Curious Appetite

Marx food Random Recipe challenge: the winner is…

The winner is…Lady Curious Appetite!

About 2 weeks ago I blogged about making a wonderful and tasty stuffed squash per inspiration for a Food Blogger Challenge I was selected to participate in! The winning recipe can be found here:

https://thecuriousappetite.com/2011/10/14/marxfood-random-recipe-challenge-wildly-stuffed-squash/

I was so ecstatic to see that my recipe was so well received. And, the competition was fierce. In fact, I would have had a hard time choosing between carmelized pork empanadas, my wild stuffed squash AND coconut wild rice pudding too! I invite you all to read the announcement with the links to the fellow random recipe participants as well, I was quite impressed (and inspired!) by all of their blogs!

http://marxfood.com/random-recipe-challenge-winner-not-randomly-chosen/

I also realized that my traffic has gone up a smidgen since the challenge and I’d like to thank every single eye ball and fingertip for taking the time to visit my blog of random food musings, I appreciate the precious time that is taken out of your important days for following up on the curious! Thank you again!

And also, check out Marx Foods! I’m dying to try their GABA Rice, which is fermented and sprouted brown rice. It’s called GABA because during the sprouting enzymatic process, GABA is a residual by-product. GABA, is not only an acronym that I can’t be bothered with GoOgGlE’ING, it is a neurotransmitter/amino acid important for starving anxiety, poor sleep patterns and stress waves away! In Japan, it is common to find rice cookers with a GABA option cook setting! GABA GABA DOO! ūüėõ

Stay tuned for more recipes by Lady Curious!

Healthy, Easy Fall inspired Quiche.

The incredible edible egg. You can boil, fry, bake, poach, baste, whip, even froth an egg into just about 12 million recipes. Did you know they are used in some cocktails AND thought to be the perfect protein? Sorry vegans. If its any consolation, my eggs come from a happy local farm where I know I am always welcome to look the chicken in its beady eye and make sure they aren’t bluffing.

Quiche are unusually easy to make, especially if you prefer not to mess about with a homemade crust, which is also easy. But lets be honest, you might be busy and a store bought crust may be your time efficient option. Mine too. It helps that Wholly Wholesome makes spelt flour pie shells wholly delish.

Quiche is also great for putting left over veggies and eggs for a hearty week-long supply of a good thing. I put leeks,heirloom garlic, fennel root, heirloom tomatoes, broccoli and sharp cheddar in mine. To make it health(ier) minded, I only used 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites.

Here’s my stuff:

1 small leek, cut in discs

2 cloves crushed/chopped garlic

1 cup sliced fennel root

1 cup slightly (like 2 minutes) steamed broccoli florets

2 small heirloom tomatoes (I used a zebra and a brandyvine)

1/2 cup (or more if you’re cheesy:) of shredded sharp cheddar

butter and olive oil for pan

cumin, paprika, a dash of fresh cracked coriander and plenty fresh cracker pepper

optional: 1/2 sweet onion

Method: Saute’ the leeks and chopped garlic in olive oil and butter for a good 2 minutes on medium/med-low. I love cooking with a little butter and a little olive oil. This is not only for obvious flavor reasons, but also because olive oil alone burns easily. And I think food is too heavy cooked just in butter. Happy¬†compromise.

Okay…so after 2 minutes add the fennel root. While thats cooking down, slice and chop tomatoes and drain out as much liquid and seeds as possible. The broccoli can steam in a rice cooker (granted yours came with the extra attachment) for about 2 minutes. Slice the florets down the middle.

3 minutes or a couple more may have passed by now so add the tomatoes, broccoli and your spices of choice (or mine) and let that merge together for a few minutes. Be mindful as to not overcook, all this with some egg is going in the oven next.

Once this veggie mix is ready…

…pour it evenly into the pie crust.

In a largish bowl, whisk 2 eggs and 4 egg whites OR 1 cup of egg whites (you can get just egg whites at almost any grocery store) with the grated cheese. Then pour the egg/cheese mixture over your veggie quiche filling!

