I’ve still been thinking a lot about inspiration: Where does it come from? Why do we get into the kitchen and cook a specific recipe? This week my inspiration comes from a recent meal: I joined friends a few weeks ago at a new restaurant in Buschwick and someone suggested a crunchy quinoa salad with citrus vinaigrette. The dish came out as a big billowing bowl of fluffy quinoa that was so delicious I managed to completely finish it off. I’ve been thinking of it since, and the combination is so simple, I decided to put together a version myself.
I had planned on crisping up some of the quinoa to add crunch, but in a combination of haste and laziness, I left the container of cooked quinoa in the fridge overnight, uncovered, and the top layer developed a nice, firm crunch. Not sure if that’s a pro tip, but it worked. If you do want to try crisping up some of the quinoa, take ½ cup of the cooked and cooled quinoa and lightly fry in vegetable oil. I plan on eating this salad over some chopped kale as my lunchtime salads this week, but it also makes a nice side dish for a group dinner.
With the weather so so cold, lately I’ve been all about the spice, from the hot honey I discovered at the delicious Paulie Gee’s pizza shop in Greenpoint to the Chinese chili bean paste that I’ve been adding to everything. (I also recently tried out Brodo, New York’s broth stand, and loved the spicy kick of the gingered grass-fed beef broth with calabrian chili oil.) I picked up a jar of locally produced-kimchi the other day and decided to add it into a pot of stew along with some tofu and a big spoonful of that Chinese chili paste. The fiery flavor has since become my go-to easy dinner prep, as the big batch easily lasts the week. It’s such a simple combination of vegetables, broth, kimchi, and tofu, but it’s so filling and so spicy!
For this batch I used sweet potato, mushroom, and napa cabbage, but it’s really an anything goes type of recipe, so throw in whatever vegetables you have. You can use homemade kimchi if you have it, but a good quality prepared jar works fine. And for the heat, you can also use the Korean hot pepper paste Gochujang. (I’m not the only one who loves making this recipe; I noticed the week after I first made it that Bon Appetit shared a recipe for their version. Smart minds!)
I may have already mentioned that I turned 30 this year, but I never did get around to sharing photos from my fabulous summer birthday trip to Croatia. My sister joined me there and we enjoyed several dinners finished off with a glass or two of amaro. Although it’s an Italian digestif, it felt festive and fitting in the warm climate. It also felt grown up in a way, and, as an official 30-year-old adult, I decided amaro would be my new go-to drink.
Fast forward a few months and amaro still feels festive. Rather then just drink it on the rocks (although it’s delicious that way), I like this smash, a muddling of orange, mint, and amaro topped with grapefruit or blood orange soda. A little sweet, a little bitter, and very herbaceous, it’s my new 30s signature cocktail (cause every gal should have one.) I’ll likely be ringing in the new year with one of these. Whatever you’re drinking, enjoy and Happiest New Year!