Kramer and I have been trying to figure out our routine now that he’s back in school, and it’s a bit difficult, but I think that we’re making it work. He’s got class late on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so we try to go to the gym on Mondays and Thursdays…although there are the occasional happy hours that we just can’t seem to pass up. I met him for dinner on Tuesday night before class, and sadly it was a pretty sorry affair. We went to Les Halles, which I’m sure you all know as the restaurant that Anthony Bourdain is the alleged “chef at large” (AKA he is no longer associated with the place in any way, shape, or form). We’ve been a few times and it’s always been pretty mediocre, but they started doing $1 oyster happy hours, so we figured maybe it’d be fun to grab some of those and some mussels to share before he had to head out. The oysters tasted like death – dry and hard and not in the least bit salty or “of the sea” tasting. We also tried an octopus salad that was bland and seemed as if the “grilled” octopus had been boiled…pretty nasty stuff. The mussels were alright, but of course, they were drowned in a chorizo broth, so who’s to say? Either way, our first pre-school dinner turned out pretty awful. I promise I will no longer be lured in by the promise of cheap oysters! Unless, of course, we’re going to Maison Premiere, which is always incredible, both with their fresh $1 oysters, fantastic service, and inventive cocktails.
A few weeks ago, my friend Lindsey asked if I would be interested in trying out her friend’s new line of quinoa products from Keen One Foods. I am always happy to do whatever I can to promote small companies, and seeing as how this one makes wholesome, easy to make products that you can whip up on any night after work, I was happy to oblige. No, this isn’t a paid advertisement, but instead, a word to the wise. Quinoa is awesome, folks. It’s got more protein than rice or any other grain, and Keen One in particular is packaged in such a way that it can be eaten straight out of the envelope, which is perfect for all you outdoorsy types looking for something different to eat around the campfire. I used this quinoa in this potato and broccoli salad, dressed with some creamy garlic aioli, for a tasty side dish all year round. Picnic season may only have a few days left, but this weekend is supposed to be sunny and cool, so I wouldn’t be opposed to whipping up another batch of this, along with some sandwiches, and heading out to the park to eat and enjoy. The potatoes add a heavier element to the dish, to fill you up, while the broccoli, slivered almonds, and radishes add a nice crunch and a peppery bite. The quinoa’s texture is welcome among the potatoes and creamy aioli, and all together, you’ll be surprised how much you love this new take on your typical potato salad. I’ve used this before in a more typical dinner dish of Crispy Glazed Tofu, but quinoa is versatile and a perfect addition to almost any meal. Eat up, ladies and gents, and get those picnics and outdoor gatherings in before winter sets in for the long haul.
Make your aioli by crushing your garlic, then use a food processor to beat the eggs and slowly add in oil, a drop or two at a time, until thickened. Add in the garlic and puree until smooth. You can definitely do this by hand, but be prepared for a work out!
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup grapeseed oil
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, mashed into a paste
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pound small red potatoes
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
- ½ cup blanched and slivered almonds
- 5-6 radishes, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- pinch red pepper flakes
- First, make your aioli. You can do it by hand (by whisking), but be prepared to do some serious work! I used my food processor. Place your egg yolks in the food processor and pulse until smooth and shiny. If your processor has a spout, start to drop in a bit of grapeseed oil at a time, literally one drop at a time, pulsing as you go. I cannot overstate this: if you don’t go slow enough and completely combine the oil before adding more, your aioli will not come together.
- Once you’ve added all of your grapeseed oil, start to add in your olive oil, which you can add a bit more at a time while continuing to pulse your food processor. When you’ve finished, the aioli should be quite thick. Add in a bit more oil if you find that it’s too thick, though. Mash your garlic and salt together in a motor and pestel, along with the cayenne pepper, then add to the food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste, adjust seasonings as necessary, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and clean and halve your small red potatoes. Place them in the boiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. When cooked, immediately place in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking, then drain and place in a large bowl. Use the same boiling water to quickly blanch the bite-sized pieces of broccoli, but only for 2-3 minutes, then place in a ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and add to the bowl with the potatoes.
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions, then add it to the bowl with the quinoa and the broccoli. Add in ⅔ of the aioli, along with the slivered almonds, sliced radishes, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve cold or room temperature. This will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.