I usually resist the supposed charms of inspirational quotes, but one I do have stuck to my screen at work reminds me that ‘it’s called yoga practice, not yoga perfect’. These words kick me to roll out my mat when I get home, not just at my weekly class (so perhaps I should have the quote taped to the TV screen or on the growing pile of magazines near the couch or on the fridge door). Because it’s also yoga practice, not yoga procrastination.
Because it’s doing something again and again, to feel and catch the rhythm of it and realise that each time you do ‘it’, it may be better – you may be better - or it may be just different.
It’s a lot like that in life, too, and a lot like that in the kitchen lately. Cooking and baking - the chopping, measuring, building flavours - is always a learning experience. Sometimes it’s routine and sometimes it’s a surprise.
I’ve been making a lot of old faithfuls for dinner lately – in particular the tuna pasta bake and the pasta dish I’ve nicknamed ‘mojo spaghetti’. Each time they are different – the bake, for example, has seen the tuna come and go, peas pop up, chilli flakes or lots of parsley enter the equation, but the lemon zest and garlic remain unquestionable foundations (as of course does the pasta).
I’ve found too that practice gives confidence and freedom. Just as standing with your feet about a metre apart, left foot turned in and right foot turned well out, left hand on your hip and right arm extended out as you bend and tip your balance to the right as if you’re a teapot, right hand touching the floor as you assume a kind of starfish-on-one-leg look – just as doing all those things at once and over and over again means you can perform half-moon pose without labouring or floundering thru the myriad instructions – well, so too it is with repeating a recipe until you barely glance at the page and you have multiple pots and pans dancing effortlessly in your kitchen, not a panic on the horizon. You do it - and enjoy it.
Cooking quinoa is one of those things I do pretty regularly. If we’re talking practice, cooking legumes and grains is one of those kitchen skills I need to do more often, because I’m not yet relaxed about it. Will the quinoa boil dry? Will it be gluggy? Stick to the pan? Turn to mush? Be fluffy?
Well yes it will be, I discovered, if I try a different approach. Instead of boiling it on the stovetop, I took a chance and put it in my rice cooker.
Maybe practice does make perfect – perfectly fluffy quinoa, anyway! To labour the yoga metaphor, just as having a crack at a new pose and thinking ‘woo hoo!’ (hello, pigeon!), so too it was for me with rice cooker-cooked quinoa. The world will never be the same again.
Quinoa and cauli fritters
Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe published in the Sunday papers. The recipe said to steam the cauli, but I thought that might make it soggy, so I roasted it. This also gave the cauli extra colour and flavour. It’s not as quick as steaming though, so do steam if you’re time-pressed. Also, at first I thought all this prep was a bit of a palaver, and I wouldn't bother with these again. But I've enjoyed them so much, I would! Maybe if I had some leftover quinoa and cooked vegies...This made 10 fritters for me.
Do ahead stuff
- Cook 1 cup of quinoa with two cups of water — in your rice cooker if you have one, for perfectly fluffy quinoa, or on the stovetop as you would rice.
- Preheat your oven to 180. Take about 250 gms cauliflower and chop into smallish pieces, lay on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with S&P and some fresh sage leaves. Pop into oven and roast until soft and cooked and a little browned. Remove from oven and chop into further small pieces.
- Into a bowl, add your cooked quinoa, roasted cauli, 250 gms ricotta (drained if necessary), ½ cup grated parmesan, as much chopped green herbs as you like (I used chives and parsley; the recipe specified dill). Whisk three eggs and add this to the bowl, with a little S&P, mashing thru until combined.
- Because this next stage is incredibly mucky, do some prep work: clear space in your fridge, line some plates with paper towel or greaseproof paper, and have some paper towels on hand.
- Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out the mixture, then shape into patties. Place on your prepped plates, then refrigerate for at least half an hour.
- When ready to cook, heat a little oil in a large frypan and cook the fritters, in batches, for about 4 minutes each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with further vegies or a salad, as you wish.