Monday, February 20, 2006

lebanese lentil soup recipe

Martin Pengelly of Balham came to visit us this week and chef tom showed off his culinary insinct with this soup. we were first impressed and then sadly disappointed when there was none left. this recipe serves 6, or in our case 3.

you will need:

  • 1 3/4 cups lentils
  • 8 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro/coriander or parsley
  • lemon wedges
combine lentils, water and salt in a 5 to 6 quart pot. bring to a boil. Then lower heat, cover and simmer gently about 20 minutes while you cook the onions.

heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. add onions and cook, stirring often, until they turn a very dark brown color, about 15-20 minutes. stir constantly during last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking to prevent burning. (it may be necessary to reduce heat to medium.)

when onions are well browned, add 1 cup simmering lentil water to the pan with the onions. stand back; the water will sizzle and steam. continue cooking, stirring every now and then, until the water has almost totally evaporated, about 3-5 minutes.

scrape onion mixture into the pot with the lentils. stir in the pepper. cover and simmer 10 more minutes. remove soup from heat, cool and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, then reheat before serving. (it needs to stand in order to thicken. The soup can be made a day or two ahead, refrigerated and reheated.)

to serve, reheat soup and ladle into bowls. stir 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice into each bowl and finish each with a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley. (Or stir all of lemon juice and herbs into pot of soup.) serve lemon wedges alongside.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Confessions of the Work shy

Zhenia has now been free of work for a full three days. She is fast becoming a lady who lunches, since she's managed to attend two only this afternoon. One with Dora & Miss Miller and the other with me & Phil. I, on the other hand, am still employed. However, i had nothing to do at work, so, before lunch i pottered around looking vaguely busy checking email with earnest, and after I played video games and aped around in Phil's brand new $80 Gorilla suit. It's a primate's life.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

spiced pilau rice recipe

since i've mastered the pilau rice, i want to share its simplicity and beauty with the world. lovely to serve with curries and spiced dishes.

10 fl oz (275 ml) long-grain white rice (basmati preferred), level in a glass measuring jug
20 fl oz (570 ml) boiling water, level in a glass measuring jug
1 T. groundnut/peanut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 inch whole cinnamon stick
3/4 t. cumin seeds, crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed with a pestle and mortar
1 dessertspoon ground turmeric
1 bay leaf

heat the oil in a thick based frying pan and soften the onion in it for about 3 min. then stir in the spices, bay leaf and salt and allow a min. or 2 while the heat draws out their fragrance. next stir in the measured rice, and when it is well coated with oil and spices, pour in the boiling water. stir once, put on a tight fitting lid, and simmer gently for 15 min. or until the rice is tender. tip into a serving dish, cover with a tea towel for 5 min., then fluff with a skewer and remove cinnamon and cardamon pods before serving.

credit for the above recipe should go to delia smith, the all knowing culinary genius of norwich.