This summer I am staying at my grandparent’s old house in Western Massachusetts, and upon my dad’s departure (he went back to California a few days ago) I happily took over the role of cooking for both my mom and I. It turns out (or rather I found out this year) that I love to cook: I roast vegetables to decompress while studying, yesterday I baked gluten and dairy and nut free banana bread while reading about postmodernism (eek), and I always use it as a reward/something to look forward to at then end of a lot of work.
It also turns out, that for me, as the old axiom (updated) says: necessity (in the kitchen) is the mother of all invention (excitement, delectable food, and delight). For me this means that after five years of eating gluten, dairy, nut, and shellfish free, my kitchen has become my haven for good and exciting food. Particularly as, (truth be told) eating out stopped being fun a long time ago — as did first dates involving food, talk about awkward — because of the myriad of awkward questions that needed asking and multiple alterations: do you use butter when you cook on the grill? is there cheese on that? what kind of broth is in the soup? no croutons, thank you.
After tiring of being every chef’s favorite customer and inspired by a good friend (CH), who took my allergies as an exciting challenge, rather than as a let down, frustration, annoyance, etc. I have made my way into the kitchen. And never been happier to be there.
In my many recent cooking escapades, I have discovered a kitchen-oriented escape from the constraints of restaurant eating or cooking monotony (stir fry plus rice or rice cakes or rice tortillas apparently get old after a few years). Put another way, I have started to see cooking allergen free (although sometimes I still use soy) as a world of possibilities, rather than of constraints (and potential boredom). And it bears noting, that this blog also offers a different kind of escape: cooking for others and myself, and then writing about it will be my escape/procrastination/attempt at sanity whilst studying for my oral exams, a project which involves a lot of slow reading, a lot of alone time, and a lot of stress. This is all to say, that this blog = the product of my escape to the kitchen.
And now (finally) my first recorded dinner: Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes with salad on the side (and of course, wine: Sauvignon Blanc).
I decided a few days ago that I would embark (after a series of pie making adventures and many winter related endeavors in vegetable roasting) to try stuffed tomatoes. I could only find one recipe online that did not involve cheese, and so last night, for my friend ST and my mom, I improvised. As a brief aside, before getting down to business, quinoa is the best — a protein and a grain and gluten free!
Quinoa (1 serving … 1 cup (with 2 cups water) and you cook it like rice.
At the same time: sautee 2 Portabello mushrooms, chopped green onions, and chopped garlic in olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
Throw the quinoa into the pan with your sauteed veggies and add spinach.
Preheat the over to 350.
Let the quinoa/veggie mix cool while you … Cut off the tops (an inch down or so) and core the tomatoes (I used big read heirloom tomatoes and they were amazing, but I think regular ones would do just fine) and pour all the juice and inside tomato parts into a separate dish (keep these! you can make sauce out of them by just simmering them down with a little olive oil, red wine, salt, and pepper).
Stuff the tomatoes and then put the tops back on. Stick them in a cake pan that has olive oil (and I recommend a few cloves of garlic). Then drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes (I did 4 at a time in an 8×8 pan).
Cook for about 30 minutes. And done! I served with salad (as they were pretty filling) and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc went quite well.
Plus the cold stuffed tomatoes make delicious day after leftovers (I put mine on a salad).