Come on in!! No, don’t worry about taking off your shoes…just put your stuff on that table over there and grab a drink! Angie brought her delicious Latin Lover – the drink of course! We will be pouring those all night long and since this is a blog party, nobody has to worry about driving home – so you can have as many as you want! I am so excited about being a co-hostess with Hilda this week at Fiesta Friday! Now I know that Angie said we didn’t have to worry about doing any extra cleaning or decorating. But being an over-functioning hostess, I have been cleaning all week! Phew, I’m sure glad that Friday is here at last. Now I can relax and enjoy your very fine company. So, Hilda, Angie – let’s get to it! Who’s pouring? OK! I will!
Here’s my post for Fiesta Friday #10:
I love to cook with spices and am constantly fascinated at how a quick tweak in a few spice blends can completely change the flavour and character of a dish. Take some simple ingredients such as rice, beans and tomatoes. Add chili powder and cumin and it tastes like Mexico. Add some cinnamon, cumin and ginger and it becomes Middle Eastern. Or take cumin, coriander and garam masala and now we have Indian. The possibilities are infinite and we could explore them for a lifetime and still discover new combinations. Recently I took some classes on Moroccan cooking. During the first class, the chef brought out her little box of precious saffron. As she simmered the heavenly concoction she asked us if we could smell the saffron. This gave me pause – it dawned on me that I had never really smelled saffron in my own kitchen! Well, what the heck is wrong with me?? In the past when a recipe called for saffron, my eyes just glided over that ingredient, right on to the next one! Oh what a fool I have been! I guess that the price has just scared me away and I couldn’t see how the added cost could make an appreciable difference to the taste of the food – wrong! Well, now my friends, you are going to see a number of recipes on my blog, with saffron, because I can’t get enough of this intoxicating spice. I know it is the most expensive spice on the planet, but hey, it takes 200,000 crocus flowers to produce just 1 kilo of saffron! I think the price just might be justified!
I made this salad last weekend and my husband and I quickly polished it off! Good sign – the Fiesta Friday gang will enjoy it too! So I whipped up a fresh batch for all of you, my Fiesta Friday buddies! And for any of you reading this who haven’t heard of FF, you really must check out our host Angie’s blog: The Novice Gardener. Every Friday she hosts a virtually wild blog party. Check it out!!
This recipe is adapted from “Whitewater Cooks at Home” by Shelley Adams.
Quinoa Salad with Saffron, Drunken Figs and Pistachios
¼ cup sweet port
½ cup dried Black Mission or Calimyrna figs, quartered
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
½ large white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed well
1 large red pepper, diced
1 orange, peeled and segmented
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup pistachio nuts, chopped
sprigs of mint for garnish
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon orange zest (optional)
Heat the port in a little pot and add the figs. Let simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes until tender and drunk! They will absorb all of the port. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet and sauté onion until golden brown. Add the garlic, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom and sauté until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the quinoa in a saucepan and add the chicken stock and saffron. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn heat off and leave saucepan on the element for 5 minutes. Remove from the element and fluff with a fork. Spread quinoa on a cookie sheet to cool.
Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl and stir in the onion, spice mixture, red peppers, oranges, figs, herbs and salt and pepper.
Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl.
Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with some of the vinaigrette. You will probably want to reserve some, depending on how moist your salad is. I find that the next day the salad is a bit drier and you may want to add more vinaigrette at that time.
Garnish with pistachios and sprigs of mint.