Friday, 4 September 2009

Quinoa for little ones, quinoa for grown-ups

Continuing on my efforts to feed Greta, stubborn little child that she is, yesterday's attempt was a variation on curried lentils with coconut milk- a dish which I've made for her before, and which she oddly quite likes. Enough to open her mouth when I bring the spoon towards it, that is!

I still have some of the latter in the freezer, but I thought I'd make some fresh yesterday evening, at which point I discovered that I'm (almost) out of green lentils. I had a quick look through my grains shelf, and dug out the quinoa instead.

Peter is very fond of quinoa.

The Internet in general appears to be very fond of quinoa. Which is not, according to my Peruvian friend, pronounced KEEN-wah, as most websites have it. She says you pronounce it as it's spelt (reassuring me, as that's how I pronounce it)- ki-no-wa. I have a couple of varieties in the cupboard- "regular" quinoa, which is white, and "royal" quinoa, which is red. Further differences will be mentioned further on.

I've made tabbouleh with quinoa a couple of times, but I don't think it works right. It's too small. Curried quinoa with peas and cashews, however, is a tab which I had open for a while without actually getting around to cooking the dish (mainly due to the fact that I never buy cashews).

For Greta, therefore, I cooked a small mug of white quinoa in a mixture of water and coconut milk, to which I added a chopped onion (chopped very small), and a (heaped) teaspoon and a half of a curry powder mix that I got in Migros. It isn't a very strong curry, so it's fine for her- just strong enough to taste! Looking at it, I can see chili flakes, so it's odd that it's so comparatively weak. The dish as a whole turned out quite creamy, as I added a bit more coconut milk at the end.

I gave it to her like that, and she ate about half the plate-ful before starting to spit it back at me. Not bad. But I think I'll have a better result tonight- as whilst Peter was bathing her, I took half a big carrot, diced it very small, and cooked the dice until almost soft, then adding them to the quinoa. I should have done that in the first place, as it is now a whole lot more interesting.

No doubt she'll spit it all straight out tonight.

Once she'd gone to bed, I took a mug of the red quinoa, sliced and rinsed a pack of leeks (about 6 leeks, the white part), a red pepper cut into strips, the remaining large carrot plus two others, peeled and sliced, and returned a huge courgette to the fridge.

I put olive oil in my big gratin dish (I do a lot of cooking in this, as works both as a frying pan and a saucepan- it's designed to be able to start off a dish on the hob-top, then put it in the oven, so it really is endlessly versatile), fried the leeks and the pepper for a minute, added the carrot and about a tablespoon and a bit of the curry powder, stirred it and cooked for a minute more, added the quinoa, stirred it in and cooked again for a minute, then added water and coconut milk (it would have been more, if I hadn't put more than half the tin in Greta's supper!), and cooked the whole lot for about 15 minutes.

It turned out very well- the red quinoa stays crunchier than the red, so it wasn't as creamy as Greta's. And a mouthful of crunchy red seeds surrounded by soft soft leeks... is very close to what I like best to eat!

This was also a clearing-out-the-fridge dish- quite handy for finishing things off. As we were away last weekend, we didn't get around to going to the supermarket, so this week I've been trying to finish things off and clear things up. It's resulted in one disappointing dish (egg noodles with a semi chicken-paprikash- I liked, but Peter didn't), one very yummy Salade Nicoise (2 hard boiled eggs, a whole pack of green beans, a pack of rocket, a tin of tuna, three spring onions that were getting very wilted), and the quinoa dishes.

I've also been cooking down tomatoes from the farm to make tomato coulis, and made plum jam. I won't share the recipe for the latter, as it was pretty much the same as the greengage jam, except that I used white sugar (which I never use), and, for somebody used to cutting any amount of sugar in a recipe by 1/3, it was pretty scary to use almost a kilo of sugar!

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