Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sudanese Red Lentil Soup

This recipe is adapted from a soup mix made by the First Congregational Church in Williamstown, MA. They sell the mix to raise money to support elementary schools and other programs for internally displaced persons in Sudan (through the ecumenical Williamstown Sudan Relief Task Force). The soup is very easy and will warm you up on a cold day.

2 cups red lentils
1 1/2 t ground coriander
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t salt
1 t dried mint (optional - I don't use it)
4 1/2 cups veggie broth, chicken broth, or water (I use veggie broth)
1 onion, chopped
1 T butter
2 T olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz feta cheese
1 lime

1. Soak lentils in cold water. Stir. Remove anything that floats up. Drain. Repeat. Discard water.
2. Put lentils in a large heavy pot. Add spices, 3 1/2 cups broth or water, onion, and 1 T each of butter and olive oil. Be sure the mixture is well covered with liquid. Bring to a gentle boil and stir often so the bottom doesn't burn. After 10 minutes, add one more cup of broth or water. Boil gently, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Soup will become yellow, creamy and thick.
3. In a separate pan, saute 1 T garlic in 1 T olive oil until fragrant. Add to the soup. Cut the feta into chuncks and add to the soup. Gently boil for 5-8 minutes, stirring to break up the feta.
4. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings. Squeeze the lime in and stir its juice into the soup. Serve!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Autumn Stuffed Squash

Loosely adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates cookbook. This would be a great Thanksgiving dish!

Makes 6 squash halves (~3 servings)

1 cup mixed raw brown rice and raw wild rice OR 1 package Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice mix
1/2 T butter
3 small winter squash (acorn, delicata, etc.)
1/2 onion, chopped
4 leeks, sliced (white parts and a little bit of green) - you can also just substitute another 1/2 cup of chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup chopped, peeled carrots
1 t dried crumbled rosemary (or 2 t chopped fresh)
3/4 t salt
pinch of ground nutmeg
ground black pepper to taste
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
optional: 1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup ground, lightly toasted walnuts
optional: 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese or parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. Combined 1 3/4 c water, the rice, the butter, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Cover tightly and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
3. While the rice cooks, rinse the squash, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds (you can roast them if you want!). Rub the squash halves with olive oil and place them cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 min until tender (less time for delicata squash).
4. While the squash halves bake, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic in olive oil for 5-10 min, until the onions are translucent and slightly golden.
5. Add the carrots, rosemary, salt, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. If you're using mushrooms, add them now and saute just until the mushrooms are tender and release their juices.
6. Stir in the walnuts and remove from heat. When the rice is ready, mix it in. Taste and readjust seasoning as needed.
7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Turn the baked squash halves cut side up, sprinkly the cavity with salt and pepper, and mash the flesh lightly with a fork. Mound each half with the rice filling and top with 2 T cheese if using.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, until heated through and lightly browned. Serve warm!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fat Free Souper Simply Lentil Soup

1/2 Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper

2 Onion, finely diced

1 Carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 Stalk of Celery, finely diced

5 Cloves of Garlic, finely minced

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

3 Bay Leaves

1 Pound of Lentils

2 Quarts of Broth

1 Cup of White Wine

3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

3 Healthy Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar

Saute everything up to the bay leaves till soft and translucent (doing this in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil adds a nice richness). Add the rest of the ingredients and cook till done. Pick out the bay leaves and done!

Fat Free Souper Quick Butternut Squash Soup

5-6 Pounds of Butternut Squash (1-2 Squash)

1 Quart of Veggie or Chicken Stock

1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

2 Yellow Onions

3 Cloves of Garlic

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1/4 Cup of Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons of Dry Sherry



Flaked Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Dried Rosemary


Use a vegetable peeler to peel the squash (not only the waxy skin, but also the thin white layer). Remove stem and seeds from inside. Cut into 3/4 in cubes (doesn't need to be exact). Put in microwave safe bowl with enough of the stock to come halfway up the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until it can very easily be mashed with a fork (8 minutes or so). While it is cooking small dice the onion and mince the garlic. Toast the chili in the pan until it is fragrant (add a couple of table spoons of olive oil before this step to add richness to the soup). Add the onion, garlic and salt (to bring out the moisture of the onions). Once soft, add the brown sugar and allow it to dissolve in the onions. Add the cooked squash, soy sauce, sherry, and both the broth it was cooked in and the reserved broth. Mash with a potato mashed until smooth. For an extra luxuriously-smooth soup, blend with a stick blender or in a food processor or blender. (also you can strain it if you really really care). Add enough water to achieve desired consistency.

