Monday, September 29, 2008

Red Lentil Veggie Cakes

This is not a dish for the low-on-energy, it's a lot of different steps, and a lot of dirty pots and pans. But I think it's worth it. It's a great fall meal, and could be easily adapted to different seasons. I got the original idea from Cooking Light magazine, but of course, I embellished. I wasn't thrilled about the salsa on the side that the magazine suggested, so I served them with my signature yogurt-cumin sauce.


5 cups water, divided
1 cup dried small red lentils
1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup of chopped chard
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced jalapeno
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup panko (1/2 for mixture; 1/4 for rolling the cakes in)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

To prepare cakes, bring 4 cups water and lentils to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Place lentils in a large bowl.

Combine remaining 1 cup water and rice in pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add cooked rice to lentils.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic to pan, along with cumin and paprika; saute 2 minutes or until tender. Add in the chard and the chopped celery and saute until wilted and cooked. Add to rice mixture. Let the entire mixture cool for about 15 minutes.

Add mozzarella cheese and remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined. Using an ice-cream scoop, make cakes and roll each one in a bit of panko. Pop in the fridge for a few minutes until cool.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook each cake for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully turn cakes over; cook 5 minutes on other side. Remove cakes from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining rice mixture. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Curried Apple & Leek Soup with Sausage

If I may be so bold, I have to say that this is the best soup I've ever made--and I made it up, too! I've been looking for a nice vegetarian soup for a friend who's joining us for an evening tomorrow in the country, and found a curried apple soup online. Then I find out that, no, the friend is NOT a vegetarian and would eat any meat we put in front of him. So I went to Whole Foods and picked up some fresh Curried Thai Chicken Sausage, as well as a bottle of organic apple juice. I also visited the Union Square Farmer's Market and picked up some Matsui apples, leeks, and celery. Farmer's market celery is almost too good to be true. Just smelling it is amazing. This soup would be delicious without the meat, too. Here's the recipe.

Curried Apple & Leek Soup

1 large leek, chopped
4 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
4 stalks of celery, chopped
3 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp butter
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of orange/red lentils
1 cup of apple juice

Boil the lentils with 2 cups of vegetable broth. Heat the butter and the curry powder in a large sautee pan. Add the chopped leek, apples, and celery. Cook until just starting to brown a bit and then add the lentils to the mix along with the cup of apple juice. Simmer until everything is super tender. Turn off the heat and cool a bit. Once manageable, place the mixture in a blender and blend until it reaches your desired smoothness. Taste it. It should be super yummy. If you like, sautee 1 lb of sausage on the side and dump it into the soup. OMG. Delicious.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chicken Legs with Roasted Leeks & Parsnips

I adapted this recipe from the latest Delicious Living Magazine. Parsnips aren't in season, so that's the only thing here that I didn't either buy from the farmer's market or from Fairway (free range chicken legs). This is a nice dish for the beginning of the fall; earthy flavors, savory and completely yum.


2 medium leeks
3 medium parsnips
2-3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 chicken legs
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed & chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup Masala
2 tbsp soy sauce
rosemary sprig to garnish
1/2 cup vegetable broth


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the leeks and parsnips into spears and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1-2 tsp chopped thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish and set aside.

Combine flour with chopped thyme and the rest of the rosemary, salt and pepper. Heat the rest of the oil in a cast iron pan and heat until smoking hot. Dredge the chicken legs in the flour, and place in the smoking oil. Brown on each side for about 3 minutes. When both sides are brown, add the masala wine and turn the heat down. When the masala starts to bubble, remove the chicken legs and place them on top of the leek/parsnip mixture and pop in the oven.

Add the remainder of the flour you used for dredging to the gunk in the cast iron pan, add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and simmer. Remove from heat when sufficiently thick and set aside. When the mixture is cool, blend it until smooth and set it aside as gravy for your chicken dish.

When the chicken is falling from the bone (or cooked however you like it) remove from the oven and arrange on your plate. Serve with gravy. Enjoy!

Steak Dinner & Steak Tacos: Two Meals in One

My best friend came to visit this weekend, and we decided to barbeque up on the roof under an almost-full moon on Saturday night. It was great to just go up there with plates and beer and eat this meal right off the grill. The leftovers we turned into dinner on Monday night.


2 lb (2 nice thick pieces) of hanger steak
3 Tbsp cilantro or parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms
4 pieces of corn in their husks
4 taco shells (wrap-sized)
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 ripe red tomato, diced
1 avocado, cut into slices
1/2 cup yogurt
1 scallion, chopped
cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to taste

Grilled Steak Dinner

Place ingredients 2-6 in a mini-chopper or food processor. Marinate the hanger steak in a mixture of the oil, garlic and herbs for several hours, or overnight. Fire up the grill! Place the marinated steaks, the mushrooms, and the corn (still in the husks) on the grill, cover and let cook for a while until as done as you’d like them. Serve this simple meal outside under the stars: a healthy portion of steak (about the size of a deck of cards), a piece of corn, and half a portobello. You can add some steak sauce, but the meat should be seasoned just fine to eat by itself.

