10 Ways Tuesday: Lentils

Red Lentils (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with lentils during winter:

1.  Lentil Salad

The Lentil and Walnut Salad from Nigella Express is my absolute favorite lentil salad recipe. Cooked French Puy (green) lentils are dressed in a walnut oil and sherry vinaigrette and served with chopped walnuts and chives. I like to add goat cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and bacon for a balance of tangy, earthy, meaty, and herby flavor. Another unique lentil salad recipe can be found in the lovely cookbook, Homemade, where cook and illustrator Yvette Van Boven combines cooked green lentils with crunchy red apple, cilantro, sliced celery, golden raisins, and endive. A simple garlic-red wine vinaigrette brightens this winter dish.

2.  Chili Lentils for Tacos

Pam Anderson’s new collection of recipes, Cook Without a Book, is full of vegetarian inspiration. I think her method of using stewed brown lentils with tomato, garlic, and onion for taco filling is very clever. It’s a hearty mixture spiced with chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Serve the chili lentils buffet style with tortillas, taco shells, and her bright and refreshing Cabbage Slaw. I like a vegetarian recipe that doesn’t force things, this is a smart and flavorful use of healthy ingredients for a satisfying meatless Monday supper.


Ingredient of the Week: Lentils

Lentils (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Lentils are a true winter pantry staple. If you’ve got a jar of these dried legumes in the cupboard, you’ve got the beginnings of a hearty, comforting meal. Known as pulses, the dried seed of a plant from the lentil species combines well with other pantry ingredients, which is great for this season when fresh produce is so lacking. Green French lentils (also known as Puy lentils) pair beautifully with earthy dried mushrooms, toasted walnuts, dried herbs, fried eggs, and have a special fondness for bacon. Egyptian red lentils simmer happily in soups with dried chile, canned tomato, and Middle Eastern spices. Cooking with lentils is about using the right variety for the right recipe. Green lentils have a seed coat, which helps maintain their perfect lens shape and slightly firm texture during cooking, making them better for lentil salad or fritters. Red lentils have no seed coat, and thus fall apart even when gently simmered. They are best for pureed soups where this texture won’t matter.


Cook in the Moment: Rose Water Scented Couscous with Citrus, Yogurt, and Almonds

Rose Water Scented Couscous with Citrus, Yogurt, and Almonds (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

It’s 6:00 am. I can hear my husband’s alarm softly ringing from his cell phone on the bedside table. My eyes open, and I’m startled by a wet nose in my face. Minnie, our daschund, is asleep between us, blissfully unaware that it’s Monday. The sun has yet to rise, and after my husband silences the alarm we both shut our eyes for a few minutes more.

The alarm goes off again, this time more urgently. My husband springs from the bed, breaking free from a deep sleep. The dog groans and boroughs further into the covers. I stumble out of bed and into the bathroom. Splashing water on my face washes the sleep from my eyes, along with fragile memories of last night’s dreams. I scurry into the kitchen to make breakfast, ears perked, taking note of where he’s at in the getting ready for work process. The sound of running water in the bathroom sink lets me know he’s shaving, I have plenty of time.


10 Ways Tuesday: Rose

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with rosewater and dried rosebuds in winter:

1.  Rosewater Madeleines

Madeleines are miniature French sponge cakes, baked in a cute little sea shell shape. They are dainty and sweet, a simple “cookie” made with butter, sugar, and eggs that lends itself to endless variations from lemon to chocolate, or even a hint of rosewater. The delicate perfume of rose can really be appreciated in madeleines, and Martha Stewart adds her special touch with a sprinkling of pink sanding sugar to decorate the cookies just as they come out of the oven. I found a couple of different approaches to baking rosewater madeleines: Martha bakes the cookies plain, then brushes them with rosewater syrup once cooked, while Nigella Lawson incorporates the rose water into the madeleine batter in her recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess.


Ingredient of the Week: Rose

Rosebuds & Rose Water (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

You may be hoping to receive a delivery this Valentine’s day, a dozen crimson roses surrounded by baby’s breath, perfuming the house or your office cubicle with their floral aroma. Here at la Domestique, I’m looking forward to cooking with roses all week, savoring the heady fragrance of brittle, dried rosebuds in spice blends and adding delicate rose water to fruit salads, pastries, and cocktails. Cooking with preserved rose essence brings spring into the winter pantry, battling the blues we feel during this time of year when fresh produce is difficult to find. Though using roses in the kitchen may seem bizarre, dried rose blossoms and rose water are a pantry staple in the Middle East and Northern India. It’s all about balance, though, and a heavy hand with this ingredient can easily overpower. Dried rosebuds are used in spice blends to balance floral and savory, spicy and calm, bitter and sweet. The musky aroma of dried rosebuds adds depth and intrigue to spice blends used in meaty stews, couscous dishes, and curries. Rose water, milder than orange flower water, is subtle, yet luxurious, in puddings, sorbets, cakes, and cookies.