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10 Ways Tuesday: Chicory

Frisée Salad with Poached Egg, Croutons, Peas & Lemon Vinaigrette (c)2012

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with chicories like endive, radicchio, and escarole during winter:

1.  Baked Escarole Stuffed with Breadcrumbs, Olives & Capers

This recipe from The Silver Spoon (self-professed bible on Italian cooking) smartly treats broad and sturdy escarole leaves like cabbage by stuffing and baking them in the oven. Begin by rinsing the whole head of escarole and tossing it into a hot pan with olive oil and garlic while still dripping wet. Cover the pan and let the escarole steam for a few minutes, meanwhile toast breadcrumbs and chopped garlic in oil until golden. Stir sliced green olives, capers, and parsley into the breadcrumbs and use the mixture to stuff inside the layers of escarole leaves. Place the stuffed escarole in a buttered casserole dish, top with more breadcrumbs and bake in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about twenty minutes. It’s a great side dish and the idea sets my mind in motion, thinking of so many delicious variations.


Ingredient of the Week: Chicory

Chicory (c)2012

As the month of February comes to an end, my heart dares to hope that spring is on its way. The weather here in Colorado is characteristically unpredictable -one day warm and sunny, only to surprise us with a foot of snow the very next morning. March blows in like a lion, tearing through the foothills with 80 mile per hour winds that shake our walls and rattle the windows. It’s unsettling, at the very least. Our snowiest month of the year is a time when those living in temperate zones plant their spring gardens. The Colorado gardener must either be patient or lucky: wait until April to plant seedlings, when the threat of snow has passed, or put the fragile seedlings out early and get a head start on a short growing season. A late snow could spell catastrophe. Complaints from a southern transplant like me get no sympathy, “That’s Colorado,” the natives say.


Cook in the Moment: Egyptian Red Lentil Soup

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup (c)2012

Do you remember Egypt, or has it become muddled in your mind- stuffed towards the back of your brain with all those other Arab countries in rebellion? Life is busy, and time goes so fast, at least it does for us here in the United States. I would bet Egyptians feel differently, that to them time passes slowly, and change takes place over generations, not days or weeks. It’s been a year since Egyptians flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square protesting the autocratic rule of president Hosni Mubarak (January 25, 2011). On February 11, 2011, Mubarak resigned, and the Egyptian military took control of the country. Did you know even after parliamentary elections Egypt is still under martial law? Watching Fredricka Whitfield interview blogger and Egyptian activist Gigi Ibrahim on CNN, I heard Gigi say, “After a year nothing has changed, we’ve been facing the same regime, if not worse.” A year later, Egyptians are still protesting, and the violence has escalated again. Just three weeks ago more than 70 people were killed in an outbreak of violence at a soccer match in Port Said. When asked, “Was the expectation that military rule would be gone by now?”, Gigi responded, “A year ago I knew it would not be over in 18 days, no revolution is started in 18 days or even 18 months or 6 years.” Here in the United States, we like situations to be tidy, we want to put Egypt in a box, because it’s difficult to understand the complicated issues of old nations. Egypt has risen and fallen many times over thousands of years. Military leaders have conquered and then been dominated by other nations. It’s messy.


10 Ways Tuesday: Lentils

Red Lentils (c)2012

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

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

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

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.


Cook in the Moment: Boca Negra, a Chocolate Chipotle Cake

Boca Negra (c)2012

Each week I contribute an article to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I cooked and photographed a recipe for Boca Negra. For the full article, click on the icon below.

The name says it all- Boca Negra means black mouth in English, and it’s impossible to sneak a piece of this cake without anyone knowing. Your sticky fingers will leave smudged chocolate prints on the fridge door, and even after wiping your lips clean a tiny piece of evidence will linger on the corner of your mouth- not to mention the satisfied smile that will certainly tip off anyone who knows you well. Boca Negra is a rich, fudge-like cake infused with the flavor of smokey dried chipotle chiles. This recipe comes from Fany Gerson’s book, My Sweet Mexico, a heartfelt collection of traditional Mexican desserts and sweet treats. The book has a noble mission, manifest in Fany’s commitment to traveling Mexico in search of recipes passed down through generations orally, recipes at the brink of extinction as modern cuisine carries on without them. Fany was born and raised in Mexico, but here career as a pastry chef has taken her around the world. She writes of family matriarchs carefully guarding their treasured recipes, willing to “go to their grave with them rather than share.” Motivated by her desire to preserve these meaningful traditions, Fany spent time with people, earning their trust, and wrote a book that is much more than a collection of indulgent desserts. My Sweet Mexico is a history book, a dictionary of traditional Mexican ingredients, a map, a lesson in pastry technique, and a heartfelt trove of stories. Boca Negra is the very last recipe in the My Sweet Mexico, and Fany writes that this cake is one of her proudest creations. After baking it, I can see why.


10 Ways Tuesday: Dried Chiles

Dried Chili Peppers (c)2012

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

1.  Chocolate Dessert

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to cook something special with chocolate and chile. Later this week at la Domestique, you’ll find a recipe for Boca Negra (chocolate cake with dried chipotle chiles) I discovered in the book, My Sweet Mexico, by Fany Gerson. It’s a simple semisweet chocolate cake with citrus notes from orange and the fruity dried chipotle. Achingly rich and moist, like a flour-less chocolate cake (only 1 1/2 tablespoons flour), Boca Negra refers to the black mouth you will have when you’re covered in chocolate after eating the cake. I also found a recipe for Chile Chocolate Almond Bark with Salt Crystals in Salted by Mark Bitterman that’s vegan friendly. Melted dark chocolate (70% cacao) is melted with dried Thai bird chiles or piquín chiles and poured over toasted almonds. A sprinkling of flour de del is the finishing touch.


About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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