We have reached that place in the summer where the time needed to spend with friends and family is dwindling.  I wish I could buy a few more days, sort of like buying vowels on Wheel of Fortune.

Today we have friends coming to visit nearly all day. Pretty sure our neighbors think we are the party house. We are meeting friends who are heading back to Kathmandu for the school year for breakfast, Singapore friends are coming over for lunch, friends from Colorado Springs are here for dinner, and beloved neighbors are stopping by to say goodbye somewhere in the mix before they head to the airport. I don't try to make heads of tails of the comings and goings, I just try to be available for hugs, and tears, and promises of Skype dates, and travel plans to see one another.

This is why at 6am I am up making cookies that will be served at lunch. I needed to get them out of the way so that I could be present with the ones I love today. It sure is a sweet way to start the day though.

Cookies for Jim and Heidi

Toffee Cookies

3 sticks of butter melted and cooled
2 cups of dark brown sugar lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz package of Toffee bits with chocolate such as Heath

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the melted butter and sugars. Blend until slightly fluffy and lighter in color approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. On low speed blend in the flour mixture until well combined. Add the toffee bits and stir in with a wooden spoon.

Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of dough onto the prepared cookies sheets, I typically have room for 8 cookies per sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and just set. Do not over bake these, they should be crispy chompy on the edges and soft and slightly gooey in the middle.


Breakfast is a notoriously difficult meal to serve with a flourish.
Clement Freud

I have had a few memorable breakfasts. Some fancy, some plain. A morning sitting in my parents kitchen eating Lucky Charms cereal with my brother and sister my first weekend home from college. Drinking fresh squeezed blood orange juice in Sorrento Italy with the dawning realization that what I thought was food poisoning might possibly be morning sickness. Watching my Grandmother Leatha making breakfast on our weekend trips to Othello Washington. 

On weekend mornings when I ask my daughters what they want for breakfast there are usually several responses, coffeecake, scones, cheese omelette's, but then every so often my youngest will say, "Mama, please make your pancakes". 

She loves them I think mostly because they evoke a memory from childhood. We used to make them in the sunny kitchen of this old Victorian house we owned. There would be crayons scattered around and our dog Sally would try to steal a few bites when we weren't looking. These were the mornings before the girls started school and we could be leisurely about starting the day. They have now become what we make for breakfast when the girls have friends for sleepovers, they are what we make when they return home after a week at camp, before final exams, and when life seems a little cold or unfair.

I love these old fashioned buttermilk pancakes. They are fluffy and pudding like when fresh off the griddle. They certainly aren't fancy, we like them with butter and maple syrup, but they are a great canvas for additions like blueberries or bananas, or fruit syrups.

Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk, see note
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs
Butter and Maple Syrup for serving

In a medium size mixing bowl whisk until well combined the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the buttermilk, melted butter and eggs. Add the flour mixture all at once and whisk until combined. There may be a few lumps. Set the batter aside for 10 minutes. This lets the gluten relax, so you'll have a more tender and airy pancake, and the leavening agents do their thing.  (If pressed for time you can use it right away)
Preheat an electric griddle or heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat. When a small drop of water sizzles and skips across the cooking surface the pan is ready. Spray lightly with cooking spray. 
For each pancake place a scant 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle surface or non-stick pan. When bubbles appear across the surface of the pancake and the batter begins to look slightly dry, flip the pancake and cook for a few moments longer on the second side. If the pancakes appear to be browning too quickly turn down the heat.
Serve immediately.
Cooks note: In most recipes you can substitute milk and lemon juice (1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice, let sit for 5 minutes) for buttermilk, but not in this recipe. I have never had good results with it.

May the Best Pie Win!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had big pie plans. Huge, even. And if you know me, you know my more than slight aversion to making pie. In particular making pie crust. I would rather make puff pastry than make and roll a pie crust. Heck, I would rather be in labor than make and roll a pie crust. This people, was an undertaking.

