Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Caramelized French Green Lentils

Fellow bloggers, please see my public service message at the end of this post*

Ditch the potatoes this month and try lentils! Side dish or main course...your choice! As part of the 'legume' family including beans, peas, chickpeas, etc., lentils are an excellent source of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and minerals.  They also contain no fat.

French green lentils are known for their firmer texture, and don't boil into a mushy consistency like brown lentils with which we are more familiar. Mostly grown in a volcanic ash region of France (around Le Puy), they are also now grown in certain areas of the United States and Canada in similar conditions.  French lentils are known for their greenish-gray mottled color and perfect "lens" shape.  They also have a more hearty, peppery and mineral-like flavor.  The word 'lentil' is French for 'small lens'.

They are more expensive than brown lentils but for a recipe like this, it's well worth it spending a little extra. I found mine at Whole Foods, but Bob's Red Mill brand and Food to Live, are two good brands sold on Amazon.

The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my newest cookbooks, Taste and Technique by Naomi Pomeroy.  The caramelization of the lentils is what inspired me to try this because I love caramelized everything!

I garnished mine with some peppery, locally-grown pea sprouts and served them with grilled salmon.  They would be delicious with most grilled and slow-roasted meats or poultry.  The left-overs (if any) are wonderful the next day as a salad for lunch.  Just drizzle with a little balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil.  I hope you give French green lentils a try!

*I'd like to mention a scam or hoax directed at bloggers that I have encountered twice in the past two months.  If you are a blogger, perhaps you have received one of these emails.  The first, which was a faux tree and silk plant 'company'  offered a product in return for a review. The second, was from a supposed public relations firm with a 'client' interested in doing an article on my blog. No mention of who the 'client' is or why this blog.  The websites of said 'company' or 'public relations firm' are attached to their emails and look very real, and coincidentally, very similar to each other in layout. However, you won't find a phone number or an address listed - just a general location. 

Very likely they are trying to get as much personal information as possible and likely for illegal purposes.  I know of at least one other blogger who received an email from the exact same person but his 'company' had changed names even though the website looked almost identical.  Please beware!  

Caramelized French Green Lentils

Makes a great side dish but hearty enough to serve alone. Leave out the anchovy paste for a vegetarian entree.  

Serves 4 to 6

Lentil ingredients:
¾ cup French green lentils
3 cups water or chicken stock
1 cup red wine (I used Columbia Crest Grand Reserve Cabernet which is a $10 bottle and good enough to drink with dinner afterward)
1 bay leaf (optional)
2-1/2 teaspoons salt

Vegetable Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
½ cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced peeled carrot
½ cup finely diced golden beet
½ teaspoon each Salt & Pepper

Sauce Ingredients:
½ cup red wine
1 small thyme sprig or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon aged sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (buy the tube in the canned fish aisle)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Spread the lentils out on a baking sheet and remove any debris that doesn’t look like a lentil.  Rise lentils and put in a medium saucepan along with the water and wine, bay leaf and salt.  Bring to a low, simmering boil and cook, uncovered, until just tender.  This will take about 25-30 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and set aside, picking out the bay leaf, if using.

To cook the vegetables, heat the oil in a 12 inch sauté pan over medium high heat.  Add the vegetables, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender.  Taste test occasionally.  Set aside.

To make the sauce, first put the sherry, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic, anchovy paste and Dijon mustard in a small jar with tight-fitting lid. 

Put the wine, thyme and garlic in a small sauce pan and bring to a low, simmering boil.  Continue to boil until the liquid has reduced to about 1 tablespoon, watching carefully at the end so you don’t boil away too much.  Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the liquid into the jar with the other ingredients.  Close and shake together until combined. 

To complete the dish, place your largest sauté pan over medium to medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add the lentils and sauce and sauté, stirring frequently, until the lentils begin to brown around the edges and begin to caramelize slightly.  Add the vegetables and continue to stir and cook for another few minutes until the vegetables are hot.  Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.  (This can be done in two batches, if your sauté pan is not large enough to hold everything).  Just before serving, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Double Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

I hope you try these delightful Double Chocolate Biscotti if you have time to bake one more cookie.  I combined a few recipes to come up with these delicious double chocolate biscotti that are perfect with coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon or a glass of milk or wine in the evening.

They are easy to make and a delicious addition to a holiday cookie platter.  They aren't as dense as some Biscotti so much easier to eat.

Twas three days before Christmas, and all through the house...
The smell of baked cookies was stirring more than just one mouse.

The mice quickly retreated to safety because...
A coyote was near and had such strong jaws!

These three young knights saved the day,
By hiding the mouse family safely away :)

This big coyote was one of two in our yard this morning. We've been seeing them more frequently this year and so it seems that the coyote population is growing in our area. 

I wish you a very safe and Merry Christmas and Holiday Season.  We are looking forward to seeing our three sweet grandsons on Christmas Day!

I'm sure their stockings will be hung by the chimney with care :)

Double Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

Printable Recipe

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour, scoop and level method
1/2 cup bittersweet cocoa powder, such as Ghirardelli
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, just barely softened
3 teaspoons freshly grated navel orange zest (about 2 large oranges)
1 cup
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole salted pistachios
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios blended with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ounces shaved bittersweet chocolate
1 egg, mixed with 1 teaspoons water

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix butter and orange zest on medium high speed until smooth.  Slowly add 1 cup of sugar and beat for another minute.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a minute each, scraping down the bowl.  Add vanilla and mix.  Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, slowly, mixing just until combined.  Do not over mix.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold in 1 cup of the whole pistachios and the shaved chocolate.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, pulse the 2 tablespoons of pistachios with the 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

Position oven shelves in upper and lower third of the oven.  Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.

Divide dough into thirds, and on lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 12 x 3 inch log (about 1 inch thick) and place on one of the baking sheets sideways.  All three should fit on one large baking sheet.

Brush each with egg wash and sprinkle the tops with the chopped pistachio and sugar mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes or until just lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest on the pan for 5 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.  Using a large spatula, carefully remove each log to a cutting surface and cut into 1 inch slices. Using 2 baking sheets, lay the slices on their sides and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn slices over.  Bake for another 7 to 10 minutes.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes and transfer to baking rack to cool completely.

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks or freeze.