Monday, March 1, 2010

"Popotte-Santé" Club : Quinoa and Lemongrass

I can't complain about the workplace where I spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. My team mates are friendly and so easy to get along with. The best part is that I discovered that a lot of them love cooking, exploring new foods and would love to know how to use uncommon exotic products in their kitchen. Uncommon to North Americans that is....
Our department's executive assistant, Linda, had the marvelous idea of starting a "Popotte-Santé" club, French Canadian slang for "Healthy Cooking" club. It's created for those who like to share recipes, introduce unknown and unfamiliar foods or simply eat together and talk about good eating, during our lunch break. The main focus is on healthy eating. Stress is one of the major factors causing different health issues such as diabeties, anemia, heart diseases and others. Not only are some of our colleagues affected by these health issues, but so are their loved ones. These hurdles help us to become conscious of the way we eat, our fast-pace lifestyle and the time we ignore to stop, sit back, breathe and eat well.
Our "Popotte-Santé" club takes places the first Mondays of every month. We are a group of about 8 people. We've had our second lunch meeting this week and we're starting to understand what we want to get out of this club. We want to enjoy sharing food and understand how certain foods are beneficial and how some aren't to our health. It's great to have a group of people of different ethnic backgrounds with interesting cooking experiences with whom we can learn and share new culinary ideas. The best part is that we are having a lot of fun, especially tasting and eating the delicious and healthy foods prepared by the club members.
This week my colleague Jean-Pierre brought a wonderful quinoa pilaf dish, seasoned with tumeric, cumin, garlic, mixed with raisins and a little bit of orange juice. I never really tasted quinoa until he introduced it to me a few months back. It was delicious but I didn't really know how to cook it. This week, he shared a bunch of recipes with us and I was amazed on how many ways quinoa can be easily and quickly prepared. It's also not considered to be part of the wheat family but considered more as a grain, which has no gluten.

Here is the quinoa pilaf recipe:
Preparation time : 10 minutes, Cooking time: 25-30 minutes.

Recipe "au pif":
1 1/2 cup
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onions, finely chopped

2 carrots, cut in thin round slices

1/2 cup good quality raisins

1/2 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 tsp ground tumeric (aka curcuma)

1/2 cup of fresh orange juice

2 cups cold water

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and brown onions, carrots, and stir in raisins and tumeric.

Stir in the quinoa, coriander and mix well for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 orange juice, water and stir until you reach boiling point. Immediately, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the liquid has completely been absorbed by the quinoa mixture.

Reduce heat to low and cover, let it simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, and let it sit for about 5 minutes, enough time for the quinoa to expand.

Serve immediately, with tofu, meats, fish or any foods of your choice!

Bon appétit!

Next on the list was the dish I prepared for the group; lemongrass chicken strips.

I know, they kinda look like frog legs on this picture. Which is also an interesting food!

This recipe is so easy. The chicken strips were so tasty that my colleague Farah brought back the sprig of lemongrass I had brought for demonstration to our club meeting, so that she could try out the recipe that same evening for dinner. Unfortunately, there was not enough lemongrass for the amount of chicken she had, so the lemongrass taste was less prominent than the chicken strips she had tasted at lunch.

If you'd like to try them out, here is the recipe and please make sure to adjust the quantities of marinade ingredients accordingly, if you are using less or more chicken:

Preparation time : 5 minutes, Cooking time : 15 minutes

Recipe of lemongrass chicken strips "au pif":

1/2 lb pre-cut chicken strips, rinsed with water and lemon to eliminate any bacteria and pat dry with paper towel
1 sprig of lemongrass, remove outer shells and end (you should have about 3 inch of lemongrass inner root), chopped and sliced, then grinded in a food processor until finely minced.
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp of fish sauce, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil

Mix the lemongrass, garlic and fish sauce in a salad bowl. Then coat the strip in the marinade and mix well with your hands. Set aside.

Heat medium-sized sauce pan on medium high. Wait until the pan is very hot for about 5 minutes.

Slowly add 3-4 strips at a time. They should sizzle right away. Let them brown for about 2 minutes on each sides.

Repeat above step until you run out of chicken strips.

Lay the chicken strips on a plate covered with paper towel to absorb the oil away.

Serve hot as finger food or with steamed white rice.

Share and enjoy!

Last but not least, Linda brought this interesting long pepper which can be found at "Olives et Épices" at "Marché Jean-Talon" in Montreal or any other stores that sell spices in bulk, "marché en vrac". This is a very hard type of pepper that you would need to pound first using a mortar and pestle before adding it to your pepper mill. The difference between this pepper and regular black pepper corn is the fragrance. This long black pepper had a sweet and subtle lemony fragrance. It's worth a try.

Stay tuned for our next meeting. But before that, I'll make sure to share more recipes with you as the days are getting longer, I can take pictures later in the day now that natural lighting will be available late afternoons.
Hope you enjoyed this post.

1 comment:

Suvarna Rao said...

Also like to add that quinoa has about twice the protein of other grains and fewer carbohydrates.