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!

Lentil Mushroom Soup

During Sheva Brachot, I served 2 soups.  This was the second soup that I served.  It can be made with either red or green lentils. I find the red lentils have a finer texture, but the green lentils are more hardy.

Lentil Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

1 onion

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

4 bay leaves

2 cups lentils, red or green

1 tablespoon salt, to taste

Optional: pepper and or garlic, to taste. I usually do not add either, unless the vegetables are not flavorful.

Water to cover

Optional: chopped fresh cilantro or parsley to garnish

Instructions:

Sauté onions and mushrooms. Add lentils, bay leaves, and salt.

Add water and then bring to a boil, cover and simmer until lentils begin to soften.

Next, add the celery and carrots. Continue to simmer until done.

Adjust seasoning to taste.

In pressure cooker: bring to pressure for 5 minutes. Released the pressure quickly by running cold water over the lid when done. Then, add carrots and celery and simmer until done.

Crockpot. Add all ingredients into crockpot. Cook on low until done. If desired, add carrots and celery half way through the cooking, and then continuing cooking until done. Less water is required.

It is important to add just enough water, but not have it be too thick or too thin.

Here are the pictures:




This was another hit!  Many of our guests requested second helpings.

Enjoy!

My Fool From Lynz Real Cooking

My daughter, Raizel, has taken to reading some of the blogs that I follow. She is particularly taken with Lynn at Lynzrealcooking.com. When Raizel saw this recipe (and the peanut butter cheese cake) she said, “Mom, you have to make this! It looks scrumptious!”

Here is the link to her recipe:

My Fool

So, as I shared earlier, I have been home sick for the past few days. What am I doing with my spare time? Cooking!  So, this is my rendition of Lynn’s recipe.

My Fool

Ingredients:

2 cups red lentils

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

water to cover, or if using pressure cooker, 3 cups water to 1 cup beans

Instructions

Sauté onions with spices and lentils, until fragrant. Add tomatoes with juice and water.

Stove top: bring to boil and let simmer until done. Adjust seasoning.

In pressure cooker: bring to pressure for 4 minutes and then released the pressure quickly by running cold water over the lid when done. Adjust seasoning.

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

Here are the pictures:

Sautéing the onions, garlic and spices: 

  

 Lentils and tomatoes added:

 
Ready to add water:

    
The final product:

Everyone loved it! Raizel said, “make sure to tell Lynn how much I liked it!” 

Thank you Lynn for this wonderful recipe. 

We enjoyed it very much! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lentil Soup

This past Saturday, we were supposed to go away to visit friends. However, due to the anticipated snow storm, we ended up staying home for Shabbat. Instead of cholent, I made lentil soup.

Ingredients:

1 lbs lentils

1 lbs stew meat

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 parsnip, peeled and chopped

3 potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon salt, to taste

1 teaspoon pepper,  to taste

1 teaspoon cumin

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Water to cover. If using the pressure cooker, use 3:1 ratio of water:lentils

Optional: add chopped fresh parsley or cilantro before serving

Instructions

Sauté onions, carrots, celery and parsnips. Then add the spices, meat and lentils and continue to sauté until fragrant. Add potatoes, bay leaves and water.

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

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.

Before serving, adding chopped cilantro or parsley adds a nice gourmet touch.

This week, as I was time challenged, I just added all the ingredients into the crockpot and let it simmer all day. When I got home I adjusted the seasoning.

This can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the meat.

Yaffa could hardly wait to have it, and ate it for a snack!

Frankly, it came out great, but, Raizel is visiting my mother, so, I do not have any robust eaters at home.

Enjoy!

Vegan Moussaka 

This was the first time that I made this recipe. According to Raizel, “this recipe is kaddosh (holy)” A ringing endorsement!

This dish is a 3 step process, so it is slightly more time consuming than I would like. I think it is possible to simplify it, but I haven’t figured that out yet. Overall, this recipe was a hit!

Vegan Lentil Moussaka 

Ingredients for Lentil Filling:

3 cups lentils, or 2 cans rinsed and drained.

