This stew is so good. So good. Perfect for autumn: hearty and toothsome. And oh-so-easy! If you’re the type who tends to skip recipe steps, I beg you: resist that temptation and make the lemon yogurt to finish! Its creamy, bright tang is the perfect complement to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and nuttiness of the farro and lentils. Together, the flavors of this recipe make my tastebuds sing. Sing. I hope you find yours singing, too!
Farro and Green Lentil Stew
(“Farro Soup” from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day - such a great cookbook!)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 cup peeled and diced sweet potato or winter squash [We add a little extra.]
Fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Indian curry powder
2/3 cup whole or semi-pearled farro, rinsed [We use semi-pearled.]
1 1/4 cups green or black lentils, picked over and rinsed [We like LePuy French Green lentils, and for ease, we rinse the lentils and farro together in a fine mesh sieve.]
6 to 7 cups vegetable broth or water [We often use chicken broth]
1 cup plain yogurt or Greek-style yogurt, or creme fraiche [We go Greek!]
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and sweet potato. Add a big pinch of salt and saute until the onions soften a bit, a couple of minutes. Add the curry powder and stir until the onions and sweet potatoes are coated and the curry is fragrant, a minute or so. Add the farro, lentils, and 6 cups of the broth. Bring to boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 minutes, or until the farro and lentils are cooked through. (If you’re using semi-pearled farro, the cooking time is about 25 minutes.) Taste and season with more salt if needed; how much you’ll need depends on the saltiness of your broth. Don’t under-salt; the soup will taste flat.
While the soup is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Serve each bowl of soup topped with a dollop of lemon yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil.
We served this dish to friends last night, as we have recently become smitten with it. It’s a winning Gourmet recipe that we altered only by reducing the amount of sugar in the glaze to less than half of what is called for. If you’re a cabbage skeptic, fear not the Napa cabbage — it is far milder than other cabbages. A perfect gateway cabbage, really. Before you know it, you’ll be eating red cabbage salad with abandon! Well, maybe not red cabbage salad. But Island Pork Tenderloin Salad, you will be!
The recipe looks more complicated than it really is. In essence, you just roast some pork tenderloins while you chop up a few vegetables and fruits and whisk together an easy dressing. And then you lay it all out on a plate and enjoy!
Island Pork Tenderloin Salad
Gourmet, May 2003
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 main-course servings
2 teaspoons salt Read the rest of this entry »
Today was Bennett’s first trip to the farmer’s market. He charmed everyone, of course! (Of course.) At our favorite farm stand, we scored sun gold cherry tomatoes, French wax beans, and this gorgeous bunch of rainbow chard. Beautiful to behold, and even better to eat! It’s calling my name as I type…
And, for those who have been wondering ever since I posted this: throughout July, I’m dedicating Bennett’s naptimes to my dissertation. The choice will be made at the end of the month.
Enjoy your weekend, everyone!
The recipe is so very easy, and so delicious — a perfect holiday dessert, and a culinary victory! (Unlike, for example, our homemade marshmallow adventure of December 2009.)
From Gourmet January 2007
Yield: Makes 2 quarts
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 4 1/2 hr
Ingredients Read the rest of this entry »
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
- Melody Beattie
A holiday afternoon of good food, good company, and good entertainment (Pictionary and Taboo, anyone?) awaits. Oooooh, I am looking forward to it all!
Kitchens across the country have been whirlwinds of activity this morning. Ours was no exception! Matt whipped up wild rice stuffing with pecans, apricots, and cranberries, plus a spinach salad. I was on dessert duty: pumpkin pie and — inspired by an America’s Test Kitchen recipe mentioned on NPR yesterday morning (click “Old Fashioned Pecan Pie” in the sidebar at the link) — my first pecan pie ever!
The pie is made with real maple syrup and molasses instead of corn syrup – yum! I must admit this truth about pecan pie, however (a truth which I never knew until making such a pie myself): in reality, pecan pie is sugar pie with a few nuts thrown in. (They call it Karo Pie down here in the South for a reason, it turns out.) But I say: if you are going to eat sugar pie one day a year, Thanksgiving is THE day for it!
Today, Matt and I are especially thankful for all the good that has found us this year — wonderful people, experiences, and opportunities. Our love and gratitude to you all!
