Italian Lentil Sauce

I haven’t written on my blog in a long time! But, even though I have not been posting publicly, I am still writing and connecting with other foodies. 

I have discovered the joys of a WhatsApp chat. Now I am part of several cooking and recipe exchange groups.

I feel like the women (mostly) on the chats are among the best cooks I have ever encountered. I have learned so much from them!

Now, when I want a recipe, I go to the chat, before even attempting to find it through an internet search.

Today, I shared that I recently made a delicious Italian lentil sauce. One of the women asked if I would post my recipe. I am feeling so inspired by the group, that I thought I would post it here for future reference.

I regret that since I wasn’t expecting to write it up, I forgot to take pictures.

I also have to confess, I am having trouble using the new fangled block design in WordPress. So please forgive any weird additions or subtractions. It feels like I need to learn how to blog all over again!

Lentil Pasta Sauce

Ingredients


1 onion chopped
1 pepper chopped
1 lb. lentils
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste.
Optional: Wine, “a splash”
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon Italian spice blend
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed (adjust to your taste)
Water: I use 3 cups water to 1 cup lentils. 

Instructions


Sauté onions and peppers. Add lentils, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, wine (optional), salt, pepper, water and the rest of the spices. Cover and simmer until done. Usually, I add the crushed garlic near the end. Adjust seasonings and serve. 

Stove top: bring to boil, cover and then simmer until done. Add garlic and adjust seasoning. To get the right texture and consistency, it is important to add enough water to cook the lentils, but not too much that it will seem more like a soup. 

Pressure Cooker: 7 minutes to pressure and then release the pressure quickly by running cold water over the lid when done.

Crockpot: Cook on low until done. When using a crockpot, less water is required.

Serve with brown rice or pasta.

It is a real hit! My husband (almost) didn’t miss the meat. But, he actually thanked me for making it.

Enjoy!

Love,

Carol & family

 

Italian Lentils

I made a picture with the recipe so that I wouldn’t forget it.

Here is a picture of the final product. (I can’t figure out how to make a caption for the picture)

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Homemade DIY Bean Butter

Homemade DIY Bean Butter

The rise in nut and seed allergies in children has necessitated some old-fashioned culinary ingenuity on my part.

Up until recently, Yaffa’s favorite lunch was humus with almost anything or a peanut butter sandwich.

However, due to today’s severe nut and seed allergies, humus and/or peanut butter are no longer an option.

I needed to learn how to adjust and adapt: What could I make that is healthy, all natural, nut-free, seed-free, vegan and also suitable for a pack-n-go lunch??

My friend Malka suggested trying soy butter instead of peanut butter. That suggestion was quickly vetoed. No one liked the taste or the consistency of commercial soy butter.

In addition, I prefer to limit our soy consumption.  Soy is ubiquitous in so many products today. I worry that eating too much of anything, even if it is supposedly healthy, is ultimately unhealthy.

Malka’s suggestion, however, got my creative juices flowing. I thought: “If it is possible to make soy butter, why wouldn’t it also be possible to make something similar with different beans instead?”

Eureka! It worked!

The formula of 1 ½ cups roasted beans: 2 tablespoons of oil: 1 cup of water works with all sorts of beans. I have made this with black-eyed peas, kidney beans and white beans. Our current favorite is chickpeas.

The trick is to make the beans more “nut-like” by roasting them and then adding oil.

To save time, I make a large amount at one time and then freeze it in smaller amounts. This way I only need to defrost as needed. One batch can last for quite a while.

I also stagger each step in the process. One night, I make the beans in the crockpot. The next day, I roast the beans in the oven. Up to a few days later, when I have the time, I mix everything all together. By chunking each task, it feels less time consuming.

Homemade Bean Butter

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cooked and then roasted beans

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

Optional: Cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla

Directions:

Cook beans and then roast in 425*F oven. I add a bit of oil, so that they will get slightly crispy.

Soak roasted beans with water and oil until soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Pulse in food processor or an immersion blender until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary.

Add sugar, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla to taste. Process until smooth.

Here are the step by step pictures:

 

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Chickpeas after they were roasted

My new way of keeping track of what I cook. Make a picture!

 

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Soaking the beans until the water is absorbed.

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Pureeing with an immersion blender.

Pureeing until smooth

Final product. Adjust the amount of liquid until desired consistency.

I find that a little bit of sugar makes the spread more palatable. Malka suggests making a more savory version using salt, herbs and spices.

For people who need to avoid nuts and seeds, this is a healthy, yummy alternative.

Try it, you’ll like it!

Enjoy!

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon — Joint Post

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon

The blogging world has opened up so many new culinary opportunities.

The beauty of blogging is that I get to virtually visit the kitchens of people all over the world and then adapt the recipes to suite my family’s taste. Hence, I recently posted a recipe which I called Lentils Napoleon. Here is the link: https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/lentils-napoleon/

I adapted the recipe based on The Eggplant Napoleon recipe posted by Dolly, who is behind the apron of koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com.

