What have you been up to in the kitchen?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Green Lentil Soup

Ahhh... comfort food...

1 cup green lentils (red or puy lentils may be substituted)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed + 3/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder

2 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

(I added to this recipe 1 bay leaf and 1 sprig of fresh rosemary)

Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Drain.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan and saute two-thirds of the chopped onion with the garlic, cumin, tumeric (or curry powder) for 3 minutes, stirring. Add the lentils, stock, and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Saute the remaining onion in the remaining oil until golden.

Use a potato masher to lightly mash the lentils and make the soup pulpy. Reheat gently and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fried onions and cilantro (I added some grated parmesan cheese and chili-pepper flakes)

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Lovely Autumn Meal

This is the meal I, alone, made from scratch, all of it, for my mother's Birthday! It was divine.

"Warm spices and caramelized onions underscore the natural sweetness of pumpkin and butternut squash in this comforting dish. The easy swirl of ginger butter at the end adds a bit of flavor and a lot of style. Prep and Cook Time: 1 3/4 hours. Notes: You can substitute 3 1/2 lbs. packaged peeled-and-cubed butternut squash for the pumpkin and squash called for below: Skip steps 1 and 3, decrease the amount of broth to 7 cups, and add the squash with the broth and carrots to the onion mixture in step 4. Cook until all vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes."

2 pounds Sugar Pie or other baking pumpkin
2 pounds butternut or acorn squash
8 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
7 tablespoons butter, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
About 1 tsp. salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger, divided
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds (from about 4 pods)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cut pumpkin and squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and any stringy parts. Put flesh side up in a large roasting pan with 1 cup broth. Cover pan with foil and bake until vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, melt 3 tbsp. butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and start to look creamy, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low or medium-low and cook onions, stirring every few minutes, until they turn a caramel color and become quite sweet, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

3. When pumpkin and squash are tender, scoop out flesh and set aside; discard skins. Reserve any liquid in bottom of pan.

4. Return pot with onions to medium-high heat. Add garlic and 2 tbsp. fresh ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add remaining 7 cups broth, the carrots, cooked pumpkin and squash, and reserved liquid from roasting pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

5. Whirl vegetables in a blender (in batches) until completely smooth. (For silky-smooth soup, you can pour the puréed soup through a strainer.) Return to pot and stir in brown sugar. Season with salt to taste. Keep warm over low heat.

6. Put a small bowl or measuring cup next to the stove. Melt remaining 4 tbsp. butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tsp. fresh ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter starts to foam. Stir mixture constantly until it starts to brown. Pour mixture into waiting bowl or measuring cup. Divide soup among 8 bowls and serve hot, with a swirl of ginger browned butter in each serving.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Makes 8 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 248(36% from fat); FAT 10g (sat 6.3g); PROTEIN 5.6g; CHOLESTEROL 27mg; SODIUM 982mg; FIBER 3.2g;

I ALSO made this!!! From scratch, mind you, and if any of you are familiar with my past cooking endeavors, you will be impressed at my progress!

1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
About 1 cup semolina flour
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 medium red onion
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
4 ounces gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water (about 100°). Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in flours, 2 tbsp. oil, and 1 tsp. salt. (Dough will be stiff.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place to rise until 1 1/2 times its original volume, about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, halve onion lengthwise, peel, and thinly slice. In a bowl, combine onion and rosemary with remaining 2 tbsp. oil, the vinegar, remaining 1 tsp. salt, and the chile flakes. Cover; set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly sprinkle 2 baking sheets with semolina and set aside. Turn risen dough out onto a floured surface. Knead dough just until it feels smooth, about 10 times. Divide into 32 balls. Set 16 balls aside and cover with plastic wrap; roll the others as thinly as possible. Put 8 rounds on each baking sheet. Top each with a scant 1 tbsp. onion mixture and 1 1/2 tsp. blue cheese. Bake until browned and sizzling, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough balls, onion mixture, and cheese. Serve hot or warm.

Wine pairing: Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling 2006 (Columbia Valley; $14)

Note: Nutritional analysis is per flatbread.

Makes 32 small flatbreads

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 80(34% from fat); FAT 3g (sat 1g); PROTEIN 2.4g; CHOLESTEROL 3.1mg; SODIUM 195mg; FIBER 0.5g; CARBOHYDRATE 11g