October 19, 2011

Clean Slate, Clean Plate

A big part of our moving experience was downsizing and simplifying.  We moved from an 800 square foot 2 bedroom place to a 1 bedroom in a city where real estate is a pretty penny.  Everything we owned was scrutinized and evaluated and a lot of it was put into bags for donation or trash.  Would this even fit in the new place?

In the end it felt good.  Freeing.  There's less clutter in our lives and we know that we're surrounded by things with meaning, things that we love.

Maybe you've noticed some changes around here, too?  I've been playing around with this blog a bit in the past few weeks, seeking out simple and clean, something that felt more like me.  The me now, not the me who started this blog a year and a half ago.  I took down the old banner and replaced it with simple text because that isn't my kitchen anymore.  You'll see other places you can find me just over there to the right.  Besides here of course.  I can't be trusted to keep up with posting my weekly meal planning, so instead I'll just post links over there to what I'm cooking, what's inspiring me right now and other recipe obsessions.  Some you might find me posting about here later, others not.

See?  Simple.

Just like these little quinoa cakes.  Need I profess my love for Heidi Swanson and 101 Cookbooks again?  I could go on for days.  These little patties are the perfect kind of food.  Unpretentious, simple and so versatile.  They are a breeze to put together, cook up to a beautiful golden brown color and have endless possibilities for switching it up.  A different herb, a different cheese, serve it on it's own or as a veggie burger.  They don't crumble to pieces and they travel well.  I had them with a bit of lebneh, a middle eastern strained yogurt cheese, dolloped on top and the flavors reminded me a bit of potato pancakes.  So comforting.

Quinoa Cakes

Another rockstar recipe from the lovely Heidi Swanson.  Just savory enough and totally open to changes.  Try a different herb (parsley?), throw in a different cheese (fontina?), take it to another level with some spices, or just leave it as is.  I made the smaller patties as written, but make them a bit bigger and I think you could have a delicious veggie burger on your hands.  When I had them topped with lebneh the flavor reminded me of potato pancakes.  Only these pack much more protein and are arguably more healthy.

12 small-ish patties

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup whole grain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
greek yogurt or lebneh for serving

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture that you can easily form into 1" thick patties.  A good palmful amount will yield about 12 patties total.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (I used nonstick) over medium heat, add enough patties to fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned.  Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.  Serve atop a big green salad or top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and extra snipped chives.

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