Monday, July 16, 2012

Cooking Floyd: Supper Out of a Box

This week's CSA box yielded among other things sweet yellow corn, baby lettuce mix, and vine-ripened tomatoes.  A friend had gifted me with a couple of her sweet purple Cippolini onions.  The volunteer cilantro in my garden just keeps coming on and the Carnival bell peppers are producing.  All of this just screamed Black Bean and Corn Salad!

In addition to the salad we had Quinoa Cakes with Goat Cheese and Roasted Dried Tomato garnished with dabs of Tofu Spread and home made tomato paste, and slices of the first tomatoes off the vine.

The tofu spread was a new one for me.

There are small, trivial things in life that just irk the piss out of me.  Like cute spellings, ie: "Kountry Kitchen".  Argh.  And the vegetarian/vegan penchant for naming stuff after meat or other animal products.  Like the Quinoa Cakes were called burgers.  So not burgers.  Vegannaise.  So does not even come close to mayo.  I love these things, they are delicious in their own right and deserve their own identities not oxymoronic names.  Vegetarian meatloaf, indeed.  *snort*

Ok, rant over.

Sweet Corn and Black Bean Salad
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice (I used at least double the amount.  I am Citrus Girl after all)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add corn and cook for 1 minute, then drain well, rinse in cold water and drain again.  Rinse the chopped onions in cold water to mellow them a little; drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add beans, corn, onion, cilantro, and bell pepper and combine. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  Toss again before serving.

Quinoa Cakes with Goat Cheese and Dried Roasted Tomatoes
2½ cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
4 large eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
½ cup finely chopped fresh herbs - I used fresh thyme, basil, chives and rosemary, you can use whatever you have
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
6-8 dried roasted tomato halves, chopped
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or 5 cloves Roasted Garlic
1 cup panko (or regular dried bread crumbs), plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

The tomatoes I use are my own slow roasted then dehydrated tomatoes.  You can use regular store bought sun-dried tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes in oil.  If using dried tomatoes, rehydrate them in a little hot water until soft and then chop.  Sun-dried tomatoes in oil are soft enough to just chop.

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the fresh herbs, green onion, cheeses, and garlic. Add the panko, stir, then gently stir in the tomatoes Let this mixture sit for at least 30 minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. Form into10-12 1" thick patties - I like to use a 1/3 cup size measuring cup, pack the mixture in and then tap it out onto a plate, this makes for nice, perfectly round, uniform patties.

Spread another 1/2 cup of panko or bread crumbs on a large plate and gently roll each patty in the crumbs, to coat.

Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, add as many patties as will fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 4-6 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties, adding a bit more oil and butter as needed. The quinoa mixture keeps nicely in the refrigerator for a few days; you can cook some of the patties right away and some a day or so later.

Tofu Spread
8 ounces tofu
1 teaspoon vinegar of your choice (Except red wine.  Unless purple spread floats your boat.)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon prepared mustard of your choice (I used homemade grainy maple mustard)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and white pepper to taste
olive oil or water

Crumble the tofu into the bowl of a food processor or a medium size bowl or the jar you use with your stick blender.

Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth. If the spread is too thick for your liking, add a little olive oil or water a bit at a time to thin it out to a consistency you like.

This spread is infinitely variable.   Taste and play.  Add your favorite herbs and spices or a little veg like roasted peppers or tomatoes.

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