Greatest Lentil Soup (From My New Roots)


This winter has been a real bummer. Snow days in March. Endless below zero weather. 4 months where I wore no other shoes to work except my snow boots. Needless to say, like everyone on the entire East Coast of the United States, I’m seriously, seriously glad that it’s Spring.

Except now that winter’s over, I think I’ve finally found the perfect winter stew recipe. I was so excited to finally get a copy of Sarah B’s My New Roots Cookbook in the mail last week, and one of the recipes that really looked delicious was her Four Corners Lentil Soup. Sara calls it that, because she’s introduced this recipe to her friends from all over the world.  I can see why. I made a batch this weekend, and it was seriously delicious – the flavors really blend together perfectly. It’s definitely going to become a staple in our house.

Ingredients

  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (about 400g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • lemon (thinly sliced)
  • coconut oil
  • glob of maple syrup
  • salt
  • finely chopped fresh parsley (to garnish)

1. In a dutch oven or large pan, melt a glob of coconut oil and add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Sautee for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the cumin, salt, and cayenne, and cook for another minute. Stir well.

3. Add the lentils, 3 lemon slices, and tomatoes. Then, add the water and stock cube. Bring to a simmer

4. Cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Add a quick glob of maple syrup to balance the flavors. When the soup is ready, let rest for about 20 minutes, so that the flavors meld. Serve hot with a slice of lemon and fresh parsley for garnish.

Enjoy!

Life Changing Buckwheat Crepe Recipe

When we’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast, Jon and I sometimes walk over to Sofi’s Crepes in Station North, Baltimore for buckwheat crepes/galettes. They’re tasty – especially if we’re recovering from going out the night before-  but a far cry from the super-thin, crispy, perfect crepes we had last time we were at the Breizh Cafe in Paris.

Today, I discovered how to recreate those perfect crepes, and my life will never be the same. I recently received a copy of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen from my Aunt Jean for Christmas, and was so thrilled to see that Lebovitz has a few pages describing how the chefs at Breizh create crepes, and a modified easier-to-get-right recipe for buckwheat galettes that taste like the ones at Breizh. I tried making them for breakfast this morning and they were fantastic. Luckily, the recipe made about 12, so we’ve stored a large bunch in the fridge to eat throughout the week.

A crepe from Briezh in Paris.
A crepe from Briezh Cafe in Paris.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups of water
  • 2 large eggs

1. Put the flour in a bowl, and then add the other ingredients. Whisk well. Cover the bowl, and put in the fridge to rest for about 1 hour. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream – if not, add more water.

2. Wipe the bottom of a nonstick frying pan with butter, and wipe with a paper towel. Heat over medium high heat.

3. When the pan is warm, add 1/4 cup of batter to the pan (you might need to rewhisk the batter after it’s been in the fridge). Quickly shake the pan to spread the batter into a super-thin layer. Cook until the underside is golden brown and the edges curl up (about 1.5 minutes). Using a spatula, flip, and cook for about another minute. When the crepe is done, put it on a flat dinner plate.

4. Cook the rest of the crepes the same way, and stack on the plate.

5. When you are ready to serve an individual crepe, reheat a crepe on the frying pan (bottom side down). Add your favorite ingredients on top (I used fresh basil, roasted red pepper and munster cheese). When the ingredients are melted, fold the crepe in half. Transfer to a plate and enjoy!

Artichoke and Saffron Risotto

When we had our next door neighbors over for dinner last week, I decided to try out a new recipe for artichoke paella from Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat. I was a little nervous about it – I have a UK copy of the book, and all of Jones’ recipe instructions are in ml and grams – I had to use my best guesses to convert the recipe over to cups.  But, I was oh so pleased by how it turned out – all the flavors melded together perfectly, and it really hit the spot on such an icy cold winter day. I definitely think it’s going to become a winter staple in our house – in fact, we’ll be making it again when we have friends over next weekend!

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Anna Jones’ newest cookbook, it’s absolutely lovely! All the recipes are vegetarian, and the majority are gluten free.  Jones’ paella recipe is available here. 

