Cooks Corner

Stanley Tucci’s quinoa recipe is too good not to share

Holiday-ready: Quinoa with pomegranate and pistachio has the colors and flavors of the holiday season.
Holiday-ready: Quinoa with pomegranate and pistachio has the colors and flavors of the holiday season. AARP

I just tried this delicious quinoa with pomegranate and pistachios and had to pass on the recipe, since it is perfect for holiday potlucks and communal gatherings.

Besides its wonderful flavors, it is gluten-free and protein-rich vegetarian, plus it is decked in party-perfect red and green. The recipe appeared in AARP The Magazine and was shared by actor Stanley Tucci, who credits it to his wife.

If you like you can toss in a favorite cheese or boost the spices with a touch of curry or a sizzle of chipotle. I added some dried cranberries as well.

Reader Question: Beef Burgundy

Q. I lived and worked in Europe for several years and always enjoyed being in France during the winter months, when beef Burgundy was served in many fine restaurants. The French recipe is long, detailed and labor-intensive, which puts a dent in my interest in preparing the dish. But a few days ago, I was watching the Cooking Channel, and was intrigued to see a chef prepare the dish by baking the ingredients, drastically cutting down the prep and cook time. Any hope you can track this down and pass it along?

Richard Bristol, Fort Lauderdale

A. I remember the first time I followed a Julia Child recipe for Bouef Bourguignon and used just about every pan, bowl and utensil in my kitchen. The cleanup alone took forever. So I was happy to hunt down this recipe for you. It is by Laura Calder, host of French Food at Home. You can find more of her recipes at cookingchanneltv.com. She estimates the active prep time at 20 minutes, though when planning remember you have to give the stew 2 hours to bake. I cut the tediousness even further by using whole baby carrots (already peeled, and no chopping needed) and frozen pearl onions, which you can pop in right from the bag.

Quick Fix

As you plan your holiday baking, here’s a tip from Nielsen-Massey Vanillas that makes sense: Though many recipes add vanilla last to cookie doughs and cake batters, try creaming the butter and vanilla together. Doing this beforehand encapsulates the vanilla and helps prevent flavor loss.

Reader Response: Cowboy Cookies

Evelyn Tanner of Sunset Beach, N.C., clipped her recipe from “the old Washington Evening Star newspaper about 40 years ago, in response to a reader’s request for Pat Boone’s favorite cookie recipe. My kids grew up eating them and make them for their own children. They freeze well.”

For those who are unfamiliar, Boone was a 1950s-’60s-era crooner and actor who sold more than 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits and appeared in 12 Hollywood movies.

Becky Parsons from Brunswick, Ohio, says her recipe is more than 50 years old, and uses an equal combination of white and brown sugars. Gloria Varner of Sheffield Village, Ohio, found her recipe in a 1970s cookbook, A Family Raised on Sunshine, by Beverly Nye, who was a local TV personality.

Cindy Schroeder of Elyria, Ohio, got her recipe from a friend “nearly 40 years ago.” Gina Baker of Miami says, “I’ve been making these cookies for years!” Her recipe is from The Southern Living Cookies Cookbook (1974).

Variations: Schroeder’s recipe replaces the nuts with wheat germ. Chris Peters of Key Largo reduces the oats to 2 cups and adds 2/3 cup shredded coconut and 2/3 cup raisins. Baker adds a teaspoon of cinnamon and a recipe from Bob Mirel of Miami skips the chocolate chips and adds dried fruit. Sandi Pasadyn of Wellington, Ohio, bakes the dough as a bar cookie by spreading on a cookie sheet and baking 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sleuth’s Corner

Q. A dear friend has spent years searching for the recipe for Fruit Bars from the old Rich’s stores in Atlanta. She describes them as melt-in-your-mouth rectangular fruit bars, chewy, light golden in color, with candied fruit and chopped nuts. There was more cookie than fruit. If any of your readers could help this Yankee (now transplanted to Chicago) get a taste of old Atlanta it would be appreciated.

Jim Elliott

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Dessert

Cowboy Cookies

1 cup shortening (butter or margarine may be substituted)

1 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups quick cooking oatmeal

1 cup chopped pecans

6 ounces chocolate chips

Cream together shortening, sugar and light brown sugar until mixture is light. Add eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Beat until well blended. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in oatmeal, pecans and chocolate chips, blending well. Drop by spoonfuls on well-greased cookie sheet. Bake in 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Makes 6 dozen.

Variations: Replace nuts with wheat germ. Or, reduce oats to 2 cups and adds 2/3 cup shredded coconut and 2/3 cup raisins.

Per serving: 90 calories (48 percent from fat), 4.8 g fat (1.3 g saturated, 1.5 g monounsaturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 1.1 g protein, 10.8 g carbohydrate, 0.7 g fiber, 53 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted from reader recipes by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner.

Main dish

Oven-Method Bœuf Bourguignon

4 pounds boneless stew beef, such as chuck or sirloin tip, cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons pork fat or olive oil, plus more if needed

2 carrots, peeled and halved

2 onions, peeled and halved

4 cloves garlic, just crushed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 (750-milliliter) bottle red wine

4 cups beef stock

1 bouquet garni (made from bay leaf, parsley stems and thyme sprigs)

Garnish:

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed

6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into lardons (match-stick julienne)

40 baby onions, peeled

16 ounces mushrooms

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove meat from refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Working in batches, brown the stew meat well on all sides, removing as you go. When the meat is done, cook the carrots and onions in the same pot until tender and lightly golden. Add the garlic, and cook one minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and the stock. Add the bouquet garni. Return the meat to the pot, cover, and transfer to the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours.

While the meat cooks, prepare the garnish: Heat the oil, in a pan and brown the bacon, and remove. Add the onions and cook until browned all over, remove. Finally, brown the mushrooms, and remove. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup water, reduce, and then pour over the garnish. Set aside.

When meat is done, remove from the pot. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables. Pour the liquid back into the pot, and boil until thick enough to coat a spoon. Return meat to the pan and add the garnish. Cover and simmer until onions are tender and the flavors have blended, 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 557 calories (36 percent from fat), 22 g fat (7 g saturated, 9.6 g monounsaturated), 153 mg cholesterol, 55 g protein,15.0 g carbohydrate, 1.8 g fiber, 518 mg sodium.

Source: Laura Calder, Cooking Channel.

Side dish

Quinoa with Pomegranate and Pistachios

2 cups quinoa

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for drizzling

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, plus 2 tablespoons for serving

3 tablespoons salted pistachios

3 green onions, chopped

1 orange, peeled and sliced into rounds (optional)

Rinse the quinoa in cold water to remove its bitterness. Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

Gently mix the pomegranate seeds, pistachios and scallions into the quinoa. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sliced oranges dressed with olive oil, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 191 calories (53 percent from fat), 11.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated, 7.1 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 4.6 g protein, 18.7 g carbohydrate, 3.3 g fiber, 53 mg sodium.

Source: aarp.org.

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