Posts Tagged ‘vegetable’

Creamy spiced lentil soup

8 November 2018

Balthasar and I bonded over soup.

It was an inset day, which means no school, and after a sunny autumnal swim in the nearby lido — outdoor swimming pool in British lingo, in this case heated year-round to a luxurious 25°C — we went to reap our effort’s reward: e5 Bakehouse. Breakfast was over, we shared a spicy lentil soup with mustard seeds (and cake, but it was the soup that caught our attention). We vowed to recreate it, paying particular heed to the mustard, and, in an emphatic move against Thomas’s tyranny of chunky soups, solemnly swore to blitz it to a creamy smoothness.

It was practically a random recreation, with the available bits and pieces in the fridge. It was practically perfect.

Creamy spiced lentil soup

4 to 5 small onions
1 whole head of garlic
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Sea salt
3 leeks
5 or 6 carrots
1 kg potatoes
3/4 of a large acorn squash
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock — or just water
175 g red lentils
A large handful of kale
Finishing touches: yogurt mixed with toasted ground cumin and fennel and lemon juice; a sliver of olive oil or chili infused oil; if available, black lava salt

Toast the mustard, cumin, and fennel seeds in a small pan until they start becoming fragrant (this takes a few minutes only). Grind and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables —
Chop the onions.
Smash and peel the garlic.
Peel, thoroughly wash to remove all grit, and chop the leeks.
Peel and chop the carrots.
Peel and wash the potatoes and the acorn squash and cut them into small chunks.
Remove the kale’s tough stalks, wash thoroughly, and chop into strips.
Note: The size of the vegetable chunks is not crucial as the soup will be puréed, but the pieces should be fairlyhomogeneous in order to cook at a similar rate, and — if time is of the essence — the smaller or finer the pieces, the faster they will cook.

Cook the soup —
Brown the onions in lots of olive oil. Add the garlic and spices and cook, stirring continuously, for a few minutes. Season with salt.

Add the leeks, cover the pan, and let them cook for a few minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and squash. Season.

Add the stock and/or water so that the vegetables are covered generously and floating around comfortably when stirred.

After about half an hour of a gentle and constant simmer, add the lentils. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, checking on the level of liquid and adding some if necessary.

Check that the vegetables and lentils are cooked through, then add the kale and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes more until it has softened too.

Blend/purée the soup in batches until very smooth.

Serve immediately with one or all of the finishing touches.

Brilliant spiced cauliflower

11 December 2014

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A recipe to arouse the taste buds amid the cloying seasonal onslaught of cookies and chocolate, Glühwein and Christmas punch. Cauliflower is a demure vegetable, and this method teases it from fading bystander to zesty leading lady.

I first tasted this elegantly spiced cauliflower at Newman Street Tavern a few weeks ago. It was so good, so unexpectedly addictive, that we asked for the recipe. More precisely, my friend asked, I didn’t exactly dare. What’s more, it wasn’t the first time that evening — the server had just brought from the kitchen the handwritten instructions for an incredible fennel and watercress soup. Asking for another recipe from that delicious meal was pushing it a bit far, surely? Or perhaps not. It was of course, evidence of our appreciation.

Brilliant spiced cauliflower, adapted from Newman Street Tavern, with thanks
I had to extrapolate a little, especially for the spice mix, as there were no measurements. I’ve tested the recipe a couple of times and I believe this version comes close.

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 star anise

2 tsps sweet paprika

1 1/2 tsp turmeric

1 pinch saffron threads

3 cloves garlic

3-inch piece of fresh ginger

Sea salt

Olive oil

1 medium onion

3 small tender celery stalks

1 cauliflower

Freshly ground black pepper

Sherry vinegar

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fresh dill and/or cilantro leaves

In a small skillet, gently toast the cumin, anise, coriander, fennel. Just enough to coax out the aroma (be careful not to burn the spices!). In a small blender, grind to a fine powder together with the turmeric, paprika, and saffron.

Crush the garlic and grate the ginger and mix into a paste with one teaspoon salt.

Peel and finely dice the onion. Cut the celery stalks into paper thin slices.

Wash and cut the cauliflower into small florets.

In a skillet large enough to fit all the cauliflower florets in one layer, heat enough olive oil to generously coat the pan. Throw in the spice mix and stir for a few seconds, then very quickly add the garlic/ginger paste. Cook for barely a minute then add the onion and celery. Add a little oil if necessary. **Again, be very careful not to burn the spices!**

Fry the onion and celery until translucent then add the cauliflower florets with a splash of water.

Cook for just a few minutes, until al dente.

To finish the dish, season with salt and pepper, a splash of sherry vinegar and squeeze of lemon juice. Garnish with plenty of dill and/or cilantro leaves.

Mashed celeriac with parsley

21 November 2011

Mashed celeriac is the ultimate Thanksgiving side dish because it is so perfect with turkey and cranberry sauce and marries well with many other flavors.

It is also an excellent complement to fish, game, or duck, and works well with lamb tagine or calf’s liver. It is brilliant because it’s so similar to mashed potatoes but more subtle. It’s comforting but also fresh and vibrant. I have to restrain myself from making it too often.

***

The quantity can easily be adapted, with proportions of about 60% – 40% celeriac to potatoes in favor of the celeriac (a lot of celeriac needs to be removed in the peeling process, so it’s always a good idea to buy a bit more than you think you need).

4 Tbsps Coarse sea salt

4 small heads celeriac (about the size of an orange)

3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes

2 large bunches flat-leaved parsley

Good olive oil

4 Tbsps good butter

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

***

Bring two large pots of water to a boil each with 2 Tbsps of coarse sea salt.

Peel the celeriac and the potatoes and cut them into large chunks, all about the same size so they take the same amount of time to cook.

Place each vegetable in a separate pot of boiling water and cook until soft. **The celeriac and potatoes must be cooked separately because they don’t take the same amount of time to cook through (the celeriac takes longer) and it’s important not to overcook the potatoes; if they start falling apart the consistency of the mash will be watery.** The cooking time depends on the size of the pieces of vegetable and how crowded they are in the boiling water, but I usually start checking the potatoes by poking them with a sharp knife after about 12 minutes, the celeriac after about 20 minutes. They are ready when the knife goes in with no resistance.

Meanwhile, wash the parsley and trim off the thickest part of the stems.

In a blender, purée the parsley with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water.

Once the roots are cooked, mash them with a potato masher or through a food mill (never in a food processor as the blade cutting through the potato starch makes the potatoes gummy). Mix in the butter, a good slosh of olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Taste and adjust.

Reheat the mash over very low heat and at the very last minute just before serving add the parsley purée. Stir well until it is uniformly green. **The parsley must be added at the very last minute;  if heated the parsley will turn brown and loose its vibrant flavor.**

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Related posts

Sautéed hen of the woods and king trumpet mushrooms

Simply kale salad

At the market | Celeriac aka celery root (Rémoulade salad)


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