You can bake this with or without a foil cover, I baked without. Leave this in the oven for about 30mins at 375 and you should get something that looks a lil like this:

If you want the cheese to be a little browned, put this under the broiler for a few minutes.

This is yummy, the leeks and garlic really dress the veggies well (and who can argue about the affinity cheddar has with broccoli?) And best of all, its semi-guilt-free! This pie is packed with quality  protein, B-vitamins, fiber, free-radical scavenging antioxidants, healthy fats, minerals (sure, why not?) and has a slow burning glycemic load.

Made in advance, this quiche can provide an energizing (and tasty) blood-sugar friendly breakfast or lunch for at least 4-5 days.

At dinner, it would be complete with a glass of bright, citrus, melon and minerally white wine such as a Riesling, Muscadet or go all out with the bubbly. If you really need some Vitamin C, go ahead and make a mimosa with the bubbly:)

And get creative! Come up with your own fillings and enjoy the convenience and comfort of some QUICHE!

Skillet Diner- "Street" food: brick and mortar style

Sunday mornings should be spent in bed, and if you are forced out of one there should be something worth for such an awful separation. So for me, the motivation is brunch or the farmer’s market (which usually included munchables).

I have heard buzzings about Skillet Diner, they started out as a food truck and now they have a brick and mortar in Capitol Hill, as well as marketable retail goods like skillet bacon spread. This whole thing kind of irks me about “street” food in Seattle. Chefs start out something kitchy by stuffing it in a food truck, charging way more than the whole concept of “street” food is supposed to stand for and once they get to a certain¬†threshold¬†of popularity, they open a brick and mortar, still serving overpriced “street” food IN A FRICKEN RESTARANT! ¬†And boutiquey “shop” marketed plastic jars of¬†over-glorified¬†Bacon GREASE? Give me a break. Vomit is officially everywhere. Suffice to say, I haven’t quite jumped aboard the food truck “wagon”.

But I just had to come to Skillet this Sunday brunch. I knew it would be good, from the looks its menu’ of pork belly and cornmeal waffles to a straight up “standard”. And honestly the last couple times I have tried to scope out the undiscovered hole in the walls at breakfast, I was a little hrmph’d for having separated myself from loungeness and p.js on precious weekend mornings for some crap on a plate I could have made 12 times better. And Skillet was a good bet after all. The wait is a little annoying, but not really because these marketeers got you waitees covered with a coffee station, where you can also purchase a jar of this bacon spread (how is this not called grease?!!). And chairs outside to make the time go by better with your warm bodied joe. The bar/diner seating is spin-able,bright and comfy. The prices are pretty descent as long as you stick with the 9 buck plates, which are usually the most belly filling and rib stickily like the homemade (cream-stricken meaty perfected) sausage gravy (oh mylanta…) and biscuits (buttery sweet salty carb HEAVEN!). The nice touch here is that they serve it with fried crispy sage on top. They have a seasonal rotating scramble that I was super tempted to try which was a duck confit grit something something fancy and rainbow chard. But my friend ordered the deconstructed hash which was basically french spiced root vegetables and meaty¬†marbling¬†steak chunks with an egg on top oozing a bright orange yolk. I’m not gonna sing skillet’s high praises and i’m not gonna rip it apart (other than about the general pretentiousness of “street” food in Seattle). I read the Seattle Weekly review and a few others, and they seemed to be a little underwhelmed, i believe due to preconditioned hype. My response to them is that Skillet Diner doesn’t require a microscopic analysis: its good breakfast. Its good because, its consistent, reasonable and interesting. And not 18 bucks a plate like Steelhead Diner. Plus, they have bacon salt bloody mary’s¬†in mason jars (2 bucks cheaper during breakfast and brunch!)

Curious approves:)

MarxFood Random Recipe Challenge: Wildly Stuffed Squash!

