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.

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Curried Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Curried Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
1 lb ground Turkey
4 Bell Peppers, large
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Shallots, minced
3 Jalapeno Peppers, minced
1-2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp Chives
1 Tbsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Curry Powder
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp ground Coriander Seed
2 tsp Salt
1 cup Chickpeas
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
1 Egg
Water for Baking
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt for garnish
Paprika for garnish

Directions

  • Preheat the Oven to 375°F
  • Fill a baking dish with water, 1 inch deep. The baking dish should ideally be able to be covered with a lid, and large enough to hold the Peppers.
  • Remove the top of the Peppers and all the inside seeds.
  • Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and mix well by hand.
  • Divide the stuffing into the Peppers, and place them in the baking dish with the topside up.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Top with the Yogurt and sprinkle with the Paprika.

Makes 4 Peppers.

NOTES: This is a super simple but flavorful dish. Do not forget the Salt–it is important for bringing out the flavors. My first batch, I left it out and so it was hot but not flavorful–bland even with the Chickpeas. You can also add some seasoning to the Yogurt if you like–it acts as a cooling effect if the Jalapenos prove too spicy. This is an original recipe–inspired by Indian flavors. I hope you enjoy.

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with an Apricot Ginger Sauce

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with an Apricot Ginger Sauce

Ingredients:
2 skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts, butterfly-cut
1-2 cups All-Purpose Flour (for dredging)
1 Egg, beaten (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Water (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Honey (for dredging)
1 cup Sesame Seeds (for dredging)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning the Chicken
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Sauce:
1 cup dried Apricots, diced fine
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, julienne cut
1 cup Peach Schnapps
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the Apricots in the Peach Schnapps for 1/2 an hour.
  • Set up dredging stations: 1 tray with Flour; 1 tray with Egg, Water, and Honey; and one tray for Sesame Seeds. Do not put all the Sesame Seeds in the tray, as you can always add more, but after you’ve dredged, can’t use the left overs.
  • Pat the Chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, and season with Salt and Pepper.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour on both sides; then the Egg mixture on both sides; and finally the Sesame Seeds. Set to the side.
  • Turn the Oven on to 200F, and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over the pan. Set to the side.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet, and brown the Chicken on both sides. Place the Chicken breasts on the cooling rack, and then in the Oven to keep warm.
  • In a Sauce Pan, melt 6 Tbsp of Butter.
  • Add the Garlic and Spices, and let cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the Schnapps-soaked Peaches (liquid and all) to the Pot, and stir well. Heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Plate the Chicken and cover in the Apricot Ginger Sauce.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTES: This is a recipe I came up with to appease Michael–he loves Apricots. I’m not really a big fan, though from time to time I will eat one. It has a sort of Asian feel to it, though I personally see it as more of a Middle-Eastern flavor. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it.

Caribbean Chickpeas

Caribbean Chickpeas

Ingredients
4 cups reconstituted Chickpeas
1/2 cup Black Olives, sliced
2-4 cloves Garlic
1-2 Jalapeño Peppers
4 Green Onions, diced (just the lower 2 inches), reserve the Green part
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Curry Powder
2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp ground Coriander Seed
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • Heat a Sauce Pan on medium heat, and add the Olive Oil, Garlic, Scallion, Jalapenos, and Salt. Sweat the mixture for 1 minute, not browning anything.
  • Add the Chickpeas, and mix well. Heat thoroughly, about 2 minutes.
  • Add all remaining ingredients, and mix well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • While it is cooking, take the reserved Green part of the Green Onion, and dice for garnish.
  • Plate the Chickpeas, and garnish with the fresh Green Onion.

Makes 4 servings.

Orange Turmeric Cornish Hens

Orange Turmeric Cornish Hens

Ingredients:
2 Cornish Hens
2 small Oranges (Clementine or Mandarin are fine)
5 cloves Garlic, sliced length-wise in half
1 cup Greek-Style yogurt
1 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp Coriander Seed, ground
1/4 tsp Cardamom
1/2 tsp Cilantro, dried
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Orange Zest

Directions:

  • Slice 1 Orange in half. Leave the other Orange alone for now.
  • Divide the Garlic between the two Orange halves, and poke them into the flesh of the Orange. You should have five slivers of Garlic per Orange half.
  • Place each Garlic-studded Orange into a Cornish Hen, garlic-side down.
  • In a small bowl combine the Yogurt, Spices, Herbs, Seasonings, and Zest, and mix well.
  • In a large bowl or pan, cover the Hens with the Yogurt mixture. Make sure to get the bottom of the Hens. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 400°F
  • Place the marinated hens in a shallow baking dish, and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, then increase heat to 500°F for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Slice the remaining Orange into rounds (1/8″ thick) and use as a bed for the Hens to set upon for serving.
  • Remove the Hens and place on the Orange bed.

Makes 2 Servings.

NOTES: You can increase the spices to give it a kick, or add some crushed red pepper. This dish was one of those happy accidents–I wanted something with some flavor, some citrus, and Cornish hens were on sale. I was so pleased with the turn out I had to share it. If I were to assign an ethnicity to the food, I’d probably say it is reminiscent of a Tandoori-style chicken in Indian cuisine. A true Tandoori would use a Marsala spice mixture (which does include cayenne pepper). Additionally, tandoori chicken is cooked in a clay oven called a Tandoor.

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.

House Seasoning

Ingredients:Vegan
1 1/2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp rubbed Sage
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Store in an air-tight container.

NOTES: I use seasoned salt for quick sauteing and grilling hamburgers. It is also useful to add to breadcrumbs or flour when dredging.