Cook Everything.

Onion and Mushroom Sauce

2 Large Onions (sliced)
1 cup chopped portabello or cremini mushrooms
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
3 cups beef stock (warmed)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Start the onions in a large sauté pan without any butter or oil over medium low heat.  Cook them for about 15 minutes until they are starting to turn translucent and stick to the pan.  Add mushrooms and butter to the pan.  Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes until the onions have caramelized.  Add flour to the pan and mix in well.  At this point you are basically making a roux.  Cook this for about 5 minutes stirring frequently. The longer you cook it the darker your sauce will be.  Add broth 1 cup at a time and continue cooking until you’ve achieved your desired thickness.  Add salt and pepper.

I served this over the breaded pork chops and paired them with potatoes lyonnaise  and roasted beats.

Smokey Chicken Stock

One of the things that I really love about cooking is that you can get really creative with your food.  I last wrote about cooking chicken with indirect heat and smoke.  This technique and the simple recipe yielded one great chicken dinner last weekend, but there is more to the story.

I made a smokey chicken stock that became the base for two soups this past week.  Homemade stock really is amazing stuff.  First and foremost it doesn’t have any unpronounceable ingredients that preserve the stock.  Second, there’s nothing like cooking a pot of stock for a few hours to fill the house with honest good smells. Continue reading “Smokey Chicken Stock”

Indirect Heat – or Roasting on the Grill

Indirect heat, that is heat that is not directly under the bits you’re grilling, is a great way to grill large pieces of meat such as roast pork, beef, or even a whole chicken.  I am a huge fan of this cooking method because it results in wonderfully cooked meat that is juicy and tasty with just the right hint of charcoal.  Also, you can add good quality chunks of wood to the fire to give your food that smoked flavor without spending an entire day toiling around with a smoker.

DSCN0407As with any good charcoal grill session, I start by building my fire in a charcoal chimney.  This ignition method ensures that my food doesn’t taste of petroleum when it’s all said and done.  I also start the wood for this recipe in this chimney.

The basic workings are that you crumple up two sheets of news paper and stuff them in the bottom of the chimney.  Then you stack charcoal on top of the grate that holds the charcoal and fill the chimney.  Finally, you light the paper and set the chimney on the grill.  When you have flames coming out the top, your ready to dump the chimney.  You are going to want to use a good pair of insulated gloves to handle the chimney — even though it has a heat-resistant handle, it does tend to get pretty hot.

DSCN0409In order to keep the coals to the side of the chicken, I use some special trays to hold my coals.   These are available from a number of places and also from Weber’s website.  They are inexpensive and do a great job keeping the heat on the sides of the grill instead of directly under the cooking surface.

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Place the bird in the center of the cooking rack and roast with the lid on for about an hour — always check the bird’s temperature with a meat thermometer.  It should register 160 F when it is done.  Also, the juices should run clear.

If you’ve added hardwood to the fire, you will end up with a bird that has a lot of flavor as well as a beautiful golden brown color.   As with all meat coming off the grill, you should let it cool for about 5 minutes before you slice into it.  This will make slicing the meat easier and will also ensure that juices are redistributed throughout the meat.

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Prior to cooking this bird, I used a spice rub on the inside as well as the outside.

Spice Rub

1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Roasted Beats

In his novel, Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robins opens the book with high praise for the beet.

THE BEET IS THE MOST INTENSE of vegetables.

The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

I was always a bit afraid of beets when I was growing up.  Probably because they were pickled and cut into slices, served cold as a half assed garnish on a plate of otherwise delicious food at the local diner.  At least that’s how I remember beets.

My perspective changed a few years ago, when beets started arriving in droves in my CSA share.  I felt compelled to find a way to like them.  I didn’t want to simply dump them right into the compost.  That would be a waste and some kind of antithesis to the whole notion of the CSA.

So I started playing around with beets.  My favorite way to prepare them is to roast them. Beets have a lot of sugar (you’ll even find beet sugar listed as an ingredient on all kinds of things if you look) and so they are great for roasting because the sugar will caramelize.

You can prepare this recipe in a roasting pan, or in foil on the grill.  It is ridiculously easy but it produces a mighty tasty side dish that goes well with beef or pork in particular.

Roasted Beets

1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 
3 medium-sized beets, peeled and quartered
1 tbsp. olive oil

If your beets still have the greens in tact, remove them and save them for another side – they are edible and they taste great.   Peel the beets and quarter them.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat all sides of the beets.

For indoor, oven roasting, pre-heat the oven to 425 F.  Place the beets in a baking dish and roast uncovered for approximately 45 minutes.

On the grill, you have two options, you can place the beets in a foil wrap and roast on a hot grill for about 45 minutes, or you can place them directly on the grill and roast them at a lower temperature.  If you place them directly on the grill, you will need to attend to them frequently to prevent burning.