Wednesday, January 27, 2010

French Lentils

"French Lentils" are only called "french" due to the simplicity in which they are cooked, and the type of lentils you choose to cook with. preferably, you choose what is called "French Dupuy Lentils" They are a dark green/brown color. The reason is that they keep their shape when you cook them. Different than the yellow or red lentils which disintegrate and form the more Indian style Dal soups. You can use brown if you can't find "Dupuy" or Green lentils.

Now, a word on "kombu". This is a type of deep ocean seaweed in a dried form. I use it always when I cook any kind of beans. Why, it changes the chemical composition of the skin of the bean and makes it...well, you won't ...fart. :) It also adds tons of minerals to anything you cook it with! If you don't have any or don't feel like buying it, it is easily omittable.

French Lentils

2 TBL (2 soupspoons) sesame oil (NOT roasted)
1.5 cups Dupuy or green or brown lentils
1 inch (5cm) piece of kombu
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine (depends how much you like, the cooking time will take away alot of the flavor potency)
seasalt & pepper (to add after cooking)
2-3 TBL (soupspoons)or soy sauce or tamari instead of seasalt

In a medium pot, heat, add sesame oil. Medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Fry until onions are transparent. Watch the garlic does not burn, then it is bitter.

Then layer kombu, bayleaves,and carrots. Cover with water 1/4inch+ (3cm) above level of the ingredients in the pot. Bring to a light boil, turn heat to VERY LOW. Use a heat diffuser on the smallest burner of you have it. You want these to cook really slowly. Even then, they will only take about 1 hour, max.

After 40 minutes, taste beans.... are they still a bit hard, then cook them some more. Add 1/2 cup more water so there is always a bit of water in the pot. It's great for serving.

Once the lentils are cooked, adjust flavoring with seasalt or soy sauce or tamari. Then continue to cook 5 minutes more.

Serve with a bit of fresh paisley sprinkled on top. With some basmati or brown rice or quinoa or bulgur. It is GREAT with a sesame-red cabbage salad!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mussels with sausage

OK, I live in one of the worldwide centers for mussels, oysters and wine...and, I am not a real shellfish fan, nor do I prefer the wines of this region of France! Also,even though my mother grew up on Canadian lobster, I have never cooked shellfish before this recipe. Of course, I decided to cook this for 20 French locals... and they all wanted the recipe. :)

4 TBS (3soupspoons) butter, divided
1/2lb (500grams) ground sausage or farci meat (with herbs)
(you can links instead just break open and crumble the meat out)
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
juice of 2 lemons ( i just squeeze them by hand, into the pan)
3 lbs (2 kgs) mussels, cleaned (you can ask your fishmonger to do this)
2 TBS (2 coffeespoons) thyme
ground pepper (opt)
bunch of fresh parsley (opt)

In large pot melt 1 TBS of the butter. Add sausage/farci meat and cook stirring it into bits (try not to eat it all...) until cooked through.

Add shallots & garlic, stir until you smell them. About 1 minute.
Add wine, increase heat to high, cook until liquid is reduced to half. Reduce heat to medium and stir in rest of butter and lemon juice.

Add mussels, place bunch of parsley, still tied in a bunch on top. Cover. Increase heat to high. Stir now and then until mussels are cooked- meaning they are all open and come out of their shell easily. About 5-6 minutes.

Take out parsley. Stir in thyme and pepper.
Serve immediately.

You will need no utensils to eat. Use an empty shell, still attached to its other side, as a pincher to get out the other mussels from their shells. You will need a fork for the sausage, and.... don't forget the bread....

Monday, January 25, 2010

MMMM... Guacamole

I was taught to make guacamole by real So.California family. Then was introduced to a new version, by them, at a beach side hotel in Rosarito. MMMMMMM.... Guacamole is all about sunshine. When I make my Guacamole I can feel the sun on my face and the sea breeze on my skin, as I sit drinking a margarita on the terrace of a graceful old Mexican resort hotel. That must make it taste better don't you think? In any case, there is only joy and delight by those who eat it! Even if you have kids who don't usually eat green food. Try it.

I'll make the recipe using only 1 avocado, so it suits 4 people as a side dish or dip. It doesn't keep to well, so make what you need. I usually use 2 avocados, and double the other amounts.