I rarely blog about making food, but rather critique others who make it. Nevertheless, thanks to being a food blogger, MarxFood.com sent me some random samples as apart of a recipe contest! The much anticipated box had come with an assortment of dried gourmet goodies: black trumpet mushrooms, Japones Chilies, Habanero Chilies, Wild Rice and Coconut Sap Sugar. Hmmmmm, I thought, what to do with such differing powers of flavor! I stewed long and hard going through explosive japones chili thai soupy thoughts to Mexican habanero rasberry coconut sap jam dreams. Part of the challenge is that I would need to use at least 2 of the 5 ingredients in order to come up with some random dish. Finally after days of tossing the ingredients back and forth in my head, I realized the conception:

Wild and Foraged Stuffed Winter Squash. Baked with coconut sap and finished with black truffle oil. For this recipe, I utilized 3 of the 5 ingredients sent! What makes it wild is the wild rice, foraged dried black trumpet mushrooms and fresh chantrelles. And of course, truffle oil is pretty wild itself!

I love fall cooking, the possibilities are endless! I love the rib sticking goodness of bright carby squashes. I realized that we are also totally in mushroom season so I wanted to capitalize on the earthy pattern of the wild rice and black trumpets by incorporating further mushroom compliments: chantrelles and black truffle oil. Not to mention,  the milky salty touch of ricotta salata that imparts the creamy texture of its fresh grassy ricotta sister while insinuating the briney similarities of a feta.

I took a trip down to the weekend farmer’s market to obtain the bulk of the seasonal foods at hand:

(the following images may be of extreme graphic nature and I totally blame Monica Barrett for being the official food pornagrapher and gastrocohort)

Serves 4, easily:

1 each of Carnival, delicata and acorn squash

2 cups of fresh spinach

1/2 lb of Fresh chantrelles

8 ounces of ricotta salata (cheese)

1 lb smoked keta salmon fillet

2 small leeks or 1 large

1 dry cup of wild rice

4 oz Black Trumpet Mushrooms (dried)

clove of garlic, crushed and chopped

olive oil for saute’

coconut sap sugar, for exposed squash edges in final baking phase

black truffle oil to finish

(salt and pepper to taste)

…all bought fresh, local and organic at the Farmer’s Market!

The bags you see are the little samples MarxFood sent that tied it all together! I also PAIRED the whole dinner with an unoaked WA state Ryan Patrick Chardonnay from Piccola Wine.

Now that you have the grocery list, here goes the process:

Overview: The idea is to stuff the squash with a lightly sauteed melange of foraged wild mushrooms (such as the black trumpet and fresh chantrelles), leeks and spinach with garlic and olive oil. Then mix this “melange” with perfectly tender and chewy wild rice.¬†Crumble in ricotta salata then fill in the various squashes after they have been prebaked at 350 faced down in olive oil), sprinkle with coconut sap at the edges to brown,¬†caramelize¬†and bake to perfection.

1st step, ¬†reconstitute the dried mushooms in hot water for about 30 minutes. Be glad the black trumpets are dried because that means you can use the earthy umami broth to cook the wild rice in. Sit down and relax for 30 minutes. Have a glass of Zin and snack on pumpkin bread while they become “constituted.”

30 minutes later: now we drain the hydrated trumpets, ahhhh. Now you’re left with mushroom broth. And you’re going to cook the wild rice in it, trust me.¬†I was happy to be “green” and recycle this precious water. Once the black trumpets were reconstituted, the stuffing game was on.

It’s all a time juggle. Wild rice on the back burner, squashes pre-bake in the oven just waiting to be stuffed, saute’ pan is simmering with leeks, garlic, foraged mushrooms and finished with wilted spinach.35 minutes or so later, your whole puzzle is ready to be put together. Fold in the mushroom-leek saute with¬†the earthy aromatic Wild Rice, and then hand crumble ricotta salata over the stuffing like snow.

Use a deep spoon to scoop to stuff and mold. After stuffing, the edges of the squash were carefully sprinkled and hand pressed with coconut sap so that they could sort of be caramelized at the edges. Bake uncovered at 350 for an additional 20 minutes.