I hope that my efforts are appreciated.

I had secreted a stash of Key Limes back from our recent trip to Miami Beach and planned to make a traditional Key Lime Pie, then I spotted the August cover of Bon Appetit and I was torn. Key Lime vs Lime and Blackberry capped with a mass of Italian meringue. I couldn't decide which to make so I thought I would make both.

Thankfully we were invited to a friends house on Lummi Island for a BBQ and could justify making both pies. 2 pies for 3 people (the little one is at camp) was just plain crazy but 2 pies for 18 people (plus brownies) was justifiable.

A view from Lummi Island

So we had a little taste off, Key Lime Pie vs Lime & Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie. Mmmm, Mmmm.

The Key Lime Pie was traditional in every sense of the word, graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, fresh Key Lime Juice, baked for a few minutes to set it and topped with the same meringue as the Lime and Blackberry Pie. I have only ever had Key Lime Pie with whipped cream but I think this converted me. The textures worked really well and they sweetness of the meringue set off the tart filling nicely. It was easy to make and I was reminded why this is such a beloved American classic.

The second pie started with a traditional pie crust blind baked until toasty brown and the edges shatter a bit when cut. A layer of blackberry and red wine compote is topped with a lime mousse and then meringue. It was time consuming to make but not difficult at all. The taste was a little more complex, crisp crust, sweet berry compote, tart mousse, and marshmallowy meringue. The mousse was set with a very tiny 1/2 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin and despite hanging out in the fridge for 6 hours it wasn't really set. It took considerable dedication and concentration to transport the pie without sloshing it all over the interior of the car.

Thanks P!

Dinner was great and there were a few fellow bloggers on hand. Julie, our hostess, of Bergamot Orange, Becky of One Green Bee Designs, Patrick of A Pint with Gus, and Megan of Whiskers in a Beard. They and their families helped with the pie tasting and voting.

And the winner was.....
Yep, the traditional Key Lime Pie. Even though contrast and taste of the Lime & Blackberry Pie was really good, those of the traditional pie were better.

So there you have it, an official, unbiased account of great pie.  If you make either of them, let me know what you think.

I should add that no one was harmed in the making of the pie crust. Follow the link below for the recipe.

Lime & Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie from Bon Appetit

The Key to Greatness

Greetings from South Beach, Miami Florida

Actually I'm back in Seattle, the weather is a little cooler and the skies look like they may get all cranky and start to rain.  It's good to be home!

We spent this week visiting my Father in Law in Miami Beach.  It was a fun week, though crazy hot. Grandpa took the girls to Miami Seaquarium, the Science Museum (which sounds nerdy, and it is, but in a cool way), an airboat ride through the Everglades, and a visit to an Alligator farm.  Poor Morgan got selected from the crowd to go up front and hold a snake.  She hates snakes but is a good sport. They draped a python around her neck, it was probably 6-8 feet in length. It was a hands free event, as in, her hands were flapping in the air while the snake sort of hung there. So I guess you could say she really didn't hold the thing after all. Afterwards there was a ceremonial washing with hand sanitizer of every place the snake may have touched because "You never know if snake juice soaks in or not". 

One day was also spent at the University of Miami. We have started the dreaded college tours with our eldest. I really wanted to hate the place and the people. Sadly, they were wonderful and gracious hosts, the tour was fun and informative and at the end even I wanted to enroll there.  We also met with the Director of International Student Admissions. We were able to get a lot of our questions answered about how to apply to universities, financial aid etc.  It's a whole different ball game when you are applying to colleges in the USA from Africa......

At the end of the day though none of it mattered as I firmly decided that I will be homeschooling the kid for university.

