My French friend Laure, author of the blog Frog Mom, recently reminded me of this book when she served us a simple soup for dinner. Packed with nearly 200 recipes, there is always an appropriate option for something warm and comforting within its pages. Which I surely needed after swimming in the icy cold river at Hyde Park with her.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - I am really lucky that my kids love dal! Usually we make chana dal, which uses split chickpeas, but today we will make Madhur Jaffrey's Red Lentils With Five Spices recipe, simply because I happen to have some red lentils. The recipe for ground lamb kebabs in on p.212, the dal is on p.212.
Kohlrabi is something I remember from my childhood. My mother presented it to us, my brother, sister, and I, in the kitchen. A strange, alien form she found either at the grocery store or in her garden. It was not purple then, but a pale greeny white, as though it might taste minty or sweet like a honeydew melon. She peeled it, cut it into cubes and then served it up with toothpicks.
"It's delicious!" she announced, slurping her lips to let us know of her love for the thing.
But it was not minty, or sweet. Maybe a little bit refreshing, in a watery sort of way, with a strong whiff of broccoli. Finding it all around objectionable, the three of us squealed in horror and ran out into the yard, never to touch kohlrabi again.
My sister, who has for years been living off things like Doritos and Frito-Lay Bean Dip, recently joined a CSA in her town of Tucson, Arizona. She and my Mother share the subscription, and so far have been happily consuming most everything that comes their way, or so they tell me. Until my sister phoned one morning last week, not sure what to do with the bag of wheat berries she'd ended up with.
Get your chard on!
Today was a second great day for my garden - I've eaten two salads from it. For lunch, I had some mixed lettuces with a hard boiled egg and vinaigrette along with an open faced mozzarella and avocado sandwich. The kids ate peanut butter and honey roll-ups, on wheat tortillas. They sampled the salad while harvesting but weren't interested once it entered the house.
Now, for dinner, we're having my favorite arugula salad of all, along with the very last butternut squash in our kitchen. (Well, actually there is one more, but its humungous and moldy at the top and must be composted.) Its officially spring, so I think that means we'll be done with the squash. (Except for an acorn squash still hanging around on the counter). Hurray! I'm always looking for new winter squash recipes, if you happen to have a good one.
The Stewy Roasted Root Veggies is adapted from Canal House Cooking volume 3, which is my goto cookbook for this week. I'm celebrating its arrival, but promise to move on to other sources in a few days. Usually I'm not fond of cooking with wine, but thought I'd give it a try in order to rid the kitchen of any remaining winter veg. In fact, I paired it up with the arugula to bring in a little spring- but really the two do well together.
Speaking of the arugula, I planted it from seed on February 5, in one of our raised beds underneath the big cold frame I bought this year, in advisement from Nigel Slater. What a great idea - I just grew salad in six weeks. In February. With no irrigation. And there's still more - today I just thinned the plants a little bit.
Today the kids and I planted two beds of carrots - in with some onions (to keep pests away), one in the sun and one in shade that will be sunny by the time summer rolls around. I'm told that you should start carrots in cold soil and finish them in heat, so I'll see how that goes. We also started weeding and sweeping the patio - its all very exciting. And I'm trying to figure out how to trellis the kiwis - they've started leafing out, so I guess I'd better get on that one.
Stewy Roasted Root Vegetables (adapted from Canal House Cooking volume 3):
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 large shallots, peeled
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into pieces
4 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces
2 cups white wine
3 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat half the olive oil with the onions, garlic and shallots in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Scrub and cut up the other vegetables while the onions cook. For the squash - I recommend using half of a large one if you can't find a really small one. To make prepping the butternut easy, cut it in half where the neck starts to round out into the bottom, so that you have one round piece and one long thin one. slice off the top with the stem horizontally, and the bottom too. Then peel each half with a vegetable peeler.
Arrange the carrots, parsnips and squash in the pot with the onions, garlic and shallots, and stir them up. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in the wine and add the bay leaves. Add the rest of the olive oil and roast, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, around an hour or so.
While the veggies are cooking you should make the lentils.
1 cup french lentils
Put one cup french lentils into a medium pot, cover by about an inch with water. Bring the lentils to a boil, then cover partially and turn the heat down to simmer. Check the lentils in about twenty minutes. Add more water if the pot is getting dry. The lentils will be done when they are soft, but not falling apart. When they seem just about done, add a teaspoon of salt and let them simmer for five more minutes. Finish by mixing in a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.
1 bunch arugula
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or so)
3 Tablespoons pine nuts
a bit of parmesan cheese, shaved
salt and pepper
Wash the arugula and cut off all the long stems with no leaves. Spin it dry and put it in a salad bowl. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts on medium heat. They will burn very quickly, so you should devote all your attention to the skillet while they toast. When they are brown and smell good, remove them from the heat and into a bowl. Right before you serve the salad, squeeze the lemon and toss it with the greens. pour the olive oil into the bowl, salt and pepper and toss. Sprinkle the pine nuts and cheese over the top of the salad.