1 (14 oz.) can of diced tomatoes with juice

1 onion, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

2 celery chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1-2 bay leafs

1 teaspoon oregano, thyme

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon salt

Water: the amount will depend of the method used to cook. I added approximately 6 cups.

Instructions:

This can be made on top of the stove, in a crockpot or the pressure cooker, 7 minutes to pressure.

Sauté onions until translucent, add carrots, celery, tomatoes, lentils, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf, garlic and water. Bring to a boil and let simmer until done. Do not add too much water. The mixture should be thick. I happened to have my oven set on low (which is similar to having it in a crock pot) and cooked it until done and then adjusted the seasoning.

Ingredients for Potato Filling:

6 or more if desired potatoes, thinly sliced.

2 tablespoons olive oil, (more if needed)

2 onions, chopped

Crushed fresh garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh parsley, if desired.

Instructions:

Sauté onions until translucent. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, garlic and cook until potatoes start to look translucent. Be careful not to burn the potatoes and if necessary, add water to prevent burning.

In large pan, layer the ingredients as follows: one-third of the potato mixture, half of the lentil filling, one-third of the potatoes, remaining lentil filling, and top with potatoes. Baked, covered, for 1 hour or until potatoes are cooked in 350* F or 375 *F oven.

I didn’t try it, but, it also might be possible to make this in a crockpot. That would be a definite time saver!

Passover Adjustment: I think that the lentil filling could be replaced with sautéed onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms blended with nuts.

Here are the pictures:


Enjoy!

Moroccan Lentils 

This recipe is also an experiment. 

Raizel just came home from camp so now I need to cook more!

Ingredients 

2 cups lentils 

3 cloves garlic crushed

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika 

1 tablespoon salt (or less)

11/2 teaspoons ginger

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons tomato paste

The recipe calls for fresh cilantro, which I do not have in the house right now. So, if I don’t buy any today, I will adjust the seasoning and try coriander and maybe use my Moroccan spice mix.

The recipe also called for an onion but my kids don’t like onions so I might add onion powder and see how it tastes too.

Instructions 

Place ingredients in crockpot, blend together and cook on low. I will adjust the seasoning when it is done.

This could probably be made in a pressure cooker but lentils can easily be overcooked when cooked by themselves in a pressure cooker.

Here is the picture 

  

Here is the finished product:

  

  
I have to apologize, I see now that there is a shadow over the finished product. It is too late now for natural lighting. 

For some reason I couldn’t get the taste quite right. I ended up adding some onion powder, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric in addition to more cumin, salt and pepper.

Cilantro would have been great, but, no time! 

Yaffa left for camp today and Raizel came home. Then, we went out for my sister-in-law’s birthday, and I took my car into the shop.

Raizel said, “it is delicious. I am glad it is just lentils and nothing else.”

Curried Lentils and Vegetables 

My poor husband is not enjoying his diet change. Deep inside he is a carnivore and now he must eat 1 vegan meal a day.

I love vegan food and this recipe is one of my specialities.

Tonight I made it in the pressure cooker, but, it can also be made in the crockpot or on top of the stove.

It took 45 minutes to make, from beginning to end, including peeling and chopping the vegetables.

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups baby carrots ( I used regular carrots cut to the same size since baby carrots around me tend to look great and taste terrible)

1 cup celery, thinly sliced

1 small onion, chopped 

2 medium yams, peeled and cubed

2 cups dried lentils 

2 teaspoons oil

1 clove garlic, crushed 

1 tablespoon curry powder (I used homemade which makes a huge difference in taste!)

1 tablespoon cumin 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1teaspoon minced fresh ginger

6 cups water(if using pressure cooker)

zest from 1 lemon

1 bag frozen peas

Optional: scallions chopped, yogurt, fresh cilantro when serving

Instructions 

Heat oil in pot and add curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. Toast spices until fragrant.

Add vegetables, lentils, lemon zest and water.

Seal pot and cook 8 minutes to pressure.

Break seal under cold water, add frozen peas and adjust seasoning.

In crockpot, cook on low for 6 hours and then add peas and adjust seasonings.

Here are the before and after pictures:

   

Bon appetite!