Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Dedicated to my fellow parishioners at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields, Greenwich Village, NYC

IngredientsVegan
7 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cups Red Lentils, dry, rinsed
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Sweet Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup flat-leaf Parsley, chopped fine
1 cup Celery, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Zaatar
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp ground Marjoram
1/2 tsp ground Coriander Seed
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
1/4 tsp Salt

Lemon wedges

Directions:

  • In a gallon size pot on medium heat, combine the Onion, Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil; cook until the onions softens.
  • Add the Garlic, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, and Celery. Continue to saute until the Celery starts to soften.
  • Add all the other spices, and mix well so that the spices get into the oil and juices in the pot.
  • Add the Tomato, Vegetable Broth, and Lentils; bring to a boil, stirring often so that nothing sticks.
  • Reduce to a simmer, add the Parsley, and let cook until the Lentils become tender.
  • Taste, and adjust the seasoning and spices to your preferred tastes.
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge. Squirt the juice on the Soup.

Makes about 6 servings

NOTES:Lentil Soup is eaten in various parts of the world. This recipe utilizes spices from Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Zaatar a spice blend used in North Africa, especially Egypt and Libya, often added to meats or rubbed in olive oil on flat bread. It is made up of Sumac, Oregano, Sesame Seed, often with other spices.

Lentil soup can be modified to your prefered tastes and needs. You can add chopped spinach or kale, or diced carrots or sweet potatoes. Keep in mind if you add additional starches, you may need to add additional spices. This meal is vegan, however one can add meat like chicken or lamb to it–or even sausage. It is also common to garnish with sour cream or yogurt.

Applesauce

Ingredients:
8 Apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup Apple Juice
2 Tbsp Honey
5 strips Lemon peel (just the zest)
1-2 Tbsp Cinnamon, ground (depending on taste)
1 tsp Cloves, ground

Directions:

  • Add all Ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the Lemon Peel.
  • Use a Potato Masher to mash the Apple mixture to your desired chunkiness.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Makes about 6-8 servings (less if you’re like me and want a big serving!)

NOTES: Who doesn’t like applesauce? This is like the best thing Eve could have made Adam–and it is so simple, yet folks still insist on buying it in the store with preservative and HFCs in it. Stop the insanity and make your own!

When picking your apples, think of sweeter varieties, rather than tangier ones like Granny Smith. You can mix up the varieties as well, and get a fuller flavor of apples. I often substitute a natural Apple Cider for the Apple Juice to make it even richer. If you taste the prepared Applesauce and it is too bitter, just add a little more honey or a tsp of Brown Sugar.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone – Chicken Francaise

Chicken Francaise

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Tbsp Butter
3 clove Garlic, thinly sliced vertically
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Corn Starch
Juice of 2 Lemons
1 Lemon, thinly sliced horizontally
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine

Directions:

  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs and dried Herbs.
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Remove the Oil, and wipe it clean.
  • Heat the Butter on-low medium heat
  • In a small bowl combine Broth and Corn Starch, whipping until there are no lumps.
  • Add the Garlic, Wine, Broth, Lemon Juice, and Lemon Slices to the pan.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn about 5 mins.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Lemon Slices and Wine Sauce and garnish with the Parsley

NOTES: I have tried to find a definitive answer as to whether or not this dish is French or Italian–since one usually sees it in Italian restaurants in America.  No one including the infamous Wikipedia seem to agree.  I would guess is that it is an Italian-American dish that is influenced by the French style of cooking with Wine and Butter.

An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto.
Chicken Piccata – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Capers.
Chicken Scaloppine – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Cream-based lemon sauce.

Summer Pudding

Whole-Wheat Summer Pudding

Ingredients:
2 cups Raspberries
2 cups Strawberries, quartered
2 cups Blueberries
1 loaf White Bread, sliced, crusts removed
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Zest
1 cup Water
1/4 cup Port
Mint to Garnish

Directions:

  • Line a Pudding Mold, or Large Bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Line the plastic wrap with the slices of bread, overlapping the edges slightly.
  • Place the Berries, Sugar, Zest, Water, and Port in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring.
  • Pour the mixture into the bread bowl.
  • Cover with more slices of bread, sealing the fruit mixture inside.
  • Place a sheet of Wax Paper over this bread lid, and then cover it in plastic wrap.
  • Place a plate that is slightly smaller than the opening of the bowl on top, and place a 5 lb weight on it, pressing the bread top into the berry mixture.
  • Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  • Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, as well as the wax paper. Place an inverted serving plate on top of the bowl, and then holding them tightly together, invert so the bowl is on top of the plate.
  • Carefully remove the bowl and the plastic wrap from the molded Pudding.

