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Curried Lentil Turnovers

I spotted a similar recipe to this on Vegetarian Times. Theirs looked too sweet to me, so I decided to roll my own.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup green lentils, washed and picked over
  • 1 yellow onion minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 batch of rough puff pastry or store-bought puff pastry dough
  • 1 egg, beaten with a tbsp of water
  • black sesame seeds

Instructions

Place the lentils in a pot and cover with water. There should be at least an inch of water above the lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Add the carrot and green beans to the pot, cover, and cook until the lentils and veg. are tender, another ten minutes or so.

Heat a bit of oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is translucent, 5 minutes or so. Add the cumin seed, garlic and ginger, cook for another 2-3 minutes, then add the rest of the spices and soy sauce. Cook until fragrant. Add the lentils and cook, uncovered, until almost all of the liquid has cooked off. You’ll want this curry to be fairly dry, or the turnovers won’t be crisp. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400. Divide your pastry in half. Keep one half in the fridge while rolling out the other. Roll the pastry thin, and trim it to an 8″ x 12″ rectangle.

Trimmed puff pastry

Divide this into six 4″ squares (using a ruler or framing square makes this much easier). Save the trimmed pieces to roll out again later.

Ready for filling

Place the pastry squares on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet. Place 2-3 tbsp of filling on each square, brush the edges with egg wash, then fold and crimp the edges. I used a fork dipped in flour, but you can simply pinch them shut. Brush the tops with the egg wash, and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes.

ready for folding.
Oven-ready.

While the first batch is baking, continue with the second half of the pastry dough. Roll, trim, fill, wash, and crimp. You should have enough trimmed dough left over to make one more batch, giving you a total of eighteen turnovers.

They are good hot or at room temperature. If you are so inclined, you can also freeze the turnovers before cooking. Put the frozen turnovers directly into a hot oven, and add ten minutes to the cooking time.

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Ottolenghi’s Kosheri

This is from Ottolenghi, and has become one of my favorite recipes. A bit fussy, since it takes 4 pots to make, but worth the effort.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 hot red chiles, seeded and diced
  • 8 ripe tomatoes, diced (8 oz. can of crushed works, too)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 4 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups green lentils
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-3/4 oz. dried rice vermicelli, broken into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-2/3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 white onions, halved, then thinly sliced

Tomato sauce

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and fry until golden, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, vinegar, salt, and cumin, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionaly, until slightly thickened, 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. Keep warm.

Mujadara

While the tomato sauce is cooking, rinse the lentils, then cover them with plenty of cold water, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. The lentils should be tender but not mushy. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Wash the rice and set it aside to drain. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice vermicelli and stir. Continue frying until the vermicelli browns a bit. Add the drained rice and mix well until it is coated in the oil. Add the water, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the head to a minimum and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel, and put the lid back on. Leave like that for 5 minutes. This helps make the rice fluffy.

While the rice is cooking, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and saute over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often, until well caramelized.

To serve, fold the lentils and most of the onions into the rice (reserve a few onions for garnish). Serve the rice and lentils in shallow bowls, topped with the tomato sauce and garnished with the onion.

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Gumbo

There are purists out there who will object to the use of collards in gumbo. I do so because 1) fresh okra is hard to find without growing it yourself in New England, and 2) I like the flavor that collards add to the stew. And I’d always thought of gumbo as somewhat improvisational: “Use file powder, no, use okra!” Like a lot of regional foods, there are significant variations, so I’m not going to lose sleep over altering this one to suit me.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup mild flavored vegetable oil (canola or sunflower)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2-1/2 cups minced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 3 cups chopped tomato
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 lb okra or substitute sturdy greens such as collards or kale
  • 3 lbs meat: a combination of chicken, crab, shrimp, oysters and duck
  • 1 lb Andoullie sausage
  • 2-1/2 quarts water or good chicken stock
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp good cayenne powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 tbsp file powder (if not using Okra)

Start with the roux: Warm the oil in a heavy pot large enough to hold all of the stew. Add the flour and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until it turns a rich brown, 20-25 minutes (alternately, make the roux in the oven: preheat oven to 350, mix flour and oil in dutch oven and bake until the desired color, 1-1/2 to 2 hours).

