Of the Earth: Dinner at the doorstep


For the Recorder
Published: 3/20/2018 6:37:40 PM

I’m more grateful than I can say for friends who have found their way to our door recently bearing all kinds of dishes to get us through these days of limited mobility. Along the way, I’ve picked up some great recipe ideas, as I’ve found that the food folks leave at your step can be more interesting, in some ways, than the food they may serve you as a guest at their table. I’ve also come away from this experience determined to step up for others when there is a need or opportunity. It makes a huge difference to have someone simply say “Hey, don’t worry about cooking tonight.”

Most recently, Joe Shoenfeld and Lynn Rubinstein of Conway arrived with Southwest quinoa cakes with melted pepper jack cheese, salsa and avocado; exploding with garlic and cilantro; and served alongside a baby spinach salad with a gin and tonic (a margarita would have worked, too, as would simple lime and seltzer.)

Southwest Quinoa Cakes


2 cups water

1 cup quinoa, preferably red

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

¾ cup reduced fat cottage cheese

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed

¼ cup sliced scallions

1 t baking powder

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1 14-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced

1 clove garlic

1 small chipotle pepper in adobo souce

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, chopped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with cooking spray.

Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Stir in quinoa, and simmer covered until grains are tender and reveal their spiraled germ (about 15 minutes). Transfer to large bowl and cool for 10 minutes.

Add eggs, beans, cottage cheese, scallions, flour, baking powder and ¼ t salt, and stir to combine. Divide mixture among muffin cups (about ¼ cup each). Top each quinoa cake with 1 T cheese.

Bake until cakes are puffed and a little brown on top (about 20 minutes). Cool for 5 minutes and loosen. Remove with paring knife.

Meanwhile, (or up to three days ahead) place tomatoes, garlic, chipotle pepper and a pinch of salt in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Serve cakes with salsa and avocado.

May you be likewise blessed, or bless another who will take comfort in this.

As long as we’re in a south by southwest frame of mind, let’s also warm ourselves with Trouble Erin Mandeson’s chili rellenos.

She writes: “To celebrate my 50th birthday, my wife and I traveled to the small Mexican town of Todos Santos, a designated “magical” town in Baja. For my birthday dinner, we found ourselves at the excellently-rated Los Adobes de Todos Santos where they served this version of chili rellenos — which differs from my Texan wife’s version of the more traditionally known cheese-stuffed relleno dipped in whipped egg whites and fried.”

Chili Rellenos


4 large poblano chilies

3 large potatoes

¾ c grated cheddar cheese (optional)

3 to 4 minced garlic cloves

¼ c butter



For Sauce

1 c vegetable or chicken stock

1 T refried beans

1 T sour cream

1 t chili powder

On a baking sheet, roast poblano chilies under the broiler, turning occasionally until each side is blackened and blistered. Remove from broiler and “sweat” the chilies, either by putting them in a paper bag and rolling it closed, or submerging in ice water. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and mash them with butter, milk, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, as well as cheese if you choose.

Peel the skin off the chilies, removing membrane and seeds and leaving the stem on. Slit each chili from stem to tip and lay on paper towel to dry.

Gently stuff each chili with the mashed potato mix, using a toothpick to “sew” the two sides together, and lay on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

With rellenos heating, heat stock to boiling, add a heaping spoonful of refried beans and a level spoonful of sour cream. Season with chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. You want a thin sauce that will coat the back of a spoon, running off in one thin stream. Drizzle each relleno with the sauce and serve.

The Cutting Board

State Rep. Paul Mark was one of the panelists at last weekend’s workshop on “The Power of an Equitable Community” at All Souls Church. He offered a fairly optimistic assessment of the future of Healthy Incentives Progam (HIP) funding in the fiscal 2019 state budget, adding that lawmakers seem aware of how much good it does. But given the federal uncertainties, it wouldn’t hurt to keep those drums beating.

Wesley Blixt lives in Greenfield. He is a longtime reporter and is the author of “SKATERS: A Novel.” Send him recipes, stories and suggestions at wesleyblixt@me.com.

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