Serves 8.

NOTES: This English Summer Pudding is super simple to make. You can use any variety of berries you are able to get. If you want it less tart, add a little more sweetener. You can use Whole-Wheat bread instead of White bread, however the bread will not change color as evenly.  This goes very well with Whipped Cream.

Variations:
S›Ƨ – Substitute Splenda® for the Sugar and Water for the Port.

Ṽ›Ɣ – Use a Vegan White bread.

Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki

Ingredients:
5-6 lb bone-in Leg of Lamb
6-8 cloves Garlic, minced
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced in half horizontally
2 Tbsp Lemon Zest, divided
2 Tbsp Oregano, divided
2 Tbsp Rosemary, divided
2 Tbsp Mint, divided
2 Tbsp Salt, divided
1 Tbsp Black Pepper, divided
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tbsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup dry Red Wine
1 cup Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • Combine the minced Garlic, half of the Lemon Zest, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, Salt, and Black Pepper, the Crushed Red Pepper, Red Wine, and Lemon Juice in a large container for a marinade. The container should be able to hold the leg of lamb, and be sealed. I advocate using a seal-able bag.
  • Place the Lamb in the container with the marinade and refrigerate for 6-12 hours.
  • After marinating, remove the Lamb to a roasting pan, and pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Taking a large paring knife, cut slits in the meat about 1/2″ wide, and 1″ deep.
  • Insert the Garlic slivers into the slits.
  • Taking the remaining Herbs and Seasoning, rub the Lamb. If you need more, feel free to add more.
  • Take the Dijon Mustard and lightly spread along the Lamb over the rub. Try to avoid clumps.
  • Drizzle the Olive Oil over the top.
  • Place in the oven, and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 325°F and roast for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until desired doneness.
  • Rare is about 25 minute with an internal temperature of 135°F
  • Medium-rare is about 30 minutes with an internal temperature of 140°F
  • Medium is about 35 minutes with an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Remember to put the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the leg, and not touching the bone.

Serve with Tzatziki or Mint Jelly

NOTES: This recipe pulls on Greek flavors from my neighborhood Astoria. For me, lamb says Spring, Easter, and Passover. Traditionally, Lamb (קרבן פסח)would have been sacrificed on the first night of Passover in remembrance of the lambs blood that was painted on the door posts of the Hebrew homes in Egypt, signifying to the Angel of the Lord to passover that house and spare the first born son. The use of a shank-bone on the Seder plate is reminiscent of this sacrifice, and in some places, Lamb is eaten as the primary meat in the Seder meal.

In the Christian tradition, which I am much more familiar with, the symbol of the lamb has been drawn from Passover and applied to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb which allows death to passover all those washed in the blood of his sacrifice. You will see a lot of symbolism around Easter time in both the Western and Eastern Churches of the Paschal Lamb, often carrying a banner and sitting on a broken sarcophagus.

Jan Van Eyck painting “Ghent Altarpiece”, finished 1432

Whether celebrating Passover or Easter or just a group of friends coming for a visit, lamb is a great festive choice of food, and probably my favorite meat.

Cancun Ceviche

Cancun Ceviche on a Bed of Mescaline Greens

Ingredients:
1/2 lb Shrimp
1/2 lb Sea Scallops. diced
1/2 lb Lump Crab Meat
1 cup Mango, diced
1 cup Avocado, diced
1 medium Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Jalapeños, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Mint, chopped
1 cup Lime Juice
1/2 cup Lemon Juice

Directions:

  • Steam the Shrimp in shell.
  • Peel and de-vein the Shrimp, and dice.
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  • Cover with Cellophane and refrigerated for 3-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

NOTES: Ceviche is thought to originate in Peru, however almost every Latin-American country has their own variation on the dish. You can even vary what seafood or fish you wish to use. I suggest when using shell fish, to steam it first. The citric acid from the Lime and Lemon Juices react with the protein “cooking” the fish, but with shellfish I always use extra precaution–think you don’t usually see raw lobster or shrimp in sushi.

Fruitcake

Dedicated to my Mom and to Lucile F. Locher Mishler “Mum”, her maternal grandmother.

