Tag Archives: easy

Cooking Food

Tabbouleh

I am mobile blogging to you today from beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve!

I decided to rely on my middle-aged brain instead of checking my calendar, so have arrived an hour early to meet a friend and still have time to kill after forcing myself to do a run. So mobile blogging!

Ok, timely info: it’s almost Mother’s Day, and I don’t know about you, but my mom is a big fan of saving money. Rejoice: my friends over at OpenTable let me know that you can enter to win one of 10 $150 restaurant gift cards! I entered of course, and I think you should too. Here’s the link; if you win, I also think that you should invite me, even if it’s not technically in OpenTable’s contest rules.

Now, next in the series on foods that are as much fun to say as they are to eat: tabbouleh! I love tabbouleh, and so does my younger kid — we just love the awesome texture of the bulghur wheat couples with the tangy goodness of lemon juice and the party that mint and scallions bring to the table.

Tabbouleh is also super easy to make. Here, my apprentice shows you how. It’s a fantastic make-ahead option too — tastes even better if you give the flavors time to develop.

The recipe that we use is from Alice Waters, in The Art of Simple Food:

 

TABBOULEH SALAD

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

1/2 cup bulgur wheat

11/2 large bunches parsley (about 11/2 cups chopped)

1 bunch mint (about 1/3 cup chopped)

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts (about 1 cup chopped)

2 ripe medium tomatoes, cored and diced small

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

To prepare bulgur: Place bulgur in bowl. Alice says to add cold water to cover by 1 inch, but I add boiling water — I like the tabbouleh a little softer. Soak for 20 minutes or until grains are plump. Drain in sieve.

To mix salad: Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine parsley, mint, scallions and tomatoes. Using hands, squeeze soaked bulgur to remove as much water as possible. Mix bulgur into chopped herbs and tomatoes. Add lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Mix well. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice or oil if needed. Let rest for 1 hour before serving to allow bulgur to absorb flavors.

 

 

Baking Food

Paleo Gluten-free Orange Cranberry Muffins

Since December, I’ve been spending a disproportionate amount of time in sweatpants. Factors driving this behavior:

  1. They are the symbol of freedom.
  2. Nothing beats an elastic waistband when you’re eating. NOTHING.
  3. This is the year of the cute sweatpant (or, jogger, as it’s been rebranded). There are the printed type, which I like in concept but which always look like pajamas on me (probably because I refuse to wear heels with them, which I feel defeat the purpose of achieving ultimate comfort), and the solid type; these from Athleta are my all-time favorites (I got them for Christmas — thanks San-do-ra!).
  4. I left my executive job and am now consulting, mostly from home. I was just finding that even when I was at home, I was never mentally available to my family…I have a real problem compartmentalizing work (plus there were the weird hours and challenges of working in an international business). It’s been a lot easier now that I’m in full control of my work and time…and plus I can wear sweatpants.

There are, of course downsides to the exclusive wearing of elastic waistbands. The other night I went out to dinner for a friend’s birthday, and, as it was at a restaurant, I thought the occasion warranted pants (and not the elastic waistband kind that is made to mimic pants, which I have — but the real kind with a zipper and button and everything). Turns out if you move into real pants after weeks of wearing joggers, you have to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes from the extra pressure. Also, you may find yourself thinking things like, “Why should I have a separate wardrobe for sleeping?” Still, a small price to pay for the otherwise boundless joy.

While I was sitting around in my sweatpants over the holidays, we had visitors. My brother and his family came to visit. The girls had so much fun with their little cousin, who is a big fan of hats.

My brother has a gluten intolerance, and since I also had a friend visiting that week with celiac disease, I thought I’d try to make some gluten-free muffins (which also happen to be naturally sweetened) from paleo blogger Detoxinista. I added shredded coconut and chia seeds for some extra crunch and texture. I had pretty low expectations since most gluten-free baked goods I’ve seen looked kind of flat and generally unappetizing, but these orange cranberry guys puffed up nicely:

And, they were nice and moist. I’ve tried this recipe with a number of variations, and you can pretty much add in any combination of flavors and arrive at a nice paleo muffin.

My favorite part about the recipe — it’s a one-bowl wonder. Just throw everything into a bowl, mix it up, pour into muffin tins and bake! Leave me a comment if you try a different variation — I’d love to know about any winners!