I made a few substitutions: I used 2 cups of rice, and 4 cups of vegetable stock. I couldn’t find paella rice, so I used arborio. I also substituted a jar of roasted red peppers for the red peppers she uses.

Indian Masala Egg Scramble

One of my life-long goals is to learn how to make delicious Indian food, and I was so thrilled to get a copy of Anupy Singla’s Indian for Everyone cookbook from my mom for Christmas. Last week, we went to Punjab Groceries in Baltimore to stock up on spices, basmati rice, and chickpea flour, and all week I’ve been cooking delicious Indian recipes – dal, rice pudding, raita etc. I’m sure a lot of these recipes will eventually be featured on the blog.

One recipe I’ve really grown to love so far is the Indian Masala Egg scramble. It’s an incredible recipe for spiced scrambled eggs, and tastes a little bit like you’re eating the contents of a delicious samosa for breakfast. As per Singla’s suggestion, I eat it with buttered gluten-free toast, and it’s literally heaven – the kind of breakfast that makes you eager to jump out of bed in the morning.

Here’s the recipe I’ve been using – I toned down the spiciness and peppers in the original recipe, because I’m not sure I’m really up to that in the morning.

Indian Masala Egg Scramble (adapted from Indian for Everyone)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro, chopped finely
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ginger (I use dry ginger spice)
  • 1 onion
  • oil
  • salt and pepper
  • you’re choice of gluten-free or other toast
  • greek yogurt (optional, for serving)

1. Heat up oil in a non-stick frying pan. When it’s hot, add in the cumin and tumeric, and cook for about 30 seconds.

2. Add in the onion, and cook for about another minute. Then add the ginger spice, cayenne pepper, cilantro, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about a minute more

3. Turn down the heat to medium, add the eggs, and scramble to your taste. I like soft scrambled eggs.

4. Serve on top of buttered toast, and with a dollop of greek yogurt.

Recreating Rivera’s Homemade Tortillas and Indian Butter Recipe

Rivera's Tortillas with Indian Butter
Rivera’s Tortillas with Indian Butter

Last Saturday, Jon and I had an absolutely amazing date night at Rivera restaurant in Downtown LA. We’d been wanting to try it out for ages, and were very lucky to get a gift card there as a wedding present! The food there was just incredible – we had their signature homemade tortillas and “indian butter guacamole”, shrimp ceviche, and then I had seared scallops. We also tried out a few cocktails, which were definitely the best I’ve had yet in LA. Here are a few of our favorite pictures from the meal:

Shrimp Ceviche
Shrimp Ceviche
Constantino's Revenge - Amazing Cocktail
Constantino’s Revenge – Amazing Cocktail
Scallops!
Scallops!

Tonight, using recipes from Salted, I tried to recreate the Rivera tortillas and Indian butter recipe, and I was really surprised by how well they both turned out! Indian butter is a variation on guacamole – Rivera calls it “Indian butter” because that’s what avocados were called in the early days of California. I bought the ingredients (and tortilla press!) to make the recipes at my favorite Mexican grocery story in LA – El Super in Boyle Heights. Both recipes are below — enjoy!

Tortilla Recipe

Ingredients

  • masa for tortillas
  • water
  • salt
  • chives and edible flowers (optional)
  • cling wrap
  • wax paper

1. First, make the tortilla dough. Mix 2 cups of tortilla masa with a pinch of salt and 1 and 1/2 cups of water. kneed until it becomes a dough. Roll into round balls and set aside.

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2. Cut two square pieces of cling wrap. put one piece on the bottom of tortilla press, and put a ball of dough on top. Put the second piece of cling wrap on top, close the lid, and lift the lever to press the tortilla!

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3. Take off the second piece of cling wrap, place edible flowers or herbs on top, put the piece of cling wrap back on, and press again.

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4. Slide each individual tortilla onto a piece of wax paper, and layer.

5. Heat a griddle or frying pan, and brush with olive oil. When it’s steaming add a few tortillas at a time. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve with your favorite taco filling or with Indian butter.

