Friday, September 28, 2012

Managing my way around quinoa

A few months ago I was promoted at work, resulting in my wandering around the office declaring to everyone what a big freaking deal I am.  This promotion took my existing job and added the responsibility of managing five other Administrative Assistants.  For the most part I enjoy it, but have been somewhat annoyed at how different my perception is than many others for what consitutes "a big deal".  When you work in a world that deals entirely with frozen vegetables and fruits, it's hard for me to take problems all too seriously - the world will not crumble to pieces over frozen broccoli florets or bias cut carrots.

This job does, though, afford me the opportunity to be a little more nosey about what people spend their days doing and I addmittedly love "deligating" my less savory projects to those who seem to have nothing but time on their hands.

Any foodie has surely noticed that, like me, quinoa has become a pretty big freaking deal lately.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with it, quinoa (pronounced ki-nwa) is a grain-like crop with edible seeds.  It originated south of the border in places like Peru, Bolivia, Equador, etc. but has recently made a splash in the culinary world for it's nutitional values.  You cook it like you would rice and generally it's used in the same applications, although I don't know that I've ever seen a quinoa cake or quinoa pudding.  It contains amino acids, iron, calcium, and phosphorus but the real kicker is that it's gluten-free.  Anyone with an allergy to gluten could certainly replace rice or noodles with quinoa and in my mind, that's it's one saving grace because the flavor is dull and I find it difficult to season well.  My thoughts on the subject end like this: let the vegans, hippies, and gluten-intolerants have their quinoa, I'll stick with rice, noodles, and bread.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leftover Lunch for Grandma Roper

I enjoyed the pleasure of having lunch with my Grandmother today.  It’s strange to wonder how long it’s been since just the two of us have had a conversation and frankly, it’s been an embarrassingly long time.  Sufficed to say, I enjoyed myself immensely.  There’s something comforting in the knowledge that even though we’re over 50 years apart, we have so many similarities.  While I’m often referred to as an “old spirit”, I prefer to think my Grandma is young at heart.  Whatever it is, she and I see eye-to-eye and she’s full of useful wisdom and reassures me that my life is on the right track.  In short: Grandma’s got the touch!

Despite my sister’s light Facebook nagging, it took just one mention from my Grandma that maybe I should start posting recipes again.  So, as my homage to the Ropers, I figure I’ll post a recipe that has leftovers perfect for sandwich making!

Ryan bought a beautiful pot roast last week and demanded that I cook it up.  I suspect he was itching for a traditional pot roast dish with potatoes, onions, carrots, and the like but when I saw it in the fridge, I smirked and made other plans.  Obviously, it’s slow cooked which means measurements don’t exist – season as you go!  I drizzled some olive oil in my biggest cast iron crock pot and seared the meat on all sides while my oven preheated to about 325. 

Once my meat was seared, I threw in a bunch of diced onions, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes, and beef stock…enough to cover the meat.  I also added about 4 or 5 padron peppers to spice it up a little.  Salt, pepper, cumin, and whathaveyou also graced the crock pot.  I brought it all to a light simmer over the stove then tossed it in the oven where it sat for nearly four hours, only pulled out occasionally for a quick sip of the sauce and any appropriate additions.

After an adequately long time in the oven, I pulled my pot out and placed it on the stove over medium low heat so it would continue to simmer while I shredded the meat apart with a fork and knife (an easy-as-pie task as it pretty much just fell apart beautifully).

TIP: because my pot roast had a layer of fat on one side, my broth got quite oily and just skimming it wasn’t going to get the job done.  Move the pot halfway off the burner for about 10 minutes and skim from the edge that’s tilted off the heat (because fat and impurities gather at the coolest place).  Simmer gently and never boil because that just churns fat into the broth.

I made some guacamole, whipped up some corn tortillas (made from masa) and served the beef as fajitas with cheese and cilantro.

Of course, when you have a 3lb. roast, you’ll have leftovers!  So, I used the leftover beef to make some killer sandwiches served on caibatta rolls.  Warm the beef in a skillet, add some horseradish and freshly cracked black pepper.  Lightly toast the rolls (after you've cut them in half, of course) and spread thin layers of mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip because…YUCK!) and Dijon mustard before putting your beef on the sandwich and devouring.  Extra credit if you make it for a Roper!