Adventures in Food
It’s time for another cooking adventure!
Yesterday, I made Curried Lentil Soup. It was souper easy (ha ha ha…get it? SOUPer…yeah, okay.), and the preparation was really quick. Very first, I had to stop at the market and buy some lentils, and some pitas. Then, I had to go and bum some curry powder from my mom. Then I was ready to go! Here are the ingredients (not including the small amount of cayenne pepper I mixed with the curry powder):
I plugged in my Crock Pot, and turned it to ‘low’. I put in 5 of the 6 cups of vegetable stock I was to use, so they could start getting warm. The 6th cup, I set aside to deglaze the skillet after sauteeing onions.
I chopped 1/2 a large onion, and tossed them into the butter.
They sizzled and smelled great, and became transparent, which is when I added 2 1/2 tsp of curry powder.
I stirred it into the onions, and let it cook for another 2 minutes, then I added 1 cup of vegetable stock, to deglaze (that means adding a bit of liquid to remove all the particles left over from a sautee, so they become part of the flavor). I poured the contents of the skillet into the already-cooking Crock Pot,
After it was all in the Crock Pot, I went on with my day, smelling the delicious aroma of curry all evening. I must note that I started cooking rather late in the day, and didn’t realize until I had it all together that it wouldn’t be done until 11:00 pm.
At 10:00 (after 5 hours of cooking), the lentils were ready, and I spooned about 1/3 of them into the blender, and pureed them, to give the soup some body. After returning them to the pot, the soup still seemed fairly watery. At this point, I chopped 1/2 a large tomato, and added it to the soup, and I let it cook for another hour. When I took it out of the pot to store for the next day (today), it still seemed too watery. However, when I woke up this morning, and checked on it, it was perfect. I’d also like to note here that making this soup turned my favorite little wooden spoon a frightening shade of yellow.
I ate it for dinner this evening, with some labneh (yogurt cheese), pitas, and sliced tomatoes. MMMM!
The labneh is super easy, too. I don’t have time to make home-made yogurt (which is definitely recommended, if you DO have the time), so I buy store-bought whole plain yogurt. I buy the 32oz size, and stir in 1 tsp of salt. I then dump it into some cheese cloth (sterile) in a collander, and tie up the ends, to make a little sac, like this:
I let it hang for 2 days (about 48 hours) over a bowl, and most of the whey drains off. After that, you can take it out, and use it for a lot of things (food things, not things like garden fertilizer, or automobile fuel, guys…). It’s about the consistency of cream cheese. It’s salty and yummy, and great on pitas, or on sandwiches. I highly recommend it, and it’s certainly easy!
I divided it into 4 servings. For today’s serving I stirred a bit of cumin, 3 cloves of garlic (pressed), and a bit of lemon juice into it, and ate it with the pitas, some tomato, and the soup. Delicious!
What I gained from this experience: I learned what ‘deglaze’ means, and tried it. I got the health benefits from curry (contains turmeric, which is a cancer-fighter according to many medical publications), garlic (a powerful albeit broad-spectrum antibiotic, powerful antioxidant, manages high cholesterol levels, etc.), yogurt (helps boost immune system, acidophillus cultures fight yeast infections, helps regulate cholesterol, and may help fight cancer). I feel like I gained a lot from this little home-cooked meal. 😀
Tonight, I made a delicious little bit of sweet, coconut-y, spicy heaven. It was Thai red curry chicken. Let me start at the beginning.
A week ago, my friend Jen and I went to the new Thai restaurant here in Moab. Yes, that’s right…we have a Thai restaurant now. In any case, the meal there was excellent. I had red curry crispy duck, and Jen had peanut delight with tofu. They were both really good. I have been craving that sauce ever since, and tonight (because the market was out of my favorite Indian curry paste, I decided to live on the edge, and make Thai red curry instead. This was, of course, just for me…husband and stepson don’t eat ‘foo-foo food’ like this. They had popcorn shrimp and fettuccine Alfredo.
Here are the ingredients (minus the sugar, salt, and basil I used):
First, I put the 14oz of coconut milk in a 12 inch skillet, and stirred in 2 Tbsp. of red curry paste:
I simmered it for about 8 minutes, then added 1/2 cup of frozen peas, 1/2 cup of sliced baby carrots (which I had already boiled to make them soft), 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, and 2 tsp. dried basil leaves, crushed in my hand:
I simmered all these things together for 12 minutes. Then, I added 3/4 lb. of coarsely-chopped raw chicken, and simmered for another 10 minutes:
I served it all over steamed white rice, which I had already cooked:
It was spectacular (don’t worry, I won’t hurt myself while patting myself on the back). I’d say it was as good as what I had at the Thai restaurant. MMM! When I was all done, I put the stuff in Tupperware:
and stowed it in the fridge, anticipating having to have another helping in an hour or so. 😀