Lentil Soup With Cilantro and Lemon Gremolata

Lentil Soup with Cilantro Lemon Gremolata

 

My daughter loves lentil soup. It is one of her favorite meals. My version of lentil soup is not highly complicated, lentils, carrots, celery, onion, and a final squeeze of lemon at the end. When I ran across a recipe by Kenji over on the Serious eats blog adding a parsley and lemon Gremolata, I knew I had to try it! Let me tell you, hands down this is the best lentil soup that I’ve ever had or made! My daughter ate 3 bowls, (3 of her little mini bowls, but 3 bowls none the less), and she could not stop saying how yummy it was. I decided to use cilantro instead of parsley because I love the flavor of cilantro, lemon, and lentils—super yummy. If cilantro is not your thing, then by all means use parsley, this soup is good either way! If you know you’re putting this in your weeknight line up soak the lentils overnight, it will shave off 30 minutes of your cooking time.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45minutes-1hour

servings: 6

Here’s what you need:

Gremolata Ingredients:

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon zest

4 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup cilantro chopped (sub parsley)

Ingredients for Soup

1 cup of lentils ( I used French green lentils)

1 cup carrots diced

1 cup celery diced

1 medium onion diced

4 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

5 cups of good quality chicken broth( sub with veggie stock if you want to make this vegetarian)

1 lemon cut into wedges for squeezing.

Directions: Add the ingredients for the gremolata to a small bowl,

Mix well and set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven pan, add the onions, carrots and celery,

Sauté until onions are translucent about 5 minutes,

 

Add the lentils mix well,

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Add half of the gremolata. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes, your house should smell amazing at this point.

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Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

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Lower the fire and simmer until lentils are nice and tender around 45 minutes. Add water, if necessary, it wasn’t for me. Once lentils are tender, add the lemon juice, mix well then turn off the fire. Serve by ladling into soup bowls and topping with a dollop of the remaining Gremolata, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and enjoy!

 

 

 

If you don’t have it already, check out Kenji’s new book, The Food Lab, it’s full of useful cooking information backed by science.

Popcorn Balls with Peanut butter and Marshmallows

Popcorn Balls with Peanut butter and Marshmallows

Popcorn Balls with Peanut butter and Marshmallows

Now that Page is in school–two schools if we’re being technical–there are always opportunities for me to cook, or prepare treats for her classes.  This week has been particularly hectic because both schools are doing fundraising drives, and if you’re a parent then you know the schools require a lot of participation from parents in the form of raising money and volunteering to bring food and elbow grease.  Luckily for me none of the kids in Page’s class have food allergies, so I decided to make these popcorn balls.  Popcorn balls have always been one of my favorite Halloween treats.  They contain popcorn and marshmallows, really what’s not to love? These popcorn balls also have a yummy touch of peanut butter, you can omit it, or sub with sun butter or almond butter if you have a little one with allergies. If not–live a little–tis the season! You can make your own marshmallows here’s how, or you can buy a store brand.  I got a gluten free version from Whole Foods.

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Makes 12 medium popcorn balls

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

6 cups of organic Non-GMO popcorn (equal to 1/4 cup of unpopped popcorn)

3 cups of marshmallows

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1 tablespoon of organic peanut butter

Directions: Pop 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels then set aside in a large bowl.

To a sauce pan add the butter,

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let it melt then add the peanut butter, marshmallows,

Stir until melted,

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Working quickly pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn.

With a spatula work quickly to coat the popcorn in the marshmallow mixture.  Once all the popcorn has been coated, work quickly to form the popcorn into balls.

The mixture will still be quite warm so be careful and try not to burn your hands.  Once all the balls have been formed serve and enjoy!

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If you like this you’ll probably love my Caramel popcorn with Almonds and coconut recipe, it’s crunchy and oh so delicious!

How to make Maple Caramels

Maple Cream Caramels

Maple Cream Caramels

 

These caramels have been on my ever expanding list of things I’d like to make for a while now.  I decided that since Halloween is just within our grasp, why not make these as a special Halloween treat.   One of my all time favorite Halloween treats are caramel apples. My mom always bought a package of caramels and on Halloween night we would melt them and make caramel apples.  If you have never made caramel before there can be some pitfalls.  You’ll need a thermometer that can read temps above 250F.  This caramel needs to be heated to 248F.  While cooking, it took a considerable amount of time for my caramel to go from 228F to 248F.  This happens quite often when making candies of this type.  The first time that I made caramel I thought that my thermometer was broken, but it was not. My thermometer just would not go past 230F.  I turned my thermometer off and on, recalibrated it, and yet when I placed it in my caramel it would not budge beyond 230F.  My caramel had reached a plateau. When making candy it takes a considerable amount of energy to burn off enough water to reach a higher temperature.  This plateau  typically occurs at temps between 230-240F.  Simply put, do not be surprised or thrown off if you put your thermometer in your caramel and the temperature stalls at 230F and does not rise for 10 minutes.  It’s completely normal, and once the water cooks out the temperature will rise.  Give it time.  If you don’t the caramel will not set–great if you just want to use this to coat apples, but bad if you want to have them set as a candy.

