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)

img_0603

North African Meatball Stew 

 

North African Meatball Stew

We are slowly digging out from under with our boxes. I have yet to fully unpack and comfortably organize the kitchen.

In addition, the move has brought up many emotions in my family. 

Last week, I found myself writing more on my non-food blog, coffeeklatchinsight.wordpress.com.

So, if anyone is interested in knowing how my week was last week, please stop by and visit!

I am open to feedback: I periodically think I should only have blog. But, my understanding of blogging rules is that a blog is best suited to one subject. Many readers find it too disconcerting to keep switching gears.

What is other people’s experience?

In the meantime, my cooking is even more rudimentary than before the move.

I am slowly getting up to speed, much to my family’s delight.

This is a dish that was inspired by Mona at healthyindiancooking.wordpress.com’s recipe on Easy Meatball Stew. The link is here for anyone who would like to see the original:

https://healthyindiankitchen.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/easy-meatball-stew/

It is a wonderful blog, full of my favorite food. I highly recommend  that you stop by for a visit!

However, although I love the original recipe, I had already packed up most of my spices. What was left were my spice mixes and the very basic spices. So, I combined Mona’s recipe with my previously posted North African Meatballs recipe. I am happy to say that this version is much better. “The potatoes and carrots give more flavor and texture to the sauce,” according to Raizel, my budding gourmet.

Ingredients 

Meatballs:

2 lbs. ground meat

1 tablespoon North African Spice Mix, or to taste

1 clove garlic crushed 

North African Spice Mix:

1 tablespoon salt, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, garlic powder 

2 tablespoons paprika 

1/2 teaspoon pepper, cayenne, cloves 

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 

Sauce

1 onion, chopped 

3-4 potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters

4 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal. I prefer to keep slices on the larger side.

3 cups water or broth 

1 can diced tomatoes 

3 oz. tomato paste

Alternative: I have only used 6 oz. tomato paste, with success. It all depends on what I have available.

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, crushed 

Optional: chopped fresh parsley and/or cilantro 

Instructions 

Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a pot. I usually add the crushed garlic at the end.

Blend all ingredients for the meatballs together. Shape into balls and place in sauce.

Stove top: bring to boil and let simmer until done. Add crushed garlic and adjust seasonings to taste.

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

In pressure cooker: 4 minutes to pressure and then use the quick release method by running cold water over the lid when done.

This week, I made it in the crockpot overnight. I adjusted the seasonings when I got up this morning before going to work.

Fresh herbs always add a gourmet touch, but I am not up to that yet.

Here are the pictures:

 

all set and ready to go in the crockpot


voila! the final product.

Everyone was soooooo happy!

I made it for this past Shabbat, and everyone wanted to have some. It was a hit!

Thank you Mona at healthyindiancooking.wordpress.com! 

And thank you to all my fellow bloggers for sharing your wonderful recipes. I feel like I am able to have a virtual glimpse of the kitchens of so many, all over the world!

Brisket 

For me, vegetables are a work of art. I spend a lot of time and attention cooking them.

My meat and chicken recipes, however, tend to be very simple. Brisket is something that I make usually for holidays and other special occasions.

My friend Francis however, asked if I had a recipe for brisket without sugar or alcohol, so I thought I would post it here now.

For slightly different reasons, my sister and I both do not like to cook with wine. My sister, Raizel (both she and my daughter are named after the same person) says that wine has too strong a flavor, especially if something is cooked for a long time.  She only likes to add wine, if necessary, near the end of cooking.

I find that wine gives a slightly sour taste and the food doesn’t last as long.  Plus, I call the juice from cooking, “liquid gold” and I like to use it again, to give a richer flavor to other dishes. When wine is added, I find that I can’t do that.

Francis was concerned that without wine, the meat would be too tough. Although I am not a meat connoisseur, with a pressure cooker, I do not find this to be the case. My husband, who is a bona fide  carnivore also loves brisket best cooked in the pressure cooker.

Sorry, no picture is available. If and when I make it again, I will add it later.

