Saturday, August 13, 2011

Serve ... What?

I forgot to note yesterday one substitution, or rather an omission: the quinoa salad had cucumber, which I can do without, thank you very much. I also decided to halve the salsa, as nothing in the recipe seemed to require a certain quantity to cook properly ... so that's not really a substitution.

Scared a clerk at my grocery store today by asking for quinoa. Her: "I've ... never even heard of that." Yeah, that would make it difficult to find. I actually had to go to a second grocery store to spend twenty-one cents on serrano peppers. Mildly absurd.

(Sidebar: I am writing this in Firefox, which does not recognize either "quinoa" or "serrano" as valid words.)

Started on the dough for the fig cookies early...ish and had to restrain myself from devouring the dough as-was. Very tasty. Love that hint of lemon. Then I went to make the filling and ... well ... this was the point at which I realized that I had no idea where my corkscrew was. Normally, I'd just find another red, but they are all buried under the entirety of the laundry room after the latest lower-level flood. Some frantic ponderilization of McGuvyering or breaking the bottle later, I finally located the corkscrew and ... practically needed an elephant's strength to remove the cork from the bottle. Yoinks.

At this point, some wine for the cook. I usually don't drink, but I wanted to taste this swill I had fought for.

I managed to forget half the almonds until a few minutes into cooking, so had to re-process and add. I could have just eaten the filling by spoonfuls, too. As it turns out, I may get to: the filling and the glaze both produce significantly more than the cookies need.

Then on to forming the balls. I didn't have parchment paper, which probably would have helped with forming the cookies, but foil was perfectly fine for baking and removal purposes. Back into the fridge and ...

I take a break from sweet and head to savory. This is my first time attempting to grill peppers, garlic and tomatillos. I think Rick Bayless' time estimates are off or I'm simply not getting my oven hot enough, because I'd say his "five minutes a side" for the tomatillos was more like "nine - ten minutes a side" for me. But I was pleasantly surprised when the tomatillos did begin to blister ... it was almost like magic.

Next, the cookies went in, and I put together the salsa. Wow - spicy! It blended up like a dream. I next started on chopping and prepping the ingredients I needed for the soup and quinoa (dangit, Firefox) and ... discovered that I didn't have enough orange zest, despite having purchased two oranges and having a half orange in reserve. I over-zested one, knowing it might be a bit bitter, but willing to put up with that rather than having no orange at all.

Out cometh the cookies, on goeth the quinoa, and in the interim, I blend up the soup. This gives the (brand spanking new!) blender a bit more of a challenge, as the avocado isn't entirely soft. I pour it out, add the beef broth, then pour it back for a second puree.

While waiting on the quinoa, I glaze the cookies.

Final verdict (cookies): These are very good - rich but not overly so, a flaky, chewy cookie around a sweet and tangy filling. You can taste the burn of the wine, and the orange glaze is subtle but helps accentuate everything.

This is the point at which I notice that both recipes say to serve cool or (in the case of the quinoa) cold. This is a new one on me, so I try warming up a bit of the soup to see how it tastes warm. Nope - cool is definitely better. Also found out the hard way that I used the wrong type of parsley for the quinoa, as it's rather bitter ... but no way am I waiting for it to cool off before eating.

Final verdict (soup): So incredibly good. This is sneaky-hot - it doesn't seem like it would be, and then it sneaks up and attacks you from behind, while still being complex and more than just spice. I added sour cream, which cooled it up nicely - spicewise, but also physically, too.

Final verdict (quinoa): Also quite tasty, simple enough to put together, and a unique, hearty grain I enjoyed trying for the first time. ... I also realized just now that I neglected to add the olive oil. Ahem. Does not suffer for the lack. Does suffer from having the wrong type of parsley, but that was my fault.

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