Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

This is a very quick but warming and filling soup to have as a main course. Red lentils are critical because they are split and quick much faster than other lentils.  They are also sold under the name Masoor Dal.

In the photo, it is served with avocado toast made with naan and sprinkled with curry.

Makes 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and very finely minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 T. canola or other neutral vegetable oil

1 t. cumin

1/2 t. turmeric

1 T. double strength tomato paste (regular tomato paste can be substituted, just add 1 1/2 T.)

1 t. kosher salt (or more to taste)

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup red split lentils, rinsed

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock plus 1/2 cup water or 2 1/2 cups water

1 cup of canned pumpkin (this should not be sweetened or have any ingredients except pumpkin)

3-4 shakes of hot sauce (more to taste)

1 T. red wine vinegar

2 scallions and sour cream to garnish

PREPARATION:

  1. Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy pot.
  2. Add the onion and ginger and saute for 3-4 minutes until the onion is beginning to become translucent.
  3. Add the garlic to the pot and saute for 1 minute more until you can smell the scent of the cooking garlic.
  4. Add the cumin and turmeric and stir to combine all the ingredients.
  5. Add tomato paste, salt, and pepper and stir to combine (it will now be a lumpy paste on the bottom of the pot).
  6. Add the lentils, pumpkin and the chicken stock or water to the pot and stir to combine.
  7. Raise the heat to medium, partially cover the soup and bring to a simmer.
  8. Adjust heat to keep the soup gently simmering and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the bottom does not burn.
  9. Reduce the heat to low and vigorously whisk the soup by hand.  This will break up the lentils and leave the soup with texture but not whole lentils. [For a smoother soup you can use a stick blender, but I like some texture.]
  10. Thinly slice the scallions.
  11. Place the soup in bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and scallion slices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spicy Peanut Noodles

This is a combination of recipes I have tried over the years including ones from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Joanne Chang, and Saveur magazine. In the end, though, it is different from each of them because it reflects our family’s tastes.  You can make it with or without meat added (this recipe uses ground pork, but ground turkey or shredded chicken would work equally well and vegetarian is also fine) and you can adjust the heat to your own taste.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. ground pork (optional)

2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

3/4″ piece of ginger, very finely minced or grated

1/4 c. smooth peanut butter

1/8 c. miso, preferably white

1/8 c. rice wine vinegar

3 T. soy sauce

1 t. toasted sesame oil or more to taste (you can also substitute regular sesame oil if that is what you have)

1 T. honey or brown sugar

1/2 to 1 t. chili paste with garlic or more(Lan Chi brand is good)

chopped peanuts (you can use either salted or unsalted depending on what you like)

2 scallions

1/2 lime, cut into four wedges

10 oz. package of Chinese noodles (in a pinch you can substitute pasta, such as thin spaghetti, but the curliness of Chinese noodles make for a better dish)

Preparation:

  1. In a large fry pan, brown the ground pork, if using.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  2. Place a large pot of water, salted, on to boil for the noodles.
  3. In a large bowl (you will be adding the noodles to this so it needs to be large), mix the garlic, ginger, peanut butter, miso, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil,  and honey/brown sugar.
  4. Add the chili paste with garlic 1/4 t. at a time until the sauce is just a little hotter than you want the dish (the noodles will dilute the heat a bit).
  5. Mix the drained pork (if using) into the sauce.  If it seems too thick you can add a little hot water to thin it out a bit, although the moisture sticking to the noodles will also do this.
  6. If the peanuts are not already chopped, chop them and place in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Slice the white and about 1/2 of the green of the scallions and set aside.
  8. Place the noodles in the boiling water and use tongs or two forks to pull them apart so they cook evenly.
  9. When noodles are just cooked, drain them thoroughly and add them to the bowl with the sauce and toss well.
  10. Serve noodles topped with a sprinkling of peanuts and scallions and a wedge of lime on the side.

 

 

 

QUICHE FROMAGE or LORRAINE

This is loosely based on the quiche au fromage recipe Julia Child provides in her  The French Chef Cookbook made to accompany her original TVshow.  I have no doubt that Julia’s would be better, but this is easy and quite reliable.

