Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Discovery - Black Rice!

Cooked black rice.
What are some of the staples in your diet? For me, I always have a selection of whole grains like farro, rice and quinoa around. A helping of one of those, with a big servings of veggies, is perfect meal!

I have many different types of these grains in my cupboards. I have red, white and black varieties of Quinoa - they each taste a little different, and I find that I prefer different varieties for different dishes. Although, sometimes I just mix the three together, and that tastes good too!

Grain selection in the "pantry" at our old apartment.
But when it comes to rice, my options had been pretty bland. There was brown jasmine, short-grain brown, brown basmati, and wild rice. But the other day at the grocery store, I noticed a variety I hadn't seen before - Black Rice! It cooks up the same as you would cook any other type of rice (1C rice to 2C water), and the result was a sweeter, almost nutty tasting rice that was a bit purplish in color. I had it for dinner with a helping of stir-fried bok choy and shiitake mushrooms, but I could easily see the black rice combining with root vegetables or pasture-raised meats.

What new foods have you tried recently? Tell us about it in the comment section!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Dishes!

As you might remember, we recently moved into a new apartment. The new place is about half the size of our old apartment, and while we don't really mind the change in size of our living space, the lack of closet space in the new apartment is VERY noticeable! The old place had a huge storage closet, a coat closet in the hall, plus we each had our own walk-in closet in the bedroom. It was awesome!

In the midst of our move, we got rid of a lot of stuff! It felt really good to go through old boxes and get rid of the stuff we didn't need in our lives anymore. Some things went to the dump, some got donated, and the things we wanted to keep went into storage at either my mom's or my future mother-in-law's homes. We are SO grateful that they live close and were both willing to store stuff for us!

Since we moved in June, the only things I've bought are things we needed for the house, like shelves for the bathroom, a shower curtain, etc. We do our best to use what we have as much as possible instead of always buying new stuff. But now that we're more settled and things have mostly found their place, it's obvious that we won't be buying much during our time living here - there just isn't any space! We're pretty organized people, so we've used up just about every usable space there is in the place. But as a gal with a slight clothing/shoes obsession, this could be tough! I'm going to have to stick with the "for every item you buy, get rid of one item" rule.

White dishes in the cupboard - Yay!
Along those lines, for the past four years I've been using dishes that were a hand-me-down from my mom. At the time she gave them to me, I was grateful to have them, but as I've lived with them I've come to realize that they just aren't my style. And, now that I've been photographing my food (as you might have noticed here on the Zwick's Picks blog), sometimes the colors on the plates really don't go with the food. Recently, I was able to get a new (to me) set of plain white dishes. My dad and step-mom had an extra set they wanted to get off their hands, so when my dad asked me if I was interested in them, I jumped at the chance to change things up! We just got the new dishes this week, and I could hardly wait to unpack them and put them away.

I'm already loving the look of the white dishes, and I'm hoping the new set works out well with my food photography - you guys let me know!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Shiso Pesto

When you hear the word "pesto," what comes to mind? Do you immediately think of Basil? For most of us, our first taste of pesto was probably of the basil, garlic, pine-nuts and Parmesan cheese variety, but did you know - the term "pesto" can be used to define any combination of ingredients that have been pounded or blended together. The fiance and I have enjoyed trying different combinations of things in our homemade pesto, and this post is about our newest discovery - Shiso Pesto!

Shiso Pesto
If you don't know what Shiso is, it's a leaf commonly grown in Asia. It comes in both purple and green varieties, but the green seems to be more common in the United States. You might have seen it at Japanese restaurants, or in your little box of take-out sushi. Shiso has a strong smell, and the taste is unique. It's been compared to both mint and basil, but I have to say I don't think it has the taste of either. It is quite earthy and refreshing, definitely worth experimenting with if you see it around or want to try growing it yourself.

The recipe below is the result of my searching for a way for my future mother-in-law to use up the leaves of the giant Shiso plant she has in her garden. I came across this recipe from Summer Tomato, and decided to test it out on on zucchini "noodles" for dinner the other night. We loved it!!

Zucchini "fettuccine" with Shiso Pesto sauce.

Shiso Pesto (makes 15-20 servings, can be frozen)
Ingredients:
- 4C tightly packed Shiso leaves
- 1/2C Raw Pistachio nuts
- 2T Miso Paste (any variety will work)
- 1 Garlic Clove, pressed
- 1 Lemon, juiced
- 3/4C Olive Oil

Directions:
- In a blender or food processor (I used my VitaMix), combine all ingredients. Reserve about 1/4C of the olive oil.
- Pulse until ingredients are evenly ground.
- Turn blender to "on" and drizzle the remaining olive oil in while the ingredients combine.
- Taste, and adjust salt and lemon to taste, if needed.
- Use immediately, or store in the fridge for a couple days. If you still have leftovers, use your ice cube trays to freeze the pesto in blocks. Once they're solid, pop them out and into a freezer-safe container. You'll have "fresh" pesto for months!

What's your favorite type of pesto? Care to share the recipe in the comments below?