That's me wallowing in the corner. I'm even having chocolate for lunch. (It's really good. Have you had the little dark chocolate bars that come in packs of three at Trader Joe's? Silky. At 290 calories apiece we'll pretend that I had a nutrtionally dense, low calorie salad before the chocolate, and then really, it's not that bad a lunch. Except I didn't have the salad, and now I'm wondering about the provenance of this chocolate and thinking that I need to learn more about how to not support child slave labor and really under no circumstances is chocolate lunch. Again, that's me moping in the corner.)
I'm supposed to be leaving the house right now with my swimsuit and sunhat, on my way to pick up cocktail snacks and meet Paul at the office. We're supposed to be driving to Palm Springs tonight. But Felix woke up from his nap yesterday with his eyes gooped shut, a 102 degree fever, and the subsequent unhappy demeanor that comes with being just plain sick. A visit to the doctor resulted in the discovery of a bulging ear drum on top of the obvious conjuctivitis, two prescriptions, and a big fat tantrum from the big brother when he received the news that they would not be having their scheduled grandparent weekend in Big Bear due to the incompatibility of ear infections and altitude changes, not to mention sick two-year-olds away from their mamas.
So, I'm here, not doing the laundry, and trying not to be incredibly bitter. I'm working on rallying. Do you know what is seriously helping? Patsy Cline. (I know - I'm pretty dramatic with my moping. I can wallow, man. I have to put on this giant, positive-mom front for the rest of the family. "We'll figure this out!" beams Positive Mom!) But do you know what else is really helping?
The last two empanadas in the freezer. They're filled with kale and quinoa and black beans to make perfectly compact little complete meal pockets. They're totally delicious dipped in guacamole. The recipe is only slightly modifidied from a new cookbook all about the Peruvian superfood called Quinoa Cuisine.
When I was offered a review copy, I did not hesitate. Desmond hates quinoa, and the challenge amused me. Would my kid eat anything this book had to offer? It turns out, yes. The secret stash of high-protein quinoa in these empanadas totally snuck past his powerful quinoa radar.
I haven't tried anything else from the book yet, but we've actually made four batches of these for two different families and they have been universally enjoyed. So that bodes well, and though the book is not quite as vegan-friendly as I had hoped, there are quite a few interesting recipes that are both vegan and not too quinoa-y like whole grain crackers and a shitaake edamame pilaf. I think the quinoa-hater might go for those. But there's tons here for the quinoa-insatiable or those of you that lugged a 5-pound bag home from Costco and are trying to figure out what to do with it.
So the boys just finished dinner - those last two empanadas, some sliced up avocado, and a half cob of leftover grilled corn. They're watching The Muppet Movie while we visit and I rally. They're going to bed insanely early, and Paul and I are going to bundle up in sweaters and drink margaritas in the backyard. It's not Palm Springs, but it's also not a labor camp in East Africa? Man, I'm good at rallying.
So, now seems like a good time to wish the moms a belated Mother's Day. Thanks for all the sacrifices that I know you made (some of them even bigger than a Palm Springs weekend and others almost precisely that - ask Paul's mom about the U.S. Grant Hotel.) and for the incredible privelege that you gave us just by being there. We are so grateful to be the people that you made. Thanks.
Excerpted from the book Quinoa Cuisine: 150 Creative Recipes for Super Nutritious, Amazingly Delicious Dishes by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser, published by Ulysses Press. Copyright © 2012.
Serve your favorite salsa as a dipping sauce for these delectable empanadas. This recipe makes 8 medium empanadas, but you can make 16 smaller empanadas by simply dividing the tortilla dough into 16 tortillas and filling each with just ¼ cup of the black bean mixture. Make it a fiesta by serving these with traditional-style or refreshing watermelon margaritas. Makes 8 Empanadas
- ⅓ cup white quinoa, rinsed
- ⅔ cup vegetable stock or broth
- 1 recipe Quinoa Tortillas (recipe below)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 4 cups chopped kale (1 pound)
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- kernels from 1 ear corn, or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- kosher salt and black pepper
1. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the quinoa and vegetable stock or broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
2. Make the tortilla dough through Step 3 of the recipe instructions.
3. Heat the olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the oregano and chili powder and stir to combine. Add the kale and stir to combine. Cook until the kale begins to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the black beans and corn, and cook until heated through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice and cilantro, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
The quinoa flour and butter in these tortillas adds a slight nutty flavor and richness not found in traditional corn tortillas. It’s best to use a tortilla press to form the dough, but if you don’t have one, roll out each disk of dough on a well-floured work surface using a floured rolling pin.
YVM Note: The original recipe calls for unsalted butter, I switched that to non-dairy (like Earth Balance) and then cut back on the salt a tiny bit. If you don't have quinoa flakes ($9 a pound at Whole Foods!), you can just replace it with more masa and flour and adjust the water a bit - start with a cup.
Makes 8 to 16 Tortillas
- 1½ cups hot water, divided
- 1 cup quinoa flakes
- 1 cup masa harina
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons non-dairy butter, chilled and diced
1. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of the hot water and the quinoa flakes. Let the flakes soak for 2 minutes.
2. Combine the masa harina, all-purpose flour, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine, about 10 pulses. Add the soaked quinoa flakes and process to combine, about 45 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with butter pieces about the size of small peas. Add the remaining ½ cup hot water and process until the dough begins to form a ball.
3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and gently add any dough bits that haven’t been incorporated into the ball. The dough should be slightly sticky; if necessary, add flour or water to create the right consistency. Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer before forming the tortillas.
4. To make the tortillas, heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Cut the disk of dough into 8 to 16 equal-size pieces, according to the size of tortillas you want. Roll into small balls and flatten each one into a disk. Place a sheet of waxed paper on the bottom of a tortilla press; add a disk of dough and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Lower the top of the press and apply firm pressure to flatten the dough; lift and remove the top piece of waxed paper. Gently lift the tortilla from the press, using the bottom piece of waxed paper, and turn into the cast-iron skillet. Immediately remove the waxed paper so it doesn’t melt onto the tortilla or the skillet. Cook until the underside begins to brown and blister, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and cook on the second side until the tortilla begins to puff and the underside begins to brown and blister, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove. Repeat for the remaining pieces of dough. Keep warm in a 170°F oven until ready to serve.
Tortilla Chips Variation: Fill a large heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, with canola oil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Heat to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Make the tortilla dough as instructed, cutting the disk of dough into 16 equal pieces. Flatten each piece on the tortilla press as instructed, then cut each tortilla into quarters and gently place in the oil, being careful not to splash the hot oil. Fry the dough until it has puffed and browned on the bottom, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Using tongs, flip the dough, then fry until the second side has browned, about 45 seconds longer. Remove the chips with a slotted spoon and drain on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Serve hot or warm.