Ingredients 

2-3 lbs. brisket, second cut is best

2-3 onions, sliced

2-3 carrots, cut on diagonal

2 stalks of celery, sliced

2 parsnips cut on diagonal

Optional 3-4 potatoes, cut in quarters

Meat spice blend: salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, paprika and mustard if desired

salt, pepper and paprika to taste

2 bay leaves

2 cloves of garlic, crushed near the end

1 cup, or more water or broth depending on cooking method

Instructions 

Sprinkle spices on the meat before cooking.

Sauté onions and vegetables. Add meat, bay leaves, potatoes (if using) and liquid.

My sister recommends sautéing the onions, and placing the meat on top and reserving some of the onions for the top of the meat.

Brisket is a versatile meat, that can be cooked in the pressure cooker, crockpot, stove top or oven.  A definite time saver!

I like brisket best when cooked in the pressure cooker, and cook it for 30-35 minutes to pressure. If using the pressure cooker, unless I am in a rush, I do not add the potatoes. If I really want potatoes, I cook the meat for 25 minutes, break the pressure and then bring to pressure again for 7-10 more minutes (depends on the size of the potatoes) to complete the cooking.

Another alternative is to add potatoes, and let the meat simmer until done. If not, the potatoes become over cooked and too soft. Potatoes, however, add a richness to the broth.

Stove top: bring to a boil and then simmer until done.

Oven: bake in covered pan at 350*F for 1-11/2 hours.

Crockpot: If desired, sauté onions and other vegetables and place in crockpot. Put meat, spices inside and pour broth/water over the top.  Reserve some of the onions and place on top of meat, for added flavor.

Once cooked, adjust seasonings, usually with just salt, pepper and paprika and add fresh garlic.

Enjoy!

Italian Meatballs 

This is an all time favorite in our house, and this recipe is full of memories. 

When my daughters were young there was a blackout across the whole eastern seaboard of North America. 

For some reason, where we lived did not loose power. And, this was the day that my good friend Carol was moving to town. 

Just as they signed the contract, the power went out. Their house was sold and they were all packed up with no where to go. Since the traffic lights were not working, traveling was difficult. The movers couldn’t move their stuff, and the situation was unnerving.

Carol asked if they could stay with us until the power came back and they could move the things.

Of course we said “yes” and we all had a marvelous time. I served these meatballs and Carol has thought of them fondly ever since. 

Later, when she was undergoing chemotherapy, they were a special request that I made for her and her family weekly.

Ingredients 

Meat balls:

2 lbs ground meat

1 egg

1/3 cup oatmeal 

1/2 teaspoon oregano, basil, pepper, garlic, onion powder, salt

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Sauce:

2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes 

1 6 oz can of tomato paste 

1 onion chopped 

3 cloves of garlic 

1/2 teaspoon oregano, basil, pepper, garlic, onion powder, 

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions 

Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a pot. I usually add the crushed garlic at the end.

Blend all ingredients for the meatballs together. Shape into balls and place in sauce.

In a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer until done.

Today I cooked the meatballs in a crockpot on low.  I adjusted the seasonings when I got home.

Here are the pictures:

The sauce:

   
Meatballs:


Before cooking:
   
The final product:

 

Yaffa was very excited and ate 6!

Enjoy!

Mom’s Kidney Beans 

my mother has this really simple and easy bean recipe that is very versatile and always comes out great!

Ingredients 

1 lbs. kidney beans 

Water to cover

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 T salt

Pepper, garlic powder, paprika and Mom’s spice mix to taste.

Instructions

I soaked the beans overnight in the crockpot.

This morning I drained the water and added fresh water to cover and the spices.

This is what it looked like, as per usual on the wrong angle.

  
This recipe can be parve/vegan or instead of using water, you can use chicken soup or broth. It is not necessary to use dried beans. Canned beans also work, and pressure cooking also works. I call this a fast and easy no fail recipe!

So, I came home and the beans were done. I only added chicken spice mix to taste and it passed the family approval ratings.

Here is the picture:

  

NB: I spoke with my mother this morning and she did not remember this recipe. She said that now she sautés the garlic and beans with cumin and then cooks them in the pressure cooker. My mother is an awesome cook, so if you have the time, try it!