One place I really love in Miami is Robert is Here. Robert's fruit stand started in 1959, his dad set him on the street corner with cucumbers from the family garden and a sign that read Robert is Here. I'm not sure who consulted on the marketing and branding plan but it worked. He was sold out by noon and his empire was born! His fruit stand sells super yummy key lime milkshakes too, you know if you've had your fill of fresh fruit and whatnot.  I wasn't able to make it to Robert's this trip, I was sidelined by food poisoning, but my hero of a husband bought me some key limes. And while they don't quite make up for the fact that I missed out on the key lime shakes, I'm excited to make a Key Lime Pie.

I was all set with the recipe that I wanted to use until I saw the cover of the August Bon Appetit magazine. So now I guess I have to make 2 pies. One regular Key Lime Pie and then the cover recipe, Lime and Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie.  I'll post my findings here and may the best pie win.

Pie Number One
Traditional Key Lime Pie
adapted from Kermit's Key West

For the Filling:
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
6 egg yolks, the egg whites can be saved to make a meringue topping, if desired. See cooks note.
3/4-cup fresh squeezed Key Lime Juice, see cooks note
1 tablespoon of finely grated lime peel
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs, approximately 12 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium size mixing bowl blend together the egg yolks and lime zest. Whisk until the yolks are colored a light green. Add the sweetened condensed milk, the lime juice, stir until smooth and then set aside to thicken.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon until well blended. Press evenly and firmly into a greased 9 inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes then set aside to cool completely.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and then bake for 15 minutes until the center is set but still jiggly. Cool pie 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Before serving beat whipping cream in medium mixing bowl to soft peaks. Add powdered sugar then beat again until just stiff peaks form. Spread cream over top of pie or pipe decoratively and serve.

Cooks Note: 

*Traditionally, Key Lime pie is enjoyed with a whipped cream, or a meringue topping. If you choose to top your pie with a meringue, cook the pie for 7 minutes then remove the pie and gently spoon over the meringue covering the pie evenly. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

*Using bottle reconstituted lime juice will give the pie an off, bitter taste. It is not recommended that bottled juice be used in making this pie. If you don't have access to Key Limes, use regular Persian Limes.

*The high acid content of limes thickens and sets the pie by causing the proteins in the sweetened condensed milk and the egg yolks to coil and bond without the use of heat to cook them. And while the pie will set without baking, baking sets the pie a little firmer and makes for a nicer slice.

LocaPour not Locavore

This week Andy and I took a little road trip across the state to Walla Walla with friends to visit some of the award winning vineyards that call the valley home. After 3 days of sampling wines we are proud members of the stained tooth society.  Crest White Strips anyone?

At the base of the Blue Mountains in the Southeast corner of Washington State sits the fertile Walla Walla Valley, home to over 100 wineries planted with over 1800 acres of grapes. Winemaking began in the 1850's when recent immigrants grew grapes to make their own homemade wines. However it wasn't until 1977 that the first commercial winery was established and then again not until 1984 was the region recognized as an American Viticulture Area. The region produces 20 varietals, including such novel grapes as Cinsault, Dolcetto, Barbera, Malbec, and Tempranillo. What these vineyards are really known for though are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

Coming soon to a glass near you.

To plan out your trip you can do a little research online, go into town and wander around (there are plenty of tasting rooms on Main street), or if you are as lucky as we are, meet up with friends who live there and enjoy the benefits of their wisdom.

Thanks M and B for your guidance

We started out on day one visiting their favorites:
L'Ecole No. 41 Tasted a surprising Chenin Blanc that was truly summer in a glass
Waterbrook Sangiovese Rose, a dry wine with Berry and Melon
Dusted Valley Squirrel Tooth Alice, not a great wine but a great label and name.
Zerba This gem of a winery boasts some really big wines. We purchased their Syrah, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and 2 dessert wines, a Late Harvest Syrah, and Late Harvest Syrah Port. Mariah Donahue (no relation) was a most delightful host that afternoon showing us the cave, and generally charming us into buying a lot of wine. The big pours didn't hurt either.

Some of Zerba's award winners!

