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Have I mentioned how insane Jason’s work has been these days? Have I bitched about the creative folks on his show that drive me bonkers? Why? Because it’s THEM who make my man live, breathe, eat, and …ekhm…release work twenty-four-seven. There’s no room for The Daily Show, no time to walk Cosmo together, NO REASON TO COOK, and no stamina for hanky-panky. Since we don’t have a child, a stack of highly classified photos in my drawer is the only reminder of that healthy and bursting with fruit flavors sex life we once had.

Can you imagine a job (a legal one) that takes away your most powerful instincts and the urge to preserve your own kind? I’ll make it easy for you. The job is called “Important Things With Demetri Martin”.

Trust me, I’m not the only one complaining. All the producers and writers are putting in an offensive number of hours for the show. They all are blessed with significant others. It’s been reported that all SOs are NOT happy. During one of those nightly brainstorming sessions (a.k.a. shooting popcorn and spitting water at each other, as who knows what exactly happens within the production chambers) the men began to recite out loud text messages from their better halves, then comparing which one was the most offensive. At that exact moment, it must have been around midnight, Jason’s iphone honked twice and the following message appeared on the screen:

I HATE DEMETRI.

He promptly shut off the phone and sank deeper into his chair. What happened?

A few days (weeks? months?) went by, and I visited Jason at work. Truthfully, I came in to rip him out of the office for a small hour so we could share a meal together in a peaceful setting. That night I met Demetri Martin for the very first time. Jason introduced us, and as we shook hands I smiled and sputtered:

AGI. NICE TO MEET YOU.

To which Demetri replied:

DEMETRI. I’M SORRY. I’M SO SORRY. FOR EVERYTHING.

Everyone burst out laughing, me including.

The guy is so sweet, so kind, so genuine, you just can’t be mad at him. Ever. He’s like this little white lamb that runs across green meadows and utters his cheerful baa-baa. When around him, you experience that instant notion to pet his warm, fuzzy mop and scratch his pink underbelly. That’s how sweet Demetri Martin is. And then he’s funny, too, in a smart-funny kind of way. You will all understand what I’m talking about when you see his show which premiers February 4th on Comedy Central. Turn the TV on, sit comfortably on your sofa, switch on “Important Things With Demetri Martin” and be ready to laugh. It may take you a second to keep up with him at times, as, you know, his jokes are not for dull saws and blunt axes. You ought to think a little, do some brain crunches. But then when it lands, when it hits home, and you GET IT, he’s FUNNY! Each sketch, each joke, keep in mind, has been marked with Jason’s sweat and blood. It’s a great show!

Wait a second. What’s the most appropriate snack to munch on during the show? What’s the best compliment you can offer to a night of such stimulating entertainment?

SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND OLIVE TAPENADE WITH ENDIVE SPEARS

All it requires is a food processor and those easily accessible ingredients:

–       6 oz drained kalamata olives, pitted

–       2 tbsp drained capers

–       2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, oil including

–       1 garlic clove

–       1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

–       1 cup (packed) fresh parsley

Throw everything into the machine and give it a spin back and forth. Next, add your olive oil and hit pulse once again. And again. That’s it. The TAPENADE is done in less than 5 minutes. Scoop it out and into a glass bowl, cover with cellophane and store in a refrigerator for an hour or so before consumption. The TAPENADE pairs beautifully with white and purple leaves of endives. Their bitterness simply dissolves in those salty Mediterranean flavors.

Oh, HBO called. Twelve hours later I was back at their desk. Chained and handcuffed to it. Darn it. Why did I say yes? Well, work is a good thing. Those folks there are good peeps, not to mention the routine is handy when it comes to my mental clarity. Since it’s only temporary, it does not count as slavery. As soon as I’m useless to HBO I shall be back in the kitchen with my beloved pots and pans.

Cosmo, on the other hand, is a poor loser that has to stay home all by himself, alone in his loneliness and feel very lonesome. Oy. My heart has just cringed.

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Earlier this year, in the spring, Jason and I worked together on a pilot for Fox, called “Sons of Tucson”. Jason is a freelance producer working on various TV shows for different networks. He’s given the industry over a decade of his life, and paved his way with sweat and blood. He got on board of SOT excited to be working once again with the Emmy-winning director, Todd Holland, and started building his department.

