CtBF – lentil salad (and a hummus make-up)

Seems that I was on the same cadence as a few others. Making (or posting anyway) both of these recipes this week. 

I have often written about how much I learned to love lentils on this blog. Apparently my dog does too because the last time I made them, I made a larger batch and froze some. Who knew my puppy would steal the bag thawing on the countertop? ūüė°. I’m the only human that lives in the household who shares our affinity however, so I don’t make them quite as often. This was a GREAT reminder about how I need to change that. 

Super simple, and just a tiny bit different than the other recipe I use for lentils – this is exactly a recipe I could make at any time because I almost always have everything on hand. 

The cooked lentils with their vegetables get tossed with a mustardy vinaigrette and allowed to cool. Then toasted walnuts and fresh parsley are added. That’s it!! And it is delicious!! In fact, I think it would be a great thing to make a small batch each week and add it to, or as a side dish for, anything. This would be endlessly adaptable with any veggies on hand, or with different herbs (almost went with basil – a great combo). So! A hit! Which leads me to the hummus. I’ve made it before (for the dukka), but had not done the whole “peal the skins off of the chickpeas” thing. This time I did, after reading about what a difference it made. 

Full disclosure, I used canned. I’ve come to my fondness of chickpeas late (though I have a chickpea tomato salad that has to be made each summer). So, I’m not cooking them from dry. Also, I was swept up in the Cuisinart blade debacle and still have no food processor. The mini one doesn’t cut it. I still have an old-school blender, so after trying to make it smooth with less than success, I put it in the blender. Made all the difference in the world! Silky!!!

My other trick is using Trader Joe’s tahini. It’s complete different than other tahinis. Different texture. Different color. Yummy. 

Anyway, this hummus got the full treatment: dukka, extra virgin olive oil, toasted pepitas and ground sumac. The full Monty. The whole enchilada. The whole nine yards. You probably get the idea. 

This ended up being perfect for an afternoon visit with a good friend who eats vegan. Of course, always my favorite to serve “regular” foods that fit the bill. 
So, a couple of terrific recipes for an afternoon visit with friends. And a great reminder in general. 

CtBF -Fresh herb omelet

(BTW, I had to double-check that spelling… yep, what’s in the book – not what I would normally type). This week’s recipe for a French-style omelette is accompanied by more text descriptions of David’s omelette experiences and ideas for accompaniments than there is for the recipe itself! That’s a good thing, because it makes for a simple lunch for a day like today, though of course, it could make for a lovely, quick meal at any time.

Ingredients are pretty much always on hand. And I was still able to use some fresh parsley from the garden.

img_1384

I’m usually not a home omelette person – sure, I like them at a restaurant, where they have myriad of filling and sauce options. This is a simple one, and I thought that it would be great to try. The eggs are beaten with a touch of cream, a bit of salt and a good grinding of pepper – the herbs are added as well.

img_1386

Instead of the 10″ pan suggested, I used an 8″ pan – happily – I thought it would have been ¬†the thickness of a cr√™pe if I had. I shouldn’t have bothered with the trying to get runny egg to slip under the initial egg cooked in the pan – I could never get it straightened out.

I too thought that the idea of the cheese in one line down the center didn’t make sense – so mine spilled over. I don’t like uncooked whites, but enjoy softly-cooked scrambled eggs – I got over-worried and cooked mine a bit too long. BUT, still lovely nonetheless.¬†img_1391

This was fun, fast –¬†and I really need to remember to make these!!!! This was a delicious lunch – and perfect for me. I think if I didn’t fuss, this could be done in less than 5 minutes. There’s always a bit of cheese on hand, some herbs… and some leftover veggies would be great too. (I wouldn’t mind those duck-fat fries that David mentions – but that’s not going to happen!). This would allow me a nutritious, fast lunch that will stick with me for the afternoon.

And while this is a perfect quick lunch, I can see this being a nice meal for dinner as well – and obviously breakfast. There are tweaks I will make (a little less butter, don’t fuss with the eggs, cook it a little less – try different cheese/fillings), but this was fun, because it really did help me with something I don’t do – and should – so a perfect start to a new year!!!

 

CtBF -Scalloped potatoes with blue cheese and roasted garlic

Wow, these may have been the best scalloped potatoes I’ve ever had!

Today, I thought I’d use a BLUFbottom line up front. Bottom line – these are amazing! And to be fair, I think that this is one of the times when an amazing-quality ingredient really was worth it.

