‘Tis the Season for the Oven: Roasted Beet Salad with Fennel, Walnuts, and Feta

roasted beet and fennel

Our CSA is full of root and other veggies right now, so I’ve been doing a lot of roasting. Beets, potatoes, and carrots, along with the last of summer’s eggplant and zucchini. Beet salad (in all its variants) is on the weekly menu. It’s a versatile dish – serving as a vegetarian main dish for two or a side salad for several.

I use whatever variety of beets (red, yellow, candy stripe) or lettuce I have on hand. I’ve found that the flavors of Bibb and other sweet lettuces blend more readily than the bitter flavors of spinach or leaf lettuce. I also add fennel, caramelized walnuts and red onion, and then top with a citrus dressing. To complement the sweetness, I’ve been using a salty feta cheese rather than the typical sweet chèvre. Feta gives a fresh briny contrast that keeps the dish from being cloying – something that adding bitter flavors cannot do.

10-18-15 beet salad

Roasted Beets with Fennel

6 small/medium beets (rinsed, peeled, and trimmed)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Pink Himalayan salt

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced with core removed

  1. Preheat oven to 450º F.
  2. Cut the peeled beets into ~1” cubes.
  3. Place beets in cast iron skillet coated with coconut oil. Toss. Top with freshly ground salt and bake for 20 minutes or until tender but still firm.
  4. Add thinly sliced fennel bulb and return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven. Set aside on a plate to cool. I usually just put them in the refrigerator to speed the cooling process.

Caramelized Walnuts

1 cup walnut halves and pieces

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

  1. Place walnuts in non-stick ceramic skillet over medium-high heat. Keep moving with wooden spoon until lightly toasted.
  2. Remove from heat and add maple syrup. Keep stirring until walnuts are coated and begin to caramelize.
  3. Turn onto plate before they harden. Set aside (or in the refrigerator) to cool.

Greens

4 cups Bibb lettuce

¼ cup finely slivered red onion

Citrusy balsamic dressing (see below)

  1. Rinse lettuce and spin dry.
  2. Toss with red onion and just enough dressing (below) to coat.

Citrusy Balsamic Dressing

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup (this aids with thickening as well)

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh fennel fronds

(optional) 1 teaspoon orange marmalade (can use apricot, plum, or other jam/jelly). If adding jelly, add 1 teaspoon more olive oil to balance.

  1. Wisk together dressing ingredients.
  2. Use half the dressing to coat the greens.
  3. Toss remaining dressing with beets.
  4. Place dressed greens on platter and arrange beets and any extra dressing on top.

Toppings

Walnuts (above)

Feta (or chèvre, if you prefer a sweeter cheese)

Extra red onion (finely slivered)

  1. Top dressed beets, fennel, lettuce, and red onion with caramelized walnuts and crumbled feta.
  2. Serve with small bowls of extra caramelized walnuts, feta, and red onion slivers.
  3. The cooking and the eating pairs well with IPAs (see below).

beet prep

On the Academic/Agricultural Calendar: Raw Food Peach Pie

9-5-15 raw peach pie

I’m wistful at this season’s end and what the summer could have been and all I wanted it to be. I didn’t accomplish those things planned – those things longed for in the months of snow and teaching. And I didn’t rest. I most wanted to rest. What I did do was contend with a stressful family emergency, take classes, push a career change forward, and accept an exciting new position at an excellent university. In my precious free hours, I took as many walks as the weather afforded, ate out (a lot), drank some (as in, all of the) very fine craft beers, did some farm-stand shopping, and played around in the kitchen.

Peaches are my last grasp at summer. I’ll use them to make as many raw food pies as I’m able (probably two more) before their juicy ripeness is replaced by the tart fruits of fall. The Raw Food Peach Pie below is adapted from Nomi Shannon’s The Raw Gourmet. The crust and topping are the same for my Raw Food Strawberry Pie, which is also adapted from The Raw Gourmet.

