Summer Quinoa Saute

Quinoa is a protein-packed, easy to make grain with a rich nutty flavor.  Here’s a quick saute that pairs quinoa with a couple items playing starring roles in my CSA box this season: summer squash, tomato, and bell pepper.

In this one dish meal I spice things up with jalapeno and preserved lime.   Feel free to substitute the vegetables you have on hand.  If your garden is giving you zucchini – then by all means – saute that zucchini.  Use this easy recipe as a template, but make the dish your own.  Enjoy!

Summer Quinoa Saute

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped

1 LB baby summer squash, sliced into bite sized chunks

1 large ripe tomato, diced

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 TB minced preserved lime – or zest and juice of one fresh lime

salt, to taste

2 TB olive oil

Avocado wedges and cilantro for serving (optional)

Prepare quinoa by simmering quinoa and water for 20 minutes in a covered saucepan.

While the quinoa is simmering, heat a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and saute the squash, bell pepper, jalapeno, tomato, and garlic.  When the vegetables are nearly done cooking, add the preserved lime, and salt to taste.   Simmer for another minute or two to blend the flavors.  Serve the sauteed vegetables on the warm, cooked quinoa.  Top with avocado wedges and cilantro if desired.

Yellow Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

I made this cake for a friend’s birthday – pink is her new favorite color, and raspberries are in season.

So, I created Fresh Raspberry Buttercream for the event.  The vivid pink color is due entirely to the dark red beautiful raspberries I used in the the buttercream.  The technique is the same as for the the Swiss Meringue Buttercream from my Chocolate Sandwich Cookie, but with the addition of fresh pureed raspberries. For the cake, I’ve been in search of a really good yellow layer cake recipe for a while, and recently came across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  It worked well, and I’ll reprint it here, with credit due.

Yellow Layer Cake – adapted from the Smitten Kitchen

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers

2 1/4 cups  (10 oz) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (7 oz) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons  baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans and spray with baking spray with flour.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk and flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one more time.

Spread batter evenly in cake pans, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.  Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack, then cool completely, about 1 hour.


Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

4 egg whites (about 4 oz)
1 cup + 2 TB sugar (8 oz)
1 LB (4 sticks) unsalted butter
dash salt
2 cups fresh ripe raspberries, divided

Using a blender, puree one and 1/3 cups fresh, dark red raspberries.  (Reserve the remaining raspberries to tuck in between the layers of the cake and decorate the top of the cake.)

In heatproof mixing bowl, mix egg whites, salt, and sugar.  Heat over a water bath until the mixture reaches 140 degrees, being sure to constantly stir to prevent hot spots.  The sugar will have dissolved in to the egg white by this time.  Transfer bowl to mixer and, using whisk attachment, whisk on medium until it is fluffy and cooled to near room temp. It should be a soft marshmallow consistency.  Switch to paddle attachment and add the butter, 2 TB at a time on medium speed.  Continue to beat on medium until the buttercream is no longer curdled looking, but is smooth and makes a “whapping” sound.

Reserve a small portion of the white buttercream to use for decoration, if desired.

With mixer on low speed, pour in the raspberry puree to blend with the buttercream.  It should turn vivid pink.  I didn’t strain the seeds out of my puree, but you could if you want a smoother buttercream.

Assembly:  Place one cake layer on a cake plate or pedestal stand.  Spread some of the raspberry buttercream on the bottom cake layer.  Dot with remaining whole raspberries.  Place second layer on top.  Frost with remaining raspberry buttercream.  Decorate with reserved white buttercream, and whole raspberries, if desired.

Carrots with Green Coriander

The humble carrot – sweet, aromatic, and crunchy – is a kitchen workhorse.  In the past couple of years my fondness for carrots has grown because of the amazing flavor in the freshly harvested beauties from my Fully Belly Farm CSA box.

My simple recipe using carrots also uses another member of the carrot family – coriander.  This is the seed of the cilantro plant, and its pungent, green, citrus flavor is a natural compliment to carrot’s sweetness.  I like to grow Coriander (aka cilantro) all over my gardens. It’s usable at just about all stages of growth.   Enjoy!

Carrots with Coriander

one bunch carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and sliced
2 TB green coriander, crushed or 1 TB dried coriander, crushed
2 TB olive oil
1 TB honey

Heat a frying pan over high heat until warmed, then add the olive oil and the carrots.  Saute the carrots until they are tender but not too soft.  Add the honey, coriander and salt to taste.  Serve hot or at room temp.

Corn, Chard, and Summer Squash with Rice

I’ve made this one dish meal a couple times this summer.  It was motivated by my CSA box, and the fact that I needed a tasty dinner in a hurry.  My family liked the combination of sweet corn, savory chard, and spicy chipotle.  Avocado and lime make a great topping for this particular combination of flavors.  This is a flexible recipe, and one could include fresh tomatoes, green beans, leftover diced cooked potatoes, or eggplant.  Part of the fun of getting a CSA box is the creativity it inspires in my cooking.

2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
1 bunch chard, shredded
2 ears sweet corn, kernels cut off the cob (use this nifty tool)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 baby squash, chopped into bite sized pieces
olive oil
Chipotle powder
lime wedges
avocado wedges
cilantro – a few sprigs

Heat a large pan over medium high heat.  Add 2 TB olive oil, then saute the onion for 5 minutes.  Then add the chard.  Saute for 5 minutes, then add the corn kernels, summer squash, and crushed garlic.  Saute for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are just cooked through.  If at any point in the recipe the vegetables are browning too much, just add a little bit of water to the pan and stir.  It will quickly evaporate.  You are looking for nicely cooked, slightly browned vegetables.

Season with salt and chipotle powder to taste.  Mix in the rice.  The rice should be warm when you mix it in.  If it’s not, just keep the mixture on the heat for a little while to warm it through.

Top each serving with a couple avocado wedges, a slice of lime, and some fresh cilantro.  I like to give mine a little extra drizzle of olive oil, too.  Enjoy.