To back up, there are plenty of French recipes that have you add a blue or roquefort cheese to a dish. I think there are mixed results. Sometimes it’s overpowering, others simply discordant. For this recipe, I decided that I would try to get around all of this – and went to the cheese counter. They were very helpful in providing descriptions. The one I bought said that it was creamy and smooth – wonderful melted. Seemed the perfect cheese for my dish.

img_1137

The cheese, if you’re interested is “St Agur Blue”, and is French in origin, though the helpful label says simply that it is made from Cows milk, penicillium roqueforti, salt and rennet. If you’re familiar with the recipe, you can see that I’ve also cheated with the garlic. This is remarkably delicious when added to recipes – and this was to be a week-night meal. I really didn’t have time to roast more garlic – and decided not to use the leftover roast garlic that likely remained tucked alongside the roasted beets from earlier in the week. And no – I didn’t even peel the potatoes! I did, however harvest some chives from the garden!

Simply put, layers of thinly sliced potatoes lay the groundwork for the chives, cheese, salt, pepper and roasted garlic. I made three layers. And then poured the half & half (with a dash of cream, yes) on top. I skipped the heating of the cream – it was going into the oven.

img_1138img_0062

I covered mine for about half of the time. The dish was pretty deep, so I think it took a bit more than the hour at 375 degrees. I uncovered it to get the nice crust – pushing the potatoes under the cream as I did so.

img_1141

This creates a dreamy dish of terrific flavors – all blend well, but have their subtle counterpoints in the dish. To say we loved it would be an incredible understatement. I served it with a simple, perfectly-grilled steak. Yes, I should have had a salad, and it would be terrific with this too.

img_1142

This is such an incredibly simple and fast dish to prepare – all of the time is spent while the potatoes bubble and simmer away in their cheesy-creamy bath. So while decadent, this is an easy dish for a show-stopping weeknight meal, or of course a special occasion. Not for everyday, but certainly is simple enough that it could be so.

To find out how others made their potato recipes, you can check the links out at Cook the Book Fridays.

CtBF – Baked eggs with kale and smoked salmon

Ramekins filled with baked eggs and other items are always a treat. Individual servings are always fun! This particular version includes saut√©ed kale with a good dose of garlic, smoked salmon and some cheese, along with house-made garlic crumbs to top it off. 

I chose baby kale, since kale doesn’t really really get very tender with a short saut√©. I also chose some “hot smoked” salmon, instead of the standard soft lox-type. Since we wouldn’t be using it all for breakfast, that was more appealing to me in other guises. 

Essentially, make the bread crumbs Рseasoning with a good helping of garlic and thyme. Sauté the kale in more butter, and more garlic. Assemble the ramekins and bake until the whites are set, but the yolks are still a little runny.

I served these with some crispy toast soldiers. We thought it ended up being the perfect amount as well – with just one egg (I can’t imagine eating 3 eggs in this!). Both the plain and smoked salmon versions were enjoyed. 

If I were making this again, I probably would substitute spinach. Or maybe beet greens, which I think would be delicious. The goat cheese was good, but I might sub that out – oh, wait! That’s what makes this preparation such a great one. The versatility. Each person can have the combination that most appeals! 

CtBF – Sardine Spread (rillettes de sardine)

This is an “extra” post for CtBF, since there was a 3rd Friday in September (that I am late for!). The idea was to have optional recipes that included ingredients that might not appeal to everyone. This week: Sardines. My rough calculation is that a bit over half of the group actually like sardines, and many of us have made a similar version when we cooked our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

Sardines aren’t normal fare for me, though I don’t mind them, but I was reminded why I don’t really make this dish. It’s because it’s not very pretty. The same dish made with salmon…so much prettier.

I had found a can of sardines at an international food market, knowing that sooner or later, I would be making something like this. I had a hard time finding ones that didn’t have a bunch of flavoring – as it turned out, these were “spicy”.

See – not pretty. BUT, these get mixed (sans as many bones as you can easily remove) with a mixture of butter and cream cheese, and then some other items – like capers – and you can never go wrong with them! Unusually, this had lime juice in lieu of lemon – a nice touch.

It’s not pretty. But it is very delicious. We had this as part of a grazing meal watching football. The flavor is quite wonderful. And I skipped the cayenne called for in the recipe because they were “spicy” to begin with. I didn’t do this – but I bet this would be good stuffed inside those little fresh multi-colored sweet peppers you can find at the store these days – or in some other case that would compliment the flavor while¬†giving it a bit nicer look.

To see what my other fearless bloggers thought of this dish, you can find links to their posts at Cook the Book Fridays.

CtBF| Buckwheat cr√™pes with ham, cheese and egg

I feel like these have been everywhere recently – certainly in some food magazines or online. I’ve never had one, don’t often make cr√™pes, but it was one of the intruiging ¬†recipes in the book when I first paged through it.

This is actually two recipes. The buckwheat¬†cr√™pes. And the “galette completes”. Apparently buckwheat cr√™pes are called galettes, while those made with white¬†flour are just¬†cr√™pes. It’s a little confusing, because I’ve been making galettes that are pastry, filled with savory or fruit filling – maybe it’s really the folded over edge?

