Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lentil Stew

I love meat.  I do!  With every carnivorous fiber of my being.  As such, I’m finding it interesting that the last three blog entries and this one are completely meat-free!  I suppose that’s good, unless you want to end up like John Wayne.  Yeah, I won’t go into that little tidbit of information that Bikenut is always so eager to share whenever a big ol’ steak passes by.

At any rate, I was watching the Cooking channel the other day and Julia Child was preparing lentils.  Since then, I’d been eager to try and cook some up myself.  I can’t for the life of me recall what Julia made, but it wasn’t the recipes so much as the ingredient that piqued my interest.  So, when I passed through the bulk aisle at Whole Foods and saw the bins of lentils, I decided to bring some home and give it a shot.

I saw quite a few recipes online for a basic lentil stew, but ultimately wound up adding things that weren’t included in the recipes — like potatoes, and brown mushrooms, and fresh basil.  I wanted these lentils to be so good that I wouldn’t even notice there wasn’t any meat on the plate, and I think I hit the mark!

Sauteed veggies and lentils, ready for the broth and a long simmer.

If I had it to do again, I think that I would soak the lentils for awhile.  Julia swore that we don’t have to do that anymore, but my experience didn’t seem to back that claim.  What was slated for one hour of cook time actually took a bit over three, and while the lentils were tender enough, they might have benefited from another hour longer on the simmer.  But, if you have all day to simmer a pot of lentils, by all means, go for it!  You won’t be disappointed in either case.

Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large russet potato, diced
  • 8 oz brown mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of lentils
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 4 cups of water

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, add first 11 ingredients.  Stir to coat.  Saute over medium-high heat until onions are soft.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve with basmati rice and warm garlic naan.

Peep’s Asian Chicken

I had a craving for teriyaki chicken and rice.   So, I went to the store and bought some chicken thighs and a bottle of ginger-teriyaki sauce and figured I would just broil the chicken and baste it with the bottled sauce.  Upon returning home, I thought it would be a good idea to marinate the chicken first but, after spending $5 on a relatively small bottle of teriyaki sauce, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of dumping it into a bowl only to throw it out in an hour.  It wouldn’t have been enough to marinate the chicken in anyway!

Instead, I opted to make my own marinade.  I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t thought of it earlier so that I could have bought some fresh ingredients to include in the marinade (like green onions, fresh ginger and garlic), but after all was said and done, I think I’m glad to have a recipe that I can just open the cupboard and whip up.   It turned out so good that I didn’t even bother to open that bottle of teriyaki I bought! 🙂  Again, I didn’t think to take any pictures until it was all over and done with, but there’s not a lot to photograph when it’s just a bowl full of liquid and powder and chicken parts.  You’re probably better off this way.

I’m sure this would be equally good for thin strips of beef or short ribs, and would be really good for pork if you add a little pineapple juice to it.  I actually didn’t measure out my spices, but I think it was roughly about two teaspoons each, give or take.  I know I spilled a whole heap more five spice in the bowl, and tried to take most of the spillage out, but it was definitely the prominent flavor in the end.

If you’d like, after the chicken goes into the broiler, you could pour the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a boil, then simmer it to reduce while the chicken cooks for a nice dipping sauce.

Peep’s Asian Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in
  • 2 cups of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each:
    • Sesame seed
    • Ground ginger powder
    • Garlic powder
    • Onion powder
    • Chinese five spice powder

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar.  Whisk together until brown sugar is dissolved.  Whisk in remaining spices.
  2. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat.  Refrigerate chicken in marinade for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove bowl from refrigerator and turn the chicken.  Marinate on the counter for another 30 minutes.
  4. Place oven rack about 10″ from broiler and preheat broiler (low).
  5. Place chicken pieces skin-side down on a cold broiler pan and broil for 15 minutes.
  6. Turn chicken pieces over and broil for another 10-15 minutes or until juices run clear and the internal temperature has reached 170F.
  7. Serve with steamed rice, broccoli crowns and julienned carrots.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cakes?

I was craving chocolate chip cookies last night. I had everything I needed in the pantry for a change, including a yellow bag of chocolate chips with my favorite Tollhouse cookie recipe on the back. The last time I made cookies, I made a full batch, and had more cookies than I knew what to do with, so I opted to go with a half batch this time.

As I have surely mentioned before, I am not a baker by any stretch of the imagination. I follow the recipe and say a prayer. Last night, I paid special attention to the quantities, making sure not to add the full batch quantities of flour or sugar or salt. I did a great job, until I got to the eggs. I was only supposed to add one by halving the recipe, but somehow after being so diligent about the dry ingredients and the butter, I completely spaced out on the egg and added two.