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Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

1 cup of organic sugar

1 cup of  organic heavy cream

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 tablespoons of butter

1/2 teaspoon maple extract

1/4 cup of water

3 tablespoons of organic corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Directions:

Line a 9 by 11-inch pan with parchment paper spray lightly with oil and set aside. Heat the cream, butter, salt, and maple extract in a sauce pan, once butter melts, remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan add the remaining ingredients:

Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring,

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Once the sugar completely dissolves, slowly add the cream mixture, be careful the mixture will boil violently:

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Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the temperature reaches 248F.  Remember, going from 230F to 248F could take some time, but keep an eye on it, do not walk away.  The mixture will become less watery and more thick and candy-like as it nears 248F:

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When it reaches 248F it will be very thick:

 

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Thick enough to coat a spatula:

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Pour it into the parchment lined pan and let cool for 2 hours.

 

Once cool cut into bite size pieces and enjoy!

 

 

 

Avocado and Cilantro Crema

Avocado and Cilantro Crema

Avocado and Cilantro Crema

 

We have a black bean tostada night once every 2 weeks.  It’s simple, and definitely a lazy girl dinner, because I open a can of black refined beans heat them then add them to a piping hot and crisp tortilla. I top the tortilla with cheese, sliced tomatoes, cilantro, and either a fresh guacamole or this Avocado Crema.  The result is a delicious and lazy dinner! Simple ingredients, but oh so good. My husband raves about this dinner every time we have it. The best thing about this is that you throw everything into a blender and a minute later the sauce is done. If you want to make this vegan, paleo or Whole 30 approved just omit the yogurt and replace with 1/4 cup of water.

 

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Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

1 large ripe avocado

3 tablespoons of yogurt–can sub sour cream

1/4 cup of cilantro

juice of 1/2 lime==more if you like

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

Sea salt to taste

Directions:  Add all the ingredients to a blender.

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Blend on high until smooth and lump free.

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Serve and enjoy!

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How to Make Queso Fresco Cheese

How to maker Queso Cheese

How to make Queso Fresco Cheese

This week I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen making things that I had on my “list of things I want to make”–yes I actually have a list. This cheese has been on that list for quite some time.  It’s so unbelievably easy to make that now I am left to wonder why it took me so long to try it.  It’s also a great way to use milk that would not get used otherwise. This cheese was a great addition to  my Peruvian Chicken taco’s that recipe will be on the blog tomorrow.

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

1 quart of whole organic milk

2 -3 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice–can sub with vinegar

Sea salt to taste

Equipment:

cheesecloth

Sieve

Directions: Add the milk to a saucepan,

Heat the milk to 180F whisking to prevent the milk from scorching.

Once the milk reaches 180F remove from heat.

Add the lemon juice or vinegar 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring gently until the curds separate from the whey. This happens almost immediately.

Allow the curds to continue to separate, let the mixture sit in the pot uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

 

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From here you can decide to just strain the mixture in a cheesecloth lined sieve, add salt to taste and be done–you’ll have a perfectly soft crumble cheese.

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Or you can strain, then squeeze out excess whey, add salt, form into a ball, and press into a firmer queso,

I placed my queso into a circular cookie/biscuit cutter, which I wrapped in my cheesecloth, and then placed a sealed water-filled 4-ounce mason jar on top for 5-10 minutes to squeeze out excess whey.  I placed these items over a sieve with a bowl underneath to collect the whey.