I made the batter 1st thing in the morning, and it ended up with a nice 4-5 hour rest. I was a little skeptical (yes, I peeked at a few blog posts first), so decided that since I was hungry, and was worried that they might not be good, it would be good to try them for brunch rather than waiting for dinner or a later lunch.

The batter is very simple, 1.5 c buckwheat flour, 2.25 c water, a bit of salt and a couple of eggs. It is supposed to be the consistency of heavy cream. I found that it was fairly easy to get the batter in the pan, spread to make a semi-large crêpe. I found that if I let them cook a bit long on the first side, they were a little too crisp and were difficult to turn over.

But, assuming that the cheese, egg and ham would kind of hold it together, I decided not to be concerned.

I didn’t have too much trouble with my egg sliding around – but did have a challenge because I didn’t have a lid that would fit – or I didn’t search one out at first…

IMG_0858

I used some very thin black forest ham that I found. I didn’t think I’d really love proscuitto. I did have some Jarlsberg cheese, so used that. I broke my first egg when the lid slipped and smashed it… very sad. I ended up switching out lids, but at the end of the effort – I cheated and turned on the broiler – I just couldn’t get the eggs to cook without burning the bottom of the galette.

 

IMG_0863

The one that broke – not too beautiful. I thought that the most difficult part was folding over the sides to make a square – because the galette crisps up, it just wasn’t simple. And I’m sure part of it was that the cr√™pes were not the super large size shown in the book.

All said and done – these were tasty. Seriously. But then again, when isn’t toasty cheese, ham and egg? I’m not 100% certain that I would make these again – though I have more batter. I wish I spoke/read French, because it would be fun to read the menu pictured in the book. There would undoubtedly be some interesting combinations¬†mentioned. I can pick out asparagus, I think salmon, pine nuts… who knows. I imagine that these are pretty versatile and can use up some of the leftovers that might be hanging out in the refrigerator.

IMG_0861

This was a fun recipe to try. I think that I may leave these for a visit to a crêperie (I know of one in Coronado Island Рso on my next visit), but very interesting and fun to attempt these. You can see how others fared with this recipe at Cook the Book Fridays. And if you would like to cook along with us Рpick up My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz.

 

 

CtBF -Raw vegetable slaw with creamy garlic dressing

Running a little behind – kind of the usual thing this time of year. I’ve probably explained before, but in any kind of retail construction, this is the busy season. We have to complete our construction so that the facilities can be in use on time,¬†ensuring that all of our customers can fulfill all Christmas and Holiday wishes. I’m already worried about October and November, though also worrying about the heatwave in the west… there’s always something! But of course, it keeps me out of trouble – well, except it keeps me in trouble with my blogging. I get sidetracked on a regular basis.

For whatever reason, I didn’t get this salad made early. I did, however, make it on Friday – but then the weekend got away from me – mostly because we had a family get-together since one of my nieces was in town. Since I’d arranged it for someone else’s house, and I know she’d be craving Mexican food – that’s what I was up to on Saturday – with the festivities themselves on Sunday… so oh well!

IMG_0815

Back to the yummy slaw. Because I am often behind, and sometimes a little lazy, I decided to take advantage of the pre-prepped veggies at the store. Cue slaw mix and broccoli slaw mix – I did manage to cut up a crispy apple into matchsticks, however. I also added the chopped hard boiled egg – a new twist for me. I’m not sure that it was particularly essential – but then again, I haven’t made this recipe without it. You’ll need about 6 cups of veg for the dressing with 1 c mayo.

The dressing is simple to prepare. The recipe says to let it sit for a couple of hours if you have them. I didn’t, but we’ll get back to that. The creamy version is a simple mixture of mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, quite a bit of garlic, a bit of dijon and a fair amount of black pepper.

We had this with some grilled steak for dinner – oh, with some fresh corn, grilled alongside. This was very good, and we enjoyed it. I liked the apple – it was a nice crunch, and reminded me of slaws growing up – my mom would add crushed pineapple. The broccoli slaw added some additional crunch. And I think that the option of adding toasted almonds was a good one. Though didn’t this time.

IMG_0806

We ate this over a couple of days. And the flavors mellowed for the next day’s meal. That’s what made me remember that the dressing was supposed to sit longer. I thought both were good, and while some might be concerned about the high level of seasoning in the dressing – it both mellows with the wait, and gets calmed down a bit by all of the vegetables.

I may just make a bit more – and possibly try the vinaigrette option – it’s so nice to have a salad in the refrigerator to grab quickly on these busy summer days.

This is yet another great recipe from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. You can check out what our other Cook the Book Fridays bloggers thought about this recipe by following this link.