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Nov 01, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Cooking

By the Book: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Couscous with Dried Apricots and Butternut Squash

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

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I’m a fan of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks Jerusalem and Plenty, so I was eager to get my hands on his latest, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. This one contains recipes culled from Ottolenghi’s four London restaurants, with dishes that reflect his upbringing in Jerusalem and incorporate culinary traditions from the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook is divided into four sections: vegetables, legumes and grains; meat and fish; baking and patisserie; and larder. Constant among all 140 recipes are fresh ingredients that beget bright, harmonious flavors via preparations doable by the home cook. By the time I finished browsing the book, the pages were cluttered with yellow sticky notes marking tasty-sounding recipes like Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Lime Yogurt or Turkey and Corn Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce. Oh, the choices!

When I think about traditional dishes from Ottolenghi’s native Israel, couscous comes to mind. Couscous can be a billowy bed for ingredients savory or sweet – or both, the last being the camp for Ottolenghi’s couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash.

 

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It’s high season for squash. The sweet scent of baked butternut squash is one of my favorite autumn kitchen smells. Butternut squash is a joy to cook with since its bright orange hue barely changes despite the heat that transforms dense flesh into a toothsome softness.

 

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Couscous tastes immensely richer when cooked in chicken or vegetable stock. Using the latter, you can keep this dish vegetarian, but I prefer chicken stock, which lends a silky quality to those tiny pearls of rolled semolina dough. Add the prescribed saffron threads and upgrade to luxe status. I’ve been taught to never, ever uncover couscous after pouring it into boiling water. Just like rice, if you peek, the steam escapes and you don’t get nearly as much fluff.

 

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While butternut squash and chicken stock pack flavor punches, the minor components are what impart such depth of delicate flavor and striking color in this otherwise simple grain dish. There are onion slivers, sweet and mellowed by heat; dried apricots, plump from a hot water bath; the citrus zing of lemon zest; and the lovely green contrast from a handful of fresh herbs. Simple. Straightforward. Delicious. One Ottolenghi recipe down and 139 other tabbed recipes to go.

Couscous with Dried Apricots and Butternut Squash
4 servings

1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Scant ½ cup dried apricots
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾-inch dice
1½ cups uncooked couscous
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Pinch of saffron threads
3 Tbsp. tarragon, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. mint coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Grated zest of ½ lemon
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the onion in a large frying pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and a pinch of salt. Saute over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside.
• Meanwhile, pour enough hot water from the tap over the apricots just to cover them. Soak for 5 minutes, then drain and cut into 1/4-inch dice.
• Mix the diced squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly colored and quite soft.
• While waiting for the butternut squash, cook the couscous. Bring the stock to a boil with the saffron. Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and pour the boiling stock over it, plus the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for about 10 minutes; all the liquid should be absorbed.
• Use a fork or a whisk to fluff up the couscous, then add the onion, butternut squash, apricots, herb, cinnamon and lemon zest. Mix well with your hands, trying not to mash the butternut squash. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warmish or cold.

You have 24 hours in London. What London restaurant would you eat at and why? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.
And now, we’d like to congratulate Ben, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of Russ & Daughters by Mark Russ Federman. Ben, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

 

Meatless Monday: Tofu al Pastor

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

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Traditional al pastor bathes pork in a marinade with dried chiles and pineapple, then grills it on a vertical spit. Don’t worry – we won’t be putting tofu on a vertical grill. I decided to use the al pastor marinade with some cubed tofu and rice.

Tofu al Pastor
6 Servings

8 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. cayenne
2½ tsp. Kosher salt, divided
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 20-oz. can pineapple chunks
1 lb. firm tofu, cubed
1 onion, julienned
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 cups cooked rice
1 head romaine, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 2 limes, divided
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced, for garnish
Warm corn tortillas
Hot sauce (optional)

• In a large bowl, cover the dried chiles with 2 quarts of boiling water and let them sit 30 minutes to rehydrate.
• Remove the chiles from the water and place them in a food processor, along with the garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt. Pulse to combine.
• Add the vegetable stock and the juice from the can of pineapple to the food processor and puree until smooth. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
• Place the tofu in the marinade and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
• Place a wok over high heat. Once it is smoking, add the canola oil and the onion and saute a couple minutes, until the onion is translucent.
• Add the cooked rice and stir. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tofu from the marinade and add it to the wok. Add the pineapple chunks and cooks until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add half the lime juice and stir. Remove the wok from the heat.
• In a separate bowl, toss the romaine and cilantro with the olive oil and remaining lime juice. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.
• Place some tofu and salad on a warm tortilla. Garnish with the sliced tomato and your favorite hot sauce, if desired.

