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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

It’s been a doozy of a summer in our neck of the woods, but I wanted to pop in to say a quick hello and introduce you to our favorite go-to light dinner I happily made for my second guest feature on Design*Sponge –the mothership of all things design-y, inspiring and lovely.  This is an updated, much healthier version of the ubiquitous Chinese chicken salads often laden with grease, dodgy mandarin oranges, and even shoddier fried wontons (you know the ones).  Instead, this version is packed with nutrition, filled with veggies and tasty herbs, and wrapped in a killer spicy ginger dressing.  It also travels nicely for those end-of-summer picnics and last call backyard BBQ’s –all too close to winding down for my liking.

To read the full feature, get the recipe and see more photos, head on over here.  I’ll be back soon to yap about Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

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Lentilles du Puy.  Three little words.  With such Big. Whoppin’. Impact.  French green lentils expound my incessant love affair with the South of France.  I discovered these petit buggers during our first lunch in Provence .  It was love at first bite, I tell ya.  Upon (reluctantly) returning home, I hunt down these all-star dried legumes and start to dream of the many ways to incorporate such a mini-tour-de-force into our meals.  They are the Mighty Mouse of all legumes, a powerhouse of nutrition stored in the smallest of packages.

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And, they’re so darn pretty to look at – smooth, curvy, with a shade of blue-green that a Benjamin Moore paint color could be named after – that I barely want to cook them.  All these years of befriending only their musty, brown siblings.  What was I thinking?  I will make up for lost time.  French green lentils are now a part of our staples, just like milk, bread and um…chocolate.  I get immense comfort knowing my staples are resting quietly behind closed doors, ready at a moment’s notice whenever I need them.  I also feel immense happiness after simple staples transform themselves into a super tasty, nutritious, and satisfying meal.

French green lentils + some garlic + some fresh thyme + mirepoix, with a toss of cumin and broth, equals a soup that will have you coming back for seconds, and dare I say, thirds.  This stuff is so good, that I’ve eaten it the following day (when Tony doesn’t finish it off) cold, straight from the fridge, for lunch – or breakfast even.  It’s usually a race to see who gets to it first.  Hence, the breakfast option.

lentil-soup3

Lucky for us, a much needed summer storm fell our way with thunder, lightning and the works (which is pretty special in our neck of the woods) and offered me the perfect opportunity to dust off the Le Creuset and prepare a batch of French Green Lentil Soup.  The cool evening breeze and the smell of just fallen rain made the perfect backdrop for a trip down memory lane to Provence, the South of France and those three little words, Lentilles du Puy.

lentils

French Green Lentil Soup
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina Garten

French green lentils are available in your specialty food store or by mail-order.  I buy them right in our bulk food section.  If you love this soup, don’t forget to check out my favorite potato and leek soup and pumpkin soup.

Music Pairing: C’est L’amour, Edith Piaf

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup French green lentils (lentilles du Puy)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 medium onions)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots (2 stalks)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

Method

In a small bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain. In a dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onions, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Uncover and check the soup periodically to ensure there is enough broth and/or water to cover the lentils.  Add more if needed.  Check the seasonings and adjust to taste.  Stir in red wine vinegar.  Serve hot, topped with a dollop of sour cream, cilantro and sprinkled with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

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My favorite Thai restaurant taunts me with a green papaya salad that I can’t get enough of, especially during these summer months.  Throughout the hellacious years of remodeling our house, we’d frequently get takeout and marshal our goods, which nearly always included this green papaya salad, to a nearby beach for dinner, whilst our poor kitchen stood bathed in two inches of dust.  With the home projects (finally) complete, I became fixated on making the salad in my own kitchen.  Unfortunately, my quest for fresh green papaya, I quickly discovered, came up empty handed time and time again, on our cloistered little Island.

What to do, what to do.  One day, while browsing through the produce isle, I noticed a lonely basket of jicama, wedged uncomfortably into a corner.  Ah ha!  I immediately grabbed one and thought it might serve as a good substitute for the green papaya I pined after.

Upon reflection, I now see the error of my ways.  All this time, I could have been utilizing and appreciating the deliciousness of these strange looking, thick skinned, turnip-like creatures I so often passed by.  Jicama have a crisp, refreshing crunch, similar to that of a water chestnut, only better.  They are quite mild, with a hint of sweetness, and a good source of Vitamin C.  Plus, the word jicama sounds cute.  This simple jicama and mango salad comes together in a snap and is perfect for summer months when all you crave is a light, refreshing salad that is full of lip smacking flavor to boot.  We still go to the beach for dinner, but now I can pack a picnic with my new tasty salad and finally let go of my longing for the green papaya.

jicama-mango-salad

Jicama and Mango Salad
Kiss My Spatula’s version of the papaya salad from her favorite Thai restaurant

When choosing jicama, make sure they are firm when squeezed and have smooth, unblemished skins.  To make this salad into a full meal, top with grilled or boiled shrimp.

Music Pairing: Johnny Nash, I Can See Clearly Now

Ingredients

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks about 2-3 inches long
  • 1/2 medium mango, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce (more if you like it H-O-T)

Method

Gently toss together jicama, carrots, mango and mint in a large bowl.  Whisk fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, brown sugar, water and hot chili sauce in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  Toss with prepared jicama blend until coated.  Leave to sit in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Plate and sprinkle with peanuts and additional mint, if desired.

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