Ingredients:

pie crust dough for a single crust (this can be homemade from any recipe you like that is no sweet, or store bought–Pillsbury’s ready to use pie crust in the refrigerator case of the supermarket works)

5 large eggs (you can flex to 4 or 6 if they seem particularly large or small, or if your pie pan is unusually shallow or deep)

1 1/2 cups whole milk (you can substitute half-and-half or light cream for 1/2 cup of the milk if you want a richer quiche)

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (Swiss can be substituted if you prefer)

for Lorraine:  3 slices or so of cooked bacon, ham cut into small dice, or prosciutto shredded, sauteed onions are also good

1/2 t. kosher salt

fresh ground pepper

pinch of nutmeg

Preparation:

  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Roll out the dough thinly and place in a 9″ pie pan creating a decorative crust by folding under the edge and using your finger or a fork to create a pattern.
  3. Poke the bottom of the crust lightly with the tines of a fork (to help keep it from swelling up too much) and then line the crust with either parchment paper or aluminum foil and weight it down using pie weights or dried beans or rice.
  4. Place the crust in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until it is lightly brown.
  5. Remove the parchment or foil along with the weights/beans/rice, if the bottom still seems too uncooked, leave the crust in the turned off oven for another 5 or so minutes to cook a bit more. (This can be done several hours in advance of cooking the quiche and should be done far enough in advance to at least allow the crust to cool to room temperature before proceeding if at all possible).
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  8. Spread half of the cheese on the bottom of the par-baked pie crust.
  9. Add the bacon/ham/prosciutto and sauteed onions, if using.
  10. Place the pie pan onto a baking sheet to catch any drips if you wish (not required but it helps if the quiche leaks).
  11. Slowly pour the egg and milk mixture over the ingredient(s) in the bottom of the crust.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the egg-milk mixture.
  13. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on whether your oven runs hot.  You will know the quiche is done when there is only a little jiggle left in the center when the pie pan is lightly shaken.  Check the quiche half-way through and if the edge of the crust is becoming too brown, cover with a circle of foil with the middle cut out. At that time also turn the quiche so it browns evenly.
  14. Once cooked, let the quiche rest for at least 15 minutes and up to a half hour before serving (more if you like quiche at room temperature).

 

Veggie Chips

Kale is not the only veggie that can be turned into chips.  Almost any green that does not contain too much water and has a reasonably firm cell structure will become a crunchy chip with the right treatment.   Spinach, Swiss Chard, Brussels sprout leaves (especially the biggish Brussels sprouts) are all wonderful.  I have even made chips out of arugula-although that was more to show it can be done than something I would repeat often.  The best part is adding your own flavors to these (relatively) healthy chips.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head/bunch of your favorite green or, if using Brussels sprouts, 1 -2 dozen large sprouts

2 T. good quality olive oil

salt

optional:  grated parmagian cheese, chili powder, Chinese five spice powder, or any spice blend you particularly love.

PREPARATION;

  1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Wash greens, removing the tough stems (leave them in the biggest pieces you can because they shrink a great deal when cooking).
  3. If using Brussels sprouts, cut off the stem end and peel as many leaves as possible from each one (you may need to recut the stem end part-way through to release more leaves).
  4. Get the greens as dry as you can (without going crazy) and place in a bowl with the olive oil.  Toss with your hands to lightly coat (rubbing the oil in a bit if the greens are really curly).
  5. Spread the greens out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and sprinkle salt and any other toppings you want on the greens (these should not be too thickly applied or the greens won’t cook properly).  Place the tray in the oven.
  6. Start checking after 10 minutes or so to see if any have become crisp (the time will vary dramatically depending on the type of green).  Remove chips as they become done and place in a bowl.
  7. Enjoy!

 

 

Slow Roasted Salmon

This is, in very minor ways, adapted from Michael Schlow’s wonderful cookbook, It’s About Time, and is by far the best, and easiest, way to cook salmon I have ever found.

preparing-to-cook-salmon-fillets-in-panServes 4

Ingredients:  

4 6 oz. salmon filters with the skin removed

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/3 t. unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (to make clean up easier).
  3. Place the salmon filets, spaced evenly apart, on the baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the filets and rub to ensure they are evenly coated.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Roast for 15-18 minutes for medium rare and 21 to 24 minutes if you prefer medium.
  7. Place each filet on a plate and top with 1/4 of the butter.  You can sprinkle with optional hersb, such as dill, as well.

 

Lobster and Summer Pea Pasta

This is a quintessential summer dish and is best when you can get fresh peas and pea sprouts.  You can make it much more quickly and easily if you can get the lobsters boiled by your fish market or supermarket.

