Recipe: Quinoa With Black Beans and Tomato

Somewhere between a side dish and a salad, I pulled this dish together last night from the pantry and the garden. It turned out very well for a freehanded dish, so I thought I’d share it. I used standard canned black beans; other beans might work well as well.


1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chicken stock (or water if you’re a vegetarian)
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 can cooked black beans
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (approximately)
8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and allow to cool. I used chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor.

Put the oil into a nonstick pan. Sauté the shallot and garlic over medium heat until golden brown – watch carefully to avoid burning, especially if you chopped them very small.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and then put them into a bowl big enough to hold all ingredients.

Add the black beans, basil, parsley, shallots, garlic, and the quinoa.

Mix everything up in the blow and then salt & pepper to taste.

Can be served immediately or held in the fridge until dinner time.

Saturday Project: Homemade Basil Pesto

Basil for pesto
Genovese basil.
Photo credit: Burpee

Pesto a la Lux

1 large pinch of sea salt
4 tablespoons pine nuts
4 cloves roasted garlic
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup olive oil

Wrap the garlic in a little tin foil and roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool.

Put the salt and the pine nuts into a food processor. Blend. Add the basil, blend more. You’ll want to stop and scrape down the side of the processor to get everything blended smoothly. Add the garlic, ditto. Add the cheese, ditto. Finally, keep blending and pour in the oil in a gentle stream.

Store in the fridge until used.

NOTE: It’s even better when the basil comes fresh out of your own garden.

Light and Fluffy Pumpkin Pie: You’ll Love It

This is one yummy pie!
My friend Dawn Carey, a very talented and dedicated cook, went through 9 iterations on this recipe before coming up with this extremely tasty pumpkin pie. Even if you’ve never liked pumpkin pie before, this one will change your mind.

I made one humble addition to Dawn’s genius: the orange zest. If you have the time, try to use real pumpkin, it makes a difference. If you really want to be hard-core, make your own crust, although personally I went with one from Whole Foods. Avoid graham cracker crusts though.


15oz (by weight) cooked pie pumpkin
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Zest of 1 orange
3 large eggs
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Prepping the pumpkin

If cooking the pumpkin from scratch, use a sugar pumpkin weighing about 1.5 pounds. Cut it into quarters and remove the seeds and stringy bits from the center of the pumpkin. Cook the pumpkin by covering the pieces with foil and baking at 400 degrees for about an hour. At 30 minutes turn the pieces to get the sides done evenly. Allow to cool, and then scoop the cooked meat out from the skin. Discard skins and any brown bits.

If you absolutely must use canned pumpkin, make sure you buy 100% pumpkin puree with no additional ingredients.

Making the pie

Put cooked pumpkin into a food processor, then add the heavy cream and honey. Blend thoroughly until the mixture is completely smooth. Add all the other ingredients, then blend thoroughly a second time. All that blending adds air, which will make the pie light and fluffy.

When done blending, run the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then pour it into your pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with whipped cream for that extra dose of awesome.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Time, Tools, and Tomatoes

There’s an old saying that “only a poor craftsman blames his tools”. And it’s true. That said, having decent tools absolutely matters. Case in point: these two photos of roasted tomatoes.

Last summer:

Pre-Roasted Tomatos

This summer:

Roasted Summer Tomatoes

The D40 and a decent lens have absolutely helped me take better photos. I know I’m at best an enthusiastic amateur with a minimal grasp of what I’m doing, but at least now I can say a little more of what I want to say with my camera.

Are You "In The Weeds"?

This piece comes from chef Shuna Fish Lydon’s blog Eggbeater, written by a working chef about the workings of a restaurant kitchen, but if you look past the jargon of the chef you’ll find the advice is relevant to any team that has to produce, on time and under pressure.

The Weeds.

It’s an expression for line cooks by line cooks, but it is also something much larger. A euphemism. It’s an in-the-moment, during service expression.

But it can also refer to your whole career.

The Weeds

can take a whole department. A station. A restaurant. A person and their career.

On The Line the weeds will usually let you out of its stranglehold after the last table is out.
But if you’re really stubborn, The Weeds might have a lesson for you that takes a week, or five years.

When I train cooks I say the same thing over and over.

There are no cowboys on islands in kitchens. If you can be smart and honest enough to see The Weeds getting near, and you can ask for support before The Weeds claim you altogether, I and we can help you push through. But if we don’t know you need help until you’re drowning, not only is it too late to help you, it’s too late to save the food from merely being banged-out. And I don’t know about you but I have more pride in my food than to allow it to be banged-out.

Go, read the rest, share it, bookmark it.

Hat tip, Ruhlman.

Wherein I Am A Dorky Fangirl

I was puttering around on Facebook this morning, and it occurred to me that I might want to set up a Fan page for one of my favorite food writers, Michael Ruhlman. So I did (you may need to be on Facebook to see that link).

There’s not much content there yet other than a brief blurb, photo, and link to his site, but I’ll work on it as I have time. Please feel free to join and add stuff if you’re so inclined!