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. 

ffwd – the “aha” moment (aka, the top 5)

For the next several weeks, the participants in French Fridays with Dorie will be exploring our experiences over the past several years to answer a few interesting questions. This week’s challenge is to¬†“choose your favorite, loved the most, best recipe in FFWD to share this week and tell Why? Also share with us your Top 5 favorites list”.

Not surprisingly, this is turning out to be a difficult task. After hundreds of recipes – there are many choices. One of the most interesting things will be to read about what all of the others chose as well. Since we are a diverse and international group – I hardly think that the lists will be the same (though I suspect a couple will resonate across the board).

And making things a bit more interesting over the next few weeks, there are a couple more challenges РThe Never-Doubt-Dorie Moment and The Play-It-Again-Dorie Recipe, prior to our finale and last hurrah! from this particular book. Lots of potential for crossover! And I have to say, that as I look through the recipes, and when we made them, we really came out of the gate at a grand pace! Lots of contenders from 2010 and early 2011! And a warning: some not-so-great photos of some of my top favorites! At least I maybe have learned a bit more the just how to make some great French recipes!

So, on to Candy’s Top Five Six!

#5 – Hachis Parmentier. This was also a candidate for the¬†Play-It-Again-Dorie category. I have made this quite a number of times, always to rave reviews. But this kind of dish, as something¬†French was a revelation. I’ve made it in the different versions, and it still remains a staple. And of course, seeing it on the menu at French restaurants (once within a month or so of its first appearance) sealed it as a resounding favorite.

#4.5 – Creamy Mushrooms and Eggs. I almost forgot this. What an amazing dish! Perfectly cooked mushrooms with shallots, and added cream, with a bit of thyme. Served on toasted Brioche with soft poached eggs. This is a to-die-for dish. Rich yet simple, and utilizes a number of French techniques. Can’t believe I almost missed putting it on the list!!

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#4 – Scallops with Double Carrots. The original recipe called for Monk Fish. None to be had here – but good quality scallops can be found. The sauce created by using carrot juice in addition to carrots themselves – well, it made the dish. Oh, and you can’t¬†go wrong with bacon and scallops either. It was a completely new idea to me to create a sauce that way, and so it was a great lesson learned. So creative! I can’t for the life of me find a photo.¬†Really?¬†Do a search – many images of other Dorista’s versions available!

#3 РSalted Butter Break-Ups. No Dorie Greenspan book would be complete without an amazing dessert recipe. And even more quintessential, a cookie recipe. This recipe for oversized cookies that get broken apart at the table Рwell it makes for such a charming way of serving (assuming you are not surrounded by unreasonable germaphobes), but it also produces a dramatic, lovely and incredibly delicious cookie! Crunchy parts for those who love that Рa bit more chewy for that preference. All in one cookie. Something for everyone!

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#2 – Roasted Salmon and Lentils. I am not a huge fan of salmon (unless I just caught it!), and had never really had any lentils that I liked (or, let’s face it, tried many) until this recipe. Oh. My. Goodness! This recipe single-handedly made me a convert to Lentils de Puy, as well as salmon. It’s that good. The lentils are perfectly seasoned, the salmon cooks perfectly, it’s hearty, healthy and very elegant in a¬†French¬†manner.

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#1 My Favorite, Best Recipe is:¬†Marie-H√©l√®ne’s Apple Cake. I thought about this a lot. But decided that this typically¬†French apple cake, with it’s marked butter flavor, bursting with apple chunks got my vote. Yes, its relatively simple, but it seemed to embody the idea of a meal around Dorie’s French table.

This was a fun journey back in time to re-visit posts, what I thought, and also, what I thought was good enough to make again. All of these dishes fall well outside of the category One-And-Done. And while I had to rely on the original photos (or none at all!), they all offered something so good, that I was willing to brave the reminder of some pretty poor photography skills!

There is a celebratory air around the French Fridays with Dorie group, you can get a peek into all of the participants’ posts at the site.

Lentil and Kale Soup

Thanks to Dorie Greenspan, I have become a bit addicted to French Green Lentils (lentilles du Puy). This nicely coincides with my desire to eat a higher percentage of “super foods”. Which kind of led me to this recipe.

I almost always take my lunch to work (though it often leads me to working all the way through…), and I love soups because they are easy to eat at my desk, are often filled with vegetables, and are filling while still being nourishing.

This is really quite simple. Dice onion, carrot and celery into similarly-sized pieces. Then saute in 1 T olive oil until the onions start to become translucent.

Then add the chopped kale, tomatoes (I had some yellow ones I’d picked up a farm stand) and the lentils. I love Penzey’s broth bases, and here I used beef, since I thought it would be a nice deep flavor, though you could use vegetable stock for a vegan dish or chicken – depending on your taste.

This is then all simmered together, for about 40 minutes or so. Until the lentils and vegetables are all tender.

I like to blend the soup with an immersion blender – not really eliminating all of the chunks, but just smoothing it a bit. Then it’s seasoned with salt and pepper, and that’s it. It doesn’t need much garnish, though I’m sure (now that I think of it), some kale chips, croutons, or even bacon (!) would be a good addition and dress it up.

I think it would be fun to change this up a bit too. I really need to try some different lentil varieties. Some sweet potato chunks would be great, and I’m sure you could add more vegetables. This recipe makes about a week’s worth of servings (ok, about 4-5), so it’s good to put together when you get prepped for the week. Who doesn’t need somehing easy and yummy to help you through your work-day?

ffwd – lentil, lemon and tuna salad

I have to say that, thanks to Dorie, I’m now just a little addicted to French lentils. I feel quite virtuous, because they are so good for you too – a “super food” even. So while this is the first time I’ve made this exact recipe, it’s not actually the very first attempt at something like it. I’m still not sure that I really love the combination, but I’m guessing that like the lentils themselves, this will grow on me.

We’ve made these lentils before, so it’s really no different. We¬†will,¬†however, get to use preserved lemons for this recipe! I ended up buying a jar of chopped preserved meyer lemon. I couldn’t imagine that some other variety would be better – though I¬†am a preserved lemon novice, so I could be wrong.

Once the lentils are cooked and drained (I didn’t use the optional cognac), the warm lentils are stirred together with a quick¬†vinaigrette that includes some grainy mustard, vinegar and olive oil. The dressing also includes a black olive tapenade – I was given a jar of amazing-looking stuff, so couldn’t resist using it here (and now that it’s open, I guess I have to finish it!). That’s initially tossed with the lentils, then a sliced green onion and some preserved lemon are added (I made a half-recipe).

The unfortunate thing about the French lentils (or lentils du Puy), is that while they are tasty, they are not particularly pretty. So the final presentation, once the tuna is added and the whole salad is seasoned with salt and pepper, isn’t all that beautiful. I’m afraid, this is destined to be lunch at work, and not a beautifully composed one. I’m sure others will take Dorie’s suggestion and serve this with a tomato and pepper salad, which would surely make this a bit prettier on a plate. But for me, I’ll have to be content with a homely, virtuous salad that’s delicious. It seems that there should be a lesson there…