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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Lentils have always been a staple for us. During Greg’s first year of graduate school, before we were married, his work week sustenance consisted almost entirely of brown rice and lentils. High in fiber and magnesium, and easy on the wallet, this was a quintessential “poor man’s food”, and delicious to top it all off.

Since then, our lentil repertoire has evolved quite a bit. We add red lentils to soups or stews for extra depth, creaminess, and nutrition without interfering with flavor. (Fun fact, red lentils somehow complement the flavor of roasted tomato soup!) Brown lentils, the cheapest option, are slightly meatier and, unlike their red cousins, hold their shape much better when cooked.  We often cook them up in soups and stews with a melange of vegetables — carrots, eggplant, kale.

Recently we saw French lentils on sale for roughly the price of standard brown lentils.  They are earthier and have a beautiful, delicate black and green color.  Technically, these lentils are called “green lentils” because true French lentils, or puy lentils, come from the region of Le Puy.  This below cooking method seemed most appropriate, whether the lentils were actually from France or not.

Red Wine Braised Lentils
4-6 large carrots
4-6 stalks celery
1 large onion
2-4 garlic cloves
1 quart chicken stock
~1 cup red wine
2 cups dry lentils (brown or green)
salt to taste

Soak lentils in advance.  They will plump to about 4 cups.  Dice vegetables.  In large pot or dutch oven, saute onion with salt over medium heat.  When translucent and beginning to brown, add garlic, celery, and carrot, salt again, and continue to cook (covered is fine) until soft.  Add wine and let alcohol burn away.  Add stock and lentils and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

You could add other sturdy vegetables as well, like fennel or potatoes.  Tomatoes would be another good addition.  We served ours topped with greek yogurt and paprika.  The yogurt was for creaminess and to cool it down.  The paprika was just for vanity.

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Pillow-y potatoes

We have a favorite gnocchi place in New York — Max Soha in Harlem. This is quite an exceptional restaurant overall with extremely good pasta at very affordable prices (and not just for Manhattan). They have an excellent black linguine with seafood, and the lamb ragu also comes highly recommended. But the gnocchi at this place is truly phenomenal, beautiful puffy pillows of potato, dressed simply with tomato, basil, and some homemade mozzarella. Delicious. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, do stop by. But take note, it’s cash only.

The first time we made gnocchi was one step short of a smashing success.  That step, of course, was to stop while we were ahead.  This was one of our more ambitious evenings, in which we decided to make regular potato gnocchi, sweet potato gnocchi, and ricotta gnocchi.  The first item was easy to make, quick, and delicious.  Sweet potatoes, however, are much wetter than their less-sweet cousin, and so our gnocchi recipe ended up requiring about four times as much flour–which is about four times as much as the recipe called for!  So after spending an hour kneading spoonful after spoonful of flour into sweet potato mush, all the while terrified that we would still need more flour, we finally quit when our dough had formed into a dense, chewy hockey puck.  Worth mentioning now that the key to good gnocchi is to go easy on the flour.  So, dejected, we postponed the ricotta for another time–which ended up being another spectacular failure.  This time, not enough flour, and our cute little ricotta balls instantly dissolved in the boiling water.

Two years later, revisiting potato gnocchi proved yet again successful.  So until we get a better sweet potato or ricotta gnocchi recipe, we’re sticking to this one.

Gnocchi with Herb-Infused Olive Oil

1 lb Idaho potatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
up to 1 cup flour
drizzle of herb-infused olive oil*

Peel the potatoes before cooking. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork or knife to release steam as they cook. Microwave the potatoes on high for 15 minutes. Let cool. (It’s possible that microwaving is not the best way to cook potatoes for gnocchi. We found they were a bit dry and very potato-ey. Boiling may be a better choice.)

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, grate them using the coarse side of a box grater. (Alternatively, a food mill will also work.) The goal is to flake the potatoes so there is enough air between potato flakes for a fluffier gnocchi.