When the roux is the proper color, add the onion and garlic, stir until the onion is soft, 10 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes, pepper, and green onion, stir until the pepper is softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the okra or greens and saute until soft, 5 minutes or so

Add the meats to the saute and stir to coat. Add the water or stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the spices. Keep on a low simmer, uncovered, until the meats are cooked through and the gumbo is thick and rich, 1-2 hours.

Serve over rice.

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Duck with sweet potato hash

This was a bit of improvisation, after seeing some good looking sweet potatoes in the local market. It turned out well enough to share:

  • 1 duck breast
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 small turnips, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp Za’atar
  • 2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 12 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • additional Aleppo pepper
  • Greek-style yogurt

Score the duck breast skin and salt the breast on both sides. Place the duck n a deep-sided pan large enough to hold the potato and turnip, skin side down. Turn the heat on to low and render the fat from the breast. As the fat renders, gradually increase the heat to medium to crisp the skin and cook the duck. Keep it skin-side down for 15 minutes or so, then flip and cook the other side for another 7 minutes, which should bring the duck to medium-rare. Remove to a plate.

While the duck is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the sweet potato and turnip. Cook until slightly softened, 5-7 minutes, then drain.

Add the onion to the duck dripping and cook until caramelized, 20-25 minutes. When the onion is dark and fragrant, add the garlic and spices, stir, then add a few tablespoons of water to deglaze any onion. Stir for a moment, then add the potato and turnip. Increase the heat to medium high and stir, making sure to coat all of the potato and turnip with the spices. Continue to cook until the potatoes and turnips are tender 5-10 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper. Add in the spinach and lime juice, stir and cook until the spinach is just wilted, 1-2 minutes more.

To serve, thinly slice the duck breast. Put the sweet potato in a shallow bowl, place the duck breast on one side, garnish with the yogurt, mint, pepper and parsley. Serve immediately

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Squash, leek, and bacon galette

There are a plethora of squash, so it is time to get inventive. I’ve never cared for squash puree, the disappointing younger brother to mashed potatoes. I prefer my squash to retain a bit of texture and to share the stage with other autumnal flavors: Sage, leek, and smoky bacon.

The crust

  • 1 cup rolled oats (NOT instant oats!)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 14 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
  • up to 1/4 cup cold water

Heat a skillet over medium low heat, toss the oats in and toast gently until lightly browned and fragrant, 10-15 minutes. Put in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Allow the oats to cool. Add flour, salt and butter, pulse in the food processor until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with a few larger bits of butter still visible. Gradually add water and pulse until dough forms. Turn out onto a floured work surface, roll to 1/2″ thick, fold in thirds, wrap in plastic, and chill in fridge for 1/2 hour.

The filling

  • 4 slices smoky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 2 leeks, quartered and sliced, white and pale green parts only (roughly 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 delicata squash, halved, peeled, seeded, and sliced into thin semicircles (roughly 2 cups)
  • 2 tsp fresh sage, minced
  • 1 itsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 4 oz. good goat cheese, crumbled.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg., beaten with 1 tbsp water

In a large pan, brown the bacon over medium heat, remove to paper towels to drain, pour off all but 1 or 2 tbsp of the dripping. Return the pan to the heat, add the leeks and garlic, saute until the leaks soften, 10 minutes or so.  Place leek, bacon, squash, and herbs in a bowl and toss thoroughly.

Assembling the tart

Folded galette

Preheat the oven to 375.

Take the crust from the fridge. Roll out to a 15″ circle (you can neaten the edges if you choose, it’ll make for a cleaner looking galette. I left mine rough). Transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush the middle 12″ with the egg wash, saving some back. Mound the leek, bacon and squash mixture in the middle 12″ of crust. Scatter the goat cheese on top of it.  Fold the outer edge of the crust over the filling, pinching the creases lightly to hold it together. Brush the crust with the remaining egg wash.