For a firmer paneer type cheese extend the time that the cheese is pressed from 10 to 20 minutes. Refrigerate if you don’t plan on using the cheese right away.  It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

 

 

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Berbere Spiced Lentil Stew (MISR WOT)

Berbere Spiced Lentil Stew

Berbere Spiced Lentil Stew

 

So I’ve decided that this will be my last post until the summer is over.  Mainly because we’ll be traveling for at least  three weeks in August, and today is Page’s last day in her summer program at school.  We have about a week of lounging around and playing in the back yard before she starts her Spanish immersion summer program.  I want to spend as much time as I can with her, without looking at my phone to do all that blogging requires of me.  I’ll be sure to update my Instagram account with all of my food adventures–as usual.  So if you aren’t following me on Instagram, click on the link to the right to do so.  Now to the recipe. Berbere Chicken was one of the first recipes that I shared on this blog.  It’s one of Page’s favorite chicken dishes–although lately it is getting some strong competition from Sous Vide Chicken Thighs with Thyme and Garlic. She still love this chicken nonetheless. After making the chicken the last time, I was so impressed with the flavors, I wanted to add it to something else, and then it occurred to me how awesome this seasoning would be on lentils, in a soup.  As I walked around my kitchen, grabbing ingredients and  formulating a recipe in my head, lentils, tomatoes–because my garden is overflowing with them, onion, garlic, lemon, and berbere spice, it occurred to me that I had these flavors before in a dish at an Ethiopian restaurant.  Sure enough there was a recipe for a stew by none other than Marcus Samuelson.  While I did not follow his recipe exactly, my own isn’t so far off.  I used some Organic Green French Lentils, which I sprouted.  His recipe and I guess the traditional recipe calls for red lentils. I added some of the preserved lemon salt  I made to my bowl as a finish.  If you haven’t made my preserved lemon salt yet, a little preserved lemon would be awesome with this.

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Ingredients

1 cup of sprouted organic green lentils

1 large tomato chopped

1 small onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of oil –your choice I used butter

2 tablespoons of berbere spice

1 lemon cut into wedges

3 cups of water

Ingredients for Berbere Spice

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons of Paprika I used a smoked
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds or ground cumin
1teaspoon of ground turmeric
1teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of fenugreek powder, or seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander
6 cardmom pods or 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
8 whole cloves

Directions for spice blend:
Place all the spices in a dry cast iron skillet and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until toasted about 3-5 minutes. Cool completely  place all ingredients in a spice grinder or blender until finely ground. Transfer to an air tight storage container for up to 3 months.

Directions: Heat the oil along with the onion, and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.

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Add in the lentils and berbere spice.

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Allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes, then add in the tomato,

 

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cook for another minute or two,

 

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then add in the water.  Bring to a boil, then allow the lentils to simmer for 20-30minutes, or until lentils are tender.

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You can serve at this point, by adding the stew to a bowl and squeezing a few lemon wedges over the soup.  I wanted a little more texture, so I blended a quarter of my lentils then added them back into the stew.

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It made the soup thicker and creamier.  Delicious either way!

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Grilled Zucchini and Avocado with White Wine Vinaigrette

Grilled Zucchini with Avocado and White Wine Viniagrette

Grilled Zucchini with Avocado and White Wine Vinaigrette

T’is the season–for zucchini that is.  It is at almost every stand in my farmers market, piled into beautiful towers at my local Whole Foods, and in glistening plastic packages in my local Trader Joe’s.  There is no escaping it–not that I’d want to. Zucchini is one of those vegetables that if you plant it–you will be rewarded with an enormous bounty–so it’s no wonder that it is everywhere right now. So what do you do with an enormous bounty of zucchini?  Cook it. Pickle it. Give it away–even in secret as some of my neighbors have, by leaving an anonymous  bag full of zucchini on my doorstep.  It’s a good thing that I happen to like zucchini.  This recipe happens to be something that came about as an accident.  I was planning on making my favorite saute of zucchini and mushrooms but my plans and Page’s needs sometimes collide and I had to make an adjustment.  In this case, I had some deliciously ripe avocado’s that Page insisted that I serve her for dinner.  I had already begun to slice the zucchini so I had to cook it. So I decided why not just combine the two and make a salad of sorts. Boy, am I glad I did. I used a white wine vinaigrette, but this is great with a lemon garlic vinaigrette too!

 

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Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini, sliced

2 large avocados, sliced

1/4 cup of feta cheese (optional)

1 tablespoon of parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil or grape seed

2 tablespoons of butter or ghee

sea salt and black pepper to taste

For Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of olive oil

sea salt to taste

Directions: Mix the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the oil and butter in a saute pan.

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Once hot, add the zucchini slices to the pan and cook until brown–about 2-3 minutes on each side.

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Transfer the zucchini to a plate, season with sea salt and black pepper.

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Slice the avocado and arrange in a single layer on a plate.  Top the avocado with the grilled zucchini.  Sprinkle with feta if using, then sprinkle with parsley. Lastly top with vinaigrette, serve and enjoy!

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