Lentil soup with greens and ginger

Lentil soup with greens and ginger
Servings: 4 – Easy   Another perfect soup for a cold winter day. Based on Mayo Clinic lentils with spinach and ginger recipe

1 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup yellow lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk or reg. and water
2 cups spinach, arugula, or greens
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)

Toast only the white sesame seeds before using. To toast, place the sesame seeds in a small, dry saute or frying pan over medium heat. Cook briefly, shaking the pan often and watching carefully to prevent burning. Remove the seeds from the pan as soon as they begin to turn brown. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot, ginger, curry powder and turmeric and cook, stirring, until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the lentils, stock and coconut milk. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 12 minutes. The mixture should be brothy; add a little water if needed.

Stir in the spinach, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes longer. The lentils should still hold their shape. Uncover and stir in the salt. Serve hot, garnished with the cilantro and toasted white or untoasted black sesame seeds.

Quick Bread with Nuts and Cranberries

Quick Bread with Nuts and Cranberries

With the rain, short days and cold weather, it only seemed right to make a dark nourishing quick bread. This is so good, I can’t wait to make another…

  • This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
    Ingredients:
    2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or use up to half rye flour)
    1/2 cup med or coarse-grind cornmeal
    1 tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 2/3 cups whole milk yogurt, or 1 1/2 cups whole milk + 2 Tb white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
    3/4 (generous) cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
    3/4 cup chopped walnuts
    Butter, for greasing the pan

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 325° F. If you’re using milk, mix it with the vinegar and set it aside.
2. Mix together dry ingredients in a wide bowl. Whisk yogurt (or vinegary milk) with molasses.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in 2 or 3 batches, Mix until just combined. Do not over mix. The dough will be thick and kind of fizzy.
4. Grease loaf pan or 7-inch cast iron skillet. (Throw the butter into the pan and put in oven until butter melts. Remove, then swirl the butter around to grease the pan. Gently ransfer batter into pan.
5. Bake for one hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Top of the bread should give a bit, feel supple, but still resist your touch and not feel like there’s uncooked dough underneath.

Resist the urge to cut it before it cools a bit.

Far Breton

Far Breton

David Lebowitz’s recipe inspired by Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber

Although I’ve seen versions of Far breton made with raisins, I urge you to resist the urge to substitute another dried fruit. Prunes really make this dish. To pit prunes, use a paring knife to make a slit in each prune and slide out the pit. For those who really don’t want to use prunes, I’ve seen French recipes that use raisins, so those are entirely permissible. If you are avoiding alcohol, you could poach some prunes in tea and use those, drained.

The batter is similar to crêpe batter, and like crêpe batter, it should rest for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator before using it. You can make it the day before you plan to use it. If you prefer a less-sweet dessert, you can reduce to sugar to 6 tablespoons (75g).

Some recipes advise lining the baking dish with parchment paper, which I found wasn’t critical. And in fact, it got soggy during cooking (and tore easily) – so decided to stick with regular butter and flour, and didn’t have much of a problem getting pieces out of the baking dish.

10 ounces (285g, about 2 cups) pitted prunes
1/3 cup (80ml) Armagnac (or Cognac, brandy, or dark rum)
2 cups (500ml) whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/4 cup (60g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (90g) flour
Additional softened butter and flour for preparing the baking dish

1. In a small saucepan, warm the prunes with the liquor over moderate heat, stirring them a few times while cooking, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Cover, and remove from heat and let cool. (The prunes can be done a day or two before using.)

2. To make the custard, put the milk, eggs, yolks, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, salt, and flour in a blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate the custard for at least four hours, or overnight.

3. To bake the Far breton, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

4. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish roughly 10-inches (25-30cm) in length. (Or use a round cake pan of similar diameter, but not a springform pan, which would leak.) Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Strew the prunes in the bottom of the baking dish.

5. Stir the chilled custard a few times, then pour it over the prunes and bake until the top is gently browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely, then slice into bars.

Storage: Far breton can be made up to three days before serving, and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Sautéed Chicken With Roasted Grapes

Sautéed Chicken With Roasted Grapes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Servings: 4 servings.

Ingredients:

3/4 pound small black or red seedless grapes, stemmed
3/4 pound small seedless green grapes, stemmed
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter or oil
4 to 6 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Put half the grapes in the pan and roast 1 hour, turning grapes after 30 minutes. They will become wrinkled and golden

2. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée remaining grapes until smooth. Strain through a sieve, pressing to release all juices from skins. Discard skins.

3. In a large, heavy nonstick skillet, melt half the butter over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cook on both sides until golden brown, reducing the heat to prevent scorching, about 4 minutes per side. Add strained grape purée and simmer until chicken is cooked through and juice is syrupy, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a serving platter and keep warm. Whisk remaining butter into sauce and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Add roasted grapes and heat through, then pour sauce and grapes over chicken. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Notes: I season the chicken with Tony Cacheries, then slice the breasts on the bias and serve on a bed of arugula and savory couscous.
I use many more grapes – any size.