Curried Lentils with Coconut Milk

by Hilary Gauntt on November 28, 2016

There aren’t many vegetarian entrees that I find satisfying enough to make a complete dinner (my bad) but this one certainly is an exception! It’s fragrant and filling and would make a lovely, healthy meal during the chilly shopping season ahead. It comes together in 30 minutes and is served over rice with a topping of yogurt and cilantro. Dana Saxton served this to our book club for lunch, and I went back for seconds. If you really want to feel righteous, skip the yogurt and it’s a vegan dish!

Credit to Julia Turshen for this recipe from her new cookbook “Small Victories”, which she describes as “hundreds of ideas for home cooking triumphs.” The introduction was written by Ina Garten; which is the gold standard in my book. I truly believe in Julia’s idea that “Sometimes small victories can be measured not in the work that you do, but in the work that you don’t.” Sounds a like great gift idea for the cook on your Christmas list!

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. minced peeled fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 shallot or small onion, minced

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. cumin seeds or ground cumin

1 tsp. ground turmeric

1 cup (180 g) split red lentils (or combination red and green, but cook longer and maybe add water)

1 13.5 ounce can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk

kosher salt

Cooked basmati rice, plain yogurt, chopped fresh cilantro, and naan for serving

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ginger, garlic, shallot (or onion), coriander, cumin, and turmeric and cook, stirring now and then. until the vegetables are softened and the spices are very fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the lentils, coconut milk, and 2 tsps. kosher salt, then fill the empty coconut-milk can with water and add it to the saucepan. It will look like a lot of liquid, but the lentils will absorb it as they cook. Stir everything together, turn the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let the lentils simmer, stirring now and then, until they’re completely soft, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Serve the lentils hot over rice. Top each serving with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro. A side of naan (Indian bread) is nice too.



Skillet Lasagna

by Hilary Gauntt on November 14, 2016

Weeknight Lasagna in one pan? Seriously? Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion combined forces on a cookbook called “Keepers”, a collection of recipes for realistic weeknight dinners. The challenge was to create a favorite dish using one pan, no oven time and minimal bowls. No-boil noodles play a part in making this work, and work it does! We thought this was absolutely delish, and devoured the leftovers at the first opportunity. Truly a keeper! I’ll have to check out this cookbook and see what other gems they have cooked up (so to speak.)

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages, casings removed

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

Large pinch of hot red pepper flakes

1 tsp. dried oregano

Two 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes

1 sprig basil plus a handful of basil leaves

salt and pepper

one 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles (they aren’t all 9-ounce so be sure to check)

4 ounces mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (1/2 cup)

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced and patted dry

In a large high-sided saute pan with a 3-quart capacity and a lid, heat the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausages and cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat, until browned, about 4 minutes. Leaving as much oil in the pan as possible, transfer the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions, garlic and pepper flakes to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the oregano, the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher, the sprig of basil, and the cooked sausage and any juices. Season with salt and pepper, then gently simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the seasonings (it should be a little salty)and discard the basil sprig.

Break half of the lasagna noodles in half crosswise (it’s fine if smaller pieces break off) and as you do so, push each piece into the sauce under the sausage, distributing them evenly throughout the pan (it can help to do this off the heat, and to use an extra noodle to nudge them under.) Break the remaining half of the noodles in half and distribute them evenly over the sauce, then push down on them with the back of a spoon to submerge them. Cover the pan and gently simmer,(raising the heat a little if needed) until the noodles are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 12 minutes.

Dollop the mascarpone over the lasagna and swirl it into the sauce. Top with the mozzarella and gently simmer, covered, until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, top with the basil leaves, tearing any large ones. Let the lasagna rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, then serve. Serves 6

Note: I used turkey sausage and it really stuck to the stainless steel pan. Next time I will use a non-stick pan or pork sausage with more fat content. Hard to scrape up the bits but still wonderful. It felt like too many noodles for the amount of sauce, but after you cook it with the lid on they loosen up and its just right.



Alton Brown’s Oven Roasted Broccoli

by Hilary Gauntt on November 5, 2016

This is one of the easiest and best broccoli recipes out there, courtesy of Alton Brown. This Food Network star of Good Eats and Iron Chef currently has a live show touring the country called “Eat Your Science”, which mixes science, music and food in 2 hours of interactive entertainment. What a multi-talented and creative guy!