Indian Butter Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (diced)
  • 1 Mexican white onion, or sweet yellow onion (diced)
  • about 1/4 cup of cilantro (chopped)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

1. Add the avocados to a food processor, and pulse until blended smoothly.

2. While the food processor is running add the other ingredients in order listed. Go light on the jalapeno! When everything is blended smoothly, taste, and adjust the jalapenos, salt, and pepper as desired. Serve with hot tortillas!

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Chez Panisse Eggplant and Carmelized Onion Pasta

The big news on this end is that Jon and I are moving to Baltimore! I’ll be starting a new job next month, helping to grow a really great nonprofit, and I really can’t wait to get started. We flew out to Baltimore a few weeks ago to apartment hunt, and signed a lease a really charming carriage house – quite a change from our open DTLA loft, but much more homey. The new kitchen is also absolutely gorgeous – lots of counter space! lots of light! Gas stove! I’m incredibly excited for new culinary adventures.

Back in LA, things are perpetually hot and summery as always. I’ve been pretending it’s fall by making lots of stews and hearty dinners.The other night I made my little sister Grainne’s signature pasta recipe (well, “little” sister I should say, as she’s super tall now and towers over me!). I’ve always been a bit of an eggplant addict and a pasta addict, so this really hits the spot. I think the secret to the dish really is the red pepper flakes which give it a bit of a kick!

The recipe is originally from the Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley CA, and I’ve adapted it from the online recipe, available here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1-2 yellow onions
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1-2 cups of plain tomato sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • white balsamic vinegar
  • pasta of your choice (I use gluten free)
  • grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • chopped Basil (for garnish)

1. Chop the eggplant into small squares. Add a generous sprinkle of salt (I use Pink Himalayan Salt) and place in a baking pan. Preheat the oven to 400. When the oven is ready, pour olive oil over the eggplant, mix to coat evenly, and bake for about 1/2 hour.

2. Once the eggplant is in the oven, finely chop the onions, and cook in a saucepan over medium heat with a sprinkle of salt for about 1/2 hour (until caramelized). When the onions look ready (translucent but not brown), add in the garlic cloves and cook for a moment more. Add a dash of white balsamic vinegar to the pan.

3. While the onion and eggplant is cooking, cook the pasta al dente, and put aside.

4. When the eggplant is ready (a bit golden on the edges), add to the saucepan with the onions. Cover with the 1-2 cups of tomato sauce, add a generous pinch or two of red pepper flakes, and cook until warm.

5. Combine the cooked pasta and the sauce. Sprinkle chopped basil on top, and serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe: Massaged Kale Salad

One of my friends from grad school made incredible massaged kale salads, and I’ve gotten back in the swing of eating them this summer. This is a very simple versatile recipe, that you can enhance with all your favorite fresh vegetables and farmers’ market goodies. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-1 ripe avocado
  • 1 fried egg (optional)
  • bowlful of kale
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped finely
  • 1-2 radishes, chopped finally
  • approximately 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • approximately 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Take off all your rings or jewelry. Wash your hands extremely well and massage the ripe avocado into the bowlful of kale leaves. Massage until the leaves are soft, and the avocado is evenly distributed. Add the sesame oil and apple cider vinegar, and massage to mix.

To finish, add the chopped carrots and radish into the salad.

Fry an egg, and place on top of the kale salad,

Recipe: Basil Almond Pesto

We had some leftover basil in our fridge from a caprese salad we made for a barbeque, so I decide to whip up some fresh pesto. This is a really simple pesto recipe that can really dress up pasta, gluten-free bread or fresh veggies. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 2 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
  • roughly 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • dash of walnut oil (optional)

Place the almonds in a plastic bag, and pound them with a hammer until crushed (this will save your blender or food processor)

Process the nuts in a food processor with 2 cloves of chopped garlic.

Add the basil, olive oil, and Parmesan, and process until chunky but smooth.

Finish with a dash of walnut oil

Travel: Paris

IMG_3290This is very, very much a throwback post. I’m writing it in my sunny apartment in LA because I’m feeling a travel itch and am really missing living in England, where a trip to Paris or Rome or Madrid was just a hundred bucks and an hour flight away.