PALEO GLUTEN-FREE ORANGE CRANBERRY MUFFINS
adapted from Detoxinista

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Zest of one orange (about 2 teaspoons)
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or raw honey, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 baking cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut flour, eggs, orange juice, zest, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, baking soda, chia seeds and salt. Use a whisk to mix well, breaking up any clumps, then fold in the fresh cranberries and the shredded coconut.
  3. Divide the batter among the 12 cups, then bake at 350F for 23-25 minutes, until the edges are golden the centers of the muffins feel firm to a light touch. Allow the muffins to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  4. Since these muffins are very moist, leftovers should be stored in the fridge for best shelf life, but bring them to room temperature again before serving for best flavor and texture.

Makes 12 muffins.

Cooking Food

Apricots with Mascarpone Cream

I am currently in that circle of hell reserved for people who blog about food but cannot eat it. I’ve had some kind of stomach virus (I think. Or it could be worms. That is exactly what I need. Worms.) since last weekend and though I hadn’t been hungry all week, I am very hungry now but the stomach is not accepting donations.

I’ve generally been feeling weird lately, and part of it I attribute to aging. I can’t remember anything anymore. I recently went away on a girls’ weekend (which, sadly, ended at some point) and the whole weekend was full of conversations like:

“So I have a friend that lives in…African country! Abject poverty! Blood diamonds!”

“The Congo?”

“Right! This is just like that game…shouting out clues! Have to guess the word! Board game!”

My friends and I, we are losin’ it. But the good news is that soon we won’t remember to care.

The other good news is that it’s apricot season. Apricots just look so…peachy to me — like a teenaged girl with good skin (I would never know what that’s like). I got a box of apricots from my CSA and made this dessert which I promise may be the best thing I’ve ever tasted (it’s  large category, that.). Seriously though it is incredibly awesome, like as awesome as if your tongue were a skating rink and Olympic skaters were winning the gold medal on it.

Some incredibly gifted person named Miki posted this on Allrecipes but I modified it a bit to add a bit of citrus and floral aromas, substituting lemon curd for apricot nectar, marmalade for apricot preserves and using a violet flavored balsamic vinegar .

APRICOTS WITH MASCARPONE CREAM adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 2 TBSP lemon curd
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom
  • 3 TBSP marmalade
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar (I used violet flavored vinegar)
  • 8 fresh apricots, pitted and halved

Preparation

  1. Beat the cream in a chilled bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar and set aside. In another bowl, whip the mascarpone cheese with an electric mixer until very soft; beat in the lemon curd, vanilla extract, and cardamom. Gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream.
  2. Place the marmalade and honey into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in microwave oven until warm but not hot, about 30 seconds. Mix well and stir the balsamic vinegar into the honey mixture.
  3. Stuff each apricot half with a dollop of the mascarpone cream and place the filled apricot halves on a serving dish. Drizzle the fruit and plate with balsamic sauce and serve.

Serves 8 (or 1, if it’s me).

Baking

Gluten-free Chocolate Quinoa Cake

The world is awash today with images of hearts and chocolate. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. I know what you’re thinking. Chocolate, hearts, berries…but what’s Valentine’s Day without quinoa? I hear you, ye tired, hungry and gluten-free. Because having quinoa in your cake is like having dinner together with dessert. It’s just more efficient.

I happened upon this recipe at the Week of Menus blog. She must cook during the day because she has way better lighting than I do, and is reflecting on how to be a better mother while I am just thinking about my hair and thinking about how I can make dinner into a dessert. (I cut my hair. After a couple of weeks of awkward silences and people averting my gaze trying not to comment on it while I was figuring out how to work with it, I have finally found a way to make it look effortlessly tousled which requires way more time than if I tried to make it look like I made a concerted effort. But such is the price of beachy.)

Week of Menus has done a good job laying out the recipe, so I’ll just link to it below, but the basic gist is that you mix the quinoa in a blender with a bunch of stuff and end up with a batter that looks like this:

Bake it like she tells you to. I’m sorry, but making my hair look effortlessly tousled has drained me of my will to share detail. You’ll end up with a cake.

Then you can cut a heart out of wax paper, snowflake-style:

Place it over the cake and dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar:

End up with this:

So follow the recipe. Eat it. Enjoy.

Cooking Food Popular

Vegan Coconut Chana Saag

I’m about as vegan as Fox News is liberal (I recently purchased a vegan leather jacket, because, how often do you find a jacket made of vegans?), but when I was killing time one day while my kids were at their riding lesson when I started reading a vegan cookbook. And it was fascinating. It was like cooking within a completely different universe. The fundamentals were different. It was like learning another language. Switching from PC to Mac. Learning to write with your navel. I’ll come up with the right analogy eventually.