Night before:

  1. For crust: Measure 1¼ raw almonds into large glass jar (I use large canning jars) and fill ¾ full with fresh filtered water (allowing room for almonds to swell). Soak for 8 hours either on countertop or (if longer than 8 hours) in refrigerator.
  2. For peach binder: Place 6 pitted dates in small glass jar and fill half way with fresh filtered water. Soak for 8 hours either on countertop or (if longer than 8 hours) in refrigerator.
  3. For fluff topping: Measure 1 cup raw cashews into large glass jar and fill ¾ full with fresh filtered water (allowing room for them to swell). Soak for 8 hours either on countertop or (if longer than 8 hours) in refrigerator.
  4. Also for topping: Soak another 4 to 6 pitted dates in a separate small glass jar filled half way with water.
  5. Note: I sometimes put sticky notes on the jars to clarify what soak goes to which part of a recipe.
  6. Also, I usually begin the soak at room temperature and then transfer to the refrigerator, so all ingredients are cold and ready to eat when I prepare them.

Almond Date Crust

1¼ cup almonds (soaked overnight)

1 cup chopped madjool (or other soft) dates

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dash of cinnamon

2 teaspoons psyllium

  1. Preheat oven at 200° F while assembling crust. This is only for dehydration and optional. Turn the oven off when it reaches temperature and let it sit closed.
  2. Strain excess water from almonds. Never consume nut soak water as it can contain toxins. (Soak water from dates, raisins, or other dried fruits is fine.)
  3. NOTE: if you have a small food processor like I do, you will want to halve the portions and process in batches. Just make sure to add each of the ingredients in their proper order for the batches to thoroughly integrate.
  4. Place almonds in food processor and pulse a few times until broken into small pieces.
  5. Add the chopped dates, vanilla, and cinnamon and process until it creates a crumbly dough.
  6. Sprinkle the psyllium and process until blended
  7. Pour dough into pie pan and work with your hands to ensure the ingredients are integrated.
  8. Press evenly into pie pan.
  9. Place crust in warm oven to dehydrate as you prep the filling and topping. Be sure the oven is turned off.

Peach Pie Filling

4 cups peeled and thinly sliced ripe peaches

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dash of cinnamon (or to taste)

  1. In a large bowl, gently toss sliced peaches with lemon juice and cinnamon.
  2. Set aside while making binder (below).

Peach Binder

2-3 very ripe peached, peeled and roughly chopped

6 pitted dates soaked overnight (reserve soak water)

Maple syrup

1-2 tablespoons psyllium

  1. For the binder, use the blender to blend chopped peaches with enough date soak water to form a thick purée.
  2. Add a combination of maple syrup and dates one by one until you get the sweetness you desire. You do not need to add all the dates; most of their sweetness will have been released in the soak water.
  3. Slowly add psyllium while blending until completely incorporated.
  4. Pour over the sliced peaches in bowl. Gently toss peaches to coat them in binder.
  5. Pour peach mixture into pie crust.
  6. Let set up in refrigerator while making fluff topping. Works best if pie sits for at least a half an hour, especially if ingredients are not already cold.

Fluff Topping

1 cup cashews soaked overnight

1 teaspoon vanilla

4-6 pitted dates (reserve soak water)

Maple syrup

  1. Strain excess water from cashews. Again, never consume nut soak water as it can contain toxins.
  2. Put cashews and vanilla in blender. Slowly add date soak water until blender begins to move cashews around. Use a spatula to stir if needed.
  3. Continue adding soak water, dates (one by one), and maple syrup until you get a creamy, fluffy texture.
  4. Taste several times for sweetness and texture until it’s perfectly sweet and creamy.
  5. Transfer to glass container and store in refrigerator for up to a week.
  6. Use it to top slices of peach pie.

Tomato Sandwich in a Bowl: Heirloom Panzanella

8-22-15 panzanella

I grew up in the Southeastern U.S. where the heat and long growing season made for deliciously ripe tomatoes. In the summers, I ate many a fresh tomato sandwich. Sometimes the fruit was still warm, picked straight from the vine or from a sunny window where it had been set to ripen. I loved the simplicity of a couple of slices of homemade bread soaking up the juices of a perfectly ripe tomato with only a little mayo, salt, and pepper to dress it.

I moved from the muggy South to the Mediterranean climate of Southern California, where tomatoes were also abundant and ripe. I’m convinced that the organic heirlooms grown in the irrigated high desert that we bought at the Hollywood Farmers Market were some of the best in the world. Usually, the heirlooms were picked in the wee hours before the farmers drove into the city to set up their stands.

