Glorious Grains Moroccan Style

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I think I might have a starch addiction. I am drawn to anything that provides that hearty, hulky texture.  Pasta, rice, potatoes, grains.  All these top my "I'll eat these anywhere, anytime" list.  Since I tend to consume all of the previously mentioned starchy delights a lot, I am always searching for different flavor combos to add to my repertoire.  I am not a huge fan of savory foods being too sweet, but I do enjoy countering tangy, sour, spicy flavors with cooling herbs and hints of sweet notes.  That's why this recipe, mixing grains of varied flavors and textures with herbs and other 'condiments', hits the bull's eye, satisfying those goals. Another great plus to this combo is that these grains pack a powerful protein punch.  Flavor, nutrients, festive looking... What more can you ask of your food?

When I first made this dish I was still eating wheat, so couscous was one of the 'grains' I used.  If you are not gluten free then go ahead, stir it in. For those who are gluten free, just eliminate the couscous as I do now.  You can add another grain or replace it by doubling up on one of the others already being used.  I used another 3/4 c of quinoa as a replacement.

What a heavenly and earthy mix. Also, notice my favorite little bowls that serve me so well for prepping dishes like this. If you want your own, check out   Miller Pottery

What a heavenly and earthy mix. Also, notice my favorite little bowls that serve me so well for prepping dishes like this. If you want your own, check out Miller Pottery

Ingredients

Simple, but perfectly balanced dressing line up.

Simple, but perfectly balanced dressing line up.

1 c uncooked Kasha (Buckwheat)
1 c uncooked Quinoa
1 c uncooked Couscous (eliminate to be gluten free)
1 c uncooked Millet
1/4 c chives, chopped
1/2 c chopped parsley
1/4 c mint, chopped
3/4 c dried apricots, diced
3/4 c Medjool dates, diced
1/2 c red onion, diced
1 c scallion, sliced
1/2 c almond slivers
(orange wedges would add lovely fresh component as an option)

Dressing
1/2 c lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1.5 t salt
3/4 c olive oil

 

Instructions 

Cook each of the grains separately, according to the package. 

Glorious grains. Millet, quinoa, kasha (which is also known as buckwheat)

Glorious grains. Millet, quinoa, kasha (which is also known as buckwheat)

While those are cooking, chop and prep all the remaining ingredients and have ready to mix together.   

Parsley, dates, scallions, red onion, almonds, dried apricots, chives, mint. Oh, these are going to love dancing together.

Parsley, dates, scallions, red onion, almonds, dried apricots, chives, mint. Oh, these are going to love dancing together.

Once the grains are done, drain and mix them together, adding the dressing before all the other ingredients.

Cooked kasha, milliet, quinoa.

Cooked kasha, milliet, quinoa.

Pour the dressing on first and let it all soak in.

Pour the dressing on first and let it all soak in.

Then add in all the remaining ingredients and toss until well combined. 

A bounty of textures, flavors and nutrients all in one big bowl.

A bounty of textures, flavors and nutrients all in one big bowl.

You see that big LOVE sign. That's right, stir this up with huge amounts of Love. (See below about the new sign.)

You see that big LOVE sign. That's right, stir this up with huge amounts of Love. (See below about the new sign.)

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This dish can be served slightly warm, room temp or even chilled.  Since it has a nod to Moroccan flavors it will pair with lamb or chicken dishes quite well.  I ate mine with ripe heirloom tomatoes and French feta cheese.  The rest of our gang enjoyed it with roasted chicken.

 

You may have noticed that my LOVE in the background of some my shots has grown.  Indeed, it has.  There are moments in my life that continue to remind me of the many blessings bestowed on me.  Friends are at the top of my list.  One of my best friends extended her love by sending me some of hers in the form of that huge swirl of emotion.  Thank you Dominique for sharing this with me and for your eternal friendship, support and of course, Love.  My heart grew 3 sizes that day!

A Creative Spirit - Ron Miller Pottery

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Woodstock, seems to be the ground zero for creative spirits.  And so it was for Ron Miller, who in 1996 took a little pottery class in the famous town.   From that first introduction, he was bitten by the pottery bug.  So inspired by the art form and the work of local potter Nancee Meeker that he asked her to teach him.  At first, the answer was no, but somehow her potter’s wheel did a 360 and she agreed to mentor him.  Fortunately for all of us, because Ron has started his own pottery business, Miller Pottery HVNY.

Ron has always had a spirit full of creativity but like most of us needed to find a way to pay the bills with a ‘regular gig’.  That gig for 25 successful years was the high stakes NYC restaurant industry as a GM, Maitre d’ and Wine Director/Sommelier.  Alas, the creative itch keep scratching and it was time for Ron to spin back to the love that inspired him so many years ago.

I first met Ron over a decade ago during his restauranteur career.  He has always been a consummate professional in all he takes on.  His attention to detail, deep knowledge and commitment to any craft all funnel into a man who always brings his best.  After years of seeing pottery all over his home, it came as little surprise that this would become his creative outlet and new business venture.

Ron’s style follows a few different paths. As an admirer of Matisse’s cut outs, some of Ron’s work incorporate interesting overlays which pay homage to the that style.

Another route is simplicity.  As Ron mentioned to me, he tries to adopt his friend, Alex’s mantra of “Dare to be simple.”  Which seems simple, when in fact, restraint is not always the easiest path to follow.  Ron seems to have gotten the knack.

Creating streamlined and clean shapes with simple swirls of color. Simplicity at is best.

Creating streamlined and clean shapes with simple swirls of color. Simplicity at is best.

Lastly, allow the clay to guide him, letting it take the form and shape it wants to become.

Earthy and organic shapes

Earthy and organic shapes

He uses a low fire earthenware clay for his carved and sawdust, smoked pieces while stoneware clay is employed for his ‘fun and functional’ work.

 

 

Like any artisan workmanship, it takes time and effort and in this case, a true spinning with love.   The process of ‘throwing a shape’, then trimming the clay, then carving and applying a Terra Sigilata.   Adding stains, firing it in the kiln, glaze then re-fire.  Well, you get the picture.  Passion, care and love is required.

 
 

It is a process that is quite literally grown from the earth and is a reflection of the artist himself.  Deeply committed, pure and simple, fun and functional.

 
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You may all remember seeing some of Ron’s pottery in my Clams, Clams, and more Clams post.  I use a set of his small bowls for my prep work known as mise en place (French for everything in its place).  Whenever I’m cooking I cut up, prep all my ingredients and place them in small bowls.  The ones that Ron created are perfect as the sizes are varied which is ideal for various different amounts needed in any recipe.

Juan Carlos and I also have several on Ron’s bigger and more decorative pieces in our home.  Some have been gifted to us and others we have purchased with great glee.  I am a huge fan of giving gifts that are unique and Ron’s pottery lands squarely in that category.  Please check out his pieces on the site.  They make ideal gifts for the holiday season. Ron is continually adding pieces to his website, so If you don't immediately see some of the pieces featured in this post and are interested, please contact him directly via the rwm210@gmail.com.