Last year, Jon took me to Paris, for my birthday, and also to ask me to marry him. It was an absolutely incredible couple of days for many, many reasons and we’ll remember it for a lifetime. One amazing part was that Jon scoured restaurant and cocktail bar reviews for weeks before we went, because he knows how much good food means to me. The places he picked were all so, so incredible. The other day we were talking about some of them, and trying to remember where we went, so I thought it’d be a good idea to write them down, while they’re still relatively top of mind.

So here’s the list of our favorite bars and restaurants in Paris.

Restaurants and Cafes

Breizh Cafe

This crepe place in the Marais will ruin all other crepe places for you for the rest of your life. The buckwheat savory crepes have the most delicious fillings – from creme, caviar, and potatoes, to fresh farmers’ market vegetables. I also tried the buckwheat crepes with dessert fillings – pear, caramel and ice-cream. They also serve amazing alcoholic cider with their crepes, which is a totally acceptable thing to drink for breakfast…I think.

The main restaurant is always really crowded, and you’ll have to make a reservation, but they have a tiny cafe right next door where you can pretty much always get a seat. This place was so good, we were in Paris 5 days, and I think we may have gone here three times. Ahhh I wish I could go right now!

One of my favorite crepes at Briezh
One of my favorite crepes at Briezh

109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, France, 01 42 72 13 77

L’Office

Can’t say enough good things about this place. It’s everything you want a restaurant to be – beautiful intimate atmosphere, a small selections of fresh dishes to choose from that are absolutely perfect! I had a burrata and beet risotto appetizer when we went, and a cod with sesame and miso. We split a cheese plate for dessert. The menu changes all the time, so you’ll be in for a treat!

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3, rue Richer, 75009 Paris (Montmartre), 01 47 70 67 31

Graindorge Restaurant

I loved this old-school French restaurant near the Arc de Triomphe. The design of the restaurant is very old school art deco. We splurged and went for their three course menu, which was delicious. I had a herring appetizer and a delicious fish stew for dinner. It’s kind of out of the way, but worth the trek!

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15, rue de l’Arc de Triomphe, 75017 Paris, 01 47 54 00 28

Cocktail Bars

Candelaria

A taco place in Paris? Yep, and you’ll have some of the best cocktails and tacos in the entire world here. Come early because the lines can be astronomical, and you’ll be luck to get a seat, and with tacos these delicious and messy – you’ll want a seat. Be prepared to see lots of hip, well dressed Parisians. Be prepared to want every taco and every cocktail on the menu.

Jon at Candelaria
Jon at Candelaria

52 rue de Saintonge 75003 Paris, 01 42 74 41 28

Curio Parlor

This cocktail place was really fun – incredible cocktails and a great vibe (dark, with lots of taxidermy). It’s located near Notre Dame.

16 rue des Bernardins 75005

A trip to Paris isn't complete without this shot!
A trip to Paris isn’t complete without this shot!

Review: El Coraloense Tacos (and LA Taco Madness Festival)

Today was the annual LA Taco Madness Festival in Grand Park in downtown LA. The free festival brought together some of the best taco trucks and stores from around LA.  I had very high expectations for this event, and boy were they were met!

We tried a bunch of different stalls, but my favorite tacos by far were from El Coraloense, a taco place with locations in Downey and Bell Gardens, CA. They had an incredible ceviche tostada with fresh mango salsa – so refreshing on such a hot day. Their fish “taco revolcado” was my favorite thing on their menu (pictured above). It was a grilled fish with a fantastic seasoning served with salsa, cabbage, and vegetables. After getting one round of tacos, we waited in line for another 20 minutes to get seconds at this stall. I think a trip to Bell Gardens is in my future.

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We didn’t get a chance to try any tacos from  Marisco Jalisco, which I’ve heard routinely wins the “Best Taco” prize  at this festival, but  they’re located near downtown, so we plan to go sometime in the next few weeks.

Me and Jon at LA Taco Madness
Me and Jon at LA Taco Madness

 

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