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How I almost burned down the kitchen right before Lost came on May 5, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, lunch, salad, vegetarian.
Tags: , , ,

I was excited about dinner last night.  A friend at work had sent me a recipe for quinoa cakes, and I decided that would be the base of the night’s meal.  I had planned a nice salad with grilled halloumi cheese and green beans, and thought some soup would be perfect to round out the meal (while using up two more cans of diced tomatoes from my cabinet).

Once everyone arrived, we sat down in the living room, mere minutes from the time Lost was going to come on.  I started to smell smoke, but figured it was our neighbors to the left burning something on their grill again.  A minute later, Ryan said, “I think I smell something burning” and we all looked down the hallway toward the kitchen to see smoke billowing out into the hallway, right ONTO the smoke detector, which never bothered to go off.  Good thing we have that. I raced into the kitchen  and found the stovetop up in flames from a burning oven mitt left on a too-hot-still burner.  I smacked the flames out with a towel, yelled at Toby to stop eating falling ashes, and Ryan took the charred mess outside to hose it off and stop the smoldering fibers.  By this time, the smoke had filled our entire house with thick air and a campfire aroma (which is still lingering this morning). Jokes were made about the Smoke Monster visiting our house, fans were brought out, all the windows were opened, and we continued to eat.

burning oven mitt

Here’s a recipe for quinoa cakes.  I modified it from the original to add cheese and baked them instead of frying.  Come to think of it, this meal might have been one of the healthiest we’ve eaten on a Tuesday in a while.

Update: I had two plain leftover quinoa cakes for lunch today.  I smeared some tomato paste on them, sprinkled a little mozzarella on top, and heated them up, and they were delicious!  Next time I’ll make extra cakes just to eat them the next day.

Baked Quinoa Cakes with Spring Halloumi Salad

quinoa cakes with salad

For the quinoa cakes:

3 cups water
2 cup quinoa
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper (at least 1 tbs each)
Herbs/spices if you’d like
Cooking spray

For the salad:

1/2 lb green beans, cut into approx. 1 inch segments
1 bunch kale, rinsed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2-3 tbs fresh dill
1/2 halloumi cheese, 1/2 inch dice
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbs olive oil

Making the quinoa cakes:

  • Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.
  • If needed (I’ve found Trader Joe’s quinoa doesn’t need washing but Costco’s does), wash quinoa in 3 changes of water in a bowl, then drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally until cooled off, about 10 minutes, then stir in eggs, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and additional herbs/spices, if using.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray a 1/2 cup dry-ingredient measuring cup with cooking spray. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. (If spatula becomes sticky, dip in water.) Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Form the rest of the quinoa cakes the same way.
  • Cook for 20 minutes at 400, flipping once if you want.

Making the salad:

  • First, cook the halloumi. Cut the halloumi into bite-sized pieces (1/2 inch or so) and place on grill pan or skillet over medium.  There is no need to add extra olive oil or use cooking spray; the cheese has enough oil in it to grill nicely by itself.  Cook the halloumi over medium heat until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side.
    • Note: We have a grill pan with a press from Target that is probably the most-used pan in the house, and perfect for this purpose.  If you don’t have a grill pan, any sort of skillet will do.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add kale, and cook until leaves are bright green. Add green beans and salt and pepper, cook until green beans are bright green.  Add halved cherry tomatoes, dill, and pre-cooked halloumi chunks, and cook just until tomatoes start to soften a bit.  Remove from heat and serve alongside the quinoa cakes.


1. allison - May 5, 2010

OMG angela! funny story about the burning oven mitt.. these sound great, love anything with quinoa.. cant wait to try both of these!!!

2. Claudia - May 5, 2010

You should ask Mark about the time he started a fire in his brother’s kitchen while trying to boil water. Yes, it’s literally true – the man can’t boil water!

3. Kirsten - May 5, 2010

Hilarious! (Since it wasn’t tragic). Those look delicious. I’m glad your house didn’t burn down.

tuesdayswithangela - May 5, 2010

I know! It could’ve easily been so much worse. I took Toby for a walk halfway through cooking…what if I would’ve done the same thing then? Much bigger trouble!

4. Jen - May 5, 2010

Where do you buy your quinoa? I’ve been wanting to try some for a few months & these sound great! Too sad for your oven mit but it sounds like you had a real Lost expirence 🙂

tuesdayswithangela - May 5, 2010

I usually buy it at Trader Joe’s. It comes in a small box there, in the grains aisle. They have it at most grocery stores in the “health food” section but it always seems more expensive at other places… this is what the TJ’s quinoa packaging looks like so you can spot it:

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