Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quinoa and Rice with Corn and Chorizo

Quinoa is a wonderful grain with a light nutty flavor. I often include it in my mixed-grain pilafs. This was a spur of the moment, "the pantry is empty" recipe that ended up tasting delicious. I've made it several times since I first tossed everything together.

Quinoa and Rice with Corn and Chorizo


  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilies
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t (heaping) chili powder
  • water
  • 1 chorizo, diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • dried, minced onion, reconstituted
  • chopped avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped cilantro

  1. In a sturdy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and the rice and two kinds of quinoa. Stir well, be sure that everything is coated.
  4. Dump the Rotel tomatoes, chilies and juice into a measuring cup and add enough water to make 2 1/2 cups.
  5. Add the spices to the rice and onion mixture, stir well, increase heat to high and add the tomato and water mixture.
  6. Cover, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and let cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat. Let sit at least 10 minutes before removing the lid. The longer it sits, the better.
  7. In a medium-sized skillet, saute the diced chorizo in olive oil over medium-high heat until browned.
  8. Add the corn and reconstituted onion, stir well and cook until it's as browned as you like. I like the corn to have a bit of color.
  9. When it's done, add the chorizo mixture to the grains, stir well. Serve in a bowl topped with cheese, avocado and cilantro.

Notes: This recipe uses my basic pilaf technique:
  • I saute the aromatics (chopped onion or shallot) in olive oil over fairly high heat until it just starts to sweat and turns translucent, then add the garlic and then almost immediately the grains.
  • Up the heat to high, stirring pretty frequently, making sure that the grains are nicely coated. You can saute them longer until they're slightly browned and give off a nutty smell, and then add the liquid.
  • Cover immediately with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil I like to use a pot that has a glass lid so I can see exactly when it's come to a nice boil - then lower the heat and let simmer for 13-15 minutes. This is where the glass lid comes in handy. You can see the surface of the rice if there are holes, like small craters where the hot air has forced through but there is no more liquid bubbling, it's perfect.
  • Turn off the heat, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before you remove the lid to fluff the rice.
  • I use this for mixed-grain pilafs and when I was a dairy eater, would add grated cheese and a pat of butter at the very end when I would stir in the last ingredients.
  • One of my favorite mixed-grain pilafs uses 1/2 cup of rice, 1/4 cup of bulgur and 1/4 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of liquid.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Thyme Basil Sauce (beurre nantais)

I've been on a quest to introduce a wider variety of foods to my picky children. If they had their way, they'd eat nothing but ramen noodles, mac and cheese and pizza.

Enter Gordon Ramsay and Hell's Kitchen.


Yes. My kids and I are Hell's Kitchen junkies.

They get the hugest kick out of the fact that every other word out of Ramsay's mouth has to be bleeped out ("Mommy! I think he swears more than you do!") and also because he is prone to throwing some pretty spectacular temper tantrums in the kitchen ("Look, kids! Someone who pitches a bigger fit than you guys do!") whilst chewing out the horde of wannabe executive chefs.

As for me, well I'm just here for the food: lobster spaghetti, mushroom risotto, lamb wellington, and the ubiquitous pan-seared sea scallops? Oh yeah. Sign me up.

The kids both have been showing more of a interest in real food (ie, things which actually require real cooking as opposed to "just add water"), so I hit on a little bit of brilliance. I told them that each week we could try out a new recipe featuring one of the foods from Hell's Kitchen. Now obviously I can't go all-out and toss in truffle oil, seared foie gras or grated black truffles because a) there's not a chance in Hell that they'll touch it and 2) JHC, have you seen the price of truffles?!

So, some adaptation is in order, and that's what gives me a charge: how to make some real food that the kids will actually eat.

I picked up a pound of sea scallops, which I thought would taste great pan-seared and served with a lemon thyme basil sauce. The girls will have them over pasta, and I, bound by the strict rules of the South Beach Diet, will have them alongside a lovely green salad.

Natalie and Lucy both said that I have to go on Hell's Kitchen and cook this dish. They cracked me up with their Chef Ramsay impressions: "Those scallops were cooked perfectly, Madam!"

Natalie had about 6 of the scallops with the sauce, so Project Develop Kids' Palate is going swimmingly.

I was going to take a nice picture of the dish, but the kids were at the table already and getting restless, and you know that whenever the inmates start chanting and banging cutlery on the table in movies, it's never good.

Next time, for sure.

Pan-seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Thyme Basil Sauce (beurre nantais)

  • 1 lb sea scallops
  • 3/4 cup cup dry white wine
  • 2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T chopped onions*
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


For the sauce:

  1. Boil the wine, chopped onion, and lemon juice, in a heavy medium saucepan over high heat until mixture is significantly reduced (2 tablespoons) stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
  2. Add the thyme and basil about halfway, so 6 minutes in.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add the cream, whisking well.
  4. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of butter 1 piece at a time over low heat, then raise heat and whisk in the rest of the butter. Serve immediately or keep warm until ready, but it won't last long.

For the scallops:
  1. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and white pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil to medium high in a large skillet, add the scallops and cook until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Serve the scallops immediately over pasta or fresh greens, spooning the sauce liberally over the top.

* The recipe called for shallots originally, but somehow the shallots never made it to my grocery bag, although they did make it onto the receipt. :/ Anyhow, I used a small amount of finely minced onion instead.
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