Living in New England now, the tomato season is not as long and sometimes there isn’t enough heat for the fruit to ripen as fully as it might elsewhere. Nonetheless, we’re still able to find delicious ones near the end of summer. We’ve been buying our heirlooms from Lull Farms since moving to the region, and haven’t been disappointed. I picked up some recently and made an excellent panzanella.

Panzanella is like a tomato sandwich in a bowl, so simple, delicious, and reminiscent of hot places. I love how the hardened bread (either stale or slightly toasted) soaks up the tomato juices and how each flavor is melded, yet distinct. For this reason, the best of panzanella recipes are the least elaborate – the ones where the flavors are few enough to remain distinct. While some recipes may call for garlic, a variety of herbs, olives, and a dressing, I think sticking to the basic ingredients – ripe heirloom tomatoes, salt, pepper, sourdough / baguette, red onion, basil, capers, olive oil, and a splash of vinegar – is the way to go. For leftover panzanella, cubed mozzarella and extra basil is enough re-enliven this lovely summer dish.

My recipe is adapted from Rosie Birkett’s beautifully photographed recipe book, A Lot on Her Plate, which is an adaptation from her blog by the same name.

8-22-15 heirlooms

Heirloom Panzanella

6 cups 1-inch cubed sourdough bread pieces (or crusty baguette)

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, sliced

1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed

4 heirloom tomatoes in a variety of colors

1 small (or ½ large) red onion

Freshly ground sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon wine vinegar or white balsamic

  1. Heat oven to 425°.
  2. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a couple grinds of salt. Spread in single layer on cookie sheet.
  4. Lightly toast bread cubes in oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. They should NOT be as dark, or hard as croutons. The purpose is to dry them out rather than fully toast them. Stale bread will need less toasting.
  5. Set bread aside to cool.
  6. Cut tomatoes into bite sized pieces, place in large bowl, and toss with a few grinds of salt. Set aside and let juices seep out into bowl. Do NOT drain.
  7. In the food processor, blend 1 cup of the basil with the rinsed capers and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Or if you prefer, finely chop them by hand and stir with oil.
  8. Thinly slice the red onion and add to tomatoes.
  9. Toss tomatoes with with the vinegar and the basil, caper, olive oil mixture.
  10. Add sourdough cubes and toss again with freshly ground black pepper, more salt (if needed), and the other ½ cup of sliced basil.
  11. Set aside for at least 30 minutes so bread can soak up the tomato juices.

Caprese variation: Add freshly cubed mozzarella and another teaspoon of rinsed capers.

Note: If the sourdough is sturdy enough, this will keep surprisingly well in the refrigerator for several hours. I’ve eaten it for lunch the following day – revived with a little mozzarella – and it was still yummy.

Pairing: Panzanella can be a meal in itself, but it also blends beautifully with a simple Fish Meunière with Browned Butter and Lemon.

Perfectly Easy for Two: Fish Meunière with Browned Butter and Lemon

8-22-15 fish

I needed something quick and easy to round out a meal of panzanella (here’s my recipe), so I went for my go-to fish dish, Fish Meunière with Browned Butter and Lemon. For my version of this French classic, I only use two pieces of fish because that’s what fits in the skillet. I also add lemon zest (not all recipes do) and use butter alone (although you could use ghee or a mixture of butter and olive oil). The lemon zest and butter impart the richest flavors in my opinion.

I’ve attempted this dish in a variety of skillets, but it cooks best in a 10- or 12-inch ceramic non-stick skillet. Ceramic non-sticks are less toxic than traditional non-stick cookware.

Fish Meunière with Browned Butter and Lemon

2 pieces of your favorite white fish fillets, a little less than ½” thick (5-6 ounces)

Sea salt

Black pepper

½ cup organic unbleached flour

5 tablespoons unsalted organic butter

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

2 large sprigs of fresh chopped parsley

Lemon wedges for garnish

  1. Pat the fish fillets dry and season them with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper on both sides. Set aside for 5 minutes until the salt begins to draw some of the moisture out of the fish and it begins to glisten.
  2. Meanwhile, finely grate the lemon zest and juice the lemon.
  3. On a clean, dry plate, spread the flour and a few grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Stir with a clean, dry spoon.
  4. Heat the non-stick skillet with 3 tablespoons of the butter on medium-high heat.
  5. Dredge the fish in the flour mixture and shake off excess.
  6. Place fish in hot pan and do not disturb.
  7. Cook for 3 minutes on the first side or until crispy brown.
  8. Carefully turn fish with two spatulas and cook on second side for another 2 minutes or until the thickest part of the fillet easily flakes when a toothpick is inserted.
  9. Carefully transfer fish to a warm serving platter.
  10. In the dirty skillet, add the other 2 tablespoons of butter and stir. As butter begins to brown, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped parsley. Keep stirring until fragrance begins to release.
  11. Pour lemon butter mixture over fish.
  12. Serve with lemon wedges. And enjoy!

