Warm Lentil, Kale, and Beet Salad with an Egg

FullSizeRender (2)Dinners on the porch look like this lately. Hanging out with Luca and eating something simple as the sun starts to dip, and before we tuck him away for his early bedtime.

Nursing not only makes you very hungry, but in my experience, makes one a protein fiend. Much more so than pregnancy. So tonight I made this heavy-on-the-protein salad with what we had in the fridge. In my mind the beets are pretty important, but you could certainly make the salad without them if the roasting/boiling of beets seemed like too much. I typically buy beets 1-2 times a week and roast them while I’m cooking dinner, pull the skins off, and either store them whole in the fridge, or chop them up, douse them with some cider vinegar, and store them that way for the week’s salads and meals.

Sorry for the lacking photo–I realized that perhaps I would write a blog post once I’d already dug in. A testament to the deliciousness of the meal! This would also make a great picnic dish served chilled.

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Warm Lentil, Kale, and Beet Salad with an Egg

  • 1 C green or de Puy lentils
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 small bunch kale, finely shredded
  • 3 beets, cooked and chopped
  • 1 egg, per person (recipe serves 2-4)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon
  • 1 Tb. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tb. olive oil
  • fresh herbs, if desired
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Boil the lentils in heavily salted water until tender–around 20-30 minutes. When the lentils are almost done, add the carrot and cook till tender. While everything is cooking, whisk the Dijon, vinegar, and olive oil together. Cook the egg until desired doneness (I prefer my soft boiled). Toss the warm lentils and carrots with the dressing and the kale. Stir together till the kale wilts. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add herbs, if desired. Top each serving with some cooked beets, and the egg and serve.

Lentil and Mushroom Slow Cooker Soup

This recipe is both in sympathy for my Boston and NYC friends trapped in a blizzard (or not-so-blizzard?) at the moment, and the anticipation of life with less time to cook in my not so distant future.

In the past, I’ve never much been into slow cookers. Outside of the prospect of coming home to cooked dried beans (with no soaking!) to be utilized for various concoctions, I haven’t understood the appeal. Pinterest is always full of gloppy slow cooker recipes–most featuring meat and cheese, things from cans, and other processed ingredients. Other slow cooker recipes that sound more appealing to me often involve lots of cooking various things on the stove, then transferring them to the cooker, which always seemed to me to be redundant–why not just keep it all in the same pot and put it in a low oven or on a low simmer?

However, as I approach my third trimester of pregnancy, I often think about how life will change once the baby is here, and how appealing it would be to throw some stuff in a slow cooker, go out for the morning, and return home to a complete meal. Thus begin my forays into slow cookery.

Most of the appealing recipes that I’ve come across are soups that typically involve beans, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with that! Especially since I recently found out in my birthing class that the WHO recommends 70 grams (!!) of protein daily, and since I love beans.

Here’s a hearty lentil and mushroom number that I threw together after looking at a few recipes online. While it doesn’t look like much, it’s yummy, and if you add some more stock + carrots, celery, and/or other veggies, it would probably be even tastier. I ate my words above, and separately sautéed the onion and garlic on the stovetop before putting them in the slow cooker, but you could also give them a quick zap in the microwave, or just toss it all in the slow cooker raw if you find that easier.

Do you all have any vegetarian slow cooker favs? I’d love to know about them!

Stay warm…..

Lentil Mushroom Soup

Lentil and Mushroom Slow Cooker Soup

inspired by Crockpot Lentil Soup, by Everyday Maven

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tb. olive oil
  • 2 Tb. Turkish red pepper paste (or substitute tomato paste)
  • 2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme (or sub 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 C. green or brown lentils
  • 3/4 C. winter wheat berries
  • 6-8 baby bella, or other mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 C. white wine (optional)
  • 8 C. vegetable stock
  • 1/8 C. grated Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. red wine or sherry vinegar

Sauté the onion in the olive oil in a skillet over medium until translucent. Add the garlic and stir till fragrant, about a minute. Add the red pepper paste or tomato paste and herbs and sauté all for another 3-5 minutes.

Place the sautéed onion mixture, dried lentils, dry wheat berries, sliced mushrooms, white wine, cheese, salt, pepper, and veggie stock into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, depending on the strength of your slow cooker.

