Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mexican Red Lentil Stew


A year or so ago I saw this post on my dear friend Kate's blog and I remember thinking, ooh! that looks tasty! I'm going to make that. And I bought a bag of red lentils. I had the greatest of intentions, but never actually followed through.

Fast forward to this year, yesterday to the most gloomy Monday ever and me thinking, I need to make soup. Yummy, hearty, maybe kindy spicy flavorful soup. And then I remembered the red lentils, conveniently stashed in the back of my cupboard and an idea for dinner was born!

I looked over the links to the soup, recipes here and here, and then kinda went from that. And oh man, this stuff was delicious! The most beautiful mix of flavorful but not too spicy but delicious wonderful soup. And, with lentils being a superfood, it's ridiculously healthy as well.

So, make this tonight. It's the perfect cure for winter trying to edge its way back into spring.

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

1 Cup red lentils
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 yellow carrot, finely chopped (regular carrots are fine, they just had pretty yellow ones at the green market)
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 limes
handful of cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup quinoa
2-3 cups vegetable stock
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp chile powder
3/4 tsp cumin

1. Place the lentils in a medium sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the lentils sit in the hot water about 20-30 minutes to soften.

2. While the lentils prepare, chop all your vegetables. Place the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a large stock pot with a bit of olive oil and saute until softened. Add the spices and bell pepper, sautee another minute or two. Add the tomatoes, stock, quinoa and bring to a simmer.

3. Once the lentils have softened up and absorbed most of the water, you can pour off the rest of the water and add them to the soup. Blend together, possibly adding more stock. Simmer covered 20 minutes or so.

4. Stir in the juice of 1.5 limes (or so) and the chopped cilantro. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and another wedge of lime.


(And yes I like my fresh bread from the baker at the greenmarket, don't judge. :-) )

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A little taste of spring...

I went for a little walk around the neighborhood yesterday evening to try out my new camera and catch a few glimpses of spring. Friday was 70 degrees! I'm not necessarily in a hurry for the heat of summer, but NYC is beautiful in the spring time!









Sunday, March 13, 2011

Around the World in 80 Dates: France!

For more on the 80 Dates Challenge, click here!

This post has been due for awhile, but better late then never!

As a make-up Valentine's Day event, Alex and I decided to head to a local French bistro we've had our eye on for awhile. Jolie is an adorable little restaurant in the neighboring area of Boreum Hill and we've been hoping to find an excuse to hit up their Monday $25 pre fixe dinner. The week after Valentine's was Alex's spring break, so no night class, a perfect night to give it a shot.

One of the many things I love about dining out in NYC is that if you go to a restaurant that serves a certain ethnic or country specific food, the staff is almost certainly going to be of that background as well. Jolie was no different, the host and our server were most certainly French speaking, and even slipped into French several times while presenting our food, which made the experience all the more delightful.

We decided to get the pre fixe special, which for 4 courses for $25 is a steal in this neck of the woods. We also decided to splurge for the wine pairings, because, it was actually cheaper then any of the bottles on the list and would end up being more fun anyhow! (4 different glasses of excellent wine a piece later, this was definitely confirmed. :-) )

Because I’m lame and took forever to write this post and mistakenly thought the menu would be online, I don’t have the exact list of what we ate, but I do remember most of what I had and some of Alex’s…
They included tuna tartare, asparagus soup with crab and almonds, a beautiful scallop salad, and Alex had fish with sunchokes, and I had a delicious hanger steak with potatoes. For dessert we had some sort of awesome chocolate with raspberry sauce along with the most delicious crème brule ever.

We had so much fun dining here, I can assure you we’ll be back for more French goodness, especially when the garden opens in summer!

The At Home Version:
I had an incredible time trying to decide what to make as a. I couldn’t remember exactly what we had, and b. there was SO much good stuff, I was getting overwhelmed. Ultimately I decided to recreate the hanger steak and crème brule.

For the steak I search around and finally came upon this recipe on epicurious. It sounded really good and got good reviews, so I figured I’d go for it.