Traditional Fruitcake

Ingredients:
2 cups mixed Dried Fruits, minced
1 cup Rum
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Ginger
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
5 Eggs
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
1/4 cup Rum
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Orange Zest
1/2 cup Pecans, chopped
1 cup Pecans, whole
1 cup Candied Red Cherries
1 cup Candied Green Cherries
1 cup Candied Pineapple

Directions:

  • Soak the minced Dried Fruits in 1 cup of Rum overnight.
  • Preheat the Oven to 300°F.
  • Sift together the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, and Spices into a large bowl.
  • In a second bowl cream the Eggs with the Sugars.
  • Whisk in the Olive Oil and 1/4 cup Dark Rum.
  • Slowly incorporate into the Flour mixture.
  • Fold in the Dried Fruits, Zest, and 1/2 cup of crushed Pecans.
  • Grease a bunt pan well.
  • Pour mixture into the bunt pan, and lightly tap it against the counter.
  • Decorate with the Candied Fruits and whole Pecans.
  • Bake on the middle rack for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean.

NOTES: Fruitcake has always been one of my favorite deserts.  My mom tells me about how when she grew up her grandmother “Mum” used to make Fruitcake in early fall, and stick it in cheesecloth a tin.  Every couple weeks she’d pour Port on top of it.  By Christmas it was amazing.  I’m still nervous about keeping a cake in a tin and pouring alcohol on it for over a month…so here’s my version with a less pungent Rum.

Mixed Dried Fruit can include Cranberries, Raisins, Dates, Figs, Apricots, Apples, Pears, Pruns, etc.

Fennel Chicken with Couscous

Dedicated to Christopher S.

Ingredients:
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander Seed, ground
1 tsp Salt
4 boneless, skinless, Chicken Breasts, butterfly cut
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 medium Red Onion, diced
1 Fennel Bulb, halved and sliced (1/4″ slices)
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 cup uncooked Whole-Wheat Couscous
2 cups Water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon

Directions:

  • Combine the Spices and Salt in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle over the Chicken breasts, making sure to get the spices on both sides.
  • In a skillet, heat the Olive Oil on medium heat and add the Chicken, cooking for 5 minutes each side.
  • Remove from the Chicken and set aside.
  • Add the Garlic, Onion, Fennel, and Lemon Zest, cooking until the Fennel is tender or about 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl whisk together the Cornstarch and the Chicken Broth, then add to the Fennel.
  • Heat for another 7-10 minutes, allowing a sauce to form.
  • Heat the Water in a sauce pot.
  • When boiling, remove from the heat and add the Couscous.
  • Fluff the Couscous with a fork, adding the Lemon Juice and Olive Oil.
  • Serve the Chicken on a bead of Couscous with the Fennel sauce over it.

NOTES: Couscous كسكس is a pasta that is common in northern Africa and the Middle East. Near East® makes a good whole wheat Couscous. Also, I prefer small grained Couscous, as it feels fluffier than the larger versions.  This dish is also very tasty without couscous over a bed of Spinach. I have made this recipe suitable for those on low-carb high-protien diets at the request of my bud Christopher S.

Orange Glazed Carrots

Ingredients:Vegan VariationVegetarian
1 lb Baby Carrots
1/4 cup Orange Juice
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Corn Starch
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Orange Zest
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
1 pinch Salt
1/4 tsp Fresh Parsley, chopped

Directions:

  • In a saucepan, bring the Carrots to a boil, until tender. Drain and return to Saucepan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together Corn Starch and Orange Juice until no lumps.
  • Combine Orange Juice Mixture and all ingredients except Parsley into the saucepan with the Carrots.
  • Cook on low heat until sauce thickens and is bubbly.
  • For plating, garnish with Parsley.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Substitute Margarine for the Butter.

Pfeffernüße

Pfeffernüße

Ingredients:Vegetarian
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup Molasses, Dark
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3 cups All purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Anise Extract
1/4 tsp grated Lemon zest
1/4 tsp ground Cloves
1/4 tsp ground Allspice
1/4 tsp ground Cardamom
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
Confectioner’s Sugar (for dusting)

Directions:
  • In a large bowl, combine Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, and Spices. Sift mixture.
  • In a large bowl, combine Butter and Sugar. Mix until well combined. Add Molasses.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg and then combine with the Wet Ingredients.
  • Slowly add Dry Ingredients and Lemon Zest until well combined. Dough should start to pull away from the bowl. If too wet, add more flour, but very slowly and cautiously.
  • Place on a piece of plastic wrap, seal and place in Refrigerator and cool for for 2-3 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Roll dough into 1″ balls. Place parchment on cookie sheet, and place balls 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Cracking is normal.
  • Cool cookies on wire racks.
  • Roll in Confectioner’s Sugar, and let cool completely.

NOTE: Some people may add 1/2 tsp Cocoa powder, but that is not authentic. Some may also add nuts like Almonds to this, but the kind my family makes never had nuts in them.  This has always been a Holiday treat at my house, people saying they “taste like Christmas”.