Recently I received a request from my District Manager to help him with a project for a magazine article. He knows I’m a food blogger and that I enjoy developing recipes and also that I do a pretty good job with images. So before I asked him what he wanted me to make I said yes. He’s always been there for me, and actually got me the job at the Mount, so more than just working together I’ve always thought of him as a friend.
Well then my friend told me what I had to make…..sigh. Every quarter one DM gets an ingredient and a topic to pass along to one of their chefs to come up with a dish for a magazine article. My ingredient was to be a grain and the topic was a Latin influenced breakfast. Since I had already said yes, I couldn’t very well change my mind, so I just told him no problem and began thinking of my options. For better or worse I decided on Quinoa, more specifically Red Quinoa.
I do serve Quinoa at the Mount, but mostly as a composed salad on the salad bar, it goes fairly well, but I have to admit I prefer Bulgar Wheat. But a challenge isn’t a challenge if you don’t go outside of your comfort zone a bit, so quinoa it was.
What I did learn about quinoa was that it was thought of, more as a pseudocereal, rather than a true cereal or grain, since its not a member of the true grass family. Quinoa is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), and as a chenopod is more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds…..who knew? We’ll evidently Wikipedia knew, thanks to them for the information!
I had already known that quinoa was one of the ancient grains coming originally from South America, dating back over 5000 years, but what I was surprised to learn later came while I was speaking with my mother.
I don’t know how many of you know that I’m half Mexican, it rarely comes up inconversation and I really never think of myself in ethnic terms, only as an American. But when you have to make a Latin themed breakfast from a grain, and your Mother is Mexican, it certainly can’t hurt to ask her if she knew of any breakfast dishes made with quinoa.
What I found out truly amazed me. As with most people her age (almost 94) her present day memories are not as clear as those of years gone by, and when I asked her she went into a long story about her youth and things her mother served for breakfast, one being quinoa. You see when you grow up in a family of ten children like my mother did, feeding that many people can be quite a chore and expensive. There were no boxed breakfast cereals back then except for Corn flakes, and from what my mother told me you could buy a 50 pound bag of grain for about the same price as a box of cereal, so that wasn’t one of their primary breakfast choices. But my Grandmother was an exceptional cook and never let her family go hungry or be unenthused about a meal. Her dishes were always tasty, nutritious and filling.
But what she said next took me by surprise! She told me that my grandmother use to make quinoa for me all the time and that I loved it. As I thought back I did remember a breakfast cereal that she would make me, but I had no idea what I was eating, just that it was delicious! We moved from Texas early on in my childhood, and I’ve never had that breakfast dish my Grandmother made since. We did speak more about how she prepared the quinoa, but since my mother never really liked to cook, she only remembered what went in the cereal. She told me it varied depending upon what was available, but it was always an assortment of nuts an fruits. She went on to tell me since they ate at different times in the morning the cereal was never really hot, but mixed together in a bowl and then they would add a sweetened milk to it that would be kept warm on the stove.
While she didn’t know what the milk was made of she remembered it had a caramel like flavor and a was very creamy. While my mother didn’t know the complete recipe, she had given me enough to recreate this simple but nutritious breakfast. I have to admit that I mixed my dulce de leche with a bit of heavy cream in addition to the milk, but I figured since I was eating something healthy it wouldn’t hurt!
- 7 oz (198 g) red quinoa
- ½ cup (75 g) pecans pieces
- ½ cup (75 g)almonds (chopped or sliced)
- ½ cup (90 g) golden raisins
- ½ cup (90 g)dried cranberries
- ½ cup (90 g) diced apple
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) dulce de leche
- 2 oz (60 ml) whole milk
- 2 oz (60 ml) heavy cream*
- Bring 2 ½ cups of water to boil and pour over quinoa, cover and let quinoa absorb all the liquid
- While quinoa is absorbing liquid, begin work on dulce de leche topping. Add milk to dulce de leche and mix well.
- Heat mixture over low heat, until bubbly and slightly thickened. Turn heat down to simmer and continue with quinoa
- Fluff quinoa with fork and add in Pecans, almonds, raisins, dried cranberries and apples. Mix well
- Divide finished quinoa into serving bowls and top with hot dulce de leche mixture
- Serve and enjoy!
Now I just have to wait and see how the powers to be like my post, you never know which way they’re going to go. But no matter, it was fun creating this breakfast cereal, and more importantly remembering something special from my childhood!
Have a happy week my friends, and for those of you that were in the path of Hurricane Sandy, my thoughts and prayers are with you. We we’re spared in Philadelphia, with only minimal damage, but so many suffered so much more. It’s going to be months putting everything back together, but as the Governor of New Jersey said, it will get done and we will be stronger for it, because we’ll have done it together.