Monthly Archives: April 2010

red lentil and sweet potato curried soup

I love sweet potatoes, particularly because they’re delicious, healthy, and versatile. sweet? spicy? Creamily mashed as a comfort food or cut into fries as the perfect end-of-the-week burger accoutrement. It all works for this orange tuber.

But I’ve been wary of curry and sweet potatoes. I’ve seen offerings at restaurants, read recipes in magazines and online, and not once have thought the combination sounded appealing…. until this week. Monday night at 8:30pm, I decided to suddenly forge into the unknown of using a Thanksgiving staple in an Indian-inspired dish- and I’m so glad I did!

This recipe has, in my humble opinion, the right amount of kick. I’m not a hot-for-the-sake-of-hot person, but I love the complexity of Indian spices. The equal parts curry powder and ginger, plus a kick of cayenne and cardamom on the side, make this a perfect mid-day meal for me. The soft textures and warmth of the soup are relaxing, while the flavor reflects the sunniness of spring.

Did I mention how quick this is?! I had the idea to make this soup at 8:30, and by 9:30 – one measly hour later – had my kitchen cleaned up and the soup cooling, covered on the stovetop. That easy!

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curried Soup
Inspired by The Daily Green

2 medium or 1 large sweet potato, skin on and cut into 1″ pieces
2 cups red lentils
2 cups veggie or chicken stock
1/2 onion, sliced or chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced or minced
1 T. high quality curry powder
1 T. grated or minced ginger
1 t. coriander
1 t. cumin
1/2 to 1 t. cayenne (optional)
ground black pepper, sea salt or kosher salt (to taste)
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1/2 c. green peas, fresh or frozen
unsweetened shredded coconut, dried or toasted (optional)

Wash and pick over the lentils. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the lentils, and simmer for 10 minutes.

While waiting, sautee onions in oil on medium-high until translucent. Add garlic and spices and sautee for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the celery and peas and sautee for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.

Once the lentils have been boiling for 10 minutes, drain most of the boiling liquid. Pour in the 2 cups of stock plus 2 cups of water. Add the sweet potato; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes to soften potatoes. Stir in the sauteed veggies and spices and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the texture you desire. Longer = softer. (I personally prefer to only simmer until the potatoes are fork-ready, as I like the crispness of celery and don’t like the potatoes mushy).

Remove from heat, cover, and allow to cool at room temperature for a few hours or overnight. Garnish with coconut (optional). If this is too spicy for you or you like a creamier texture, plain yogurt is a great stir-in.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Main dishes, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian

life, long overdue

Eeek. I’ve been meaning to update, composing posts in my head while I’m driving or doing the dishes. There’s much that’s been going on, but yet, so much of spinning wheels and staying in place.

Spring is here, and summer is close behind. I’ve got lettuce, garlic, and potatoes in the ground. Broccoli and carrots are going in this evening, and corn, tomatoes, beans, and peas are going to wait at least another week. At least the unseasonably warm weather has gotten me in gear for eating lots of fresh veggies. I’ve been gorging on asparagus, broccoli, and spinach from the organic section and the winter farmer’s market.

asparagus in a butter and white wine reduction

Speaking of farmer’s market, Saturdays in May start in 2 days! I’m so excited to get down to Phoenix Park while it’s still chilly and browse the tender baby veggies that have been coaxed along by sunny days and cool nights. 

N & I tore down our garage, pulled out the backyard clothesline and invasive lilac bushes, and started tearing up the concrete garage pad and driveway. Our summer reno project is to get this all torn up and hauled away, pour new driveway and a 28×32 garage pad, and build a new garage. My back just hurts thinking about all of it…

I was in D.C. for training last week and am heading to the middle of nowhere for 3 weeks. I hope to focus on my running and reading. Gardening will have to become a weekend warrior task…

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Filed under Just a Thought

Rhubarb-Strawberry Crispy “Crumble”

Spring is here! Spring is here!

How can I tell? Yesterday, I had enough rhubarb to make a small dessert! Yes!

I guess this is more of a crisp, as opposed to a crumble… I adore having oats in the topping, but I did use a small amount of baking powder. Gourmet says that a crumble is merely the British equivalent of a crisp. A bit more research indicates that they are practically the same thing, but us Americans like to add oats to the toppings of our crisps.

Any way you call it, this was delicious. Especially topped out of the oven with fresh whipped cream.

Topping:
1/4 lb. butter (one stick)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash of salt
1 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/3 c. oats

Filling:
1 c. rhubarb, chopped
1 c. chopped strawberries
1/3 c. sugar (I used brown sugar)
1/2 t. cardamom

Combine all the ingredients for the filling ia pie pan or 8×8 baking dish. In a medium pot or bowl, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and salt and whisk; stir in flour and baking powder until combined. Fold in the oats- you may have to use your fingers to get them mixed in and get a crumbly consistency.

Crumble the topping over the filling and sprinkle with sugar – I love the look of sparkly sanding sugar on top. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown. Serve with icecream or whipped cream.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Desserts, Spring

Comfort food: Polenta

My inner Paula Dean really shone through while I was spontaneously whipping this up. Half-and-half, butter, bacon… plus corn grits and corn? Maybe in a former life I grew up in Virginia.

My only “scientific” recipe tip: use a 3:1 ratio for the amount of boiling water to grits. You can always add more liquid, like I did with the milk, but shock those grits with boiling water first!

Baked polenta with bacon and corn
Inspired by my intense craving for comfort food

1-1/2 c. water
salt
1/2 c. polenta (corn grits)
1/3 c. milk
3 T. half-and-half
2-4 slices of thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup whole kernal corn
black pepper
2 T. butter
1/2 c. cheese
fresh Parmesan to finish

Grease a 8×8 casserole and set the oven to 425. Put the water and salt on high heat. Slice bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and fry; add corn to pan and fry in grease.

Once water is boiling, add the polenta. Stir well and let boil for 3-4 minutes; add milk and half-and-half and keep at a  simmer on medium heat. Stir polenta frequently to avoid burning on the bottom. Add in butter and black pepper before adding bacon and corn (below).

Once bacon and corn are browning, add to the polenta pan and stir well. Pour the polenta mixture into the casserole. Top with cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve with a light dusting of freshly-shredded parmesan on top.

Deeelicious.

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Filed under Side dishes, Winter

Things I want

A few of my favorite things, brought to you courtesy of etsy…

A vintage  apron.

A floral pincushion.

Some antique spoons turned into garden markers.

A cute tote for my farmer’s market finds.

…plus another one for gardening tools.

Light, flowery pillowcases for warm summer nights.

A flower garden around my neck.

Hand-stitched memento with N + C and our wedding date.

By the by, our tulips are about ready to burst. I’ve got yellow and purple in the front for sure. Strawberries in the front yard, rhubarb in the back, and I’m happy as a lark. :)

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Filed under Just a Thought