Place the leftovers in the fridge for the following night.

Steak Tacos

For the second meal, combine ½ cup of yogurt with diced scallion, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Cut the remainder of the steak (and mushroom if you have any left!) into strip-sized pieces. Sautee the chopped onion in a cast iron pan until carmelized, and then add strips of red bell pepper. Sautee until the bell pepper is tender, and then add the already-grilled-but-now-chopped-up-steak to the pepper and onion mixture. Arrange equally on four taco shells (I like spinach ones for this one myself, but roasted red pepper ones would be terrific, too) the meat/onion/pepper mixture, some avocado slices, some diced tomato. Fold the taco and top with a dollop of yogurt sauce. (Option: you can add cheese to the taco if you want: Pepper Jack cheese works well).

Eat one taco and a piece of corn for dinner. You can wrap up the extra taco for lunch the next day, or go nuts and eat the second one for dinner!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stuffed Poblano Peppers & Potato-Leek Soup

I went to a new farmer's market this weekend 'cause I missed Saturday at Grand Army Plaza. This one was on 5th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Street--much smaller than the Saturday morning one, but serviceable for the week. I planned to roast a chicken this week with beets, leeks, and potatoes, so I picked up an extra leek and few extra potatoes to make some soup. I'd never made it before, so I had to fish around on the internet for a recipe. Epicurious came through, with a recipe from Gourmet magazine. I added some touches of my own. I had to really improvise my stuffed peppers, though. I can never find a good recipe. This one turned out pretty well, but I wish I had used pork for the filling.

Stuffed Poblanos

4 small-medium poblano peppers
3 tbsp ricotta cheese
1 lb lean ground turkey meat
1 medium onion, diced
salt, pepper, cumin, paprika
2 tbsp cilantro

Roast the peppers over an open flame, and while they are still hot, pop them in a plastic bag and stick it in the fridge. I'm not sure what this really does to the peppers, but my boyfriend does it and it seems to work to make it easier to peel the black off the roasted peppers. While the peppers are cooling, sautee the onion in a bit of olive oil until carmelized. Add the turkey meat and seasonings. Sautee until browned. Cool the meat mixture, and then grind the meat in a food processor until finely chopped and consistent. Combine the meat mixture with the ricotta cheese and cilantro. Peel and open the peppers, making little hats out of the stem part. Stuff the peppers, attach the hats (you might need toothpicks), and stick 'em on a baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Accompanied nicely by a fresh tomato slice.

Potato-Leek Soup

1 leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
2 medium red potatoes, diced
salt, pepper
1/4 cup cream

In a large saucepan sautee the leeks and the garlic cloves in the butter with salt and pepper to taste, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally until they are softened but not browned. Add the potatoes and brown just a bit. Add the water and the broth and simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. In a blender purée the soup. You can store it this way (either in the fridge or the freezer) and then add the cream as you're heating the soup up.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lamb Patties with Seasoned Yogurt

This is my favorite recipe from the New York Times magazine's Eat, Memory article series: Saratbhai's Shammi Kebabs. I've adapted them somewhat, and even though the recipe is a bit labor intensive, I have made them several times. This time I paired them with some naan and roasted eggplant. Next time, pickled eggplant on the side. I buy lamb from a stand at the Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market--pricey, but definitely worth it.

Lamb Patties with Seasoned Yogurt

For the lamb
1 lb ground lamb
2 tbsp olive oil, or a blend of canola/olive
6 green cardamom seeds
1 1-inch cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1 tsp grated ginger (or more, according to your taste)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp red/orange lentils
pinches of salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp roasted chickpea flour or felafel

For the yogurt
1 cup of plain yogurt (non fat or not, your preference)
2 scallions
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper

Combine the all ingredients up to and including nutmeg in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Boil over medium heat until all of the water is evaporated (about 45 minutes). Be careful to not let the contents burn at the bottom, so stir frequently at the end. Just before all water is evaporated, add the chiles, coriander, cumin, and some salt. Let cool a bit, and remove cloves and cinnamon stick.

Grind the cooked meat mixture in a food processor or mini chopper until it is finely ground, but not completely smooth.

Return the meat to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture is drier and more pliable, about 10-15 minutes. Let the mixture cool. When cool, stir in cilantro, egg, and flour. Roll the meat into balls and press into patties.

Cook the patties in a cast-iron pan in olive oil. Flip gently, they will be delicate.

Season plain yogurt with cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and paprika. You can add some chopped scallions and more cilantro if you like, but not necessary.

Serve with a vegetable side and/or naan.