Lentil Stew

November 30, 2007


Here’s another ‘accidental’ recipe. I was making Lentil-Butternut Soup with a lovely, little pumpkin-shaped squash not long ago, and by the time the lentils and squash were cooked, I was hungry. So, I swiped a bowl for lunch. Delicious! Use all olive oil if you like, but the tablespoon of butter adds an extra level of flavor. Except for bay leaves, it really doesn’t need any of the spices and herbs that go in the soup. Serve it as a main dish with salad and cornbread or as a side with roast beef or pork. One try and it will be a family favorite! SAM

1 cup dried Puy lentils
5 cups water, divided
2 large onions, thinly sliced, divided
2 1/2 pounds pie pumpkin, cheese squash, or butternut squash
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1/3 cup marsala wine
Sea salt and freshly ground white peppercorns to taste

Pick through the lentils, rinse, and place in a stockpot with 3 cups of cold water and 1 slice of onion. Cover, bring to a low boil, and simmer for 25 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile, quarter the squash and scrape out the seeds and pulp. Place seeds and pulp in two cups water in the bottom of a steamer pan and bring to a boil. Place the squash cut-side down in the steamer basket, cover, and steam until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and scrape the flesh into a bowl. Strain the steamer water, discarding seeds, and mix with the squash. Add the bay leaves. In a large chef’s pan over medium heat, sauté the squash mixture in the oil and butter until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Add the marsala and reduce, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked lentils. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes.
Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Beef Bourguignon

November 29, 2007


This classic French dish is made up of everything you can’t go wrong with. Butter, mushrooms, bacon, beef, thyme, red wine … It takes a lot of time—centuries—to get some recipes right, and this is one of them. Make it a tradition in your home. SAM

4 tablespoons butter, divided
8 ounces mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
3 slices bacon
2 pounds boneless beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 peppercorns
3/4 cup beef broth
1 1/3 cups dry red wine
1/2 pound whole small onions, peeled
1 pound flat noodles

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add the mushrooms, sautéing, uncovered, until liquid is reduced. Remove and set aside. To the same skillet, add the bacon and fry until crisp. Remove and set aside. To the same skillet, add the beef and sauté until well browned. Add the flour, stirring constantly until browned. Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, broth, and wine. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the onions, mushrooms, and bacon and simmer 1 hour longer. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Serve the beef over the hot noodles.
Makes 4 servings.

Eggplant Parmigiana

November 28, 2007


People who say they don’t like eggplant have never had them fixed properly. Unless you have small, very white eggplant, you must salt and press them to leech out the bitter juices. Make your own marinara for this Parmigiana, or buy a jar. Keep it vegetarian, or add a layer of sautéed ground beef, veal, or sausage, if you like. However you make it, your family will adore this hearty, heart-warming supper. SAM

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (14-ounce) jar marinara sauce (1 3/4 cups)
6 ounces mozzarella, grated

Layer the eggplant with salt in a large colander set in the sink or in a large bowl. Place a plate and a 5-pound weight on top. Let drip for at least 1 hour. Remove the eggplant and blot dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until hazy. Dip the eggplant in the egg, dredge in bread crumbs, and sauté on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels and layer in the prepared casserole. Spread the ricotta cheese over the eggplant and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Top with marinara sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes. Spread mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for 10 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Makes 4 servings.

Sherried Chicken with Egg Noodles

November 27, 2007


A comforting, rich, hope-for-leftovers one-dish chicken meal. You’ll enjoy it to the last forkful. SAM

8 medium skinless, boned chicken breast halves (about 3 pounds)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth
1 pound flat egg noodles, uncooked
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven over medium, cook the chicken in the broth, covered, until meat is no longer pink. Remove the chicken, chop it roughly, and set aside. Reserve the broth and keep it hot.

Prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package until barely tender, drain, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the mushrooms, garlic, sherry, tarragon, salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced.

In another skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the flour, stirring with a wire whisk until the flour thickens and begins to brown. Add the reserved stock all at once, stirring constantly with the wire whisk until the roux thickens and begins to bubble.

In a lightly greased casserole or Dutch oven, combine the noodles, chicken, mushroom mixture, roux, and sour cream. Fold gently to blend. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake, uncovered, until browned, about 20 minutes.
Makes 6 servings.

Beans and Franks

November 26, 2007


Great for a picnic or a warm supper on a cold night, this easy one-dish meal will please kids of all ages. SAM

3 (14-ounce) cans seasoned baked beans or pork and beans
6 frankfurters, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 large onions, sliced and separated into into medium rings
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup tomato ketchup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the beans into a lightly greased 8 or 9-inch casserole dish. Stir in the frankfurters and mustard. Top with onions, sugar, and ketchup. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned bubbly.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Café de Cacao Frappé

November 25, 2007


A coffee that doubles as a dessert … It’s a very special way to top off a meal. SAM

1/2 cup strong black coffee, cold
1/2 cup crushed ice
6 tablespoons crème de cacao liqueur
1 teaspoon white crème de menthe
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped
Cocoa powder for garnish

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in a blender, combine the coffee, ice, crème de cacao, crème de menthe, and ice cream. Pulse until smooth. Serve in chilled champagne flutes topped with whipped cream sprinkled with cocoa powder.
Makes 2 servings.

Plum Crisp

November 24, 2007


One of the easiest desserts in the repertoire … As long as you have fruit on hand, and flour, oats, butter, and spices, you can throw this together at the last minute—or last half hour—and have a scrumptious dessert hot out of the oven. SAM

PS Add 1/4 cup brown sugar if you like a sweeter dessert, but the dates make it very sweet. 

2 1/2 pounds ripe plums, thinly sliced
7 ounces dates, pitted and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
Dash of salt
4 tablespoons butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch deep-casserole dish. In a large chef’s pan over medium heat, heat the plums, dates, and lemon juice until bubbly. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. With a pastry blender or fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Do not overwork. Pour the plum mixture into the casserole dish and top with the flour mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Makes 6 servings.