So much sadness. I was SO excited to make this because I love a good steak and it was going to be fun to have a fancy meal at home. However, this recipe failed me big time. For two reasons. A. The steak I got was much too thick and I should have trimmed it down beforehand, it didn’t cook well at all. B. There was no sauce. I followed the recipe pretty darn closely, but at the end, I just ended up with way too many wine colored shallots, and hardly any sauce at all. And I didn’t even let the stuff boil down that long at all. At the end of it, the steak did taste good, but it wasn’t the meal I was going for.


However, redemption! The crème brule DID turn out excellent. This was super easy and I will be making it again. Horray for delicious dessert! I followed this recipe along with the first commenter’s suggestions.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Indian Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken

I love when I can use my crockpot. Granted, it requires me to plan a bit ahead, but it's SO nice to come home to a hot meal already prepared! Alex also enjoys the bonus of less dishes for him.

I picked up Sensational Slow Cooker Gourmet by Judith Finlayson at the library a couple weeks ago on a whim just to try and find some new recipes. I have her vegetarian version, and have liked the recipes there, so I thought this one might be good as well. Though I didn't find too many things I liked, I did like the sound of her Indian Spiced Chicken and decided to give it a try last week.

I altered the recipe a bit because a. 3 lbs of chicken is a crap ton for two people ( I still have leftovers only using 2 lbs!) and b. Judith says in her recipes to cook everything first then put it in the crockpot. I find this completely ridiculous. If something is going to cook all day, I do not need to saute the onions first. Don't be silly.

On to the recipe!

Indian Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken
Adapted from Sensational Slow Cooker Gourmet by Judith Finlayson

2lbs chicken (I used chicken breasts)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp tumeric
olive oil
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs ginger grated
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp coriander
salt to taste
1 cup barley
1.5 cup chicken stock
28 oz diced tomatoes
1/2 jalepeno pepper, finely diced
3/4 cup plain yogurt

Place the chicken in the slow cooker and sprinkle with lemon juice and tumeric. Add the rest of your ingredients except the jalepeno and yogurt. Stir around with a wooden spoon to mix everything together. Set the crockpot to low, and come back for dinner in about 6 hours. Before serving, add the pepper and yogurt and mix together and heat for another 10-15 minutes to meld the flavors. Serve with rice and fresh steamed veggies! Enjoy!


Alex and I thought this was good, and it made a TON! The one problem I had was the chicken overcooked and was a bit dry. The recipe calls for 6 hours, which, is annoying as clearly I'm gone at work for longer then that. Ours ended up cooking closer to 8 or 8.5, so I imagine if I only cooked it for 6, it would have been better. I might try this again on a weekend when I have better control of the cooking time. Even still, Alex didn't even notice and thought it was great!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spicy Black Bean Cakes

I was looking for something tasty to make for dinner and was paging through my Martha Stewart cookbook and came across the recipe for Spicy Black Bean Cakes. I've made most of this cookbook, and liked everything so far, but hadn't ever made these before. They looked tasty and I had the ingredients in the house, so I went for it.

Martha didn't disappoint, these were easy, fast and delicious. And, super healthy to boot! Score!!


Spicy Black Bean Cakes
Martha Stewart, Great Food Fast

Olive Oil
4 scallions, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, pressed
1-2 jalepenos (I used 1.5, ribbed and seeded) finely chopped
1 TBS cumin
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet potato, peeled and grated (about 2 cups)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Lime Sour Cream
1/2 Cup sour cream
2-3 tsp lime juice
1/4-1/2 of a jalepeno finely chopped

In a small frying pan, saute the scallions, jalepeno, garlic, and cumin with a bit of olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Place in a large bowl. Add the black beans. Mash with a fork, leaving about 1.4 of the beans whole. Fold in the sweet potato, egg and breadcrumbs.

Heat the broiler.

Make the bean mixture into small patties and place on a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil. Place in the broiler for 8 minutes. Flip gently and broil for 2-3 more minutes.

Enjoy topped with lime sour cream!