When done, stir in the vinegar and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Salmon with Arugula, Beets, & Horseradish Sauce

SalmonI’m sorry I haven’t posted until now despite grand promises! To be honest, and as my besties know, I’ve been very nauseated from pregnancy, and so I haven’t felt much like cooking. The good news is that the end of my first trimester I seem to be slightly emerging from the yucks, and had a stroke of inspiration this week via a free week of Blue Apron.

My sister loves the cooking service and sent me a free week’s trial. While I don’t like the waste of sending so many little packets of ingredients through the mail, and it’s too expensive for us to continue, I will admit that the recipes that we received for the week are delicious and a few of them I’ll definitely mimic again.

This salmon was delicious–I’ve listed a slightly modified version of the original recipe below, omitting the shallots (raw onion/garlic family = pregnancy heartburn) and the higher fat dairy (sour cream). I actually can’t wait to make this again. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps–I threw it together in about 30 minutes.

Miss you ladies, and I’ve missed cooking, so glad to be back on here!

Salmon with Arugula, Beets, & Horseradish Sauce

  • 2 salmon filets
  • 3/4 C. farro
  • 5 brussels sprouts
  • 3 C. arugula
  • 2-3 baby beets
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 2 tsp. prepared horseradish (or 1 1-inch piece fresh horseradish, grated fine)
  • 1 Tb. Sherry vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 C. greek yogurt

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the beets. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork and set aside. When beets are cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to peel them and slice into rounds.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt it, and add the farro–cook for 16-18 minutes. While the farro is cooking, slice the stem ends off the brussels sprouts, cut each in half lengthwise and then cut across into a fine julienne. Mince the chives and add to the brussels sprouts. Add the sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to the brussels sprouts, taste for seasoning and set aside.

To make the horseradish sauce, whisk together the horseradish, yogurt, and salt and pepper to taste.

When the farro is tender, drain, drizzle with olive oil, and toss with arugula, salt, and pepper.

Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper and sear in a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet, cooking 2-3 minutes per side or until they reach your desired doneness.

Place half the farro salad on each plate, and top each portion with a salmon filet and half of the brussels sprouts salad. Garnish with a dollop of the horseradish sauce and serve.

¡¡Picante!!

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Hi all! I’ve been doing a lot of finger foods lately: sauces to dip things in, sambusek, mezze, etc. Something about this time of year maybe? Or just that I’ve been working lots of nights which tends to leave me a little queasy and not that hungry for more than little snacks at a time – unless its something REALLY delicious. I came across this recipe on Tasting Table, an e-mail I get regularly that has among other things, recipes from sous-chefs at renowned restaurants across the country. This one really caught my eye – its not something I’d ever really thought of making, but it seemed so simple and oh, that creamy orange color just looked so delicious! I made a few small adjustments, but for the most part I must thank Jose Enrique from San Juan, Puerto Rico for this one. You can of course adjust the heat by adding or subtracting Habaneros. I did it just like is written below and it was spicy after a few seconds, then faded out slowly without ever making you break a sweat. (So next time I think I’ll add more hot peppers.) Goes well with eggs, beans, sandwiches, tacos of all kinds, and just for dipping toasted bits of baguette. Enjoy!

Ingredients (makes ~2-3 cups)

  • 1/2 large yellow onion cut into chunks
  • 1 medium-sized vine tomato, cored and diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 Anaheim pepper (or substitute another sweet pepper) diced
  • 3 Habaneros – cut off the stem but otherwise leave whole (with seeds)
  • 4 Jalapenos – cut off the stem but otherwise leave whole as well
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • ~2.5 cups EVOO – enough to just cover the ingredients
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

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  • Throw everything into a heavy-bottomed Le Creuset-type pot on medium heat
  • Simmer uncovered for 4 hours – there should be small bubbles coming up occasionally, but it should not get to a rolling boil. Everything should begin to brown on the surface as you get towards 4 hours.
  • Let cool.
  • Get the veggies out with a strainer, reserving the oil in the pot. Put the veggies in a food processor. If you have a Vitamix, that would probably yield ideal smoothness. If you have an immersion blender that is not totally dull and useless at this point as mine is, that would work too!

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  • Blend the veggies until smooth. Depending on what consistency you want, add more oil. I ended up adding back probably a half cup or so of what had been strained out. You can also take out a Habanero or two before you puree, see how hot the sauce is, and add the reserved ones back to adjust.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Keep the cooking oil! It has lots of flavor and is nice and spicy.

This will be a fun one to play around with in the future with proportions and other ingredients! If anyone makes it, post your adjustments and let us know how it turns out!

