red lentil dhal with rice

yesterday it was russian food, tonight it’s indian. why i chose this meal tonight? i’m feeling a little lazy and this recipe requires no chopping. you don’t even need to pick up a knife - well, except to cut a lime in half. i can live with that.

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adapted from pinch of yum.

makes 5-6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups rice, uncooked
  • 2 1/2 cups red lentils, uncooked
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped for garnish

boil 3 cups water in a medium pot. add 1 tablespoon butter and rice. cook rice until tender.

in a separate and larger pot, boil 5 cups water. melt 1 tablespoon butter and add lentils. took for 15-20 minutes, until lentils are soft and water is mainly reduced.

meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except parsley). mix thoroughly. when lentils are cooked, add spice mixture to lentils. mix well, taste, and adjust seasoning or lime as needed.

serve lentils over rice with parsley garnish.

пельменей (pelmeni)

pelmeni are russian dumplings. like many other types of dumplings, they have a thin dough on the outside and a delicious treat on the inside. the recipe is a russian classic, although i am sure there are slight variations amongst different regions or even families. despite being russian, i typically do not prefer russian food - too heavy, too salty, or too much mayonaise. but i’d never say no to pelmeni. they are perfect, especially in the winter.

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makes 80-90 dumplings

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon salt, plus more for boiling water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 peppercorns
  • sour cream, to serve
  • vinegar, to serve

in a food processor, pulse together flour and 1 teaspoon salt. add in eggs and pulse. add in water, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough forms. dough should be tough and elastic. knead with your hands for 3-4 minutes. place dough in a bowl coated with a little bit of olive oil and cover with a damp towel. let dough sit for 20 minutes.

meanwhile, prepare the filling. in the food processor, puree the onions. transfer to large bowl and mix with meat, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, crushed red pepper. 

once dough is ready, cut into quarters. place three of the pieces back into the bowl and cover. take the remaining piece of dough and roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/16 of an inch. it should be thin but still hold some weight. using a glass or cookie cutter, cut out circles with a 2 inch diameter. take the scraps and return them to the bowl with the remaining dough.

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scoop 1/2 a teaspoon of meat into the center of each circle. 

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using your fingers, pinch the dough closed, making sure that the meat stays in the center of the dumpling. repeat with the remaining dough, including the scrap pieces.

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once you’ve sealed your pelmeni, put them on a baking tray into the freezer for at least 1/2 an hour. once they are ready to cook, bring heavily salted water to a boil. add in a bay leaf and peppercorns for taste. drop pelmeni into water in batches, making sure not to overcrowd them. cook for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. once done, lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon. 

serve immediately with some vinegar and sour cream (about 1 teaspoon of each, but it’s a personal preference).

braised moroccan chicken with couscous

this is the second time i’ve made this meal, and it doesn’t disappoint. the combination of spices is literally perfect. i wish i could blog the smell as well as the photo. sometime in the future, that will be possible.

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slightly adapted from food52.

makes 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7-8 chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 2 perserved lemons, pulp removed, cut into strips (or 3 tablespoons citrus-y marmalade, like the one i used here)
  • 1 1/3 cups dry israeli couscous
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

heat oil in a large dutch oven. season chicken with salt and pepper. add to dutch oven and brown on all sides. remove chicken from pot. add in onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. add ginger, cumin, paprika, tumeric, and cayenne pepper. mix well. add chicken back into pot and cover with chicken broth.

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bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. simmer for 20 minutes. enjoy the smell, it should be coming together. in another pot, cook couscous following the directions from the packaging.

to the chicken pot, add in olives and preserved lemon or marmalade and cook for another 10 minutes. finally, remove chicken from pot, turn the heat on high, and reduce sauce for 10-12 minutes. 

serve chicken and sauce on top of the cous cous with some chopped cilantro. the chicken is so tender, it’ll fall apart on your fork, you’ll love it.

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pillows of shame

you may remember that we upholstered a headboard last month for our guest bedroom/study. you may also remember that the original fabric couldn’t be used for the headboard due to the direction of the pattern, so, it was designated for pillows of shame. today, i made my first pillow of shame.

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let’s start off by saying that i don’t know how to sew. that’s not to say that i haven’t used a sewing machine before - back in high school i was obsessed with the show “trading spaces.” i think i attempted a couple of things to no avail and gave up quickly. i wanted to learn how to properly use a sewing machine. it just seems like a good life skill.

anne joined me in taking a beginner’s class at the sewcial lounge - a local fabric shop owned by a really nice (and patient) girl who recently came back from her honeymoon in costa rica, so we had that in common.

