Although I have eaten quinoa a few times before, I’ve never cooked with it before. So when this month’s theme ingredient was announced, I’ll admit to being a little nervous.
The few times I have eaten it, it’s been in a savoury dish, salads mostly. I’ve had it both boiled and toasted, and it did have quite a nice nutty flavour.
When trying to think up inspiration on how to turn this ingredient I’ve only know in the savoury sense into a sweet dessert, I drew upon a Thai dessert called Tub Tim Grob. In Thai, tub tim literally translates to ruby, or pomegranate. Though many Westerners may not be familiar with having a “soup” for dessert, this is very refreshing, and a great end to a meal in summer.
I thought that the texture of cooked quinoa would match perfectly into this dish, something similar to sago, although much much healthier! You can add any sort of fruit to the dish. I’ve used mango and pomegranate as they are in season, but other things you could use are jackfruit, palm seeds, sweet pineapple, etc.
It doesn’t take too long to prepare. In fact, all the components can be cooked or prepared earlier, so that it only takes a couple of minutes to assemble each serve. It’s colourful, and fun and definitely something different to your normal dessert. Put the sugar syrup in a small bowl or jug on the table so your guests can add as little or as much as they like. I call this my coconut quinoa soup, and you can find the recipe here. Enjoy!
Quinoa is everywhere these days. I’ve been a fan since I first tried it a couple of years ago. I spent some time in Chicago recently and discovered Protein Bar, a healthy, fast food style restaurant that has quinoa in pretty much every dish. The food was tasty and good for you! I was addicted. I’m sure it won’t be long before it comes to NY! I’ve only ever had quinoa in savory dishes and I was inspired to try it in a sweet dish, hence my choice for this month’s theme!
I wanted to use quinoa in a couple of different forms, but I was really short on time this month, so I ended up just going with quinoa flour. I did a bit of research and it seemed like people had mixed experiences using this type of flour. Various websites said it has a bitter / sour / grassy flavor that overpowered other ingredients. Some websites said to toast the flour before using it. Some websites described the flavor as nutty, so I thought I’d use it in a nut-based dish to keep with the same flavor profile. I decided to make friands, which I’ve actually never seen in the US! I think they are an Aussie thing. They are little cakes made with only a few main ingredients – almond meal, flour, sugar, butter and egg whites. The texture of friands is unique – they are light but dense at the same time. I should also mention that this version of friands, with quinoa flour instead of plain flour, is gluten free! You could easily use a gluten free flour mix or other type of gluten free flour like rice or tapioca flour. It’s a small portion of the ingredients so I don’t think it would change the end result too much.
I wanted to try the flour without toasting it to see what the flavor was like. I smelt the bag of flour when I opened it and it definitely had a distinct smell – the same smell of quinoa grains while you are cooking them. Once quinoa grains are cooked, they lose that grassy taste, and I’m guessing the same thing that happens when you toast the flour.
The quinoa flavor definitely came through in the friands, which I liked. You might not necessarily pick the flavor as quinoa, but it definitely did taste different to regular flour. I will try toasting the flour next time, to see how differently it turns out. Friands are awesome. It’s been a long time since I ate one and I’d forgotten how much I like them!
I must admit – I’ve never cooked with quinoa before, savoury or sweet. And I haven’t actually eaten it many times, either. So after some research, I found this super easy recipe for my first foray into this ingredient – all it takes is a food processor, an extra bowl and some stirring!
I decided to make this cake to take to a baby shower tomorrow, but instead of making a big cake, baked the batter in a tray pan and cut out smaller rounds for a more finger food friendly event.
The cake came out very moist. But to my dismay, was a little textured because one batch of quinoa I cooked (I did it in two batches as I switched recipes overnight!) must have been slightly undercooked! I don’t really mind it, but if you do cook the quinoa properly, no one will even think twice about what the secret ingredient is in this cake! I also wanted the cake a little richer and fudgier than the original recipe reviews indicated, so I replaced some of the white sugar with brown sugar.
Being for an event, I prettied the cakes up with chocolate ganache and some almond praline. But the cake is so simple and decadent on it’s own that a sprinkle of icing sugar, a scoop of ice cream or some whipping cream would also be perfect with it.
As I said, it’s super easy and a great recipe to introduce baking with quinoa into your repertoire. I’m sure it will be perfect next time I make it, but this time I’m hoping my recipients will be a bit forgiving!
You can find the recipe here.
This month’s challenge is all about quinoa!
This ancient Peruvian seed has a mild, nutty flavour, and is most commonly used in savoury salads and other grain based dishes. Considered a “superfood” this month’s challenge is to take this humble seed, and turn it into a delicious dessert.
There are over 100 different varieties of quinoa, according to the Whole Grains Council. The most common types are white, red and black quinoa, and can be found as a whole grain, puffed or rolled into flakes.
So what are you waiting for. Get yourself down to the shops, grab a bag of this superfood and start cooking!
* image – The New York Times