A friend, Mrs Mordecai, was touting quinoa on her blog this week, and it intrigued me enough that I decided to try it tonight. I found an interesting-sounding recipe for "Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew" and knew that tonight's dinner guests would be ideal taste-testers because they are quite adventurous cooks themselves.
I'm happy to report that I was very pleased with the results! The stew had quite a bit of kick to it. It didn't clear out my sinuses, but it certainly made my tongue tingle. The quinoa bed for the stew was nice too. Overall, I'd say it's a keeper, but is not something I will make for picky eaters (in fact, we made grilled cheese sandwiches for my friends' children and didn't even try to sell them on the stew).
I also made Mrs Mordecai's crusty and chewy bread to go with it:
(Be sure to start this the day before you want to bake it)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
Note: I ended up with a horrible mess when I tried this with towels, so now I put the dough between 2 flour-dusted silicon baking sheets.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Note: I’ve tried this with whole wheat flour, and it was yummy, but different. If you want to play with WW, start with 50% and move up or down from there after you sample the results. (But see Mrs. Mordecai's comment -- she does not recommend white whole wheat) With 100 % All-purpose flour, it has a lovely hard crust on the outside and is riddled with small air pockets on the inside. It is very chewy (and fat-free unless you butter it before you eat it!)
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.