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while the class is three hours, it really does cover the fundamentals well. and now i have pillows of shame. and anne has a dinosaur pillow, which is so damn cute.

winter stew

well it’s still cold, but unlike last night, it’s stew time. for us, it’s venison stew. if you’ve read this blog, you know how much venison is in our freezer. but if you don’t have venison because you’re a normal person, you can make this with any red meat.

adapted from epicurious.

makes 4-5 servings.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs vension roast (or other red meat), cut into 1/2 - 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

heat olive oil on high in a large pot. add in meat with pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and flour. brown meat for about 10 minutes. 

add in garlic, onion, and carrots and scrap the brown bits of meat off the bottom of the pot. saute for another 10 minutes.

add in bay leaves and red wine. give the bottom of the pot a final scrape and then add in broth. simmer for an hour and a half, on medium-low. add in potatoes and corn starch and simmer for another 30 minutes. 

proscuitto, goat cheese, and basil stuffed chicken with mushrooms

the windchill was something like -26 in madison today. you cannot make your fitbit happy on a day like this, because you cannot in your right mind go outside. i should have probably made stew to combat the painful coldness but that would be pretty high in calories, and, since i mainly sat in one place and tried not to freeze today, i went with stuffed chicken with mushrooms (540 calories).

adapted from bon appetit.

makes 2 servings

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 pieces proscuitto
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 8 basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups crimini mushrooms, washed and halved
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon red wine

cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise, leaving just the last 1/2 inch connected. salt and pepper the chicken breasts. layer 2 pieces of proscuitto, 1 ounce of goat cheese, and 4 basil leaves on each chicken breast. fold the chicken breast together.

then, roll the stuffed chicken breast and pin together with two toothpicks.

preheat oven to 450. in a pan, melt butter. cook chicken for 8-10 minutes on all sides but without moving them around too much. remove chicken from pan and bake for another 10 minutes in oven. 

melt another tablespoon of butter to pan. add shallots and cook until translucent. add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, until brown. season with salt and pepper. add in chicken broth and wine. simmer until liquid reduces, about 10 minutes. 

serve chicken with mushroom sauce poured over top and on the side.

ricotta kumquat crepes

i’m typically a savory breakfast kind of person. usually when i’m out to brunch and i order something sweet, i have immediate buyer’s remorse. especially if there are poached eggs on the menu. but this morning felt like a sweet breakfast kind of morning, so ricotta kumquat crepes it is.

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i realize the kumquat is somewhat unexpected, but every year my aunt sends me homemade kumquat marmalade from her fruit farm in san diego. along with that, i usually also receive a crate of fresh kumquats, but those are typically gone within a week or so. 

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this recipe is adapted from food52.

makes 5-6 crepes

for the crepes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • zest of 1/4 of an orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

for the filling:

  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 cup kumquat marmalade (you can substitue other fruits as well) plus extra for serving

whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. make a well for the egg, crack egg into it, and whisk together. add in milk, orange zest, vanilla, and butter. refrigerate for at least an hour (can be made ahead of time)

in a separate bowl, whisk together ricotta and cream cheese. add all other ingredients. 

preheat oven to 375. coat a 9-10 inch pan with butter, and turn on medium heat. ladle batter (about 1/3 cup at a time) into pan and immediately tilt to spread mixture. it should be very thin. cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the crepe starts to bubble and turn golden brown. flip briefly (about 30 seconds). remove the crepe, and repeat until you are out of batter.

once all crepes are cooked, scoop ricotta filling into center and fold sides in (or put closer to an edge and roll). you can choose your own adventure.

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pop these in the oven for 15 minutes, to get the filling nice and warm. serve with some marmalade on the side and a good cup of espresso!

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tomato bisque

most of my pre-professional life was spent working in restaurants, and back in college, i spent a good portion of my time at the orpheum in madison, wisconsin. the restaurant has since closed its doors due to lots of unfortunate drama. regardless, for those of us that worked there, there are some things we just can’t forget: tini tuesdays, eating leftover brunches after busy sundays, and the tomato bisque.

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while i’m sure this isn’t the perfect recreation, this is my ode to the tomato bisque soup that so frequently was my dinner during night shifts.

makes 4-5 servings

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups high quality canned tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tomatoes, largely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill

heat olive oil in large pot. saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until soft. add in tomato paste and stir until well mixed. add tomato sauce, water, bay leaf, and honey. season with salt and pepper. cook down for 10-15 minutes, until starting to thicken. add in cream and tomatoes. mix well and cook for 10-12 more minutes. finally, stir in dill. serve with crusty bread.*

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*oh if i could only get my hands on the bread recipe from the orpheum, i would be so very, very fat and happy.

warm beet and orzo salad with some of my favorite accoutrements

beets are an underutilized ingredient, in my opinion. so here’s to beets and pairing them with something salty (feta), something creamy (orzo), something bitter (beet greens), and something crunchy (pine nuts).

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this recipe is adapted from food52.

makes 3 main dish servings, 6 side dish servings

  • 3 large beets with beet greens, cleaned and peeled and greens chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sized red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

boil water in a medium pot. once boiling, add beets. cook for about 15-20 minutes, until tender. meanwhile, cook orzo following instructions on packaging. 

in a medium sized pan heat olive oil and roast pine nuts for about 5 minutes. transfer pine nuts to a bowl and add onions and garlic to pan. cook until they start to brown. add in beet greens and cover for about 5 minutes. 

once beets are tender, remove from pot and chop into medium sized pieces. add to beet green mixture and toss around to coat. yes, everything will be very very red. salt and pepper the vegetables to taste.

transfer orzo and vegetable mixture to bowl with pine nuts. mix well. lastly, stir in feta. serve warm as a main dish or a side. or, eat as cold leftovers for lunch (that’s my plan for tomorrow).