Oct 28, 2010

golden lentils with brown basmati, cucumber salad and yogurt

i am enjoying october very much. are you? are you having a good month? i hope so. i've been cooking up a storm of curry. indian, thai, it is all completely delicious. i love when i have the energy to cook a lot. which certainly isn't always. i am a big believer in microwave popcorn and an apple for dinner or pasta every night or takeout when energy levels are lagging. but, when energy and creativity are working together, i love to cook. and then we eat better and feel better and have more energy to cook, a virtuous circle, which is a nice change from all those vicious circles we are always finding ourselves in.

well props to martha for this recipe, recently featured in her magazine whole living, (formerly body and soul). so simple. so fast. so nutritious. so inexpensive. so amazingly tasty. my kids swear it is now their favorite meal. i have made this a few times and have tweaked the proportions and ingredients for our appetites and pantry holdings. you can see martha's version here. deliciousness! the contrasting textures and flavors make this an exciting dish that belies its simplicity.

golden lentils with brown basmati, cucumber salad and yogurt

for the rice
2 cups brown basmati rice, cooked according to package directions. i use a rice cooker for the brown basmati, i make two cups of dry rice, which makes a whole lot of cooked rice, maybe 5 cups. (fyi, i am still terribly in love with my neuro fuzzy zojirushi rice cooker, 15 years of constant use and still makes great rice).

2 cups chopped onion (i giant or 2 small)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups golden lentils
6 cups of water or chicken stock
1 heaping teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

cucumber salad
2 small cucumbers, chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 TBSP yuzu or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

to serve
1 1/2 cups plain organic yogurt
cilantro leaves for garnish

once the rice is going, saute the onions and garlic with the tumeric and cumin, at least 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. add in the lentils and the stock or water, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer until tender about 20 minutes, add more water if it gets too thick. now make the cucumber salad. stir all ingredients together. once the rice and lentils are done, serve in bowls, first place the rice, then the lentils over top, then the cucumber salad and yogurt, then the garnish. delicious, nutritious, frugal and simple. love it when everything comes together like that.

Oct 22, 2010

autumn winds

the wind is howling today. windy, sunny, cloudy, warm, cold, all of those.

Oct 19, 2010

beet pickles

pickling at home! you can do it too! (it is so easy.) great for lunches and snacking. and i promise, no fancy equipment or long hours of labor required.

i bought some crazy beets at the farmer's market recently, they were kind of radish-colored. more deep fuchsia than dark burgundy like they usually are, i had no idea what they would look like inside but they looked fresh and amazing, so home they went with me. the amazing crazy stripes were a wonderful surprise. i really loved them visually, and completely.

but then i am one of those people who loves beets. love the mineral-y dense sweet taste of beets, most any way at all. i usually slow roast them in a 300 degree F oven as per thomas keller and alice waters instructions, with a little water and/or olive oil and a pinch of salt in a tightly covered small dish. once tender (an hour or two depending on size) peel them while still warm, then slice and splash a little apple cider vinegar over them and serve with roast pork tenderloin, or make them into borscht, or save for a salad or later munching. but the weather was marvelous, and the day i made these and called for something light and crisp, a fresh fall taste. enter beet pickles. they cured up so quickly, in just 4 to 6 hours. wonderful. these are based on david chang's vinegar pickle master recipe from his momofuku cookbook, with a small change or two. i did not have 2 pounds of beets so i made half beets and half carrots. and i never have rice wine vinegar on hand so i used half rice vinegar and half white wine vinegar. i really love these quick pickles, so great for snacking, packed lunches and of course with david chang's pork buns, which we also made that day for a large lunch with friends.

beet pickles
3 to 4 medium sized beets, peeled and thinly sliced into half moon shapes
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
6 T sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt

(note this makes more pickling brine than you need so i made a pound of carrot pickles at the same time. peel, halve and then quarter the carrots into strips). naturally you could double the amount of beets, but that's a lot of beet pickles, even for me.

place cut and trimmed vegetables into a clean glass container (non reactive), pour liquid over the vegetables. cover and allow to cool. after cooled, refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of a week. they will be, of course, lightly pickled at first, which is nice, or more intensely pickled after several days, but will stay crisp and delicious for a week. i have often heard that these quick pickled vegetables retain most of their vitamins and fiber, more so than other preparation methods. try it!

this same recipe will work for cauliflower. many other vegetables and even fruits lend themselves quite well to pickling. some require different recipes and handling than these, based on density and texture. stay tuned for more on my pickling adventures in future posts. once you get started, it is hard to stop.

