Hey all! What have you been cooking this week? The weather here in Japan has been bouncing all over the place – we go from 5C to 15C in the course of a day or two, and we got an inch of heavy wet snow yesterday. Spring, where are you?? So I’ve been cooking a lot to keep warm!!
Sweet, sweet defeat - only because I forgot to take a picture of this amazing casserole before I ate it!
This picture is of something amazing I made, something warm and gooey and good for you… something that was a recipe for 3 that I ate all in one sitting it was so good…. but I forgot to take a picture of it before I ate it all! Oh, the tragedy! So you only get a picture of the dishes, licked clean. That casserole dish was full of “Baked Quinoa with Spinach and Cheese” from NYT. I finally scored a bag of quinoa at a local import store, which made my day because grains beside rice are decidedly hard to come by here in the Land of the Rising Rice Field. Combined with a chunk of ($10 for half a cup O.o) Gruyere and some tasty fresh spinach, this bake made a great main dish! Quinoa is full of protein and cooks in only 15 minutes, so it makes a good addition to any menu. The idea came from this awesome article over at Planet Green called “31 Recipes to Warm Up Your March” and I highly recommend you head over there and check it out because they’ve put up an entire month’s meal plan with recipes, and they all look delicious! Black Bean Chili with Avocado Salsa, Spinach and Lemon Soup, Venison Stew… I’m drooling just posting about it!
Baked Quinoa with Spinach and Cheese
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 plump garlic cloves
4 cups cooked quinoa, (1 cup uncooked)
2 large eggs
3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish.
2. Heat a medium frying pan or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Wash the spinach and without spinning dry, add to the pan and wilt in the liquid left on the leaves after washing. You may have to do this in 2 batches. As soon as the spinach wilts, remove from the heat and rinse with cold water. Squeeze dry and chop. Set aside.
3. Wipe the pan dry and heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir with the onion until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the quinoa, the onion and spinach mixture, the Gruyère, and the sage. Add freshly ground pepper and stir the mixture together. Scrape into the gratin dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, and serve.
Second this week was something I haven’t eaten in over 2 years: hummus! This was inspired by first: the
Hummus party baby!
food processor!! and second, the fact that my local bakery has started making whole wheat pita!! First time I’ve ever seen it in Japan. Anyway, I used Mark Bittman’s hummus recipe and loved it, it has a great balance of flavors. I topped mine with some toasted pine nuts and used half and half cumin and paprika.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Time: 15 minutes with precooked chickpeas
2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas, cooking liquid reserved if possible
1/2 cup tahini, with some of its oil if you like
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for garnish
2 cloves garlic, peeled, or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin or paprika, or to taste, plus a sprinkling for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1. Put the chickpeas, tahini, oil, garlic, spices, and lemon juice in a food processor (or a blender for even smoother hummus), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and begin to process; add chickpea-cooking liquid or water as needed to produce a smooth purée.
2. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed. Serve, drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of cumin or paprika and some parsley.
I think the best part of the whole adventure was bringing this to work for lunch the next day and giving one of my coworkers a taste. She had a very interesting look on her face as the cumin and paprika hit her tastebuds! Hummus is definitely not something Japanese are used to.
On the craft front, I’m starting a new Spring project in honor of National Craft Month! NHK’s Oshare Koubo (a crafting show on Japan’s version of the BBC) is doing crochet projects this month, so I’m starting this adorable little convertible shawl! This will be my first time working completely from a chart, so it’s going to be interesting @_@ especially with all the notes in Japanese.
NHK Textbook and the gorgeous cranberry cotton yarn!
Convertible shawl as bolero!
Happy crafting, campers!
~MS the Younger