I figured something was amiss when I opened the oven door and my cookies were super puffy, and suspicions were confirmed after they sat on the counter to cool and hadn’t deflated much, if at all. If there was still any doubt at that point, the taste test would have clinched it — these were not the cookies my taste buds were anticipating.

The cookie bit, obviously, was lacking in flavor or any kind of real sweetness, having essentially doubled its intended volume. It took me until this morning to figure out what exactly it was that I did. Can you believe that?

I should know better than to think I could focus (not to mention perform any sort of mathematical functions) after about 8pm! But at least I erred in a way that was different from any screw up I’d managed before, and still managed to be edible! So, if you like really cake-y, fluffy cookies… add another egg! Pfft.

Battle: Baked Goods – Test Run: Apple-Pear Turnovers

Another possibility for Battle: Baked Goods on Saturday… Apple-Pear Turnovers!

applepearturnover03

These little pastries seemed to be easier to make on paper than they were.  That was disappointing.  At least the ingredients list was relatively simple!  Apples, pears, frozen puff pastry, a dab of butter, and some sugar and spice — how could I go wrong?

I have never been much of a baker, have I mentioned that?  Yet, here I am attempting things that I have never before attempted, in hopes that I’ll get the hang of it.  What I really did not want to have to tackle was trying to make my own dough, especially a puff pastry dough!  (Is it even possible to make that at home???)  Thankfully, they make frozen dough, so that was the route I took.  I left that on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour to thaw while I caught up on my work email, and went to work on the apples and pears.

applepearturnover01c
Gala apples and Bartlett pears

I started out by peeling, quartering, and coring 2 Gala apples and 2 Bartlett pears,  and dropping them into a bowl of water and lemon juice to prevent any browning while I worked.  I cut the quarters in half lengthwise, then sliced them into fairly even-sized pieces.  The pears were really juicy, so it was hard to actually get them into the bowl without wanting to pop every piece I cut into my mouth!  Most of the pears made it into the turnovers…

From there, I went and unfolded the puff pastry dough.  It started out as roughly a 9″x9″ square, which I rolled out to about 12″x12″.  In hindsight, I might have opted to not roll it out and just made smaller turnovers.  I’m not sure if the rolling had anything to do with the final outcome, or if that’s just the way the puff pastry, well, puffs.

I tried my best to fill and seal each little packet, even resorting to using the suggested water trick to get it to stick, but that just did not seem to work on this unruly dough!  So, I pinched and folded and pinched some more, realizing that I was probably ruining the puff to come.

I didn’t get any photos of the actual process of filling and folding the turnovers because my hands were dirty and I was too involved to even remember that I was going to document the process.   The idea clicked right after I dropped them into the oven that I should probably take a picture, so here you go.

applepearturnover02

Into the oven!

Thirty minutes later, I pulled four golden brown, acceptably puffy turnovers from the oven in a lake of apple-pear-sugar-juice leakage that covered the tray I had baked them on.  Thank goodness for the foresight of lining that tray — What a mess!  I let them cool slightly before airlifting them from the gooey flooded tray to cool on a wire rack.

applepearturnover04

They don't look half bad...

Aside from the obvious issue with the turnovers leaking at the seams, they seemed to turn out alright.  I was disappointed in the puff of the puff pastry, as it wasn’t as flaky and puffy as I had hoped it would be, particularly in the pastry covering the fruit filling.  The corners were flaky as advertised, and I’m really not sure why the rest of the turnover didn’t turn out as well.  My suspicion would be that the rolling adversely affected the dough, but that seems somewhat unlikely, since dough was born to be rolled!  (Edit:  With some confirmation to this suspicion, I have eliminated the rolling of the dough from the instructions below.  This supports the idea that these test runs are a good idea!)

Whatever the case, the overall taste of the turnovers (or the one I tried at least!) was pretty good!  The spices seemed right on, and the fruit retained a good bite to it.  Now, I just have to figure out which will be entered into the Aluminum Chef competition this Saturday.  Decisions, decisions.

peep_marker_trio

applepearturnover03

Apple-Pear Turnovers

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed per package directions
  • 2 medium baking apples (I used Galas)
  • 2 medium pears (I used Bartletts)
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 egg

Makes 4 servings.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Peel & core apples and pears, then cut into small, even-sized pieces.
  3. Mix apples and pears in a large bowl.
  4. Mix sugar and spices in a small bowl, then add to the apples and pears.  Stir to coat.
  5. Unfold puff pastry dough, and cut large square into 4 smaller squares.
  6. Put 1/4 of apple & pear mixture into the center of each square, and place 1/2 teaspoon of butter on top of mixture.
  7. Fold the dough over the filling to create a triangle and pinch edges closed.
    • Tip: If dough is not sticking together, try wetting your fingers and pinching it together.
  8. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  9. Beat egg in small bowl.
  10. Place turnovers on baking sheet, and brush beaten egg over each.
  11. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.