Cookbook review written & photographed by Stay-At-Home-Chef
Apparently 2013 was dubbed the “International Year of Quinoa” by the United Nations, in honour of its nutritional qualities and adaptability to different agro-ecological conditions. The popularity of this protein-packed seed has not slowed down since that year, with many cookbooks dedicated entirely to different ways of preparing this ancient superfood.
Quinoa. So hot right now.
This is the second book from the sister duo of Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. I was first introduced to them through their cookbook Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood, which has become a staple in our house. Their approach to quinoa is an educational one, with the first half of their latest book dedicated to detailing the health benefits of this versatile protein. From information on quinoa’s structure and nutritional traits to revolutionizing your overall fitness routine, tips for cooking a variety of forms of quinoa and notes on sustainability and fair trade practices in regards to production, Quinoa Revolution has it all. There is also a ten-page Q&A with frequently asked questions about quinoa and a quick reference guide to the basics of quinoa – including how to cook it.
Recipes are divided into easy to navigate sections that include breakfast, salads/sides/snacks, soups & stews, meals and desserts. Step-by-step instructions are clearly written but leave room for your own personal inspiration. Colourful photos are liberally littered throughout the book and compliment the overall design, which is clean and minimalist.
Learn more about quinoa in my interview with author Carolyn Hemming.
Baked Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Rating: 4 out of 5
THE TEST: This recipe is a great solution to those occasions where you find yourself in need of a quick and easy appetizer to whip up. The ingredient list consists of items we usually have on hand, and prep time is minimal, especially if you already happen to have extra cooked quinoa kicking around.
So what’s involved in putting together this dish? Blend cooked quinoa with feta cheese, roasted red peppers and garlic, pour into baking dish and top with more feta then bake until the top is bubbling and you can’t stand waiting any longer to dive into the gooey goodness. That’s it. Simple. Easy. Done and done.
THE RESULTS: What I love about this dish is that it looks impressive when serving to guests and it makes your house smell amazing as it bakes. The feta cheese pairs nicely with the roasted red pepper but the tang of goat cheese would also work well. The quinoa acts as a natural thickener while also providing a nice hit of healthy protein.
In the end I rated this as a 4 out of 5. The addition of fresh herbs or some spice for heat would add a welcome level of complexity that was missing for me. But overall I’m a fan of this recipe: It’s a healthy entertaining option that’s stress-free to prepare.
This dip did not last long in our house, and the kids especially were enamored. We happened to use rice crackers as our primary vehicle for delivering the dip, but grilled pita or veggie sticks would also work well.
Chocolate Cream Mini Cupcakes with Avocado Icing
Rating: 4 out of 5
THE TEST: Having fallen in love with Patricia and Carolyn’s Moist Chocolate Cake recipe from their first cookbook, Quinoa 365, I was eager to try these cupcakes in the hopes they would be equally as good.
The recipe comes together simply and for the most part can be made in the food processor/blender which makes for less dirty dishes. First the wet ingredients are buzzed together (sour cream, honey, eggs, oil, vanilla and cooked quinoa) before mixing in the dry stuff (cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Bake for approximately 15-minutes and cool before icing with a mix of avocado, honey, vanilla and cocoa.
THE RESULTS: I was surprised the recipe only yielded enough batter for six cupcakes. In the words of my youngest who was responsible for doing a headcount of our dessert – “that’s all you made?!” But really, do we need to have a big batch of cupcakes kicking around our house? Exactly. So the small yield wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What I liked about these cupcakes is that they are über healthy but still managed to satisfy my sweet tooth. While the cupcakes weren’t as heavenly as the aforementioned Moist Chocolate Cake (seriously the best in the world!) they were still very tasty with a deep chocolate flavour and nice level of moisture. The only honey I had on hand was a cardamom-spiced variety I recently picked up from the farmers market, which actually added a lovely layer of flavouring to the cupcakes and complimented the vanilla. The avocado icing was also quite good – but I’ll be honest and admit we ended up adding about a 1/4 cup of icing sugar for more sweetness and less of an avocado taste.
Thai Chicken Fingers
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
THE TEST: Just reading through the list of ingredients had my mouth salivating at the anticipation of all the flavours called for in the recipe. A mix of yogurt, garlic, curry powder and salt make up the wet ingredients, while the dry component is comprised of quinoa flakes, shredded coconut and cilantro.
To assemble this dish, simply dip sliced chicken breast strips into the wet mixture followed by the dry and bake in the oven until cooked through. Pretty straightforward although a bit messy, because no matter how hard I stick to the rule of one hand for the dry and one for the wet it all somehow just ends up in a clumpy mess by the end.
THE RESULTS: Overall I really liked how these chicken fingers turned out and enjoyed the combination of tangy yogurt with spiced curry and tropical coconut. Combined with the suggested sweet chili dipping sauce the result was good. I also liked quinoa flakes being substituted for the more traditional breadcrumb coating, and even though I was worried about it becoming too soggy, in the end the texture was surprisingly crunchy when combined with the coconut.
So would I make these again? Yes – absolutely. But to take it to the next level I would add more seasoning to the dry and wet mixes and for the sake of that absent deep-fried texture I would suggest panfrying the chicken before finishing in the oven.