Friday, November 11, 2016

lamb, lentil, and white bean chili.

What a week.   

I've been a ball of emotions and I imagine I will continue to be for sometime.  At this moment in time, I am most upset and appalled about the stories of outright racism that has cropped up in our country over the last 36 hours. This is not OK.  We should not be OK with this.  No one should be threatened because of their ethnicity, the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or for being LGBT.  No one should be bullied or told they are less than a person because they aren't white and because they aren't born in this country.  This breaks my heart.

I started this blog almost 5 years ago because I wanted a place to share recipes for delicious food with others. At the end of the day, food brings people together.  I was raised in a family that valued the importance of sitting together and sharing a meal with one another.   At the table we talked and laughed and ate and it was a way to feel connected at the end of each day.  I think now more than ever, it's important to feel connected to one another.   To understand the point of view of others and to try and figure out how to relate to one another.   People will always have differing opinions from you but having constructive conversations, educating yourself, and finding common ground is the key.  To me, food is common ground.   

As we head into Thanksgiving and the December holidays, I'm going to use this space to include recipes that are about sharing (expect lots of cookie recipes).  Now is the time to be kind and giving.  To have an open mind and to make others feel included.  To say Thank You (Thank You Veterans for all you do).  Go out into your community, go to festivals, go to your place of worship (if you have one) and eat a meal with others.  I'm kicking things off with chili because we could all use comfort food right now (Am I right?!).   This is a riff on the classic beef chili but with lamb and lentils.   The combination of lamb, lentils, and white beans results in an earthy and filling dish that warms your belly.  I encourage you to make a pot this weekend, invite some people over, have a couple of beers, and enjoy the company of others.           

Lamb, Lentil, and White Bean Chili

Recipe adapted from the NYTimes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound ground lamb
 Kosher salt and black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced (or 2 small green bell peppers)
1 small bunch cilantro, cleaned
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 small jalapeƱos, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped
3 tablespoons chile powder, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups cooked white beans (homemade or canned)
1 cup dried lentils
Juice of 1 lime, plus more for serving
Plain yogurt, preferably sheep’s milk or feta, for serving (or both if you are like me)
Lime wedges, for serving

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook, breaking up with a fork, until well browned, 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Transfer meat to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the onion and poblano peppers. Cook until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Finely chop 2 tablespoons of the cilantro stems and add to the pot. Stir in the garlic and jalapeƱo and cook 2 minutes. Add the chile powder, coriander and cumin, and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it begins to turn brown.

Return the lamb to the pot. Stir in 5 cups water, the beans, lentils, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes; add more water if the chili becomes too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Ladle into bowls, and top with a dollop of yogurt (or some feta) and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

election thoughts. nov. 9th 2016.

Yesterday I left work early to meet Tyler so we could vote together.   For the past 10 months, our evening walks to the dog park with Jackson was an opportunity for us to discuss current events and most notably this election. Voting together felt like a culmination of those conversations.  I was euphoric about voting for the first woman president.  I was even more excited to have my husband doing the same.  That he felt confident in her abilities, her tenacity, and her knowledge to lead the country made me proud.  

And just like that, my feelings of euphoria faded.  I am currently experiencing a profound sense of sadness that I didn't think was possible.  Walking to work this morning, all of Manhattan felt like it was marching towards a funeral.  

Much like Brexit, it feels as if most of this country didn't understand that their actions - electing an arrogant, self-righteous, sexist, racist, pig would result in the financial markets tanking, the world questioning our status as superpower would happen.   Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen.  It appears I am blind to the feelings of 50 million people because I think America is great. Flawed at times (but what isn't) but at the end of the day it's great and I am proud to be an American. It's a country that is ripe with opportunity if you are willing to work hard.   It's a country built on immigrants and hope. 

To think that the endorsement of almost every newspaper in this country, that winning three debates, to actually having experience in politics, and TO WINNING THE POPULAR VOTE would not make you the victor is utterly shocking.  I had to graduate college, have internship experience in finance, and pass a test to get my entry level finance job.  Here we have someone with credentials that include running a company that has lost millions of dollars and hosting a TV show as the new leader of our world.  I'm heartbroken we got here.  

The thing that continues to leave me feeling as if I need to run to the bathroom to throw-up is wondering what the next four years will look like.   We've made great strides in clean energy, monitoring carbon emissions and now we have a president who wants to get rid of the EPA.   We've made progress in LGBT rights, women's rights, gun laws, immigration, among so many other things and all of these things are in jeopardy.  It's possible Trump will piss off our allies.  That we will become an fragmented, insular, and broken country.   It leads me feeling scared in a way I never though possible.  This feels bigger then 9/11.   

My hope is that my worst fears will not be realized.  That because we are a government built on checks and balances that the scariest parts of Trump's campaign will never be realized.   I'm going to continue to wallow through the end of today and tomorrow will be a new day.  This may not be the outcome I believed we would see but it's not the end.   I will continue to fight for a country of progress and inclusion because love trumps hate. 

I told Tyler earlier today that instead of Christmas gifts, that we should donate to different organizations that are endanger due to a Trump presidency (I'm looking at you Planned Parenthood, EarthJustice, and Next Gen Climate Action).  We will continue to do our part to move America forward.   

The glass ceiling will be shattered.     #imstillwithher           

Monday, November 7, 2016

butternut squash and caramelized onion galette.

For the better part of the last week I've had an insane amount of election related anxiety.   I just want this thing to be over.  I know Hilary is a very polarizing candidate (actually I this the same could be said about the Donald) and I can understand why people may not like her - she can feel standoffish, secretive, and untrustworthy but, I feel that a lot of people treat her differently because she is a woman and that really bothers me.  As someone who works in a predominantly male-oriented field, I've observed on a first-hand basis the different standards that exist for men and women.   It's infuriating.   If Hilary was a man, so much of what has been said about her would never have been said.  She wouldn't be called nasty or angry - she would be considered passionate or a true leader.   Double standards suck.

