How to make a Porcupine Watermelon

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porcupine watermelon

Dear Readers, are you looking for the perfect allergy-frirendly picnic or potluck dish? Look no further than the Porcupine Watermelon. This baby is as fun to make as it is to eat.  Read on for step by step instructions to creating the cutest food art I’ve ever carved up.  Enter, the Porcupine Watermelon!

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1. Using an 8″ or 9″ chef’s knife, cut the watermelon into a baby rocker shape. Remove the top, and refrigerate to keep cool. Use the knife to cut around the edges of the watermelon flesh, and use a large spoon to scoop out the insides. Put in a large bowl, pour off extra watermelon juice and refrigerate.

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2. Use a small paring knife (I know it looks big in this pic, but it’s just the angle!), to cut the top of the head into a jagged edge by cutting out little wedges.

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3. Use toothpicks to adhere two blueberries for eyes, by skewering them through from the inside of the melon. Remove the top half of the melon that you cut off in step one, with rind still in tact, from the fridge. Use the small paring knife to cut out a triangle for a nose. Leave some pink along the bottom, but trim it down. Cut the tip off so it’s flat so you can adhere the blueberry for the tip of the nose. Break a toothpick in half, and skewer the flat tip of the nose. Attach the blueberry. Then attach the nose, by sticking at least three toothpicks through the rind from the inside through the nose. Line it up on the little brown spot in the center of the melon.

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4. Nose and eyes attached. Next onto the ears.

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5. To attach the ears use three toothpicks, skewering through from the back of the rind. Push the top one out farthest, so the ear is perky at the top.

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6. Here’s a profile shot.

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7. Fill with cubes of watermelon, and then insert a couple of toothpicks into each cube. I added a lot more after this pic was taken as I realized it didn’t look spiky enough.

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8. Add the feet. be sure the bottoms have been trimmed flat so the lay flat.

porcupine watermelon

9. Porcupine Watermelon! Serve with extra toothpicks on the side and keep adding them to the cubes as your guests eat down through the layers. Keep back-up watermelon cubes in the fridge to refill. Be sure to pour off watermelon juices of backup cubes or they’ll get boggy and soggy. Enjoy! And share!

Quinoa Cuisine Cookbook Giveaway and Review

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When I got the email asking me to review Quinoa Cuisine, I answered with a resounding “Yes!”. This was one of the few cookbooks I would be truly delighted to receive. I love quinoa. I love it’s nutty flavor, I love the way it pops/crunches slightly in the back of your mouth when you bite it, I love the way it pairs with just about everything, and I particularly love its nutritional profile. High protein, high fiber, and here’s a little neat bit of trivia; did you know that quinoa is actually a “pseudograin” related to beets, spinach and chard? Talk about the superfood posse! Quinoa is unarguably one of the best substitutes for grains, and in addition to the protein and fiber, is also rich in calcium, iron, potassium, B vitamins and Vitamin E. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, in the words of my husband’s Grandma Lily, “WCBB?” (“What could be bad?”)

More good news: I’m giving away a copy of this book.  To enter, go like me on my facebook page (if you haven’t already) and leave me a comment on the wall, letting me know how you like to eat quinoa, or how you would like to in the future. Again, you need to like my facebook page, if you haven’t already, here). I will enter you into the drawing to win a copy of this lovely book.  I will also share everyone’s comments once the drawing has closed, next Thursday, May 17th. So that’s how it works. If you like me, I might be able to give you something, if the fates are in your corner. Seems a little crass! Apologies, apologies….

But I think you’ll want to take a chance on this.  This book is the first of its kind.  “Quinoa Cuisine” is packed with 150 creative, mouthwatering recipes for breakfast to dessert and all the potlucks and picnics in-between.  I was particularly excited to see that authors, Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser use quinoa in all its various forms, from quinoa flour, to the many different colors of quinoa, to quinoa flakes.   And it’s really nice to have the healthy addition of quinoa many places you’d never expect it.  For example, in hummus (see recipe below), Thai Summer Rolls, White Bean Dip, Quinoa Frying Batter, Creamed Spinach, and Quinoa Pizza Dough.