 

 

In This Issue: One Ingredient, 3 Ways – Cucumbers

Saturday, September 21st, 2013
090313_cucumbersCucumbers are so prolific that if you decide to plant some and aren’t creative, you can easily end up with a basement filled with jar upon jar of pickles. But there’s so much more that can be done than just brining those babies.
Click here for three new ways to cook up cucumbers.
-Photo by Laura Miller

 

 

Just Five: Chocolate Walnut “Butter”

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

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Recently, a sweet friend moved away. She and I shared a love of food, cooking, wine, books, music, and our husbands were equally fond of each other. This is a rare gift. Before they left, she passed on a plethora of pantry, refrigerator and freezer items she didn’t want to pack. It was better than Christmas: a huge jar of duck fat, wonderful oils and vinegars, pancetta, sake – bags of stuff I would never buy for myself. Driving home, I felt like a traveler returning from a voyage with exotic riches.

Included in this treasure trove was a huge bag of walnuts. This friend has a recipe for a divine dense, chocolate-walnut cake. Sadly, it is a few more than five ingredients. But in her honor, I decided to do something fun, indulgent, chocolaty, but still somewhat healthy.

Calling this butter is a bit of a misnomer. It’s closer to Play-Doh in texture, but it is brilliant on toasted sourdough with sliced bananas (best after-school snack ever), on graham crackers, or as a surprise filling between cake layers. And there’s no crime in rolling some into a ball and popping it into your mouth. Maybe over a glass of red wine with a good friend.

Chocolate Walnut “Butter”
Makes 1 cup

2 cups walnuts
3 Tbsp. maple syrup or agave nectar
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. canola oil (If you have walnut oil, by all means, use it.)

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
• Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 6 to 8 minutes, until the walnuts just start to brown and fragrant. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes.
• In a food processor or an industrial-strength blender, add the toasted walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Pulse until combined, about 2 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the blade.
• If needed, drizzled the canola oil into the food processor while it is running to bring the mixture together. Pulse another 1 or 2 minutes, until you reach your desired consistency.
• Butter can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesdays: Veggie Coconut Wraps with Spicy Peach Dipping Sauce

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

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Lately, I’ve been savoring everything coconut, from coconut water and milk to coconut oil and sugar. And now, I’m onto now coconut wraps. The revitalized health benefits of cocos nucifera (literally “nut-bearing monkey face”) have hit mainstream, so you no longer need to fear the once forbidden saturated fats in this creamy, delicious, hairy fruit.

Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is classified as a “functional food” because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content.

But if I’m staying true to my love of local food, tropically-inspired meals seem troublesome. So I stuffed coconut wraps with treasures found at most farmers market in the Lou. Feel free to swap your favorite raw or cooked (even grilled) fruits and vegetables to find your unique late-summer melange.

Coconut meat wraps are not only gluten-free, but also vegan, paleo, raw and dairy-free. I prefer this product found online, as it’s richer and thicker (The curry flavor is amazing.). But, if you prefer to buy local, stop by The Natural Way in Webster Groves or Creve Coeur for a thinner wrap.

Veggie Coconut Wraps with Spicy Peach Dipping Sauce
2 to 3 servings

1 package coconut wraps
1 small carrot
1 small zephyr squash (yellow and green striped variety)
1 small zucchini
1 small bell pepper
½ avocado
1 small cucumber
2 large peaches, pitted and peeled
1 small red jalapeño (or other hot pepper)
1 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. tahini
2 garlic gloves
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. white pepper
1 small handful basil leaves

• Slice all the vegetables into thin strips.
• Lay a coconut wrap on a plate and line a few strips of each vegetable down the middle. Fold one edge of the wrap over the vegetables and roll.
• Continue until all vegetables are used. Set aside.
• Place the peaches, jalapeño, honey, tahini, garlic, apple cider vinegar, salt, white pepper and basil into a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.
• Serve the sauce alongside the coconut wraps.

 

 

By the Book: Arthur Schwartz’s Chocolate Babka

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

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Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited should be subtitled A Crash Course in the History of Jewish-American Gastronomy. The lengthy introduction goes into great detail about the steady migration of Eastern European Jews to New York City, bringing with them the kosher dishes of their homelands. As Jews assimilated into American culture, those traditional dishes evolved. Most of the recipes in this book were collected from New York deli owners, restaurateurs and ordinary people who’ve put twists on their family’s longtime recipes. The history and evolution of each dishes proved as intriguing as the recipes themselves.