Stir the egg into the potatoes. Add the flour a spoonful at a time, kneading in between each addition until the dough is dry enough to handle. Roll the dough out into one-inch diameter dowels, ensuring even thickness throughout. Cut dowels into half-inch pieces, dimpling/rolling with a fork.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook gnocchi in batches for two-three minutes at a time, until gnocchi float to the top. Remove and set aside. Drizzle with herb-infused olive oil and serve. And enjoy.

*Heidi calls this “magic sauce“, “as versatile as a little black dress”. It is a garlic-herb infused olive oil, delicious drizzled on top of a plate full of fresh gnocchi.

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We wouldn’t have guessed it until this weekend, but Labor Day marks the completion of quite a year.  Okay, I suppose it’s a little bit arbitrary where we start counting (like, maybe our wedding day is slightly more appropriate) but Labor Day coincides well, too.

One year ago this weekend we had our first housewarming party as a couple, in our very own apartment, our very own home together.  It was somewhat of an eclectic soiree, combining a number of our old New York, yuppy (“young urban professional”–with no judgment attached) friends and a number of our new New Haven friends (decidedly less yuppy).  We made black beans and arepas (back in the pre-grill days) and four (or five?) desserts (can’t blame this one on not having a grill).

It was also the first time all of us met Andy.  In this last year, Andy and his now wife Marcella have been featured guests at many meals; they also received a homemade wedding cake from us in May.  Then, he was a stranger from a foreign land–Mozambique to be exact.  Now, he’s off to England for studies, leaving a gaping hole stateside.  New Haven has suffered quite a bit this summer: First an earthquake, then a hurricane, and now Andy leaving.

Well, enough maudlin rehashing of developments in our relationship and our friends’.  What says summer better than a backyard barbecue with potato salad?  We had grilled burgers with fresh tomatoes, caramelized onions, and goat cheese (and the burgers were so thick they nearly passed for meatballs), a grilled corn salad with red pepper, celery, and sun dried tomatoes, and a bit of a twist on a potato salad.  Enjoy the recipes, and the extra day of rest (we sure did).

Grilled Burgers

Use 1/4 lb of meat for each burger, but do not make them as thin as you get them at the store.  Sprinkle with spices–Montreal Steak seasoning is a good mix–then roll into a ball, indent dimples in the center on both sides and maybe flatten just slightly.  The reason to keep them thick is so that you can have burgers that are medium (or more, or less) on the inside while also developing a good sear on the outside.  Too thin, and there will be no char by the time the burgers are cooked all the way through–or worse, you’ll get the char and dried out hockey pucks for burgers.

Cook over a high flame, flipping only once.  5 minutes per side should do it.  Do not fiddle around!  Fiddling keeps the burgers from developing a nice crust, which ensures an easy flip and a sturdy burger.  Top to your delight.

Mostly Green Potato Salad

2 lb potatoes (red-skinned fingerlings would be beautiful, though we used Idahos)
1 heaping T of capers
2 scallions, pickled (soaked in vinegar, salt, sugar)
1/2 cup peas
feta cheese, crumbled/chopped to taste

Cube potatoes and boil until tender (a fork should go in and out easily).  Drain.  Combine all ingredients with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Enjoy. And don’t use mayo.

Grilled Corn Salad

6 ears of corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
10 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
3 stalks diced celery
1 T ground cumin
lemon juice, salt, and olive oil to taste

As has been stated, there are a million ways to grill corn.  The easies and quickest: husk the corn and grill directly over the fire, flipping every few minutes.  Cut kernels off of corn.  Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Of course, you could do this sans grill using frozen corn or oven roasted corn.  And a microwave is a great way to cook corn–one of us thinks so.

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Links we like

In keeping with our newfound commitment to CommunityFoodJustice, see below for an exciting assortment of links we like:

  1. Hazelnut plum crumb tart
    Inspiration much? Smittenkitchen is one of my longest standing food-blog crushes, and her baby featured in some of these posts is adorable.
  2. Rosemary lemonade
  3. Average American food budget $885/month
    Definitely check out Frugal Family Foodie — Kelly includes the unit cost of all her creations, proving that it’s not difficult to eat foodie on the cheap!
  4. More people die falling out of bed than in all U.S. wars?
    Yes, this last one a bit off the beaten path, but interesting nonetheless!

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