Since I had recently been laid off from my previous job, and was ready and eager, he hired me proudly as his Bitch. Well, my deal memo called the position “Post Production Assistant”, which didn’t bother me. One of the crucial tasks I was entrusted with was keeping everybody in the house fed. I was armed with a folder full of menus to keep things colorful and versatile. However, it was Healthyca, a little gem of a restaurant in the Valley, that became a main source of our lunches till we wrapped the pilot. It was then that I rediscovered QUINOA. I hear some of the members of our crew got quinoa-obsessed ever since.

Quinoa [keen-wah] is a grain native to South America; it’s the sacred crop of the Incas, also considered a Super Food for its nutritional value. 100 g of uncooked quinoa contains 14 grams of protein, plus significant amounts of B-vitamins, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Zinc. It also carries a balanced mix of essential amino acids making it a delicious source of complete protein.

I’ve used quinoa for years, cooking it on its own and serving it with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts, or steamed and sautéed broccoli, or inside tomato soup. I’ve had it a few times cold as a salad, and it was good, too. Nothing beats though Quinoa Salad made at Healthyca. Great job, guys! Keep it up.

After the pilot was over, and we returned home for good, away from the Valley, I got inspired to recreate the dish that rocked the worlds of so many. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am about to share with you the fruits of my labor, my little secrets that make THE difference. It is highly valuable information, hence consider it CONFIDENTIAL. And even though it’s not exactly the same as Healthyca’s, it is damn good every time I fix it.

Quinoa is cooked in 2:1 ratio, where you take 2 cups of liquid for each cup of grain. SECRET #1: flavor the quinoa while cooking, either with a few bay leaves dropped into cooking water, or substitute your H2O for chicken stock (low sodium). {The same rule applies to rice and other grains you may want to cook} It’s done when all liquid is absorbed. Remember to discard the bay leaves before mixing your salad. They are not edible. Set the quinoa aside to cool, and mix it a few times around so it doesn’t dry on the surface.

Now the fun part begins – you get to invent your very own Quinoa Salad. You can make it a Crunchy Quinoa Salad by adding finelly diced Persian cucumbers, radishes, red or yellow bell peppers, and heirloom tomatoes, say 1 cup of each, plus a handful of chopped scallions and fresh herbs (dill comes to mind instantly, then parsley, basil…). You can get a more meaty texture and make it a Quinoa a’la Mexicana by mixing black beans, yellow corn kernels, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro (chopped appropriately) into the salad. Think about color combination and texture. Feel it on your tongue as you create. Smell the goods. Another idea would be Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables, where roasted halves of Brussels sprouts, chopped carrots, parsnip, and garlic cloves make the “filling”. It doesn’t have to be vegetarian either. Throw in some roasted chicken breast cut in bite size chunks. Maybe add a handful of baby spinach leaves and let them wilt in the warmth of quinoa and veggies. Be creative. Be daring. Be wild!

SECRET #2 lays in the dressing. Aha! You definitely want your quinoa salad moist. A dry salad is a waste of time. It’s just wrong. Period. For the cold version the best and easiest choice is a lemon dressing (these proportions are good for 1.5 cups of cooked quinoa, adjust as desired):

–       2/3rd of a cup of GOOD extra virgin olive oil

–       1/3rd of a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

–       1 tbsp of lemon zest

–       1-2 tbsp of honey or agave nectar (start with 1 tbsp and taste)

–       a solid pinch of sea salt

–       a healthy pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

Whip it good into a coherent mixture, taste, and pour over your salad. Mix well, set in the fridge in a closed container, and let all the flavors get to know each other. You may enjoy it on its own, or serve it as a side to a rock-and-roll sandwich you’ll put together in the meantime.

If you take the warm route with roasted veggies (and chicken), I would start with sautéing diced slices of pancetta on a skillet with onions and garlic (salt & pepper!) over a medium heat. Once the fat from the pancetta is melted, I would add a can of diced tomatoes (low sodium) and simmer over a low heat for a minute or two. I want enough liquid to combine the quinoa with the veggies, but I don’t want it soggy. Take it off the heat, again pour over the grain, add the spinach and voila! You made yourself a royal dinner, just as – if not better – the Incan monarchs used to dine.

red quinoa din3

I know you’re all suddenly hungry now, and drooling over the computer screen, so go, go play in the kitchen. Take a bowl full of this ambrosial meal and lure your mate, date, neighbor, or friend. Report back to me when you recover your senses after the feast.

Oh, Yes!

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