Bake until the squash is soft and the cheese is browned and melted, 1 hour. Cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

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Fennel, Mushroom, and Roquefort Tart

I was in the mood for a savory, vegetable tart. I’d made, in the past, a Stilton and fennel tart, but that wasn’t quite right. And I have an old Williams-Sonoma recipe for a mushroom galette, but that wasn’t quite right either. So, I thought I’d mix and match, which turned out to be a good idea. Usually, I’d make a rough puff pastry, but I found this recipe for a savory tart crust on Smitten Kitchen, and it was different enough from my usual crust that I gave it a whirl.  In the end, the tart is a rich, savory, fulfilling main course.

Ingredients

1 small fennel bulb, stems removed, quartered and thinly sliced
1 small leek, white part only, quartered, thinly sliced and washed
8 oz. white button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, wiped and sliced thin
6 oz. fresh wild mushrooms, wiped and sliced thin (I used oyster, but anything that looks good, or a mix, will do)
1/2 tsp dried sage
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz. Roquefort cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Tart crust, either store bought, or homemade

Equipment

9″ two-piece tart pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment cut to fit.

Crust

If you’re using a Store-bought crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, gently place the crust in the tart pan, pressing it down into the edge, trim, then chill for 30 minutes. Place the pan on a cookie sheet, line the crust with foil, fill with beans or pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, return the crust and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the crust is light golden. Remove to a cooling rack.

If you’re making a crust from scratch, it doesn’t need to be blind baked. assemble the crust, line the tart pan, and tuck the crust in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Filling

In a 12″ cast iron skillet or saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium low heat. Add the fennel and leek and cook, stirring frequently, until the fennel is soft, 20 minutes or so. Scrape the fennel and leek into a bowl, wipe the pan clean. Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and add the mushrooms, stirring, until the mushrooms give up their liquid. Add the sage, a generous grinding of pepper, and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until the liquid in the pan is gone, another 7-10 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms into the bowl with the fennel and leek, stir to combine.

Beat the eggs and milk together until combined.

Assembling the Tart

Take the tart crust from the fridge. Spread the filling evenly over the crust, pressing it gently flat but not compacting it. Crumble the Roquefort and scatter it over the mushrooms. Take the egg-milk mixture and pour evenly over the filling, top with the Parmesan cheese, and another few grinds of pepper.

Bake at 350 until well browned and fragrant, 30 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack and cool until just lukewarm. Remove the tart from the tart pan, serve warm.

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Beet Ravioli (Casunziei all’ampezzana)

These are an attractive, dish to serve to your vegetarian friends. Garlic-infused beet and potato ravioli, topped with a simple butter and poppy seed sauce. If you want to get extra-fancy, make batches with red beets and golden beets for a multi-colored main course.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds (700 grams) of fresh beets (about 3 medium beets)
  • 1/2 pound (250 grams) of potato (about 2 small potatoes)
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves, whole
  • Olive oil
  • pinches of freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinches of ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated

The Pasta

Combine the flour and the pinch of salt in a bowl, make a well in the center and crack the eggs into it, add the oil, then, using a fork, whisk the egg and oil until combined. Slowly start working the flour into the eggs. The mixture will become very stiff, eventually, you’ll have to switch to your hands. Work the dough until it is no longer sticky. When it is smooth and bounces back when poked with a finger, shape it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

The Filling

While the dough rests, wash and quarter the beets and the potatoes (don’t bother peeling them). Place together in a pot, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender (the potatoes may finish faster than the beets, if so, remove them with a slotted spoon and let the beets finish). Puree both the beets and potatoes using a food mill (the skins will be left behind in the mill).

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over gentle heat in a pan large enough to hold the beets and potatoes. Add the garlic cloves and saute for a moment. Over medium-low heat, add the potatoes and beets and cook until they thicken and start to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Add the nutmeg,  cloves and some salt, remove the garlic and take the mixture off the heat, letting it cool completely.