The broccoli gets crisp around the edges and the bread crumbs, cheese and garlic make it memorable. Even people who think they don’t like broccoli should give this a try. I have found my new go to recipe for this most healthy vegetable!

1 pound broccoli, rinsed and trimmed

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or sharp cheddar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8 thick, round slices. Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and pepper and set aside.

Spread the panko into a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and place into the oven for 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove the panko from the oven and add to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Toss to combine. Return the mixture to the pan, place in the oven and roast just until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, toss in the cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Note: I didn’t mess with the stems, and added a good squeeze of lemon juice to the mixture before baking.



Pork Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas

by Hilary Gauntt on October 24, 2016

I love pork tenderloin, so lean and tender and complements such a variety of flavors. This is just a great stir-fry recipe, and as you scan the list of ingredients your mouth will start watering. I have tweaked this great recipe from the “kitchn” website to allow a brief marinade time for the wonderful sauce to soak into the pork strips. When cooking the pork let it crisp on the bottom before flipping once or twice only for more deep pork flavor. This is a keeper, even without the snap peas that I forgot to buy!

1 12-16 ounce pork tenderloin

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbs. sherry

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. cornstarch

2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 shallots, sliced thin

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, tips trimmed

1/4 cup water

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

Place the pork in the freezer for 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. This helps make it easier to slice. When ready, slice the pork into medallions about 1/2 inch thick. The slice each medallion into 2 or 3 strips. Season the strips with salt and pepper.

Whisk together the soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and corn starch. In a medium bowl combine the pork strips with half of the marinade and mix well. Let marinade at room temperature for 15 minutes or more. Set the remaining marinade by the stove.

Heat 1 tsp. of vegetable oil in a large (14 inch) saute pan over high heat. Remove the pork from the marinade and cook, stirring and turning strips once or twice, until edges begin to brown and they are just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. (Add the marinade the pork was in back into the half you reserved.)

Add the other tsp. of vegetable oil to the pan and cook shallots until they have softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the asparagus, cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then add the sugar snap peas. Pour half of the water into the pan, and scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up browned bits. You may need to add all of the water depending on how high the heat and how brown your pan.

Saute the vegetable mixture for another 4 to 6 minutes, until asparagus and peas are bright green but still crunchy. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in the sauce and the cooked pork. Continue stirring until the sauce has thickened and the meat and vegetables look glazed. Serve with rice. Leftovers will keep for a week. (And are delicious.) Serves 4.



Marcella Hazans Spaghetti Carbonara

October 18, 2016

This was the most requested dinner of my husband and son for many years. So after a stressful couple of weeks I wasn’t surprised when Casey asked for this favorite comfort food meal. Marcella Hazan was one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine, and I always liked her lighter Roman version that contains no […]

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Dania’s Pasta Sauce from La Chuisa

October 4, 2016

A highlight of our Italian adventure was a cooking class in Tuscany at locally famous La Chuisa; a lovely inn and restaurant high in the rolling hills near Sienna. Our teacher was Dania Lucherini, the owner and head chef, a thoroughly entertaining, glamorous blonde in high heels and a fairly low cut dress. (Italian women […]

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Soppressata & Cheese in Puff Pastry

September 10, 2016

I’m leaving for Italy with friends on Monday on a mission to take our college roommate Ludie out of the country for the first time to her #1 bucket list destination. Lucky us! I wanted to leave you an Italian recipe, and although this is hardly authentic it does contain spicy Italian salami and is […]

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No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake

September 4, 2016

What a great dessert for hot weather! Easy enough to have a 3 year old help you, and is both beautiful and totally delicious. You simply layer graham crackers, whipped cream and strawberries 4 times, and top with more berries and a drizzle of chocolate ganache. As this sits in the refrigerator a few hours […]

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Parmesan-Dijon Chicken

August 28, 2016

I spent a frustrating hour trying to find this recipe that my Mother liked to make for company, and was so relieved when it appeared. Easy to put together, make ahead and pop in the oven later, and oh so delicious! She listed the ingredients for me but no amounts, but it’s pretty easy to […]

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Your New Favorite Pork Chops

August 21, 2016

I’ve read a few recipes over the last couple of years with this same intriguing title, and tried a few. Haven’t posted any. But this one from the March Bon Apetit lives up to it’s name in my opinion. Just thick bone-in pork chops sauteed in a skillet with sage, garlic and a bit of […]

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