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Archive for January, 2008

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Jambalaya

2 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (1 green, 1 red), chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 links smoked sausage, diced
3 links andouille sausage, diced
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 ½ c. long grain rice
1 ½ c. tomato sauce, or puree
3 1/2 c. water
2 c. frozen whole kernel corn

Heat oil in large dutch oven or heavy pot with lid. Add the onions, and the green pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add in the red and jalapeno pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, brown the andouille and smoked sausage. Drain off any accumulated fat and add in chicken. Sear and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat. Meat can be slightly underdone at this point; it will cook further with the rice and vegetable mix. Add rice to pepper/onion mixture and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring frequently until rice browns slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Add in tomato product and stir to coat. Pour in water, corn and meats, stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until liquid is gone and rice is cooked

RECIPE NOTES: Feel free to sub any kind of sausage you wish; chorizo would be good in this. I used smoked turkey sausage, along with the andouille and it was very nice. I use uncooked andouille and removed the casings, browning and breaking the meat up in the skillet.

If shrimp is your thing, toss those in as well. Skip the corn if you don’t care for it, or add in some legumes if you want. A 15-oz can of black beans is a nice addition. They can be stirred in at the end and allowed to gently warm.

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Red Lentil Dhal
makes 6-8 servings

Toasting and grinding your seeds is so worth the effort, and doesn’t take long at all. Serve this dhal as a main dish with rice or as a side dish. It is aromatic, rich and delicious.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried red lentils
2 tablespoon tomato paste
4-5 cups water or veg broth
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro

Spice blend
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
4 cardomom pods

2 dried red chilis (seeds removed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
In a saute pan over medium heat, toast the seeds (but not the dried red chili) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan and let cool. Transfer to coffee grinder, along with the dried red chili and cinnamon, and grind to a fine powder. Over medium-high heat oil a soup pot, add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute 5 more minutes. Add spices and salt, saute 5 minutes more. Add 4 cups of water and stir to deglaze the pot. Add tomato paste and lentils. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a bit and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro and more water if it looks too thick. Simmer 10 more minutes, or until lentils are completely tender.

RECIPE NOTES: Surprise! I didn’t vary too much from this original recipe except to add about two cups of shredded spinach to the last 10 minute simmer. I also grated in some lime zest simply because I love how it tastes. It needed no extra water after 30 minutes of simmering, and as it sat and cooled it thickened quite a bit, so if you get an end result that seems thin, don’t despair. After a night in the fridge it was thicker still.

I did cook the onions until they were slightly browned and rather soft; I love the flavor they impart with this amount of cooking. Beware when you add the water after cooking the spices and onion mixture- the pan will splatter a lot!

TOAST the spices!! TOAST the spices! TOAST the spices!

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Hearty Minestrone (from a certain FN chef)

2 quarts chicken stock
1 head garlic, halved
1/2 # small rigatoni
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
3/4 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 15-oz can cannelloni or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
Coarsely ground black pepper
12 slices baguette
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

-Combine the stock and halved garlic head in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.
-Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.
-Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. -Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
-To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
-Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone. Drain and stir into the simmering soup. Add the parsley, and salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.
-To serve, preheat the broiler. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and float a couple of the baguette slices on top.

RECIPE NOTES: For the chicken stock, I used about a half a head of garlic and took off the paper, smashing the cloves with my knife to release the flavor. The result was such a delicious garlic infusion. I only poured in 1 1/2 qts of broth too; this should be a thick soup, and along with the tomato puree, the 2 qts was too much. I used mild italian sausage because the meat counter at the grocer had it in bulk and I could buy exactly what I needed. In addition to the fresh herbs in the oil, I added a handful of chopped celery leaves because I just love that flavor. I used extra carrots too.

The 15 minute simmer time once all the ingredients are together doesn’t seem like enough, and I think I would go an extra 15 next time I make it. The vegetables were still super crispy after 15 min, and my preference is to have them slightly softer. I also thought it could have used more time to build its flavor, even though it tasted really wonderful. The parmesan croutons were delicious; they broiled super fast though, so watch carefully. I set off our smoke detector (hehehe). A really crusty loaf makes for a perfect boat in this broth.

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Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard

Yield: 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth as needed
2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into
1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 bay leaf
1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup finely chopped tamari almonds, for garnish (optional), available in health food stores
1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish.

1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeño. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed.) Stir in chard and salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and chard is cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes total.

3. Just before serving, stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice. Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish. Garnish with almonds if desired and scallions.

RECIPE NOTES: I am not a fan of swiss chard, so I used spinach instead. I added several diced carrots to the dish as well as the potato and that was delicious. At the end of the cooking time I dumped in a cup of cooked wheat berries (i keep them in the freezer). It adds more nutritional value to the dish and a nice nutty and chewy texture.
I cooked this for at least an hour and I think it could have cooked much more as the lentils still seemed a tad chewy. It’s hard to determine how much time is needed, but the potato was getting mushy and I didn’t want to cook it too much longer for fear they would fall apart. The spinach, if used, can be stirred in just a few minutes prior to serving; it won’t need much to make it wilt. It can be eaten alone, no doubt; we love the rice; so for us that was perfect. We did not top it with almonds.

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