CSA Veggie Pancakes with Yogurt Sauce

That moment when you return home from a wedding weekend….a weekend in which you ate a lot of wedding cake, had a few gin and tonics, and then attended the after party in which unlimited free pizzas were materializing on tables in front of you….

I was looking to detox a bit.  I also came home to CSA produce in various states of peril.  In particular, the zucchini was staring me in the eye saying now or never (actually not sure if it is zucchini or some lesser known variety of summer squash.)  I decided to make zucchini pancakes and began perusing around the web to see what recipes to use for inspiration.  The key points seemed to be:

  • grate the zucchini (and other veggies too)
  • wring out excess moisture
  • add binding agents of eggs and flour
  • fry or bake

Since I was feeling the health vibe, I went the baking route.  I improvised a recipe using what I had, and they were a really yummy Sunday dinner that came together quickly.  The leftovers also made an excellent lunch the next day.  I plan on making them again with the next truckload of squash I will get on Thursday.  Viva la CSA!

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Vegetable Pancakes

  • 5 small unidentifiable squash varieties, grated
  • 10 tiny, delicious, farm fresh carrots, grated
  • one red onion, grated
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3/4ish cup of flour
  • 3 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grate your squash, carrots, onion, and zest into a bowl.  It looks like a healthy rainbow!

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All of these veggies have a high water content.  You can mess about with cheesecloth or what have you, but I just took fistfulls of veggie glop and wrung them out in my hands over the sink.  It was actually very soothing, like a vegetable stress ball.  An astonishing amount of water will come out of these veggies.

Next, add flour and egg.  Whenever I make patties or pancakes I always fret about the consistency of the batter- you want it to hang together and not be too wet, but you also don’t want to taste too much flour.  I googled veggie pancake consistency and found nothing helpful.  I decided to go for a consistency that reminded me of muffin batter- very wet but sticks together when you shape it.

I oiled baking sheets and plopped the mixture into circles.  I then cooked about 15 min, flipping over mid-way through.  If you are lucky and have a broiler, you can use it to brown the top and bottom, but I actually got a pretty nice crust just from the oven and we have a weird broiler drawer that only fits things the size of playing cards, so….

I combined greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and basil to make a sauce to eat atop each pancake. 

黒豆 – Kuromame – Japanese Black Beans

Whenever we have visitors, they ask us what they can bring us and most often, it’s food. For example, Cat and her husband are coming THIS SUNDAY(!!!) and I have asked them to bring walnuts.  When my mom comes, she inevitably brings (literally) an entire suitcase of Japanese groceries since there is no place near Basel that has any Japanese ingredients worth purchasing.

ImageDuring my mom’s most recent visit, she brought kuromame or black beans, which are black soybeans. In the photo, you can see the size difference between Japanese black bean (left) and a normal black bean (right-small). These beans are normally cooked for New Years (the biggest family holiday in Japan) and is said to be good for your health for the upcoming year, but my mom’s friend, who is an amazing cook, always cooks me some when I go home.  I just love the salty/sweet combo where you can eat as a dessert, snack or with a meal. I had my mom call her friend to get the recipe and of course, it was a few ingredients. Interestingly though, she said to put rusty nails in it.  Now, this was the first time I had ever heard someone say this so I took to the web to get to the bottom of such a bizarre ingredient.  Interestingly, here is what I found – food that is high in protein are also high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is unstable and your beans can loose its dark, black color without the iron. Luckily, I found that you can also just make the beans in a cast iron. Love the combination of science and food. And here is the ridiculously simple recipe. 

Soak the beans overnight

Boil them until they become soft (some say this can take 8 hours…definitely didn’t wait that long) 

Season with soy sauce and sugar (to taste)

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

K had a four day weekend this week  (Ascension day on Thursday as well as a ‘bridging day’ on Friday- companies here realize many people would inevitably take it off, so they give it as freebie – so progressive). Unfortunately, my employer does not celebrate Ascension day or bridge so we stayed in Basel, which was a nice reprieve from our otherwise hectic schedules.  Focusing on house projects, we FINALLY BOUGHT A GRILL!!!!  Now if anyone knows K, this is a BIG deal in our lives and I must say, I feel more grown up with this purchase than any other we’ve made.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Basel is a wonderful place to live; however, the food scene is utterly lacking.  Granted, if you hop on a bike and cross the border, you are bound to find incredibly decadent, delicious French food, which we did Saturday night, but if you want anything ethnic, with a hint of heat, we have found the best option is to make it ourselves.  As a result, we’ve really expanded our culinary repertoire.  We’ve made many dishes where after taking a bite we exclaim – “Wow…is that it? It’s so easy!” So we christened our grill with Jamaican Jerk Chicken (it’s so easy!), parmesan/lemon asparagus and veggies. DELICIOUS.