Serve warm and top with course flaked sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, dried rosemary, and a drizzle of Molasses (grate any aged/sharp/hard cheese and drizzle with more olive oil if more richness and deliciousness is desired)

Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Pizza americana dough

Makes four dough balls. Adapted by DPaul Brown from Peter Reinhart's American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza

22.5 oz unbleached bread flour (all purpose will do)
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp table salt or 3.5 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c. milk
3/4 c. room-temp water

I suggest mixing by hand versus using a stand mixer as you get a better feel for the dough. You do not get the same tactile experience with a stand mixer, and there's not too much kneading anyway.

Have a large container of room-temperature water than you can dip your hand into. During the mixing process submerge your hand in the container of water; a wet dough will not stick to a wet hand. You want this dough to be fairly wet.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large metal bowl and mix thoroughly; then add wet ingredients to the bowl. (If using shortening, mix it in with the dry ingredients first, combining with your fingers, then add the remainder of the wet ingredients.) Using one hand that has been dunked in to your container of water, mix the dough vigorously. As the dough starts to come together, use your wet hand and scoop under the dough and fold back on itself. You want to grab all the loose flour or scraps of dough. Rotate the bowl 1/4 turn, again scoop under the dough and fold back on itself. Do not be afraid to repeatedly dip your hand in water -- it is counterintuitive, but it works. Continue to work this dough in this fashion, rotating and folding, until it begins to resist to your kneading, roughly four to eight minutes. Let the dough rest for five minutes, then continue kneading for an additional four minutes. Though the dough will appear wet, it should hold its shape. When you touch the dough with a dry hand it should appear tacky, but release.

Using a flexible board scraper, divide the dough in to four equal pieces. Place the dough in freezer bags, with a tablespoon of olive oil. Let the dough rest on the counter for 15 minutes. You can either freeze the dough balls now or place in the fridge for an extended fermentation. I prefer to make the dough two days in advance and let the dough rise very slowly in the coldest part of the fridge. The resulting dough will have built up a lot of gas (be sure to have an opening in the bag) which will result in a pizza with good rise and blistering. You can make the dough for the same day by letting the dough rest for an hour on the counter, then refrigerate for two hours. If you freeze your dough, place the dough in the fridge for two days prior to cooking for the long fermentation. Freezing will also help relax the gluten and make for a softer, fluffier crust.

When you are ready to make the pizza, preheat your oven as hot as it can get with a pizza stone on the lowest rack or on the floor of the oven if possible. Pull the dough out of the fridge roughly one hour prior to cooking. Dust your workspace with flour and flour your hand (top and bottom). Dust the dough with flour and place on the workspace. Form the dough gently in to a round, carefully so as not to degas the dough. If you are comfortable with handling dough, dust the back of your hands with flour, place the dough on the top of your hands and using your knuckles to gently stretch out the dough. Otherwise, gently stretch the dough with your fingers horizontally on your floured surface. It is important to handle the dough gently as you do not want to lose all the gas bubbles you've worked hard to create.

Once the dough is stretched to roughly a 10" round, transfer to a dry, floured peel. Top with your favorite toppings, ensuring that no wet ingredient touches the peel. If you have any wet spots on the peel, the dough will stick when you transfer it to the hot pizza stone. Give the peel a gentle jiggle to make sure it's not sticking.

Apply your toppings, and give the peel another jiggle. Open the oven, and gently jiggle the pizza to the end of the peel, then slowly jerk it back, leaving the pizza on the hot stone. If you are not comfortable trying to slide a made pizza on to a stone, you can make the pizza on parchment paper. You can slide the whole kit and kaboodle onto the stone, then remove the paper after a couple of minutes.