The Cave at Zerba

Next up was Otis Kenyon worth a trip to hear the story behind the name and to sample their Matchless Red, or so I heard. I quit "sampling" at this point. I had reached my saturation point which was a little north of tipsy.
Last but not least was Fort Walla Walla  guest taster M pronounced this his favorite winery of the day. I do believe he bought a bottle of something red but I was done and was more focused on something to put in my belly other than wine.

A nice grilled Rib Eye from Back Stage Bistro put things right, a bit of Ibuprofen (preventative of course) and an early night wrapped up day one.

Chocolate carnage after a day of wine tasting

Day Two dawned bright and early. After a little fortification in the form of caffeine, we set off this time out toward the airport where there are numerous tasting rooms.
Tamarack Cellars Their Cab Franc, usually a blending grape, was really smooth and smoky.
Revelry Vintners Can I get a witness?  I do not like Cabernet Sauvignon. I do not like it at all. As a testimony to how great their Cab Sav is, I bought 4 bottles.
5 Star Cellars 60% of women will buy a wine for it's label, they'll buy it a second time if the wine is good. We almost passed up this winery because of the label. Shallow I know, but we had also been drinking....Whether or not the boys at 5 Star rebrand their label I would buy another bottle of their Supernova. It is a wild blend of Petit Verdot and Cab Franc, crazy good.
Dunham Cellars Many temptations to be found, a dry Lewis Vineyard Riesling, a Late Harvest Riesling which thankfully wasn't cloyingly sweet and a refreshing cherry popsicle of a Syrah.
Syzygy When the Earth, Sun, and Moon align what do you get?  One heck of a Syrah that's what.
DaMa Wines Polished, graceful wines with a Cowgirl spirit, that's DaMa-nation! Love the Cowgirl Cab and their Columbia Valley Cab.  Hmmm, maybe I like Cab Sav after all.....
Our friends continued on tasting at Trust and Stephenson Cellars but I, again, needed to put an end to my tasting for the day. Visions of public tipsiness are an excellent restraint.

Sangiovese Rose

Cabernet Sauvignon Vines

Today, day three, we packed up and headed for home stopping in the Horse Heaven AVA area near Prosser Washington to check out some highly recommended wines. We stopped at Terra Blanca, Alexandria Nicole and Coyote Canyon for whites. Sauvignon Blancs, Un-Oaked Chardonnays, and Albarinos rounded out our other purchases.

All in all it was a wonderful few days with people we love, but it's good to be home. Well at least for the next 24 hours. Off to Miami Beach tomorrow. 

An iffy relationship

Leftovers. We haven't always had an easy relationship. Most of the meals I make are one night stands to me. A brief moment of excitement from a photo in a food magazine, the rush of something new, but then the meal is over and you find that dish X is just dinner. It gets assigned a container and space on the middle shelf in the refrigerator and you're off again in pursuit of the next new recipe. Then, sometime in the not so distant future, you find what was once the promise of new love shoved behind the jam and yogurt languishing in murky liquid. You know that the only humane thing to do at this point is to just toss the whole mess, container included, because goodness only knows what toxins may spew forth if you open the lid.

That sums up my relationship with leftovers.

I  have moments of guilt and for a few days here and there I will pack them as lunch for work. More often than not however, I forget they are there and a week later find them resembling a science experiment that went bad.

Oh, get off your high horse. I know you do the same thing.

I'm trying to be better. I'm trying to be more conscience about how much food I buy and cook and willing myself to eat what's leftover before making something new.  Having hungry teenagers around helps.

This week we are heading off on vacation and it is a necessity that we clear out the fridge.  There's lettuce, and a few stray vegetables that will be tossed into a salad, hummus and sliced turkey that will be used in someones lunch, and what's left of the recipe I'm sharing with you today. Beer Basted Pulled Pork. It's one of those nice oven braises that require very little attention from you but gives back in big ways.  It has great flavor and it's just the thing to make if you are feeding a crowd, or teenagers who eat like a crowd.