1 large, ripe avocado (not brown inside, but just soft)
1 tsp (2 coffeespoons)mayonnaise
2 TBLs (2 soupspoons) hot salsa (any brand)
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 small fresh tomatoes chopped fine and squeezed in your hand so some of the juice gets out (opt)
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped fine (opt)

Cut avocado in half the long way and scoop out the meat into the serving bowl. With a fork smash avocado until it is smooth. Do not use a mixer or blender or processor for this. It needs you to do it by hand.
Add in mayo. Then add salsa one spoon at a time to make sure it doesnt get 'too liquid.
Squeeze in juice of 1/2 small lemon.
About 1/2 tsp salt.
Stir in, gently chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
Adjust salt.

VIOLA! Easy, quick. Amazing.
Serve with plain, not flavored, corn chips.

BTW. The real thing Freshest avocado, tomatoes and onion. Chopped big. On a plpate, served with a wedges of lime, plain corn chips, salt, a margarita...The Rosarito Beach Hotel, Baja California, 1983.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chick Pea Burgers

...with Greek Salad Topping

Even my french relatives love this recipe. Well, so far they love all the recipes shown here, and my mother-in-law is a retired restaurant chef!

1 cucumber, quartered, de-seeded, sliced
1 cup cherry, or reg. tomoates, quartered
2 green onions, sliced (optional)
2 Tbs (=2 soup spoons) lemon juice
1 TBS (=1 Soup Spoon) olive oil
1 package feta, cubed or crumbled

1 cup chickpea flour
2 tsp (2 coffee spoons) ground cumin (more or less to taste)
1 tsp (=1 coffee spoon)chili powder (i use less for kids)
1/2 tsp (=coffee spoon) salt
1 large (15oz) jar/can of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed (to get out all the extra salt)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 TBS (=2 soupspoons) lemon juice
1 TBS (=1 soupspoon) olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced fine (or to taste-I use less)

Topping: Toss all ingredients together. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Burgers: Whisk chick pea flour, cumin, chili power, salt together with 3/4 cup of HOT water.
Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add 1 TBS (soup spoon) olive oil. ladle bater into pan. I use a 1/3cup measure, and fit 4 in a large skillet. Reduce to medium-low heat. Cook 4-5 minutes or until golden. Press a little, then flip, and cook 4-5 min. on the other side. I put them on a plate in them in a very low oven to keep warm 9as you would pancakes) while I cook the rest of the batter.

Seve with cuc-tom-feta topping.
Stir in chick peas, red peppers (if using), parsley.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fig Tart

I adapted this recipe from an old Sunset magazine. It is unexpectedly one of my favorite recipes of the past holiday season!

Fig Tart

1.5kgs or 2 lbs of dried figs. Get the largest, softest, sweetest you can find. The original recipe calls for 2lbs of Mission Figs (Californian) but I can't get them often.

2 bottles (750ml) medium bodied red wine, like a Red Zinfandel, Shiraz, Cabernet etc.
1 cup maple syrup
2 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
8 peppercorns
1-2 cardamon pods (optional)

pastry for one open pie
quiche pan or pie pan
small square of cheesecloth

I use store bought pastry, the sweet/vanilla kind if you can get it, but any will do.
Place in quiche pan (as it is bigger than a pie plate) or pie plate. Cover with baking paper and fill with dried beans, this keep the pastry from bubbling up when you cook it empty.
Bake according to package directions.

Put figs in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 10-15 min.
Drain well. Place in a large pot.
Cover with red wine and maple syrup.

In square of cheesecloth, place the spices inside and tie up with string. Put in pot with figs and wine.
Simmer for 2 hours+ until you have about a 1/4cup liquid left. It usually takes me more like 4 hours, so I do this the day before or morning of for a dinner.

Take out the cheesecloth bag of spicess.
Drain the figs in a sieve, but SAVE THE LIQUID!!!
You can refridgerate seperately if you'll use it the next day. No need to refridgerate if you'll use it later that day.

When ready to serve, pour figs into pre-cooked pastry shell. Cover with as much liquid as you like. Serve with Creme Fraiche, or Greek yogurt. YUM.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quinoa Salad

I learned this recipe from my dear alkalizing friend, Fiona. The 'salad" resembles a rice salad, but oh, so much better. Quinoa ("keen-wa") is a grain that doesn't get soggy with dressing.

1c quinoa (dry)
1tsp sea salt
4 TBL olive oil
1/2 - 1 onion (depending on how much raw onion you like)
1 clove finely chopped garlic (optional)
1 chopped tomato
1/2 chopped english cucumber (deseed it first- see note below)
1/2 bunch finey sliced or grated radishes
1 small block of sheep feta cheese (opt)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro and/or basil and/or tarragon and/or mint (it depends on the flavors you like that day.)