Here is the link to her wonderful blog: https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/

Here is the link for her post on Eggplant Napoleon:

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/eggplant-napoleon/

However, I must apologize for an inadvertent culinary faux pas: Lentils Napoleon is really a misnomer.

Through this joint post, I have learned that my lentil dish should have been named Lentils with Cumin and Sumac.

And, how did I learn this?

Because Dolly, who is a dedicated teacher, kindly reminded me that “Napoleon” really refers to anything baked in thin layers interspersed with something creamy.

My lentil dish was certainly not that. I simply liked the spices she used and thought I would use lentils instead.

BUT, my malapropism has led to this current hands-on learning experience.  Dolly is a genuine educator: she suggested that we do a joint post on a “real” Lentils Napoleon.

Our goal is to post as simultaneously as possible both of our recipes, using the culinary concept of layering vegetables interspersed with something creamy, the real culinary definition of Napoleon-style dishes.

Here is the link to Dolly’s post on Beets and Beans Napoleon. I am sorry but I don’t know how to make a short link:

Beets and Beans Napoleon – koolkosherkitchen

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/beets-and-beans-napoleon/

For me, this has been a real opportunity to see how unique we all are.  We infuse our own special spark into everything we do.

Our own special spark

Raizel’s painting from camp.

 

Based on a more careful reading of Dolly’s post, and some online research, I discovered that Wolfgang Puck, the original creator of Beets Napoleon, used goat cheese between layers of beets.

For this post, I decided to use thinly sliced zucchini between a tofu-lentil creamy layer.  I thought that tofu, with a dash of vinegar, would recreate a more goat cheese-like texture. In addition, I had run out of lentils, and I didn’t feel like shopping for more.

Raizel was my hands-on helper in this activity. She came home from camp this week, and was very excited when I suggested we make this dish for our joint post.

Raizel helped with the actual cooking, and she also took some of the photos. Raizel has a unique gift for coming up with recipes that are often quite good. But, photography is one of her passions; and of course, she loved using my phone as a camera!

Lentil-Tofu Napoleon

Ingredients:

For Tofu-Lentil Layer:

1 lbs. firm tofu

Spice mix:

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1-2 teaspoons garlic power

1 teaspoon pepper, and cumin

½ teaspoon coriander, and sumac

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Optional: fresh cilantro

Optional: Leftover Napoleon Lentils

Vinegar to taste, in order to get a slightly tangy taste for the tofu. I used red wine vinegar, but I think that apple cider vinegar would be good too.

Vegetable Layer:

3 Zucchini, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Lentil Tofu Creamy layer: Slice the tofu about 5 mm thick and sprinkle spices on top. Spray oil grill, and cook the tofu until done.

I took the leftover lentils from when I first posted the recipe and pureed it together with the tofu and added the vinegar.

The vinegar gives it a nice tang and a creamy texture.

Then I adjusted the seasoning.

Raizel said, “It looks terrible but it tastes great.”

Vegetable layer: Slice the zucchini is thin slices. I have a wonderful compact grater/slicer that I used. It is very sharp and is able to slice 2 different thickness. It also has 3 blades for various grating. Raizel actually sliced the zucchini and she did it very well!

Sauté zucchini in pan, sprayed with olive oil. Add crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Layer zucchini in a small, lightly oiled dish. Next add layer of tofu-lentils, and continuing layering until near the top. Top layer should be of zucchini.

Bake covered for 20 minutes or until cooked.

I made this in individual servings. I think that it could be made in a larger pan, and then sliced when cooked. However, it might be difficult to  maintain the desired layered look. Wolfgang Puck, I believe, used a cookie cutter to get a uniform and attractive serving portion.

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Here are the pictures. Since I made it with Raizel and she likes photography, we took quite a few.

 

Tofu marinating with the spices.

Raizel slicing the zucchini. Go Raizel!

Sauteing the zucchini.

Raizel placing the tofu on the grill.

Raizel cooked the tofu by herself!

Pureeing the tofu

Ready to cook!

Voila! The final product!

 

The verdict:  The recipe objectively came out great. However, subjectively, is was not well received.

After it was so beautifully prepared, my husband reminded me that he does not like anything creamy. Raizel, who was very excited and very enthusiastic during the whole process, also didn’t eat it. Despite her protestations, Raizel does not like anything creamy either.

In the end, I was the only one who ate it. I thought it tasted great.

I also ate the leftover tofu “cream” during the week, as a spread on rice cakes.

Overall, I would say that this recipe is delicious, but for someone else’s family.

What did I learn?

I have my own song in the kitchen. 

Everyone has their own song.

For my family, simple is best.

