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‘Dirty Food’ cookbook inspires comfort

Find the recipe for Quinoa Porridge with Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar inside today’s Food section. (Adriana Janovich)
Find the recipe for Quinoa Porridge with Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar inside today’s Food section. (Adriana Janovich)

Quick Look: Might want to wear a bib. The 60-plus dishes in this book will probably get your hands dirty, not to mention your shirt. Inspired by American comfort, diner and fast food, these recipes aim to offer upscale versions of old favorites such as fried chicken, cherry pie and blueberry pancakes.

What’s Inside: Described as “the best worst food you will ever eat,” recipes in “Dirty Food” aren’t super fancy, but they are grown up – and good. Hearty and messy burgers, sandwiches, wings and ribs fill the pages, which are designed to look, well, dirty. Sprinkles, seeds, powdered sugar, crumbs and syrup look like they are spilled across the pages. Recipes appear to be printed on napkins, papers and trays. They’re divided into chapters by meal type: brunch, hot and cold sandwiches, bowls, take-out, sides, treats, beverages and barbecue, ribs and wings. Best of all: each recipe is accompanied by a photograph. The photos are deeply hued and evoke the feeling of a semi-industrial, sorta vintage, hipster diner. Dishes are presented on wood with chipped paint, discolored metal and dented trays.

The writing is casual and tongue-in-cheek. The author calls the book “a lust letter (or perhaps a dirty text) to food.” She offers twists on classics, such as Blueberry Cotton Candy Pancakes, Pretzel Croissants and Belgian Waffles with Maple-Cured Bacon. There are also recipes for Pulled Pork Pretzel Buns, Jerk Chicken, Honey-Fried Chicken, Sweet and Sour Orange Chicken, Fried Oysters and Grits, Rosemary Coleslaw, Apple Cheddar Pie, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, and three kinds of pickles. Some are internationally inspired, such as Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Trinidadian Aloo Pies, Classic Pad Thai, Thai Iced Tea and Falafel. A few recipes are influenced by the American South, such as Fried Green Tomatoes and Portuguese Linguiça Gumbo.

What’s Not: There’s only one version of macaroni and cheese in this book, which offers a little bit of a lot. Everything looks good, and that only makes one want to see more – more sandwiches, more breakfast items, more “dirty” desserts and, of course, more mac ’n’ cheese.

Look below for the recipe for Quinoa Porridge with Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar.

Quinoa Porridge with Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar

From “Dirty Food” by Carol Hilker

If you can cook cream of wheat or oatmeal, you can make this easy-to-follow recipe that turns gluten-free quinoa into maple-tinted breakfast cereal.

I doubled the amount of cinnamon and topped mine with raisins, pine nuts and crushed almonds and cashews for a sweet, stick-to-your-ribs start to the day.

“Who says that gluten-free can’t dabble with decadence?” Hilker writes in the introduction to this recipe. “I think it’s time that quinoa jumped off the healthy lunch plate and into something a little sexier.”

2 cups milk (or almond milk, rice milk, light coconut milk or vanilla almond milk)

1 cup quinoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chopped nuts and fruit, to serve (optional)

Pour milk into a medium sauce pan and heat over medium-low. Stir constantly with a wooden spatula, wooden spoon or whisk, gently scraping the bottom of the pan periodically. Cook until milk begins to bubble and simmer, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add quinoa and salt, and stir until combined. Let mixture come to a slow boil. Cover pan, leaving the lid slightly ajar to vent, and reduce heat to low. Cook on a low simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove lid and stir in brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon.

Place lid loosely back on saucepan and let mixture simmer on low for another 10 minutes. Check and stir occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Reduce heat if quinoa appears to be simmering too quickly; add additional milk if it becomes too dry before it becomes tender. When done, the mixture should look like a cross between porridge and cream of wheat. Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir. Dish into two big bowls or 4 little bowls and add chopped nuts and fruit, if desired.

Serves: 2 to 4

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