Oh, by the way. We're off to visit some Washington State Wineries and then on to Miami to visit family. Stay tuned for some postings from the road.

If you have a favorite restaurant in the Miami area you like let me know, likewise with any vineyards in Walla Walla, I'd love to check them out.

Beer Basted Pulled Pork
6 cups beer, any type you like
2 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 (5-6 pound) Boston pork butt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Sprinkle the pork evenly with 1 tablespoon of salt, massage into the meat and let sit for 20 minutes.

Bring the first 9 ingredients, minus 1 tablespoon of salt, to a boil in a very large pot.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute to blend the flavors.  Place the pork in a large Dutch oven and pour half the liquid over the pork. Cover and place in the oven with a sheet pan underneath to catch any drips.

Braise the pork for 4-5 hours or until the meat shreds easily with a fork.

While the pork cooks bring the remaining braising liquid to a boil over medium high heat. Cook until reduced to the consistency of syrup about 40 minutes or so. Keep a careful eye on it so that it does not burn or reduce too quickly after about 25 minutes. Once the liquid is syrupy, discard the bay leaves and let cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.

When the meat is fully cooked, remove the pork from the cooking liquid and shred with 2 forks. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then mix the pork with the reduced liquid and serve.

We like to serve this as sandwiches with caramelized onions on a soft potato roll.

What a day for a Day Dream

What a glorious Independence Day this has turned out to be. I was planning to wax poetic about the meaning of the day, you know, something profound. Just don't have it in me.  The deck is calling and I've got a good book loaded on the kindle. Perfect afternoon to not do much of anything.
In anticipation of this evenings BBQ's and fireworks I have made some cupcakes. I was really at a loss as to what to make this year. Usually inspiration strikes early, or my kids ask me to make a flag cake.  I really wanted to use up the rest of our strawberries from Sakuma Farms. 

You really have to get creative after a while when there are only 4 people eating a flat of strawberries.

I realize that I've been on a strawberry kick lately. But in all fairness, the fresh strawberries from Australia that we get in Singapore cost an arm and a leg ($25 Singapore dollars for a pint. I'm not kidding) so we don't eat them. Don't even get me started on California strawberries shipped to Asia in January.  Ugh.

Anyway, I was leaning toward strawberry shortcake but wasn't really feeling it. Pie. No, I kinda have to psych myself up for the whole dough rolling thing. Back to strawberry shortcake. Hmmm.  How about strawberry shortcake cupcakes? YES!

I started with a vanilla bean cupcake, made a strawberry mousse filling, and a vanilla buttercream frosting. Since I got a late start on this I didn't really have much to decorate them with and really, a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting looks a little naked.  I found a bar of Godiva chocolate with dried strawberry bits in it and poked a small square of it on top.  Not the most impressive looking cupcakes but I think they'll work since most of the people who will be eating them are under the age of 17.

I do have to say that they turned out exactly as I wanted, a portable shortcake with a tart sweet strawberry filling. Perfect for eating while watching the fireworks.

Enjoy your 4th of July, there's a chair out back calling my name.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
1 box of white cake mix (use your own favorite recipe if you are judgey about these sorts of things)
1 cup of water
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 vanilla bean halved and scraped
3 egg whites
For the Filling:
2 pints of ripe strawberries hulled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 packet of unflavored gelatin
For the Frosting:
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper baking cups in muffin tin.
For the Cupcake:
Mix together the cake mix, water, oil, sour cream, scraped seeds from vanilla bean, and egg whites.  Beat well until smooth and creamy. Fill each baking cup 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Remove from oven when slightly golden and the tops spring back when lightly touched.  Set aside to cool.  After 5 minutes remove cupcakes from pan to a baking rack to cool completely.