And you know what? The dishes are beautiful. And flavorful. And most surprisingly (I always envisioned vegans as starving), filling.

This is the first recipe I tried. It was really quick, easy, and so flavorful. My carnivorous family loved it.

All you do is brown some onions in coconut oil:

And then add in everything else (spices, tomatoes and chickpeas). Cook it for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the kale and cook for another 5 minutes, and squeeze in some lime juice. Let it sit for 10 minutes and make sure you serve it with something like rice or flatbread to mop up all the vegan deliciousness of the sauce. Enjoy!

COCONUT CHANA SAAG from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP refined coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP minced fresh ginger
  • 2 TBSP mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp anise seeds or crushed fennel seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 24 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz kale, chopped
  • 1 14 oz can regular or lite coconut milk
  • 2 TBSP fresh lime juice

Preparation

Preheat a 4 qt pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Saute the onion in teh oil for 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned.

Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the curry powder, salt, pepper, anise seeds, garam masala, cumin, and cayenne and toss to coat the onions, letting the spices toast a bit (for a minute or so).

Add the tomato juice from the can, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, simply hold the tomatoes and let the juice strain through your fingers. Now add the tomatoes from the can, squishing them with your fingers as you put them in the pot, to mash them up. Add the chickpeas and mix well.

Cover the pan and bring the heat up a bit. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale and stir until wilted, then let simmer for 5 more minutes, uncovered, to cook it down even further.

Add the coconut milk adn heat through. Add the lime juice, then taste for seasoning. It tastes best if you let it sit for 10 minutes or so.

Serve over basmati rice with a little mango chutney and cilantro on top.

Cooking Food

Duck with Lavender Honey

It’s a (relatively) chilly December day, bright and sunny with just a bit of bite in the air — the So-Cal way of announcing winter. Though I don’t miss the long, cold winters in the east and midwest, in a place that gets nearly year-round summer, chill is a a bit of a novelty. It’s also the perfect weather for duck.

Crispy-skinned, savory and fatty, o how I love thee duck. What do I make for Thanksgiving? Duck. Christmas? Duck. Easter? You guessed it. Duck is the new black, people!

What I love about this recipe is that it requires very little hands-on time, which leaves more time for fun things like tabletop decor.

Don’t judge my wrinkled tablecloth. It’s too big and unwieldy to iron properly. I just dim the lights and serve wine which seems to take care of most of the wrinkles. And most other things in life, come to think of it.

I’ve been making this duck for about 13 years and I never tire of it. Hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

DUCK WITH LAVENDER HONEY adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Savoring France

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp fresh lavender blossoms or 2 tsp dried blossoms
  • 4 tsp herbes de provence
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 duck, about 5.5 lb
  • 4 TBSP lavender, acacia or other strong-flavored honey
  • 3 TBSP red wine

The day before:  Mix the spices and herbs together in a small bowl. Remove the giblets from the duck cavity, rinse the duck and pat it dry. Using a sharp knife, cut crisscrosses through the fat — but not into the meat — of the breast. Rub the duck inside and out with the herb mixture. Discard the neck. Let marinate overnight, or at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roast for 2 hours. Remove form the oven and pour off all but 1 TBSP of the collected fat from the pan (I reserve the fat and make french fries with it, but that is admittedly over the top!). Spread the duck breast with 2 TBSP of honey and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Baste with pan juices, and roast another 10 minutes. Remove duck again and spread with the remaining 2 TBSP honey, and sprinkle with half the lavender blossoms. Roast for 10 minutes longer, then baste again with pan juices. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove form the oven.

Move the duck to a platter, cover the it loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Put the roasting pan over medium heat and add the remaining lavender blossoms and the red wine. Deglaze the pan, stirring with a wodden spoon to remove any browned bits from the pan bottom. Cook until well blended and slightly reduced, 3-4 minutes. Keep warm.

Carve the duck, place on a platter, drizzle with sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

 

 

 

 

Cooking Food Travel

Whole Trout en Papillote

It’s finally the end of the week and I’m feeling like the fish above. He’s all, “Girl, my terrariums are all dessicated and don’t even talk to me about my hair, so I’m just going to lie down in a bed of butter and lemons now.” Am I projecting?

I got back from another business trip to London a couple of weeks ago. Every morning I ran in the mist like a gorilla, which is my favorite weather and method to run in.

