French Lentil Soup

French Lentil Soup
Sometimes it’s a challenge to find foods that fit the No Six diet (no: dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) I’m on for Baby A. Luckily, I have a forever patient husband who is willing to search things out. He found this wonderful French Lentil Soup recipe, originally from Bon Appetit and with a few tweaks, it was wonderful.

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French Lentil Soup
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Leave the bacon grease in the pan and add the olive oil.
  3. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.
  4. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add 4 cups stock, lentils and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.
  7. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  8. Season with salt, pepper and the Balsamic vinegar.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls.

My opinion:
Like any good soup, this isn’t much to look at, but it is delicious. It is hearty and filling and all around wonderful. I can’t wait to be able to eat warm pita with it!

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Oyster shucking at home and chargrilled oyster recipe

Oysters are amazingly delicious, but not easy to get in to. It can be intimidating to open an oyster, particularly after seeing the professionals use special chain-mail oyster-shucking glove and knife. After our jaunt to New Orleans in March, we decided not to be intimidated by oyster opening anymore. Plus, we really wanted to recreate the chargrilled oyster recipe from Acme Oyster house.

What you’ll need: An oven mitt, a flat-head screwdriver and a pairing knife serve as a low-cost alternative to the traditional tools.

First set the Oyster  flat side up.  Second, near the hinge, insert the flathead screwdriver between the shells. Then twist to pop the oyster open.IMG_0360

It might take a few tries. IMG_0359

Use the screwdriver to twist and pry the oyster all the way around if it doesn’t just pop open. IMG_0358 IMG_0361 IMG_0362

Eventually, you’ll see the oyster flesh. IMG_0363

Scrape the oyster from the top shell. Then lift the top completely off. Take the pairing knife and release the oyster from the bottom shell. Now, you’re ready to move on to the recipe.

For the Chargrilled oysters we adapted this recipe from Food.com to mimic the dish we had at Acme Oyster house.

Ingredients:
12 fresh shucked oysters, on the half shell (we found these whole at Lucky’s in our town)
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, pureed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 ounce white wine
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Directions:
Place in a baking dish (we used a pie pan) filled with ice cream salt (to keep the oysters steady) with the meat up. Melt half the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add your lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, green onions and all herbs and seasonings. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and then stir in the wine. Keep stirring and remove from heat as soon as the green onions wilt. Let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rest of the butter and stir until completely incorporated.  Heat grill to 350 degrees and place oysters without the sauce on grill.
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When the oyster liquor starts to bubble, spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce on top of each, then top with 1 tablespoon of Romano cheese. Let the cheese melt. When oysters begin to slightly brown at the edges, remove from grill and place on a heat proof plate or tray.  Top each oyster with an additional tablespoon of the butter sauce and serve immediately with slices of French bread for dipping. Garnish with minced Parsley. Serve while still sizzling with Lemon wedges and fresh bread.

Note: It stormed the day we made this and there was no way we were going to grill, so we just made use of the broiler on high in our oven. It worked perfectly. Just make sure to keep an eye on the dish while it is under the broiler, you can go from perfect to burnt pretty quickly.

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My opinion:
The only thing missing was the family-style tables and neon signs.

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Oyster shucking at home and chargrilled oyster recipe
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Servings

Indian at home: Chicken Vindaloo

Indian at home.
Indian at home.