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken Ingredients (Adapted from Saveur):

This mix is for one whole chicken deconstructed.

– 1/2 c brown sugar

– 1/2 c allspice

– 1 shallot minced

– 1/3 c peanut oil

– 1/4 c kosher salt

– 1/2 c minced giner

– 1/3 c lime juice

– 2 tbsp soy sauce

– 1 tbsp fresh thyme

– 1 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1 tsp ground nutmeg

– 7 gloves minced garlic

– 3 habaneros

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Rub all over chicken, especially getting into the skin area.
  2. Grill. (Not sure what one is involved here, but I’m sure most people who use one do).
  3. Consume.
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Jerk chicken with lentil, veggie quinoa salad with mustard, lemon vinaigrette

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Grills veggies and asparagus

My recent adventures in sweet potatoes

It’s not like I needed new ways to fix sweet potatoes- I was already an addict.

But I came across this recipe, and I was tempted by the promise of crunch, since I usually settle for soggy-but-still-good sweet potato fries.  I followed it pretty much to the letter, including using the coconut oil and shaking the mixture in a ziploc (strangely satisfying by the way).  The fries blew all my past attempts out of the water.  They were so good that my dinner guests ate them sans ketchup, and they disappeared rapidly. 

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See the crunch on these bad boys?

 

Then I started craving a sweet potato sandwich, so I made this springy little tortilla grilled cheese on my panini press. 

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Just before it got topped with the second tortilla and went into the panini maker.

 

Instructions are simple: Make pesto by combining 2 cloves garlic, walnuts, kale pieces that have been torn off the stem, the juice of one lemon, and olive oil in a food processor.  Add salt to taste.  Spread one corn tortilla with pesto.  Layer sweet potato coins that you have roasted in the oven for 10 or so minutes at about 375 F.  Then add red onion slices (you can soak them in cold water to diminish their bite, but still I wouldn’t eat this before a job interview or anything.)  Add a pile of arugula and a sprinkling of goat cheese and then your second tortilla.  Then heat the pressed sandwich until the cheese melts and the tortillas get crispy. 

This would be an excellent lunch for anyone working from home while STARTING AN MBA, or taking a break from renovating their BRAND NEW HOUSE, or anyone taking lil’ vacation before becoming a SUPER FANCY DOCTOR AT AN AWESOME RESIDENCY PROGRAM.  Just for example.  

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

As I write this recipe miles away from friends and family, I am deeply saddened by the events that transpired in Boston yesterday. My thoughts are with everyone and I am grateful for all of the first responders, out pouring of support and the coming together of people in the face of such senseless violence. As I prepare for my upcoming marathon, this article in particular captured the spirit of running and the importance of not losing faith.   These events also make me want to reach out to my community and reconnect, which is why this blog was originally created. So here is the recipe and some background. 

The Japanese are incredible with food, even pastries, which they are not so well known.  Their pastries are not overly sweet and very light. I never thought that I could make the strawberry shortcakes served at the beautiful department stores in Tokyo and that I always loved since I can remember, but K wanted it for his birthday. I will note there was a failed attempt Friday evening despite being armed with my newly purchased cake pan, white flour and sugar. Luckily, I had more or less planned for this as I always have meltdowns while baking; I am terrible at precise measurements and following directions.To my defense, my failed attempt was because I did not have a mixer/egg beater and no matter how much I worked my arm muscles to whip these eggs into a stiff batter, the end result was a dense, sweetened egg omelet, not a light fluffy pound cake. So after purchasing my first baking gadget (a hand held egg beater!) Saturday morning, I am proud to say – I succeeded!

Recipe adapted from this blog – the other headache was converting these measurements as well as not having cake flour (who knew it existed!) in Switzerland. This was for a 23 cm/9 in cake. 