Across the bridge:

along the River Thames:

past Big Ben:

and on the first day, accidentally across a finish line amidst a cheering crowd in #theonlyraceilleverwin. Not to worry, the glory didn’t last long because the very next day some piece of cobblestone tripped me into some major Crouching Tiger-style flying and rolling on the ground resulting in this (and yes, as a friend so generously pointed out, I managed to land on the tops of my knees. And don’t judge my skin.):

It wasn’t like I was very noticeable wearing hot pink running shoes, a purple running skirt and a fuschia jacket or anything. I always said that exercise was dangerous.

Later, I did manage to make it to a pop-up restaurant in SoHo called The Full English, and felt much better after stuffing myself with bacon, eggs, tomatoes and beans. Check it out if you’re in London.

So that was London. Now on to fish.

Trout is one of my favorite fish, and what  I love about fish (aside from the brain health benefits that I so desperately need) is the speed with which you can prepare it. I’m not terribly experienced with cooking whole fish, so I used this Whole Trout en Papilotte recipe from the Food Network. Place some chopped onion on a piece of parchment paper, lay the fish on top and cut slits into it. Season it inside and out with salt and pepper.

Stuff the fish with herbs, coat the top with shallot butter (see instructions below) and cover it with a layer of lemons.

I wrapped it in the parchment, grilled it for 20 minutes, and it was done! Moist, tender, and makes you smarter!

WHOLE TROUT EN PAPILLOTE (from Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 2 whole trout, dressed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet yellow onion
  • 2 handfuls fresh herbs (thyme, parsley and rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon-shallot butter, recipe follows
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parchment paper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I used a grill — either will work!). Cut 2 sheets of parchment paper large enough to completely cover the fish when folded. Wash and dry the trout. Using a knife, score the fish on 1 side by cutting slits into the flesh just until you feel the bone. Season the trout generously, inside and out with salt and pepper. Spread 1/4 cup of the onions on each sheet of parchment. Place fish on top, scored side up. Stuff the inside of the fish with herbs. (It’s ok if they stick out a bit). Top each fish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the shallot butter. Cover with the lemon slices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon white wine and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over each fish. Fold the parchment over the fish. Starting at 1 end, fold the paper on itself, making sure to completely seal it. At the end, fold it underneath itself. Repeat. Place fish on large baking sheet and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes. To serve, place trout en papillote on a platter. Cut the parchment at the table to ensure that all the aromas stay inside the package.

Lemon Shallot Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, zest finely minced
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

In a food processor, combine all ingredients until mixed. Place whipped butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Freeze until ready to use. Butter will keep in the freezer for at least a month.

Cooking Food Travel

The Last of Summer Tomato Salad

Et tu, summer?

After my last post about being still, I have to confess that I have been anything but. I woke up one day found myself in London:

I was there for business, but I did manage to fit in dinner with some friends, a few runs in Green Park, a peek at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich:

a meal and a chocolatey porter at the Mean Time brewery:

and a glorious hour at Fortnum & Mason, where I had an internal debate on whether my life would be incomplete without a $700 tea pot:

You know, because I have so many tea parties.

But then I realized that this decision was headed for the same outcome as a purchase I made 10 years ago of pleather pants, so I made a quick jaunt over to Carnaby Street where I bought overpriced scented erasers as souvenirs for the kids.

It was a hectic but productive trip, and as soon as I got home I promptly fell ill. And then got on a plane again soon thereafter.

All this rushing around argues for a bit of simplicity.

One of my favorite things about summer is tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, to be exact. Colorful, flavorful, deliciously simple. We still have time for that.

I made this salad as part of an dinner we had with friends outdoors on a warm summer night. Because when you are a friend just arriving from Germany, with another on her way to Europe and a third who is Canadian, it would only be logical to stop in for a meal prepared by a Chinese American married to a Brit.

It’s a simple one really — just some slicing and a vinaigrette. But perfectly colorful, tasty, and quick enough to allow you time to enjoy some pause amidst the busyness of everyday life.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 varied, fresh heirloom tomatoes
  • 3-4 leaves of basil

Preparation

Slice the tomatoes into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place them in a single layer on a serving dish, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Mix the balsamic vinegar and salt together, until the salt dissolves. Add in olive oil and stir until combined. Grind in some fresh black pepper to taste. Pour over the tomatoes.

Julienne 3-4 leaves of basil and sprinkle over the salad.

Serves 4-6.