Sadly, our town is lacking in good Indian cuisine. Which means, this fall J and I have decided to figure out how to make it at home. We’ll tackle naan soon, especially since we discovered how easy the main dishes can be. We tried Chicken Vindaloo from our new favorite site rasamalaysia.com. The directions were easy to follow, easier than finding all the ingredients! With a few modifications, we had a meal that rivaled any local Indian restaurant.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces and skin removed (We used about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that’s what we had on hand)
1 onion, chopped (we used a large yellow onion)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 tsp each Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil (we used olive)

Spice Blend:
1/2 cup vinegar (white)
4-5 dried red Chile peppers (we used dried, whole red chilis)
4 cloves (we used ground)
8 garlic cloves, skin removed (we used minced about 2 tablespoons)
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:
Add vinegar and soak all the ingredients needed for the spice blend for 15-20 minutes. Then blend these into a fine paste using a blender. (we used the food processor and with the added vinegar, this turned very runny. Next time, we’ll remove the spices from the vinegar and then re-add it at the end). Add the spice mixture paste to the chicken and toss well to evenly coat all the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate for 4 to 6 hours. In a large wok heat the oil on medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stirring often. Add the chopped onions, tomato paste, salt and pepper to the chicken. Give everything a good stir. Finally add 1/2 cup of water (we omitted this step since it was already pretty runny), cover the lid of the skillet and lower the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes or till well done and the oil start to ooze from the curry. If you prefer little thinner gravy add water as need and let it simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes before serving. Like the original author, we prefer the gravy to be thick and sticking to the meat pieces. Serve immediately over basmati rice.

My Opinion:
The sauce was a little runny for our tastes and it wasn’t quite as spicy as we like our vindaloo. Next time, we’ll use the spice blend as a run without the vinegar and add it at the end.

Smoky Chipotle Hummus

hummus

For Oscar night back in February, J found the perfect dishes to go with Argo. After that first try, we perfected this hummus recipe, which was surprisingly easy. Everyone who tried it liked it and I wish we’d made a bigger batch this last time. A side of Garlic Bagel Chips absolutely makes this dish!

Ingredients:
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste, we found ours in the ethnic isle at HyVee)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (we didn’t have fresh lemons on hand and just used the refrigerator version)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies (we used chipotles in adobo sauce, which added an extra smokey flavor and we also available at HyVee)
2 large garlic cloves, minced (in truth we used about a tablespoon total)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 4-ounce jar sliced pimientos in oil, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (if you have it, great, if not no big deal)

Directions:
Reserve 3 tablespoons garbanzo beans for garnish if you want, we didn’t and just food processed them in. Tip: do not use a blender. I’ve tried and promise you’ll regret it. Burned out motors do not smell appetizing! Using a food processor, pulse the remaining garbanzo beans and next seven ingredients until smooth. Add pimientos and pulse until pimientos are coarsely chopped. Transfer hummus to medium bowl. Stir in cilantro. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper (we used sea salt and white pepper). Sprinkle with reserved garbanzo beans. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Accompany with bagel chips.

My opinion:
I’ve only recently joined the ranks of those who like hummus and now that I’ve tasted this will never go back to store bought blandness. It was so easy and with the extra garlic and white pepper a future go to dish for carry ins and pot lucks.

Yellow Shrimp Curry


While this originally started out to be Bombay Shrimp, I accidentally purchased the wrong type of tamarind paste so the dish ended up more like a curry. The end result was quite delicious and I was disappointed there wasn’t enough for seconds!

Ingredients:
1 pound raw shrimp, medium (we used 26-31 size)
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon fresh, crushed ginger
4 tablespoons tamarind paste  (we accidentally used tamarind cooking concentrate, which is not paste)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne)
1/4 teaspoon salt  (to taste)
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
3 cloves Garlic, chopped fine
1/2 cup Coconut milk
2 medium Jalapenos, chopped (ours were disappointingly mild)
1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped

Directions:
Peel the shrimp and place in a large bowl. Add ginger, garlic, and tamarind paste, turmeric powder, chile powder and salt to the shrimp. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add garlic cloves and stir until brown.  Add shrimp and stir for 2 minutes, so that the shrimp begins to brown and curl. Add coconut milk, cilantro and jalapenos.

Turn the heat off when the gravy begins to simmer. Serve with steamed Basmati rice.

My opinion:
As I said before, I wish there were left overs. We will definitely be making this again. With the mild jalapenos, the dish could have used a bit more spice.