Feral Plants and Fragrant Woks: Lactose- and Gluten-free Clafoutis (Cherry or Rhubarb)

8-8-15 cherry clafoutis

When my husband and I bought our old New England house in early spring a few years ago, I was eager for the summer months ahead to see those things bloom that had been planted over the last century. But no plants appeared. All we got was rhubarb – that and the evergreen shrubs and large rhododendrons that were already visible.

I wasn’t sure what to do with rhubarb or if what I’d found was even rhubarb and not some toxic look-alike. I’d heard the leaves were poisonous, so I figured I probably shouldn’t try to cook some feral look-alike that just happened to crop up by the edge of the woods. Also, I wasn’t even sure I liked rhubarb. I did know that I liked strawberry rhubarb pie (probably the strawberries more than the rhubarb, or so I thought). I certainly didn’t know how to cook it. My only experience with preparing rhubarb was watching my father boil some uncut stalks down into an awful stringy, slimy mess that no one wanted to eat. I think he might have been trying to make a pie without a recipe.

It wasn’t until a New England native who was doing some tile work on our bathroom (because we gave up after 3 years and hired someone when we failed to finish remodeling our one and only bathroom and because we were tired of brushing our teeth over an old iron tub) encouraged us to cut some stalks and actually try it that we did. From there I searched out a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe from The New Best Recipe, second edition (2004). I’d link to it, but the book seems to be out of print. From Best Recipe, I learned how to shed the moisture from the rhubarb. The clafoutis recipe below was adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This blog, Bite from the Past, does a step-by-step of the original recipe. My version changes the sweeteners, the flour to coconut flour, and the milk to coconut milk.

8-8-15 rhubarb

One of my favorite things about cooking with rhubarb is the beautiful fragrance released when I put it in the wok with coconut oil and a little raw sugar. It’s such an evocative scent – nothing like it. I use this method to shed the moisture for all my rhubarb recipes like this rhubarb clafoutis.

I make the clafoutis with the traditional cherries too. See that version at the bottom of this recipe.

8-8-15 rhubarb clafoutis

Rhubarb Topping

1 tablespoon coconut oil

3 cups diagonally sliced rhubarb

¼ scant cup raw sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Trim rhubarb ends and slice diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Peel outer layer if too fibrous.
  3. Heat coconut oil in large wok over medium-high heat.
  4. When hot, add sliced rhubarb and raw sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until rhubarb sheds most of its moisture but is still firm, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add the orange zest. Set aside to cool.

Clafoutis Batter

1 ¼ cup canned coconut milk

¼ cup maple syrup

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

pinch of salt

¼ cup coconut flour

¼ cup tapioca flour

  1. Use a little coconut oil to grease a 10-inch round ceramic pie or torte baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Place the coconut milk, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, salt and coconut flour in the blender in that order. Cover and blend at top speed for 30 seconds.
  3. Slowly add the tapioca flour and continue to blend for another 30 seconds at top speed.
  4. Pour batter into greased baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle rhubarb evenly over batter. It will sink slightly, but don’t attempt to push it down or cover with batter.
  6. Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 30-35 minutes or until puffed, slightly brown, and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  7. Serve warm.
  8. Optional: top with coconut whipped cream, yogurt, or cashew fluff topping.

Alternative Cherry Topping

3 cups pitted cherries

¼ cup raw sugar

  1. Slice cherries in half and pit.
  2. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with raw sugar. Set aside while making batter.
  3. Make batter as above.
  4. Once batter has been poured into baking dish, sprinkle cherries by the handful over top. Leave any remaining juice in the bowl. Don’t try to cover cherries with batter.

Both are yummy. I can imagine a half cherry and half rhubarb would be good too. Enjoy!