For the Filling:
While cupcakes are baking slice the strawberries and sprinkle with the sugar.  Allow the berries to macerate until they give up some juice. Remove 1/3 cup of juices from the strawberries and sprinkle the gelatin over the juice. Set the gelatin and strawberry juice aside for about 5 minutes allowing the gelatin to bloom.  Place the bowl with the gelatin in a small pan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin melts and the mixture is smooth, immediately remove the gelatin from the heat.  Meanwhile, puree the berries then mix with the gelatin. (I left the berries a little chunky). Set aside the gelatin and berry mixture to allow it to cool and thicken a bit.  In a medium size mixing bowl beat the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold the berry mixture into the whipped cream and then refrigerate until firm. About one hour.

For the Frosting:
In a small saucepan combine the milk and flour. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture becomes a thick paste.  Remove the paste to a small bowl and refrigerate until very cold. Once the mixture is well chilled beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. You want all the sugar to be dissolved. Test for any graininess, if you feel sugar granules keep beating.  Once the butter and sugar are creamed add the flour mixture one heaping tablespoon at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and incorporate well. Set frosting aside. Do not refrigerate.

To assemble:
Using a sharp paring knife remove a fairly large cone shaped piece of cake from the top of each cupcake. Gently turn each cone piece on it's side and slice off most of the cake leaving a small lid of cake that you will use to cover the filling.

Fill the cupcakes with a heaping teaspoon of the strawberry mousse and top each cupcake with the pared piece of cake.

Frost the cupcakes as desired, I like to pipe on the frosting as it goes faster. I used a #20 plain round tip.

Taking it's own sweet time

I swear any day now the temperatures will soar to the mid 70's, the sun will consistently appear, the cloud cover will lift, and we will be able to reliably say that summer is here.  It is after all almost July 4.

Since my favorite jacket is buried in a box that is part of our shipment from Singapore it can't happen soon enough. I think by the time I find it, I won't need it anymore. But I can't complain really, after 8 years of living on the equator in perpetual sultry weather the cool of the Pacific Northwest has been a welcome relief.

Still, 70 degrees Fahrenheit isn't asking for too much. Maybe 75.

According to the weather app on my iphone today was to be sunny and warm(ish) and we were invited by some optimistic friends to their home for a BBQ. I was asked to bring a summer salad. I knew that another friend was bringing a green salad so I was looking for something else, something a little interesting and unexpected.

I ran through my usual recipes for pasta salads and slaws, and briefly entertained a potato salad but tossed it as Andy isn't a fan.  Then in a brief moment of inspiration I remembered this one.  It's a riff on a Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa from Bon Appetit a few years ago.  This is a salad with black beans, tomato, avocado, and corn.  It is brightened with a lime dressing and a bit of cilantro.  If you aren't a fan of cilantro (I can take it or leave it) forget about it, the salad if fine without it.  If you haven't tried quinoa before don't be intimidated. It is pretty straight forward to prepare and takes to a lot of different flavors.

I'm also happy to report that the sun has firmly planted itself in the sky and the back deck looks like an inviting place to while away the afternoon.  Stop on by, I'll save you a seat.

Black Bean, Tomato and Quinoa Salad
2 cups Quinoa
1 can of black beans rinsed and drained
3 green onions sliced on the bias
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
2 avocados diced
1 cup of corn kernels, preferably fresh
¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced lime zest
½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¾ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon agave nectar

For the quinoa:
In a large saucepan combine the quinoa with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Watch the quinoa closely so that it does not burn. When most of the water has been absorbed remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to finish steaming. Allow the quinoa to cool in the saucepan to room temperature and once cool transfer to a medium mixing bowl.

For the dressing:
Combine the lime zest and juice, olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper and agave nectar in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

For the salad:
To the quinoa add the black beans, green onions, tomato, avocado, corn, cilantro and parsley.  Pour over approximately half of the lime dressing and toss to coat gently.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Prior to serving taste the salad and add more dressing if needed, it usually needs about ¼ cup more of the dressing. You won't use all the dressing.  The left over dressing is fabulous on a simple salad of baby greens and Dungeness crab.