Cook Quinoa:
First put quinoa in a sieve and rinse well, massaging it as the water flows over it. Quinoa has bitter flavor if not washed first.
Put in a pan with 2c water and 1 tsp sea salt.
Bring to boil on HIGH heat. Cover. Then turn to LOW heat on the smallest burner.
Cook for 15 minutes. Take off lid and fluff with fork to let cool.

As quinoa is cooking.
In serving platter/bowl put in olive oil. Finely chop onion and garlic(if using) and put into olive oil. Stir it around so they flavor the olive oil, which becomes the dressing.

De-seed the long english cucumber by 1)peeling, 2) cut in 1/2 the long way, 3) cut in 1/2 the short way, 4) with a spoon just scrape out the seeds.

Finely chop the cucumber and tomato. Thinly slice or grate the radishes. You can really add any raw veg, cut fine, you want to add flavor! Chop the feta, if using, into tiny, tiny pieces so you get lots of little pieces of white in the salad. Add finely chopped herbs.

Put quinoa on top of olive oil/onion/garlic (opt) dressing and let cool without stirring just yet.

Then put all the chopped veg and herbs on top, while the quinoa cools. Although you can do this all straight away if you need to serve it! Its great slightly warm too.

Finally, Stir all at the last minute to give the onions enough time to aromatize the dressing (this is an old Italian trick I learned from my friend Giuseppe!)

Serve! Bring it on a a picnic and you'll not have to worry about bringing home any leftovers! Even kids like this one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Popcorn! Sweet or Salty

Somehow, as I äge" I love popcorn more and more. NOT the buttery movie kind, although it definitely has its place in palate, and definitely NOT the plain, air-popped kind. So bland. As a rule, I look for "good fats,' other than butter, if I can. Just yesterday I found the solution to my popcorn dilema. Coconut Oil. The magical fat that is not only good for your body to ingest (brain, joints, tendons, skin) but it actually pushes the bad fats out. Yup, you heard it right.

Coconut Oil is now widely available at health food stores. Although it is an öil"it has a very high melt temperature, so will be in solid form. I use it often for sauteing and also for baking.

ALso, please look for organic (bio) non-GMO popcorn kernels. Corn is THE plant that started the path of GMOs...

Popcorn, Sweet or Salty

Prepare your popcorn as you like, I air-pop mine.
In the meantime, melt as much coconut butter as you would normally melt butter. Or, if you usually go "plain", melt about 3 tablespoons. Pour it on the popped corn as you toss it, then toss on salt or unrefined sugar (kids LOVE this one- an such a better alternative than caramel corn!).

Pull up a comfy chair and put on a movie.....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jenn's Tomato Sauce

Just a quick comment: this is one of those recipes created in efforts to simplify the family kitchen, and hold up my iron-clad rule.... veg with every meal (even for visiting kids!). In this case most especially the magical vegetable, jam-packed with vitamins & minerals- the Sweet Potato.

1/2 large sweet potato*
1/2 large or 1 small fennel buld
2 med. onions
2 large garlic buds
2 tablespoons (soup spoons) tomato paste, preferable organic
500ml (3 cups) tomato puree, perferably organic
olive oil
sea salt
dried or fresh oregano and/or basil

*Actually, all vegetables are preferably organic and locally sourced. If you can't have both, I choose based on the vegetable. High water based veg & fruits need to be organic, otherwise, GO LOCAL. If you think your family might not be ready for a taste change, start with a 1/4 sweet potato and build it up.

Usually the night before, but it also works well minutes before, boil up all the vegetables, on a medium flame, until soft. If you are doing this the night before, drain the veg but KEEP THE WATER you cooked in. Put the veg in a plastic container and the broth in something else. Refridgerate.

When you are ready to make the sauce, put the 1/2 the veg, and the fresh herbs if you are using them, in the blender, add a just enough tomato puree to get it blended. Then do the same for the rest of the veg.

In the meantime, in a large frying pan, on medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons (soup spoon) of olive oil and 1 teaspoon (coffee spoon) of sea salt. As the veg are blended, put them in the pan. Once all the veg are in the pan, add the rest of the tomato puree. Add the tomato paste. Stir well. The oil stirs in better a little later when it is all good and warm. Adjust thickness with more tomato puree or some of the cooking liqud from the veg.
Add the dried basil & oregano if you aren't using fresh.
You an always add some dried garlic and salt at the end to boost the flavor or make it closer to what you are"used to".

By the way, keep that leftover cooking water, youo can use it anytime, any recipe calls for vegetable broth.

Serve with pasta, parmeseam.. as you like.
Feel GREAT about all the great veg you and your family are getting!
The leftover sauce (if there is any, is great used as a pizza sauce 1-2 nights later!

Eat Well. Feel Great.