Finally, I had lots of fun discussing and planning this with Dolly. We had a bonding experience!Thank you Dolly!

 

 

Lentils Napoleon 

This recipe is an adaptation of  Eggplant Napoleon made by Dolly at koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com

I wanted to make something fast, easy, and flavorful, which also included sumac. 

Before blogging, I had never heard about this spice. Now, however, Raizel, my budding gourmet, loves it! She often requests recipes with sumac, and she will even suggest a recipe so that I can specifically include it. Dolly said that sumac has a lemony taste. That was how I enticed my husband to try it.

Raizel and I are also big fans of cumin. 

So, I took the spice combination that Dolly used for the eggplant and substituted lentils instead. I suspect that other beans could be used too. 

What is nice about the red lentils is that they break apart, and then can be used like a spread.

If you are not already acquainted with Dolly, please go and check out her wonderful blog. I am a big fan!

Eggplant Napoleon – koolkosherkitchen from https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/eggplant-napoleon/?c=316#comment-316

Ingredients:

2 cups red lentils

4 cups water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon sumac

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Wash and rinse lentils. Add water. Cook until tender. Add spices.

The secret is to make sure not to add too much water. I actually did, as you can see from this picture, so I needed to drain the water out before adding the spices.

Lentils cooking in the pot.

 

Spiced lentils, without garnish

Served with fresh herbs.

This was a hit. My husband said, “this is killer. I usually don’t even like these spices.”

I have been eating it this week, and it is delicious served with rice or on crackers. Thank you Dolly!

Enjoy!

Birthday Black Beans

Today was my husband’s Hebrew birthday. Given our past year, we feel very grateful to celebrate it together. Jay made a special request for something with black, kidney or lima beans. I am happy to say that I think that I hit the jackpot on this one!

Ingredients

1 lbs black beans

1 pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons cumin, paprika

1 teaspoon coriander, oregano

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

After cooked: chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions 

Soak beans overnight. Ideally, I recommend sautéing the onions and peppers. Then, add the spices and beans and sauté until fragrant. Add water to cover and simmer until done.  Adjust seasoning.  Fresh cilantro before serving adds a special gourmet touch.

This morning, however, was time challenging morning.  I did not have the time to sauté everything first.

Instead, I placed all the ingredients into the crockpot and it cooked on low for the day.

This could also be made in the pressure cooker, 24 minutes to pressure, unsoaked, quick release method.

Here are the pictures:

Final version before serving:

We served this with rice and taco shells.  It was a definite hit! Raizel said, “I am having more! Yummy!  Why is it so good?!”

Happy Birthday Jay!🎈

Enjoy!

Sunday’s Beans

My culinary adventures to create fast and easy vegan dishes continues.

This is something that I made on Sunday for the first time.

Ingredients 
3 cups Lima beans

1 onion, chopped

1 pepper, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon garlic or 1 clove garlic, crushed at the end

8 cups water, or to cover, depending on cooking method

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions 
Sauté onions, peppers and celery. Then add the spices and beans, and continue to sauté until fragrant. Add water.

Stove top: bring to boil and let simmer until done. Add garlic and adjust seasoning.

Pressure Cooker: 12 minutes to pressure and then release the pressure quickly by running cold water over the lid when done.

Crockpot. Cook on low until done.  Less water is required.

Before serving, add chopped cilantro.

Here are the pictures:
Sauté onions, peppers and celery:

Next, add the beans and spices and sauté until fragrant:

Here is the dish after it cooked:

Just before serving, add the fresh chopped cilantro.

Voila! Everyone loved it on Sunday. 

I made it again this morning in the crockpot. Using the crockpot, I did not sauté the vegetables.

  
 

Enjoy!

Black bean tacos

Ingredients

3 c black beans
1 T taco spice mix
1 T chili spice mix
1 T meat spice mix
1 T salt
3 cloves garlic
Water to cover

I soaked the beans overnight. Then I put everything in the crockpot and cooked it on low all day.

This is what it looked like this morning:

  
When I came home, I adjusted the seasonings with cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper, coriander.

It came out great!

  

My husband ate them with rice (made in the rice cooker) taco shells and salsa.

Raizel ate them with noodles.

Indian Chickpeas 

This is the first time making this. So, I guess I will see how it turns out.

Ingredients 

 3 c dried chickpeas soaked overnight. 

1 onion, diced

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes 

2 cloves garlic, minced

1inch fresh ginger, minced 

1T coriander, cumin, paprika 

1t pepper 

1 t salt

1/2 t cinnamon, cloves hot pepper flakes (maybe less for cloves and hot pepper)

Water to cover

Instructions 

Place all ingredients in crockpot.

Here is the picture, but on the wrong angle:

  

Here is the final product. My husband says: “this is excellent!”

I ended up adjusting the seasoning with salt, paprika and a bit of curry spice mix, rather than garam masala.