millet tabbouleh

wandering through thrift stores is a favorite past time of mine.  visiting the used book store is another.  whichever the destination, i am bound to make my way out to the car carrying an armload of stuff, especially cookbooks.  recently, i found a hardback copy of mark bittman’s “how to cook everything” for $7.99 and it was sporting the tag color of the week; serious thrift shoppers know that means it was discounted, i picked it up for $4 and change.  yesterday, i mailed it to my older daughter who has expressed an interest in cooking.  not to worry, a couple of months ago, i found a paperback copy at the used book store for $2.  wow-two copies of that book and less than $10 spent.  
you would think that as a cia grad that a comprehensive book like that wouldn’t be of much interest to me.  after all, i should know the material.  however, i gave up the cooking part a long time ago to pursue the baking/pastry side and with a husband who is a chef, i don’t need to do much cooking.  with the girls out of the house, i really don’t need to do much cooking.  but for some reason, i am finding myself in the kitchen after spending the day in a kitchen, cooking.  and i really mean cooking from scratch using as many ingredients as i can pick from the garden.  
reading through this book, i stumbled upon what i think is the best tabbouleh recipe and more importantly, it is a perfect way to use the abundance of tomatoes and parsley out in the garden.  while the traditional recipe calls for bulgur, i have been experimenting with other grains.  the last batch i made had red quinoa in it.  lurking in the cupboard was a jar of millet and today, it became the grain of choice for my tabbouleh.

my husband scoffs at the idea of eating millet-“i’m not a bird…” and i understand his point since he is constantly filling the feeders outside with a seed mix that includes millet.  but this is a great way to get big kids like him to play nice and try new foods…

millet is starchy and it must be rinsed a few times after cooking to prevent it from becoming sticky and pasty.  the method i used can be found in a tabbouleh recipe from the vegetarian times.  i used their cooking method and substituted it for the cooked bulgur in mark bitumen’s recipe.

having an herb garden is wonderful!  especially when you can plant whatever you want!!!  pictured here are the three types of parsley i used.  the large one on top is mitsuba, a japanese parsley.  it looks like flat leaf parsley on steroids.

with only minor changes, i reduced the amount of olive oil called for in the recipe and added a little diced cucumber since it is summer and i do have them in the garden, this is the result.

millet tabbouleh
adapted from “how to cook everything” by mark bittman
makes about 5 cups 
1/2 cup millet
2 cups fresh parsley leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onions
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
cook the millet according to the instruction on the package or by using this link and allow it to cool.  chop the parsley and mint leaves somewhat coarsely.  combine the cooled millet with the remaining ingredients, season it with the salt and pepper and chill the salad for a few hours to blend the flavors.  while chilling it allows the flavors to meld and develop, it will taste best if it is allowed to come to a near room temperature before serving.  

that can’t be a quesadilla…

 one of my coworkers is from el salvador.  every now and then, she will arrive in the cafe with a bag of sweets from her favorite bakery, la espiga.  even though it is a mexican bakery, they often have traditional little el salvadorian cakes called quesadilla.  yes, quesadilla and no, it doesn’t have tortillas in it.  these cakes are popular all over el salvador and are made with cheese-usually a freshly crumbled farmers cheese, but frequently parmesan cheese.  they are wonderfully rich with a slightly cheesy aroma.  and much to my surprise, even better if they sit for a day.

on a recent visit to a new mexican bakery near my house, i spied a tray of quesadillas in the showcase and added it to my tray.  all of the mexican bakeries are self serve; you pick up a tray and a pair of tongs and make your selections from the cabinets and racks and then give it to the cashier.

not bad for less than $5 dollars.  from the left:  bolillo(i bought 2 but the other is missing…), concha, quesadilla, butter cookie(that tasted a little like coconut to me) and a cheese turnover.

 the quesadilla from la conchita panaderia y pasteleria.  they had a little bit of a sandy texture from what i am guessing is rice flour.  the cake is sweet and even though it contains parmesan cheese, i could not detect it in the flavor.

now that i am not obsessing/stressing over pies, i decided that it might be fun to try and make some of these at home.  a quick surf and off i was baking my own quesadillas.  after about 5 or 6 batches, i finally settled on a recipe that isn’t too buttery but is plenty moist with a noticeable cheese aroma.

 i can have cake?  twitch likes cake…
no cake for twitch!!!

 the fine, moist crumb and slightly cheesy flavor makes these good with a cup of dark roast coffee.  a few notes;  i tested these with rice flour, equal parts of all purpose and rice flour as well as masa harina(buy the plain stuff not the tortilla/tamale mix).  every recipe i read called for either all purpose or rice flour or a combination but either will work.  one recipe i read called for cake flour but i did not try that.  i used buttermilk but it could be sour cream, mexican crema or just milk.  and if you do not want to use parmesan, try a mexican crumbling cheese, just be sure to break it into small pieces.

el salvadorian quesadillias
yields 6 muffins
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup rice flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
sesame seeds
preheat the oven to 325.  grease and flour a 6 cup muffin tin.  melt the butter and set aside to cool.  in a mixing bowl, whisk the rice flour, sugar, cheese and baking powder to combine them.  pour in the butter and the buttermilk and stir to make a paste.  whisk in the egg and combine completely.  divide the batter between the cups in the tin.  sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top and bake until a pick inserted comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.  allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes then turn them out to cool completely.  
enjoy!!!