Archive for the 'Mollie Katzen' Category

Spiced lentil dinner

January 5, 2010

I have not been feeling very adventurous of late. In a food sense, I mean. There were many things I could have made from this book: piroshki, blintzes, and, I even wrote this one on my list, ‘eggplant rollatini’, a dish consisting of aubergine slices with a mushroom and tahini sauce among other things. But what has actually been made have been variations on common themes around here: baked beans with rum and molasses (not as nice as it sounded; too sickly), tofu with sesame noodles (OK). What’s more, Tom had to make them as I was cruelly struck down with a cold that left me desperately clutching a tissue in my champagne-less hand on New Year’s Eve and too self-pitying and weak to do anything much for a few days after. Also, my sense of smell, and hence taste, had deserted me so eating wasn’t much fun anyway.

When I was feeling a bit perkier, yesterday, I suggested making Mollie’s Spiced Lentil Dinner. Oh, predictable me. It has date and orange chutney, I informed Tom. ‘Ew’ he said. Or something more eloquent. It has apple in it too.  ‘Middle class curry!’  he exclaimed in horror. He has been irrevocably scarred by early curry experiences involving fruit. I ignored him, but it was for his own good. He had seconds, and he particularly liked the chutney. Oh yes. In no way is this an authentic Indian dish, no dispute about that, but in its own strange way it is damn tasty.

Spiced lentil dinner  Serves 4-6

There’s also a raita included in Mollie’s dinner (with bell pepper in it, for some reason). I had some red cabbage to use up, so I shredded that with some grated carrot, toasted almonds and a dressing made with sour cream and olive oil. It used up a few odds and ends, but a proper raita with thick yoghurt, chopped cucumber and mint might be nice here.

For the date and orange chutney:
1 orange, peeled and chopped quite small
1 x 250g pack dates, pitted and chopped
1 heaped tsp finely chopped ginger
100ml water
100ml cider vinegar
(optional: raisins and cayenne pepper – I didn’t bother)

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Partially cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Cool and refrigerate (keeps for several weeks).

For the chappatis:
140g plain flour
140g wholewheat flour (I used chappati flour, because I had some)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp poppyseeds (I substituted black sesame seeds)
150ml water (perhaps a bit less, as this is a conversion from cup measurements)
melted butter, to serve (optional)

Set aside a quarter of the white flour. Combine the remaining flour with the salt and seeds in a bowl and stir to mix. Add the water and stir until it’s absorbed and a dough is formed. Turn it out onto a surface dusted with the set aside flour and knead for 5 minutes, using more of the reserved flour as necessary.

Divide the dough into 8 round balls (Mollie suggests 10 for smaller, but I think they’re better quite big).  Roll each ball out on the floured surface, making them very thin. You can refrigerate them now until time to eat, if you like – I suggest putting greaseproof paper between each one so they don’t stick, although generally my dough was quite well behaved.

To cook the chappatis, heat a large frying pan and lay in each chappati in turn, cooking for about a minute on each side. When done, brown spots should appear. You can also use a wad of kitchen paper to press down on the dough and make it puff up. Brush the cooked chapattis with melted butter, if you like. You can keep the chappatis warm wrapped in a tea towel or in a low oven until ready to serve.

For the spiced lentils:
300g lentils (I used toor dal, just because)
2 tbsp butter
2 large clove of garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tsp salt
200g desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
black pepper
juice from 1 large lemon
2 apples, chopped
cayenne pepper, to taste

Cook the lentils in 500ml water in a covered pan until tender. You may need to add more water if they start to boil dry before they’re done. Cooking time depends on what sort of lentil or pulse you use, but generally about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put everything else except for the apples in a large frying pan and stir until tender, adding water if necessary to stop it sticking.

Add the apples to frying pan and cook for 10 more minutes, covered, and then tip the whole lot into the lentil pan (or vice versa). Mix and keep warm in the oven if necessary.

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s ‘The Enchanted Broccoli Forest: And Other Timeless Delicacies’.


Vegetable soup

January 4, 2010

Happy new year! Well, that’s another Christmas over with. And, undeniably nice though it is to be eating delicious rich meals that have been cooked for you every day, with a choice of puddings, and booze, and maybe one or two Thornton’s to ward off the appearance of so much as a whisker of hunger, when I got back home I really just wanted a plate of beans on toast. With marmite on the toast, naturally. And then I wanted some vegetable soup.

99.9% of the year, I would have passed over this recipe. We are talking about Mollie Katzen’s ‘The Enchanted Broccoli Forest’ – there are plenty more interesting/odd sounding things (including an actual recipe for an actual broccoli forest. I may find her unremitting tweeness endearing, but even I draw the line at making woodland scenes from vegetables). I mean, vegetable soup just makes me think of the yellow goop you get from Heinz tins, replete with tinny tasting potatoes and tinny tasting carrots. I was almost surprised by how nice this turned out – I really just wanted something plain, with vegetables in it, that wouldn’t make my overloaded tummy hate me even more. But this was herby, and brothy in a clean tasting way, but with pleasing nourishing chunky bits. It’s really the large quantities of mushrooms, I think, that make it – Tom said it tasted ‘meaty’. So you could think of it as mushroom soup, with extras, if vegetable soup sounds too dull.

Vegetable soup  Serves 4-6

In the book, this soup is really a base from which you can add – put in different cooked vegetables, beans and grains, serve with cheese toasts or poached eggs, add tofu – there’s even a recipe for alphabet soup! Yay! I really should have made it. Except I didn’t want alphabetti spaghetti in my soup.

1 large potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups water or stock
a pinch of salt (I suggest you leave this out if your stock is quite salty)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
250g mushrooms, chopped quite small
1/2 tsp each thyme, dill, marjoram and basil (I used a couple of sprigs each of lemon thyme and rosemary, as that was what I had fresh)
black pepper
200ml dry white wine (or use vermouth)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas (not sure what the non-US cup measurement equivalent is – a couple of large handfuls I’d say)
1 spring onion, finely sliced (for garnish)

Boil the potato in the stock or water until the potato is just tender. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and salt. Saute over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring regularly, for about 8 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft and tender. Then tip the contents of the frying pan into the stock pan. Add the wine or vermouth, soy sauce and peas and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of spring onion on top of each serving.

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s ‘The Enchanted Broccoli Forest: And Other Timeless Delicacies’.