These recipes are expertly written.  When I said “yes” to reviewing the book, I didn’t realize it was co-authored by Jessica Harlan, whom I used to work with at Lime.com (now Gaiam).  I have long admired her healthy and delicious recipes. She’s always been a proponent of healthy eating without sacrificing a bit of taste.

While this cookbook is not top-8-free, nor is it exclusively a gluten-free cookbook, if you have flexibility in your diet, and want to bump up your choices and pack in some extra nutrition, this is a great addition to your cookbook library.  I pulled a couple of the top-8-free recipes from the book to share with you below, and there are many others that I will certainly be adapting. In particular, the Quinoa Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, p.168.  Definitely next on my list.  Bravo to the chefs for taking quinoa to the next level.   Read on for two of my favorite picks from the book.

 

Hummus

This back-to-basics Mediterranean spread can be used as a dip or on sandwiches. Vary the recipe by adding roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, or almost anything you please. The quinoa flakes add a pleasing nuttiness and enhance the silky-smooth texture of the hummus.

Makes 2½ Cups

30 Mins or Less, Gluten-Free, Good for Company, Healthy Choice, Kid Friendly, Vegan

 

½ cup quinoa flakes

½ cup vegetable stock or broth

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup tahini

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

¼ teaspoon paprika

 

1. In a small bowl, cover the quinoa flakes with the vegetable stock or broth. Let sit for 2 minutes until the flakes are softened.

 

2. Place the soaked quinoa flakes, the chickpeas, and the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process until combined, about 45 seconds. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the paprika.

 

Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Avocado, and Black Quinoa Salad

The vibrant colors of this salad really pop against the black quinoa, making for a gorgeous presentation.

Serves 6 to 8

Gluten-Free, Good for Company, Healthy Choice, Vegetarian

 

⅔ cup black quinoa, rinsed

1⅓ cups water

1 large grapefruit, segmented, juice reserved (see sidebar)

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Campari

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1¼ cups pomegranate seeds

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced

kosher salt and black pepper

 

1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.

 

2. Place the grapefruit segments in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the grapefruit juice, honey, and Campari. Slowly add the olive oil while continually whisking to emulsify the dressing. Season with a pinch of kosher salt.

 

3. Add the cooked quinoa, pomegranate seeds, and dressing to the grapefruit slices, and stir to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the mint and avocado. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, as needed. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

To segment citrus fruit

Use a serrated knife to cut the top and bottom off the fruit, just exposing the flesh. Place the fruit with one of the flat sides resting on your work surface and follow the curve of the side from top to bottom to slice off the peel where the pith and the flesh meet. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, use a sharp paring knife to carefully cut along the membrane to free the segments. After all the segments have been removed, squeeze the remaining juice from the peel and membranes.

Allergy Free Hollandaise Sauce

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With asparagus season in full swing and artichoke season rolling in, I figured it was the perfect time to roll out a safe allergy-free hollandaise sauce.

Hollandaise is traditionally made with eggs, one of the top eight food allergens. To replace eggs, vegan versions of the classic sauce usually rely on silken tofu. However, soy (silken tofu) is also one of the top eight food allergens. So I had to put on my thinking cap.

I replaced the eggs and/or silken tofu with a rice milk and olive and canola oil emulsion and added a smidgen of turmeric and a little nutritional yeast for the lovely buttercup hue, and also a flavor boost. And, of course, I used lemon juice, since that zip of acidity is the backbone of all hollandaise sauces.

Bonus: this one is vegan, too, so there’s no salmonella risk. Additionally, unlike traditional hollandaise, it can be made in advance, and keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge. Just bring to room temperature before serving.

Remember when you make this, slow and steady wins the race. Add the oil a little at a time to achieve the creamiest end result. (more…)