And Now for Something Decadent: Lactose- and Gluten-free Coconut Cream Pie

8-3-15 Coconut Cream Pie

Summer is nearly over and I spent most of it in coursework rather than in the kitchen. Ah, well. Here’s a delicious coconut cream pie to make it all better. The recipe comes from Adriana Harlan’s Living Healthy with Chocolate blog.

I rarely follow a recipe exactly, but this one is so perfect… I almost did. All I changed was the chocolate layer. It calls for chocolate chips and cream, but I used what I had (raw cacao powder, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla) instead. I also used a food processor for the crust and didn’t line my baking dish with parchment paper. I oiled it with coconut oil instead, which worked fine.

Note: One of the cans of full-fat coconut milk needs to be refrigerated overnight.

Pecan Crust

½ cup almond flour

½ tablespoon raw honey

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

¼ cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 7- x 5-inch glass baking dish with a little coconut oil.
  2. In the food processor, mix together the almond flour, raw honey, and melted coconut oil.
  3. Add the pecans and pulse a couple of times until blended but not pulverized.
  4. Press mixture into bottom of greased baking dish.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes until crust begins to brown.
  6. Place on wire rack and let cool completely. You may want to finish the cooling in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Layer

2 tablespoons coconut oil

½ cup raw cacao powder

2 tablespoons raw honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Be sure the crust has cooled completely.
  2. Melt coconut oil over low heat.
  3. Stir in cacao powder until all lumps are gone.
  4. Remove from heat and add honey and vanilla.
  5. Spread warm chocolate mixture over cooled crust.
  6. Place in refrigerator, so chocolate layer can set over crust.

Coconut Custard Layer

1 can (13.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk

1 large egg

3 tablespoons arrowroot powder

3 tablespoons raw honey

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

pinch of salt

  1. Combine coconut milk, egg, arrowroot powder, honey, and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in shredded coconut and vanilla extract.
  5. Set aside to cool for another 20 minutes.
  6. Pour cooled custard over the chocolate and refrigerate until firm.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can (13.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk refrigerated overnight

Toasted unsweetened shredded coconut milk (toast lightly in oven on cookie sheet)

  1. Scoop out solid coconut fat from can into a large bowl. Be careful not to mix with the water in the bottom of can.
  2. Whip coconut cream with a mixer on high until fluffy.
  3. Spread whipped cream over custard layer.
  4. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Enjoy! This is so delicious – much better than the usual coconut cream or

Boston cream pie.

8-3-15 Boston Cream Dish

Easy is as Busy Does: Himalayan Rice & Lentil Curry

6-19-15 Himalayan Rice

These next several weeks are going to be busy as I’m taking (not teaching) two intensive summer classes. I’ll be relying on easy standbys like curries and rice. Maybe I’ll do a bit of sprouting for raw recipes. I’m sure there’ll be the usual summertime breakfast pies. How could I resist with all the fresh fruits? Right now I have rhubarb! I’m pretty intuitive with menu planning (in that I don’t really menu plan). I see what’s in season or what’s on sale that week and go with it.

Yesterday, I made rice and lentils. My Himalayan Rice is an adaptation of a recipe saved from the Los Angeles Times (February 4, 1998!). I’ve kept the piece of newspaper (along with a bunch of others) for years. It’ll be good to have a digital format for easier access. One of the goals of this blog was that it would function as a cookbook.

6-19-15 LA Times 1998

I used to make this recipe with an aromatic red rice, but any rice will do. Lately I’ve been enjoying organic basmati. Brown (or other whole grain) rice and white rice have distinct nutritional benefits and flavor profiles. Research what works best for you and what you most enjoy. To my tastes, white rice is the best complement to curries. I usually serve it with a lentil curry (recipe below). The white rice also makes a nice canvas for the contrasting colors of veggies and mustard seed.

If you love double starches and fried things, then this is the recipe. It includes a topping of crispy hash browns – lovely with the fresh crunchy cucumber and red onion. I love fried foods, but don’t usually eat them in restaurants because of the toxic oils. At home, I limit my frying to shallow pan frying with a few select oils – coconut, olive, ghee, or sometimes peanut or sesame oil (for pan searing fish). I usually get my fried food fixes by oven roasting.