Oct 18, 2010

beautiful fall days

october is such a gorgeous month, no matter where you live. it's been beautiful here lately, but i've been busy, too busy. i shot these just this morning (from the deck off the kitchen). which reminds me (i often need reminding), beauty is all around, we just need to slow down and look around a bit to notice. xo, g

Oct 8, 2010

squash, beautiful squash

it's finally the weekend. what a long strange week it has been. productive, but so very long. maybe it's because i am so excited for the weekend: an extra day off for columbus day, great friends coming over, a trip to the city for some culture, gardening, meals out /meals in. weather prediction: gorgeous. also, i'll be roasting up these beautiful organic acorn squash fresh from the farmer's market. although they are so visually stunning i hate to cut into them. (i'll get over it). have a great weekend everybody! xo, g

Oct 5, 2010

farro ristotto

i have a new favorite food: farro risotto. have you tried it yet? farro is one of those foods just now entering our group consciousness, recently becoming a favorite of chefs for it's ease of use and high nutrition content when compared to other grains. it is not new to italians, who have been using it for centuries, though it fell out of favor for a while. it has been available in health food stores for quite some time but is now, happily, gaining wider popularity. you can read more about farro here.

farro risotto, of course, is not really "risotto" but an adaptation. i am here to tell you, it is just as delicious, if not more so. farro has a wonderfully chewy texture that makes a great dish with creamy cheese and delicately crunchy vegetables as delicious counterpoints to all that comforting creaminess and chewiness. high in protein, vitamins and fibre, and completely delicious. farro, you are amazing.

farro risotto with zucchini, snap peas, and leek
2 cups farro
3 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
2 TBSP organic extra virgin olive oil, plus more to saute green vegetables
1 cup snap peas, de-stringed
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 leek, sliced and finely chopped
1 quart plus 2 cups organic chicken stock
1/3 cup marscapone cheese
1/4 cup parmegiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated, to serve
salt and pepper to taste

first, soak the farro in three cups of water for 15 minutes. meanwhile, chop the onion, zucchini, and leek and de-string the snap peas.

in a large open saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil. cook over moderate heat for 4 minutes, until softened. drain the farro and add to the onions. stir and cook for 2 minutes until combined. start to add in the stock, a cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed. i find with farro, it doesn't absorb much for 15 minutes or so, and then becomes quite "thirsty" for stock, as it does, it becomes quite creamy, then you know you are getting close. taste to test for doneness.

set a medium pan of salted boiling water on the stove. blanch the snap peas for 3 minutes until tender yet still crisp. drain and reserve. discard all but half a cup of the water. add in a tablespoon of olive oil and bring to a boil, add in the zucchini and cook for 4 minutes until softened but still bright green and not at all soggy. drain and reserve. now saute the chopped leek in a little olive oil until tender, 2 -3 minutes.

when the farro becomes creamy and tender, swirl in the 1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese, add the cooked leeks, zucchini, and snap peas. season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the freshly grated parmigiano.

so creamy and delicious, you won't believe it. kids and adults all asked for seconds at our house.

i first tasted something like this at northern spy, a great little place in the east village, i really recommend for local sustainable deliciousness.

Oct 4, 2010

henri matisse, radical invention @ moma

saw the matisse exhibit at MOMA this rainy new york monday. fantastic. it was so great to see pieces from Centre Pompidou, Art Institute of Chicago, MOMA, Detroit, as well as private collections, all together. it was a compelling grouping on many levels, and i saw several pieces i had not seen up close before. the exhibit focuses on just four years from 1913 - 1917, after matisse returned from morocco, and before he left for nice, and also during the start of WWI. great concept and great execution from the curators. it is only open for 1 more week and i may just go again. the painting above, bathers by a river, is an interesting study of matisse's process and revisions over several years. he worked on the painting off and on for 8 or 9 years, altering pretty dramatically before it was final. for those of you who can't run out to see the show, i recommend the art institute of chicago website about the exhibition. inspiring and gorgeous artwork always makes me feel better, especially on a very rainy monday.