Monday, December 10, 2018

Lentil Soup with Cauliflower and Cheese

Today is Terra Madre Day. It’s a day for celebrating good, clean, and fair food. This is a Slow Food celebration that focuses on protecting our environment and on the link between food and climate change. It’s a day to cook Food for Change. And, that can be one delicious way to work toward solving climate change. Full disclosure: I volunteer as the president of the Slow Food Austin chapter. Slow Food partnered with Camellia Beans and Meatless Monday to bring attention to vegetarian cooking for this occasion. After bringing home locally-grown cauliflower, onion, leeks, carrots, and thyme, a hearty soup with those ingredients plus lentils sounded perfect for a chilly night. I found this Lentil Soup with Cauliflower and Cheese on the Martha Stewart website. The broiled and browned parmesan on top made it comfort food in a bowl. I hope you’ll consider enjoying some Food for Change and Meatless Mondays or more days! 

Here’s a list of some of my other favorite lentil dishes: 
Lentil Croquettes with Yogurt Sauce 
Braised Root Vegetables with du Puy Lentils and Red Wine Sauce 
Lentils with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola 
Watermelon Curry on Black Lentil Cakes 
Bulgur and Green Lentil Salad with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon 
Lentil and Pickled Shallot Salad with Berbere Croutons 
Mushroom and Lentil Pot Pies with Gouda Biscuit Topping 

If you have a favorite lentil dish, please share a link in the comments.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Broiled Black Cod, Muffaletta Style

How do you cook when you’re cooking just for yourself? Do you really cook a whole meal from scratch when it’s just for you? I actually do. One of the reasons I like cooking is because I’m picky. For me, getting to cook just what I want, exactly the way I want, is fun. So, I was already completely on board with the premise of Anita Lo’s latest book Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One of which I received a review copy. This book is devoted to cooking, and cooking really well, for one. It’s about taking care of yourself and making a great meal to enjoy on your own. And, the dishes have signature Anita Lo flavors with lots of Asian and French influences. There’s a nice focus on not wasting any part of the ingredients you use, and none of the dishes take too long to prepare. Of course, they all scale up easily and can be used to cook for more than one. The Shaved Root Vegetable Salad with Smoked Salmon, Capers, and an Egg sounds delicious and would be bright and colorful with a variety of vegetables jumbled together on the plate. For Fresh Pasta with Anchovies, Charred Lemons and Radish, you’ll spend a bit more time if you make homemade pasta, but the dish is made from pantry ingredients and could be whipped up without much planning. The Thai White Curry with Chicken is an adaptable dish that can be made with other proteins and whatever vegetables are in season. And, there’s a note with this recipe about using the remaining amount of coconut milk in Caramelized Banana with Coconut for dessert. Another waste-reducing dish is the Broccoli Stem Slaw that sounds delicious with an avocado and anchovy paste. I kept marking pages for salads, and one more that I want to try is the Kale Salad with Dates and Tahini Dressing. The complete instructions for this salad are: “Mix everything together. That’s it. Then eat it.” Love that. But, when I saw the Broiled Bluefish, Muffaletta Style recipe, I had to start there. I’m a sucker for a briny olive salad. 

For this dish, I cooked for two. Luckily, Kurt likes most of the things I like, and this was as easy to make for two as for one. We don’t get bluefish here, so I used black cod instead. The fish was simply broiled, after being brushed with oil and seasoned, skin side up. The olive salad was made with a mix of olives including Kalamata and pimento-stuffed, giardinera, garlic, minced anchovy or anchovy paste, capers, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and fresh oregano. I added some chopped artichoke hearts and skipped the cubed bread. I was happy to use some homegrown oregano since it’s still going strong and threatening to take over my herb garden. Chopped Calabrian chiles are suggested, and I wish I could have found some. I added crushed red chiles instead. The olive salad was mixed and placed in the center of the plate. The broiled fish fillets were placed on top. 

All the assertive flavors in the olive salad paired so well with the flaky fish. I regretted not making extra olive salad to leave in the refrigerator for snacking with crackers or layering into sandwiches. This book offers a lot of great ideas for putting delicious food on the table in smart ways. Whether you’re cooking for one or several, you’ll be treating yourself and others well, cooking your own balanced meals, and keeping waste to a minimum. 

Broiled Bluefish Muffaletta Style 
Excerpted from Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One by Anita Lo. Copyright © 2018 by Anita Lo. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher

for the bluefish 
One 5- ounce filet bluefish, skin on 
1 teaspoon olive oil 
Salt and black pepper 

for the olive salad 
Scant 1/4 cup pitted Ni├žoise or Kalamata olives 
Scant 1/4 cup pimiento- stuffed queen olives 
Scant 1/4 cup giardiniera (Italian jarred pickled vegetables), drained and roughly chopped 
1/2 clove garlic, chopped 
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste 
1 tablespoon drained capers 
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon chopped Calabrian chili condiment (optional) 
3 leaves fresh oregano, chopped (substitute a small pinch of dried oregano if you don’t have fresh) 
6 cubes day- old plain baguette (optional) 
Salt and black pepper to taste 

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to broil. Rub the bluefish with the teaspoon of olive oil on both sides and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin side up on an ovenproof tray, close to the heat source, and cook until skin is lightly browned and crisp and the fish is just cooked through, about 5 minutes, depending on thickness. Use a cake tester or thin knife to test doneness—insert it into the thickest part of the filet, hold there for a solid 3 seconds, then test immediately on your lip. If it is warm the touch, the fish is done.

To make the olive salad, mix the ingredients together, taste, and adjust seasonings. To serve, make a bed of the olive salad and place the fish on top.

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