The chocolate babka is a prime example of how a simple coffee cake became a luxurious treat. According to Schwartz, the word “babka” comes from “baba,” the Polish word for old lady or grandma. The cake got its name because its original incarnation was “stout and round, just like grandmothers used to be before they went to aerobics class and practiced yoga.” These dry-ish cakes were traditionally plain and served with coffee or tea, but today, Schwartz says their purpose is largely to serve as a vessel for chocolate and sweet stuffings.

 

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He had me at chocolate. This babka is simple to make, but it does require some time. The buttery yeast dough must rest refrigerated overnight, then rest another two hours after the rolls are assembled. Plan accordingly.

 

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Since there’s a generous amount of sugar in the dough and filling, and I’m not one for overly sweet desserts, I used dark chocolate chips instead of the called-for semisweet.

 

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In lieu of a second loaf pan, I tucked most of the slices into a 8-inch round, cinnamon-roll style. Two hours later, they had puffed up against each other in a lovely, chocolate-studded nest.

 

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The end result was definitely still a coffee cake: dry with enough sweetness to warrant a bitter beverage. Though technically included in the dessert section of this book, the coffee pairing necessitates that – like doughnuts or sticky buns – you eat this for breakfast. After all, chocolate in the morning makes the day just a little easier.

 

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Chocolate Babka
Makes 2 loaves

Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
A generous ¾ cup sugar, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
½ cup whole milk
1 package (about 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast)
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling (optional)

Filling
2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional)

• To make the dough, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour, salt and 3 heaping tablespoons of the sugar. Pulse to blend.
• Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse until crumbly.
• In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until warm, not hot, to the touch (no more than 110 degrees). Stir in 1 level tablespoon of the sugar and the yeast. Allow to stand 7 minutes, until bubbly and risen.
• Add the egg yolks and yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Pulse several times, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until a ball is formed. Remove the dough and place it in a large bowl. Cover with a clean towel and refrigerate overnight.
• Grease 2 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pans. Flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
• To assemble the babkas, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
• One tablespoon at a time, add the remaining ½ cup sugar, then the cinnamon. Beat until the whites form firm peaks.
• Divide the dough in half. Keep one half refrigerated while working with the other. For each half, knead the dough a few times. Roll out on a floured surface to an approximately 22-by-18-inch rectangle. It will be thin.
• Spread the rectangle of dough with half the beaten egg whites to within 1 inch of the edges. Sprinkle evenly with half the chocolate, half the walnuts, and lightly with more cinnamon.
• Turn in about 1 inch of the short edges of the dough rectangle, then carefully roll up jelly roll-style. If the dough is sticking slightly, use a bench scraper (pastry scraper) to ease it off the work surface.
• Slice each roll into 8 even pieces. For each babka, place 8 slices sections in 1 loaf pan, cut sides up like a cinnamon roll, packing them so the edges touch. Cover each with a clean towel and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should come up higher than the sides of the pans.
• Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, until light brown. Cool the babkas in the pans for about 5 minutes, then invert them onto serving plates.
• Serve with a serrated blade, or break apart into natural segments.

Reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press

What’s your favorite sweet breakfast treat to pair with your morning coffee and why? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Jewish Home Cooking by Arthur Schwartz. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Joe, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of The Mile End Cookbook by Noah and Rae Bernamoff. Rebecca, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

 

 

In This Issue: By Popular Demand – Scape’s Toasted Nut & Honey Grits

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

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Scape stopped serving its delicious honey nut grits a while ago. The taste and texture of the dish was perfect. I would love the recipe! – Jennifer Poindexter
Jennifer asked; Scape answered. Click here for the recipe.
 
Eaten a dish at an area restaurant that you’d do just about anything to make at home? Email us at pr@saucemagazine.com to tell us about it. Then let us do our best to deliver the recipe By Popular Demand.
-Photo by Carmen Troesser

 

 

 

In This Issue: Bar Bites

Friday, September 13th, 2013

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There’s a reason you visit the same bar time and again. Sure, the capable bar staff and crafty beer list are alluring, but you stay for the snacks. Great bar snacks are packed with flavor, small enough to eat with your hands and, before you know it, totally gone. At your next get-together, get the party started well before the appetizers arrive with these crave-able finger foods. Just don’t blame us if everyone asks to come over again next weekend.