INGREDIENTS:

2   1 1/4 to 1 1/2  lb. lobsters

1 lb. gemelli pasta

2-3 lbs of fresh peas in pods (or 1 to 1 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen peas)

1 t. kosher salt

1 T. good quality olive oil

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 T. parmigian cheese, grated – plus additional to serve at the table

1  handful of pea sprouts or tendrils (optional)

freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION:

  1.  If you can get the lobsters cooked by your market, do so.  You can bring them home either warm or cold–it will make no difference.  If you cannot get them cooked, place two inches of water in the bottom of a tall pot (a pasta pot works perfectly) and bring to a boil over medium high heat.   Move off the heat briefly and add the lobsters, covering the pot and returning to the heat to steam for 12-14  minutes until the lobsters are bright red and fully cooked.  Immediately remove from pot but do not discard any remaining steaming liquid.  (Do remove any steaming rack, if one is used.) Allow lobsters and the steaming liquid to cool.
  2. Separate the lobster meat from the shell.  Remove large claws, knuckles and tail from the body. Rinse out any green/tan material from the end of the tail (it is the liver) and the dark vein that runs down the center back of the tail (the intestine).  If there is a hard red substance at the tip of the tail, save this (it is the roe from a female lobster) Break the large claws and remove the meat to a bowl.  Do the same with the claws and the tail.  If not making the dish immediately, place bowl of lobster meat covered tightly with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. (This can be done through step   a day or two ahead.)
  3. Place the shells from the claws, knuckles and tail along with any roe you have saved in the pot with the steaming water .  Add the small legs from the lobster bodies (you can also add the bodies if you remove the heads, but this may be too much effort for the small increase in flavor that results), as well as 2 quarts of water and 1/2 to 1 t. of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil the shells covered for 15-20 minutes to extract their flavor.  At the end of that time, remove the cover, take out and discard the shells and allow the liquid to reduce by at least 1/4 and up to 1/2.  You will have more lobster stock than you need, but it is great as the basis for any seafood or fish soup or chowder and can be frozen for later use.
  4. Remove the lobster stock from the pot reserving about 1/2 cup for use in this recipe, and clean out the pot to cook the pasta.
  5. Bring the pasta pot filled with clean salted, water to a boil over medium high heat.  While the water is boiling, remove the lobster meat from the refrigerator, if necessary.
  6. If using fresh peas, at the same time bring a smaller pot of water to boil over medium high heat.  When boiling, add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes until just barely tender.  Remove and set aside.  If using frozen peas, remove from the freezer allow to begin to thaw on the counter.
  7. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain immediately when it is al dente.
  8. Place 1 T. of olive oil in the warm pasta pot and return the pasta to the pot.  Add the reserved lobster stock, cooked lobster meat, fresh or frozen peas and stir to combine.
  9.  Turn the heat to medium low, just to warm everything through.  This should take 2-3 minutes.
  10. Add the cream, 3 T. of grated parmigian and the black pepper and stir to throughly coat the pasta and lobster.
  11. Serve garnished with pea sprouts tor tendrils, if using, and more parmigian.

 

 

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is fabulous for fall or winter, but really can be served in any season as long as you can get good quality butternut squash. We had it recently as spring is turning to summer and with a bit of heat from curry powder and some naan and salad on the side, it fit the bill nicely. The spices in this can be changed to suit a number of different cuisines–Mexican chili could replace the curry, for example, and sour cream and minced jalapeno could replace the yogurt and mustard seeds.

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium to large butternut squash

1 large or two small sweet potatoes

1 T. neutral oil (such as canola) or olive oil, if you prefer the taste

1 small to medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 quart low-sodium chicken stock (the best I have found is 365 brand from Whole Foods)

2 t. curry powder

1 t. cumin (optional)

cayenne to taste (depending on how hot the curry powder, and how spicy you like your soup)

salt and pepper, to taste

Greek yogurt and mustard seeds, optional for garnish

 

PREPARATION:

  1. Peel and remove the seeds from the squash and cut into chunks of about 1″.
  2. Heat oil over medium low heat in a pot large enough to comfortably hold the squash and sweet potatoes, add the onion and cook until translucent.
  3. While the onion is cooking, peel and cut the sweet potato into 1″ chunks (sweet potatoes can discolor so it is best to cut them shortly before adding to the pot).
  4. When the onion is wilted and translucent, add the garlic, curry powder, cumin (if using) and cayenne and sauté, stirring, for a minute or so.
  5. Add the butternut squash and sweet potatoes to the pot, giving it a quick stir.
  6. Pour 3/4 of the chicken stock into the pot and increase the heat to medium high until the contents come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the squash and potatoes are tender.
  7. Puree the soup with a stick blender or in a blender or food processor, until very smooth.
  8. Return the soup to the pot if not using a stick blender,.
  9. Taste for salt and pepper and add more chicken stock if the soup is too thick.
  10. The soup can be chilled and will keep in the fridge for up to three days.
  11. When ready to serve, reheat and top with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of mustard seeds.