A good tip that I failed to mention before is that you need to slice the squash lengthwise, and kinda gut the squash. As pointed out to me by my faithful gastrocohort, aka the fabulous food pornagrapher of this endeavor, the seeds are totally salvagable and should be toasted with salt while the squash prebake, that way you have an interim nibble while they bake during the 20 minute finale.

Careful, don’t fall into the temptation to gobble all these up. Save some, because they make a nice presentation for the final product.¬†My cohort had to slap my hand a couple times. This is probably the real reason I enlisted the culinary support of food pornagrapher Monica…to make sure that I didn’t drink all the wine and eat all the fixins!

Once they have cooled down, line the middle of your plate with the toasted seeds. Portion off a slab of smoked salmon, maybe lay a couple thin slices of ricotta salata atop smokey slab. Then drizzle your much aromatic black truffle oil in zig zaggy layers. It should look a lil’ something like this:

Tasting notes: Pairing the unoaked Chardonnay was a brilliant idea. It complimented the sweet onset of the squash and supported the lingering earthy umami finish brought to you by the mushrooms and spots of truffle. The mushrooms served as a true bridge to bring you a silky full mouth-feel explosion of sweet, savory and umami.

Pairing with the smoked salmon was almost too good to be true, it imparted a sweet salmon candy pop and accented lemony notes from the Chardonnay and an unassuming fruit “punch” with the ricotta salata.

Conclusion: This was quite the treat. Its worth every minute of prep and attention to detail. Be warned: you may fall into a food coma and not wanna get up.

Hope you try this at home!

Wayward Cafe'- Vegan Sanctuary(?)

There was a point in my life in which I was vegan. At that time, I also was pretty¬†disciplined¬†in karate and took dance. I was one healthy little lady. And not a deprived one, neither. Vegan food has a bad rap. Its not all tofu, bread and margarine. Its also creative milks made from luscious almonds, fermented bbq “bakon” tempeh, cashew tahini, sprouted grain & bean burgers, olive oil mock-anaisse, raw chocolate avocado mousse pie, coconut milk ice cream…as you can see, it can get quite decadent. In the U-District, I realized there are very few breakfast joints and can embody the image of the rolling hay deserted western town on a weekend morning. There is Portage Bay, but forget it unless you have a reservation or get there at an unfair time, unfair to your REM cycle that is.

After strolling up and down the ave, looking for warm eggy goodies, I landed instead at a tofu scramble hole in the wall called Wayward. They are pretty popular even among non-vegans. They have hearty portions of veggie stuffed burritos, massive piles of spiced home fries and even old school sweets like cheez blintzes. As well as home made biscuits with vegan “sausage” mushroom gravy with generous sides of garlicky kale greens. In the kitchen, all you can see are cast-iron pans that are an obvious flavor-savour plus. I have a question mark in the headline because what I ordered was totally gross but it was my own damn fault. It was a vegan Monte-Cristo. Which traditionally is turkey and some fancy white cheese slathered smoked and melted in between 2 buttery sugary maple hunks of french toast. I thought that by eating this, it would be a tongue in cheek gesture towards food novelty. But there is nothing savour-worthy of plastic dry tofurky sandwiched in between 2 rubbery earth-balance pan seared hunks of what seemed like angel food cake bread, without the pillow sweet, just the pillow white bland texture. And a dried-out side of hashbrowns that was only salvaged by dollops of hot sauce and ketchup. But every place has its crappy menu item, and even the cashier warned me of the tofurky. I should have taken heed. But my neighbor’s plate, the biscuits & “gravy” with garlicky greens, ¬†was quite nice, and nice enough to have shared and taken pity on my fearless mistake. The biscuits are warm and buttery-like and perfectly salty. Nice and ‘shroom earthy hint o’ umami gravy, with pleasant chunks of broccoli and peppers. Greens held up nicely and werent overdone and still bright green.

If you want something hearty, semi-greasy spoon, chock full of greens, vegan and cheap Wayward Cafe is a good bet. Just run like hell if you see any tofurk-slice anything!

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