Check out the recipes for Pad Thai Popcorn, Spice-roasted Chickpeas and Salt and Pepper.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

 

 

By the Book: Noah and Rae Bernamoff’s Blintzes

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

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Every recipe in this book has an introduction or short anecdote from one half of the husband-wife team Noah and Rae Bernamoff that started Mile End in Brooklyn, a Jewish deli. Any description of blintzes, knishes or hamantaschen is really nice because it helps gentiles like me understand what the dish is in the first place, why it’s awesome, and if it’s tied to a holiday tradition. There are stories from fellow chefs and artisans in Manhattan and Brooklyn, too, like Niki Russ Federman, the fourth-generation co-owner of the famed Russ & Daughters in New York City. I love the food photos in this book; they make you hungry, and the photos of step-by-step assembly instructions for more complicated recipes are useful.

 

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I decided to make blintzes. I’ve never had blintzes before, but I thought: I love ricotta cheese; I love crepes. Sounded good to me. It was … kind of.

 

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These blintzes are not that sweet. The recipe calls for just ½ teaspoon of sugar, which only went in the crepe batter. The filling had lemon zest, salt, ricotta, butter and egg yolks, and when I rolled it into a crepe and tried it, I felt the filling needed sweetness. I drizzled honey and cinnamon over the top as the recipe suggested, thinking that might be enough, but because the filling wasn’t sweet, it didn’t taste right.

 

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I added 3 tablespoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla to the filling, rolled the rest of the blintzes and topped them all with honey and cinnamon. Maybe I just have a sweet tooth, but the sugar and vanilla made a huge difference, making the ricotta and lemon zest more pronounced.

 

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Noah and Rae Bernamoff’s Blintzes
6 Servings

The blintz is a classic old-world Jewish specialty and a go-to food for Shavuot, when dairy dishes are traditionally served. We like ours with fruit compote, but anything from fresh fruit to sour cream to applesauce will work, especially with a drizzle of honey or a dusting of cinnamon sugar. You can even make a sauce by warming a cup of concord grape jelly together with ¼ cup water.

For the crepes:
4 large eggs
1½ cups whole milk
½ tsp. Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ cup rye flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsalted butter, divided

For the filling and finishing:
3 cups whole-milk ricotta, drained overnight in the refrigerator in a fine-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. Diamond crystal kosher salt
Zest of 2 lemons
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
Compote of your choice, for serving

Making the crepes
• Combine the eggs, milk, salt and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until the ingredients are incorporated.
• In a separate bowl, mix together the two flours. Sift them into the liquid and whisk until the batter is smooth. Cover and rest the batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
• In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the butter over medium heat. Pour in ¼ cup of the batter and swirl the pan gently to coat it. Cook until the edges of the crepe start to pull away from the pan, about 2 minutes. Then flip the crepe, cook it a few seconds more, and transfer it to a plate. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter to make 6 crepes in all.

Make the filling
• Place the ricotta, egg yolks, salt and lemon zest in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

Assemble and cook the blintzes
• Working 1 crepe at a time, spoon about ½ cup of the filing onto a crepe, fold in the edges, and roll it up snugly around the filling like a burrito. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling.
• Working in 2 batches, heat half the butter in a large pan or skillet and cook 3 blintzes, flipping once, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter and blintzes. Serve the blintzes with fruit compote.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson/Potter Publishers

What is your favorite crepe filling? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of The Mile End Cookbook by Noah and Rae Bernamoff. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Rebecca, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of The New Jewish Table by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray. Rebecca, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

 

 

Meatless Monday: Sorghum Pearls and Edamame

Monday, September 9th, 2013

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Sorghum is a durable, drought-resistant grain used for food, feed and fuel around the world. It’s use as a food source in the United States is increasing since it is gluten-free. The grain is heart-healthy, high in protein and ranges in color from dark brown to red and purple to white. I ran across several brands of white sorghum at Seafood City on Olive Boulevard; you also can find it at Whole Foods. Sorghum can be popped like popcorn (and it’s kind of funny to see the miniature popped kernels), or you can treat it like rice or quinoa. Just remember, the ratio is four parts water or stock to one part grain.

Sorghum Pearls and Edamame
4 Servings

1 small onion, diced
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white sorghum kernels
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup frozen edamame or peas
1½ tsp. Kosher salt, divided
1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 carrots, shredded
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime

• In a large pan with high sides, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned.
• Add the sorghum and stir to coat in the oil. Continue cooking for a couple minutes, stirring constantly. When the grains have absorbed all the oil and are just starting to stick but not darken, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cover.
• Stir every 10 minutes or so until almost all of the liquid has absorbed, about 40 to 60 minutes. Add the frozen edamame or peas and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir until the edamame are warmed through but not mushy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
• In a small bowl, toss together the shredded carrots, cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and a 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
• Divide sorghum and edamame into 4 servings and top with the carrot mixture.

 

 

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