These two candidates represent two very different paths for the future of America.  And one of those paths - the path where we close ourselves from the world, where we no longer allow people to come to our country to fulfill the American dream, the one where LGBT's have no rights, and women can't make their own decisions is in danger of becoming a reality.  I don't want that.   I don't believe that is what's best for us.   Trade is good, allowing gay's to marry is good, bringing refugees into this country is good.   Moving forward is good.  Showing the world America is a progressive leader is good.   

So tomorrow night Tyler and I are going to hunker down on the couch, watch the election coverage, eat this tart (which is fall at its finest), and (hopefully) watch history be made.  #werewithher      

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette 
Recipe from Seven Spoons

This tart is one of the best things I've made in recent history.  I served it with roast chicken and vegetables but it would also make a great side for Thanksgiving (something vegetarians would appreciate it).   

A couple of notes.  The squash, onions, and dough can be prepared a day or two before you want to serve it. Just assemble the filling and bake on the day of (thus making this the ideal party food).   You can also divide the dough in half and make two 9-inch galettes.   

For the Pastry

2½ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour, including 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour if you like, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon (2 g) table salt
16 tablespoons (227 g) or 2 sticks, unsalted butter
1/2 cup (64 g) sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt, strained
1 tablespoon (15 mL) white wine vinegar
1/3 cup (79 mL) ice water

For the Filling

2 small or 1 large butternut squash, about 21/2 pounds (1134 g)
3 tablespoons (45 mL) oil
1½ teaspoons (5 g) tsp table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (14 g) butter
2 large sweet onions, such as Spanish or Vidalia, halved, thinly sliced in half-moons
1/4 teaspoon (1 g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 g) cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional
2 cups (180 g) grated Italian Fontina cheese (or a combination of Fontina and Gruyere) 
1 teaspoon (4 g) chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp (4 g) water, for glaze (optional, but makes for a croissant-looking finish)

To make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the whole sticks of butter and, using a pastry blender, break up the bits of butter until the texture is like cornmeal, with the biggest pieces the size of pebbles. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar and water, and pour this over the butter-flour mixture. Stir with a spoon or a rubber spatula until a dough forms, kneading it once or twice on the counter if needed to bring it together. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic and chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or up to two days.

To prepare squash: Peel the squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into ½-inch to ¾-inch chunks. Pour 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil into one or two smaller baking sheets, spreading it to an even slick. Lay the squash chunks on the baking sheet in one layer, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon (2 g) of the salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and roast in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender, turning the pieces occasionally so that they brown evenly. Set aside to cool slightly. Leave the oven on.

While the squash is roasting, melt the butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy frying pan, and cook the onions over medium-low heat with the sugar and remaining teaspoon of salt, stirring occasionally, until soft and tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper, if using.

Mix the squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

To assemble the galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 16- to 17-inch round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the squash-and-cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 2 to 2½-inch border. Fold the border over the squash and cheese, pleating the edge to make it fit. The centre will be open. Brush the outside of the crust with the egg-yolk wash, if using.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the galette from the oven, let stand for five minutes, then slide onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 hearty 12-inch galette, serving 8

Thursday, November 3, 2016

roasted broccoli and sweet potato bowl with miso-tahini dressing.

Each week I'm responsible for a lot of meals.   Ensuring two adults and one dog are fed healthy wholesome meals (with some cookies thrown in for good measure) is essentially a full time job - one that requires a lot of foresight and planning.   I've turned Sunday into a kind-of bum around the house/prepare meals for the week day. Doing so has helped alleviate some of the stress that comes from getting home from work, walking the dog, and pondering the age old question "what the heck are we going to eat for dinner?".

I've come to rely on roasted vegetables as the base for many meals throughout the week.   Combine roasted potatoes and beans and you're halfway to a breakfast taco for dinner.   Extra roasted cauliflower?  Toss it with bulger and a lemon dressing and you've got yourself a substantial salad that brings to life the flavors of the Middle-East.   But of all the roasted veggie dishes I make, my absolute favor is roasted broccoli and sweet potato with miso-tahini dressing.  It's incredibly easy, absurdly flavorful, and best of all, it's a salad that doesn't wilt which means leftovers work the next day for lunch.  How's that for winning?   

Roasted Broccoli and Sweet Potato Bowl with Miso-Tahini Dressing
Recipe adapted from Goop.  Dressing adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Serves 4

Rice is optional though it makes the whole thing more filling.  Any rice will do though I'm partial to sushi rice since I love sticky rice.   Also some sliced avocado up top makes for a very welcome addition.   

For the Bowl

1 cup sushi rice
1 head of broccoli (about 1.25 pounds) cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled, and diced into half inch cubes
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tablepsoons olive oil
Sesame seeds for garnish

For the Dressing

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons white miso 
2 tablespoons tahini 
1 tablespoon honey (I use Mike's Hot Honey)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon Sriracha

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place rice and cooking liquid in a rice cooker or on the stove. Cook according to package directions.  Set aside.

Coat one large or two smaller trays with a thin slick of olive oil. Layer sweet potatoes on tray(s) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Flip and toss chunks around, then add broccoli to the tray(s), season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until broccoli is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender. Toss chunks around one more time if it looks like they’re cooking unevenly. 

While vegetables roast, prepare sesame-miso dressing: Combine everything in a blender and run until smooth, scraping down sides once. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed.

Assemble bowls: Scoop some rice/grains into each, then pile on the roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. Coat lightly with sesame-miso dressing and finish with toasted sesame seed duo. Serve with extra dressing on the side.