Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) could be the most underutilized and misunderstood grain in the pantry. It has been a staple food for more than 5,000 years in the Andes Mountains of South America. It may finally be catching on in somewhat civilized modern day world.
Quinoa is packed with calcium, iron and, more importantly, protein. It has a virtually perfect ratio of the eight amino acids for building muscle tissue. The previous point is supremely important for all you vegetarians out there. For years I have trumpeting the greatness of quinoa to vegans and vegetarians because of the protein content and the fact that its gluten free. In my experience many vegetarians, especially younger ones, don’t get enough protein in their mostly vegetable diets. My niece who is a staunch vegetarian eats lots of vegetables and beans but hates tofu and was unaware of quinoa and its benefits. The “mother grain,” as it is referred to in South America, is roughly 18 percent protein and is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids.
Gastronomically speaking, quinoa is delicious, versatile, and easy to prepare. It has a sublime, nutty, grainlike taste that easily lends itself to robust flavors. The grain can be used in soups, sautés, and bars, or as a starch accompaniment to meats and fish. In the summer months at Create Catering,we use it as the base for tabbouleh instead of bulgur. We cook it, cool it, and then mix it with parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, and salt and pepper. For autumn applications we prefer to serve it warm and toast it in a dry sauté pan to develop the nuttiness, then cook it with chicken stock or vegetable stock and add cooked, diced butternut squash, caramelized onions, and thyme. Because the flavor is not intense, it is an easy staple to work into your menu repertoire without any guff from pickier eaters.
Quinoa is widely available at all the co-ops and many grocery stores.
Oktoberfest Beer Dinner
I will be hosting an Oktoberfest beer dinner on October 16 at 7 p.m. at the Dining Studio. Co-hosting the event is Michael Agnew, Minnesota’s only certified Cicerone (a sommelier of beer if you will). We will be featuring Brews from Victory, Ayinger, Surly, Köstritzer, and Wiehenstephan. The food will include our signature soft pretzels, passed hors d’oeuvres, and four courses matched to the beers above. We take an original approach to beer dinners and use very little beer in the actual cooking of paired courses. Instead we use more of a wine dinner model by highlighting a flavor in the beer with food. By implementing this practice we are able to offer unique beer to food matching without relying on the “just add some beer” ethos. Reservations are $65 and available at 612-331-3310.
McDonald's at the Louvre??
Does anyone else think it's weird that the bastion of high art is inviting this American fast food chain? See the full story from the Telegraph. Strangely enough, according to McDonald's, France is the largest market outside of the U.S.