 

 

Cooking Food Popular

Soy Garlic and Anise Spareribs

I was going to call this Chinese Peasant Spareribs but decided not to risk retribution from the Chinese government for cooking peasants. But this, as far as I know (with my only credibility being that I am Chinese…American), is considered Chinese peasant food. It’s simple, yummy and comforting.

I took on a new project at work recently. It has to do with mobile, which is interesting if you’re into that. But it’s been a lot more work, and this is how it’s been going:

Now, drug addiction is no laughing matter, but it’s another thing altogether when you’re not on meth but you look like you do. You can see why I might need some comfort.

Before I start making this, I usually put three cups of rice in the rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cooker, prepare 3 cups of rice per instructions on the package…but I don’t know how to do that because I was born with a rice cooker.

You want to start with some pork spareribs. Or shoulder. Some meat that has some nice fatty parts. Cut them into bite-sized pieces. As you can see, I take very large bites.

Marbling. That’s the nicer-sounding word that I wanted. You want meat with some marbling.

And garlic. Ever wonder why there aren’t any vampire movies where they’re chasing Chinese people? It’s not Chinese food if it doesn’t have garlic in it.

Put soy sauce, water, sherry, roughly chopped garlic, honey and star anise in a large saucepan. Add in pork spareribs.

Bring the pot just to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours, til spareribs are very tender.

Serve over rice, generously spooning the sauce over the rice. The sauce is the best part.

I usually reserve the sauce and cook some peeled hard-boiled eggs in it for 30 minutes. When they’re cooled, I stick the pot in the fridge. The eggs will marinate in the sauce overnight and the next day you’ll have delightfully flavored hard-boiled eggs. More Chinese comfort food!

SOY, GARLIC AND ANISE SPARERIBS

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb pork spareribs or pork shoulder diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cups soy sauce
  • 1.5 cups water
  • .5 cups sherry
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 12 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 7 star anise

Place all ingredients into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to low to simmer. Cover and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, until pork is tender.

Serve with sauce spooned over rice and a side of vegetables if desired.

Serves 4.

 

Cooking Food

Lentil Sausage Soup

Ok, I’m going to tell you something about me that you can’t tell anyone who lives in California: I like hot dogs.

And I have a couple of packs of them in the freezer.

So I was excited when I saw this recipe from Ina Garten on a cold Sunday night, because it was a super-healthy and flavorful looking soup, mostly. Last time I looked I could not find sausage or hot dogs on any healthiest foods list, but I think life is all about balance so if you have a bunch of healthy, yummy ingredients in your recipe they should balance out the indulgent things. This is how I end up eating fruit-flavored ice creams. (If you follow  my Facebook page, you’ll know that I recently made ice cream for the first time, and am sort of wishing that my eyes were never opened to what’s actually in it.)

This soup is a lot yummier than it looks….and while it’s not the most colorful soup ever, it’s a nice, hearty meal for a winter’s eve.

I didn’t take any pictures of the “making of” this time, sorry. I was too preoccupied with my hair. Here’s what’s going on with it:

  • I’ve been afraid to get it cut again for fear of disrupting my Tokyo haircut. That haircut is magical — completely no-maintenance and for the first time ever I actually kind of have volume. Next time you see Crystal Gayle, you’ll do a double-take and then realize that it’s just me.
  • I have actually been curling my hair to make it look shorter. This has resulted in a co-worker calling me San-do-ra in the office. It makes me look like I’m ready to go out on the town…in a 1950s kind of way.

Curled hair portrait, courtesy of photographer age 9, via Instagram

Anyway, it’s fun to mix it up every once in a while. Apologies for going on about it. There aren’t many women at the office and sometimes I just want to talk about my hair.

Back to the recipe. When I made it I substituted hot dogs for kielbasa, just because I had them. Make up a batch and enjoy it for a few days!

LENTIL SAUSAGE SOUP (from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound French green lentils (recommended: du Puy)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
  • 3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
  • 3 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or canned broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 pound kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
Preparation

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

Makes 8-10 servings.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

Ingredients

  • 3 (5-pound) chickens
  • 3 large onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
  • 4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in 1/2, optional
  • 20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 15 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 20 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Preparation

Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, salt, and peppercorns in a 16 to 20-quart stockpot with 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Skim the surface as needed. Simmer uncovered for 4 hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander, discarding the chicken and vegetables, and chill. Discard the hardened fat, and then pack the broth in quart containers.

 

Yield: 6 quarts