I should mention that Udo Erasmus’ Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill was transformative for me at a time when I was struggling with an irregular heartbeat and painfully dry eyes and skin. When I changed the oils I was eating and began taking the Udo’s Oil Supplement, I started improving almost immediately. I eliminated all hydrogenated oils from my diet. Eventually, I also did away with soybean, corn, “vegetable”( whatever that’s made of), and canola oils. At home, I make my own salad dressings from olive or sesame oils. In restaurants, I just don’t eat dressing. I’m sure some of these nasty oils still end up in my diet by how often I eat out. Still, I do what I can to avoid them. I also try to compensate by eating more of the good fats from nuts and fish.

6-19-15 Himalayan Rice & Curry

Himalayan Rice

3-4 cups cold cooked organic basmati rice (or rice of your choice)

4 tablespoons refined organic coconut oil (refined does not have a coconut flavor)

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 cup diced red onion

1 cup soft skinned cucumber quartered and sliced

Salt to taste (I use pink Himalayan salt)

1 potato peeled and grated

Fresh cilantro

  1. Cook 1½ cups of rice in rice cooker or on stovetop according to directions, but using slightly less water. Firmer rice is easier to stir fry. Be sure to add salt.
  2. While rice is cooking, make the lentil curry (below), since rice needs to be cold.
  3. When rice has cooked, transfer to large bowl and fluff with fork. Place uncovered in refrigerator to cool completely.
  4. Prevent other members of household from eating the rice as it cools.
  5. Dice the onion.
  6. Quarter and slice the cucumber. If cucumber skin is hard or bitter, partially peel leaving some green.
  7. Salt the cucumber pieces.
  8. Peel and grate the potato. Set aside.
  9. Put 1 tablespoon of refined coconut oil into a wok and heat on medium high.
  10. Realize, although this is a simple recipe, it’s still a lot of work. Open a bottle of IPA or other fine craft brew. Replenish as needed.
  11. When hot, add onion and mustard seeds. Stir until onion begins to soften slightly and mustard seeds begin to pop and jump in pan.
  12. Add cucumber and stir only to heat through.
  13. Add cold rice and stir again until heated through.
  14. Remove wok from stove eye and set aside.
  15. Place medium-sized skillet over the medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil.
  16. When oil is hot, add grated potato in a thin layer over the bottom of the skillet – like hash browns.
  17. Fry potato until it browns and begins to release from skillet.
  18. Use a spatula to flip hash browns. Brown the other side.
  19. Salt both sides of hash browns.
  20. Transfer rice to platter and top with hash browns.
  21. Add fresh cilantro sprigs.

I adapted the lentil curry recipe below from a couple of cookbooks. One was a dollar sale item from a warehouse bookseller, Lalita Ahmed’s Indian Cooking. The other was The Bread and Circus Whole Food Bible. I’ve had both for about as long as I’ve been cooking and use them as easy references or starting points for dishes I might want to make. I took overlapping ingredients from a few of Ahmed’s daal recipes and the “Hints of the Himalayas Lentil-Rice Casserole” from The Whole Food Bible and came up with what I thought were the essential ingredients for an easy, great tasting lentil curry.

 6-19-15 Lentil Curry

Easy Lentil Curry

2 cups split red lentils

Water to cover

3 tablespoons butter or ghee

1 diced onion (about 1 cup)

2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (seeds from 3-4 pods)

3 large pressed garlic cloves

7+ cups chicken bone broth (strained)

¼ cup white wine (optional)

1 cup fresh diced tomato or 1 can drained

Salt to taste

Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

  1. Rinse and soak lentils in water for about 20 minutes.
  2. Add butter or ghee to soup pan and melt on medium-high.
  3. Add onions, ginger root, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, and cardamom. Stir until onions begin to caramelize.
  4. Add pressed garlic. Stir and cook to release fragrance, but do not let brown / turn bitter.
  5. Deglaze pan with the wine or a ladle of the chicken broth.
  6. Swig wine from bottle to test for quality or just pour a glass. Repeat as needed.
  7. Place lentils in strainer and rinse under running water.
  8. Add drained lentils to pot with enough broth to cover.
  9. Add salt to taste.
  10. Cook lentils until they begin to soften and thicken the curry. Add more broth as necessary to keep the consistency you prefer.
  11. Add drained can of tomatoes or freshly diced tomato and continue to cook until lentils begin to break down.
  12. Serve in small bowls with a garnish of fresh cilantro.