Ingredients:

Cake:

– 6 eggs (separated with yolk and whites)

– 3/4 cups + 2 tbs of granulated sugar

– 1 and 1/4 cup of cake flour

– 2 tbs of melted butter

– 1 and 1/3 tbs of milk

Filling in the middle

– 10 strawberries sliced

– 1/4 cup granulated sugar

– 1/4 cup water

Stabilized Whip Cream (Frosting)

1 tsp unflavored gelatin

4 tsp cold water

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Decoration:

10 Whole strawberries for the top

 

Cake Directions:

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Line 9 in circular cake pan with parchment paper

– Medium bowl, add sugar and egg whites – beat with a electric mixer until stiff

– Add egg yolks whisk gently. Add milk. Slowly add flour while folding the mixture. Do not beat it, use a spatula.  Finally, fold in the melted butter. 

– Pour into cake pan, get rid of air bubbles by banging it on the counter (it worked). Bake 25-30 min until golden brown.  Cool and remove. 

Whipped Cream Frosting Direction:

– Mix (with electric mixer) cream and sugar until thick. Let stand while you make gelatin concoction.

– Put cold water in sauce pan, put in gelatin and let stand for 5 min without stirring. Put on low heat and stir constantly. Remove from saucepan and cool a few minutes, but don’t wait too long or else you will have clear jello. Pour into whip mixture and set at high speed until stiff.

Syrup Direction:

– Mix sugar and water into saucepan until sugar dissolves. Remove and cool

Assembling the cake:

– Slice cake horizontally into two layers

– Place bottom layer on serving platter.  Spread syrup, then thin layer of whipped cream, then sliced strawberries.  Spread additional layer of whipped cream above strawberries. 

– Brush bottom of the top layer with simple syrup and place it on top of the bottom layer. Frost sides and top with remaining cream.  Decorate with whole strawberries.

Woah…writing this recipe was even tiring, but below are some photos! 

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Batter form

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Delicious.

 

 

 

 

With a little help from a jar….

…can’t believe it’s not takeout 20 min Chickpea Madras Curry!

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Real talk: since I went back to school, nothing too inspiring or innovative has been coming out of my kitchen.  Grilling, the same 2-3 dinners on rinse and repeat, and yes, more than one evening of Thai takeout.  Every day I check cooking from afar and think “I need to make something delicious, stat!” and every Monday or Thursday night I find myself doing something boring….you know, not blogworthy.

I suspected last Thursday would be no different.  I was rushing home from 8 hours of class and I knew the cupboards were pretty bare.  As I walked with my grad school partner in crime Emily, we received a flyer for a new Indian restaurant in Central Square.  We both expressed a yearning for some Indian fare, especially with fall’s arrival and the new chill in the air.  Inspiration struck.  I remembered I had bought a jar of Indian Simmer Sauce on sale at Whole Foods a few months back.  I selected it for its notable lack of heavy cream: its main ingredients are tomato paste, coconut milk, and various Indian spices.  It’s the kind of thing you could definitely make on your own.  But some Thursdays, you just don’t have time to.

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When I got home, I looked around for what else I had to simmer with this little number.  Onions and garlic?  Check.  Jar of chickpeas?  Check.  Rice?  Check.  I set to work, and 1 hour later (which was mostly rice cooking time), I produced a curry so delicious that both of us felt it was just as good as takeout.  Now, is this the most creative thing I’ve ever made?  Does it showcase my formidable cooking skills?  Not really (plus I burned the bottom of the rice).  But I think it’s a quick meal that many of us can throw together and enjoy on a busy fall weeknight.

I want to experiment with making the sauce on my own.  Also, I think this would be tasty with some chutneys and a spiced yogurt sauce.  But it’s also damn good just as it is: a weeknight dinner with a little help from a jar.  It beats the price of Indian takeout, and it definitely beats the cream content, too.  Just wanted to share a snapshot of our weeknight dinners lately.  Want to hear from the rest of you!  What have you been cooking up so far this fall?

XO,

-S

Ingredients:

1 jar Madras Curry Sauce (or make your own if you’re feeling fancy- coconut milk, tomato paste, spices)

1 cup uncooked brown rice

2T coconut oil

1 jar chickpeas

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

toppings of choice (we had some of the last of the summer tomatoes, chopped, and some torn fresh basil).

Cook the rice according to directions. 

Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic in the coconut oil (used here to promote Indian flavors; if you don’t have any, olive oil or butter works fine).  Over medium heat until onions garlic are translucent and soft (10ish minutes).  Add chickpeas, sauté about 5-7 more minutes, then add simmer sauce until the mixture is warm.  Add toppings if you wish and serve. 

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