Making the Ravioli

Roll out half of the pasta on a floured surface until it is thin enough to see your hand through (a pasta machine works, too, of course). Cut out rounds with a drinking glass or a 3″ diameter biscuit cutter. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each round, then fold over to make half-moon shapes. Seal the edges firmly with your fingers or with a fork. Set the ravioli aside, uncovered, on a floured surface as you finish them. Save the scraps of dough under a tea towel while you work. Continue to roll and fill until the filling and dough are used up.

At this point, the ravioli can be placed on a cookie sheet, so they’re not touching, and frozen. Once frozen, bag them and return to the freezer. To cook the frozen ravioli, bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil and place the frozen ravioli straight from the freezer into the water. Do not thaw them first.

If you are cooking them fresh, bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil and drop the ravioli in. Remove them when they float, 2-3 minutes. Toss with melted butter, poppy seeds, and freshly-grated Parmesan (a grinding of black pepper, while non-traditional, is welcome, too). Serve immediately.

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Texas-style Chili

I had a hankering for real, Texas-style chili: no beans, stew beef rather than ground beef, and a slew of different chiles, both dried and fresh. Your mix of peppers determines the heat; I opted for milder spiciness, if you like things hotter, add in some dried Thai bird chiles or some fresh scotch bonnet or habaneros.

 

2 dried red New Mexico chiles
3 dried pasilla chiles
1 chipotle in adobo
1 tbsp of adobo reserved
1 tsp cumin powder
4 lbs grass-fed beef, sliced into 3/4″ cubes
1 white onion, diced
2 fresh green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup masa harina

split and seed the dried chiles, toast them on a hot, ungreased cast iron skillet, one at a time, pressing them down, flipping and pressing them down again, 10 seconds or so per pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes or so.

Transfer the peppers to a blender, add half the garlic, the cumin, the reserved adobo, a bit of salt, and enough of the soaking liquid so you can puree the peppers. Work the puree through a medium mesh strainer back into a bowl. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet and add the pepper puree, cook, stirring over high-heat for 2-3 minutes, until it darkens slightly and becomes a bit glossy. Transfer back to a bowl.

In a six quart dutch oven or pot, heat another 2 tbsp of oil. brown the beef in batches. remove to a bowl. Once all the beef is browned, without wiping out the pot, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the green chilis and the remaining garlic, cook, stirring until the pepper softens slightly. Add back in the beef, toss to coat, then add the chili sauce, tomato, and oregano, stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the beef is tender, 2-3 hours. Right before serving, stir in the masa (which will thicken the sauce slightly) taste, adjust salt, if necessary, and serve with corn bread.

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Cheddar Herb Biscuits

I’ve been making biscuits for years, using them to top cobblers, making them to accompany breakfast. When I the herb garden is producing, I like to make these, they’re slightly showy (if a biscuit can be called showy) and I find a savory breakfast more appealing than a sugary sweet one. These are best served warm, but reheat well. They’ll keep for a few days, not that I’ve managed to keep them around for more than a day.

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (yellow looks better than white)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh herbs, minced: Sage, thyme, chive, and parsley work best.
1-1/2 cups buttermilk (approximately)
Melted butter, for brushing

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. With your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal (alternatively, you can put all of the ingredients up through the butter in a food processor and pulse until combined). Add in the garlic powder, herbs, and cheese, toss lightly to combine with the butter/flour mixture. Add 1 cup of buttermilk and stir gently until a loose dough forms. If it is stiff, or there is still dry flour at the bottom of the bowl, add more buttermilk and gently stir until everything is taken up.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface press it into a rectangle 1/2″ thick. Fold the dough over on itself once and press it out again to 3/4″ thick. Cut the biscuits into your preferred shape. The quickest cuts are square, using a bench scraper. I usually make triangles by cutting the squares in half. A juice glass or biscuit cutter will give you round biscuits. Any scraps from cutting can be pressed together into more biscuits.

Set the biscuits on the baking sheet, brush the tops with melted butter and bake 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and the bottoms brown. Cool for five minutes and serve.