This fast, delicious chowder is perfect for fall. The parsnips lend a tasty, sweet complexity, and the freshly-grated nutmeg is a treat! The original recipe calls for watercress, but since watercress can be surprisingly hard to find in this town, we usually use baby spinach instead. Sweet potatoes and yams can be used interchangeably here, so don’t fret if your store has no yams. Resist the temptation to skip the blender step — the puree makes the chowder thick and creamy. Oh, so good!
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
– 4 cups 1/2-inch cubed, peeled parsnips (about 4 large)
– 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
– 3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
– 1 cup chopped, peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 medium)
– 1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubed, peeled yam (red-skinned sweet potato; about 1 large)
– 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
– 1/4 cup whipping cream (or half-and-half)
– 4 cups baby spinach (or watercress sprigs — tops of 2 bunches)
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add parsnips and onion. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and apple. Cover and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 12 minutes. Puree 2 cups parsnip mixture in blender until very smooth. Return puree to pot. Add yam cubes and nutmeg. Cover and simmer until yam cubes are tender, about 12 minutes. Mix in cream, then spinach/watercress. Stir until spinach/watercress wilts, about 2 minutes. Thin chowder with more broth, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In every way, the baby shower on Saturday was amazing! Our Moms went all-out — the months of planning truly showed. We had a wonderful time, and, based on all the smiles and laughter seen and heard, we think our guests did, too!
I usually like to feature just one photo per blog post here at A Life in Season, but I think this occasion merits a multi-photo post. A huge thanks to Matt and our friend Neal for capturing these images! More photos from the shower on Flickr.
The shower theme was the alphabet. If you’re looking for ideas for a gender-neutral baby shower, the ABC theme is a great one! A set of wooden Playskool alphabet blocks from Matt’s childhood served as our Moms’ inspiration. Matt’s mom brought them to the shower, and now they live at our house, ready for our little one!
The shower evite featured the lovely alphabet print above from Ink Tree Press.
The Favors. Little treats for shower guests, in honor of our little Virginia peanut. I love the ABC-block card holders that my mom’s partner Keith made for the occasion. The holders were used to present menu cards on the food table, as well:
The Food Table. Adorning the table were brightly-wrapped boxes featuring ABC and XYZ (and our initials, too!), plus colorful placemats scattered with alphabet letter stickers.
The Menu. Lemonade spritzers, beer, wine, and pomegranate mimosas; olive, tomato, and cheese skewers (the cheeses were manchego and iberico – yum!); white bean dip with rosemary and sage; roasted red pepper hummus; crackers and pita chips; vegetable crudites; veggie pinwheels; steak au poivre crostini; and a fruit arrangement.
The Dessert. Cupcakes from Carrot Tree Kitchens, accompanied by coffee and tea served in pink china cups from my grandmother and blue china cups from Matt’s mother.
Window Ribbons. The windows were decorated with alphabet letter ribbons featuring baby-related words, such as blanket, rattle, high chair, carseat, doula, and my favorite: midwife!
One super-special aspect of the shower: both our doula and one of our midwives were able to attend! We were thrilled and honored to have them there.
Shower Game. The shower game was Nursery Rhyme Jeopardy — it was truly a hit!
THANK YOU, Barbara and Melissa, for treating us all to a beautiful afternoon! And thank you to our sixteen guests who made the party a warm, joyous celebration!
Last weekend, we made this cake for friends and liked it so much that this weekend, we made it again, for more friends!
It is simple, satisfying, and not too sweet — a brilliant end to a late summer meal. The light cake, ripe berries, and rich mascarpone filling are a perfect marriage of flavors. I photographed this dessert sans berries, but its beauty and deliciousness are only further enhanced by their addition.
The recipe is from Gourmet (July 2008) and is available here. The cake is very tender, and the detachable bottom of a tart pan is a helpful tool for lifting, moving, and stacking the layers after they have been split.
A side note for those who find themselves wondering (as I did, as I wrote this post): mascarpone is pronounced mas-car-POH-neh.
My, we’re on quite an Italian kick in this household these days, aren’t we? A very good thing, to my mind!
How bruschetta differ from crostini was a mystery to me until today, when I did a little research to unearth the right term to apply to the recipe below!
Turns out, the difference between the two Italian appetizers lies in the size of the bread slices (large versus small) and the method of bread preparation (grilling versus toasting, though how much this latter distinction matters is a subject of debate).
Bruschetta are large slices of bread that are grilled (the word’s root, bruscare, means “to roast over coals”), rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with olive oil. Bruschetta can be served in their native state, or topped with the classic combo of tomatoes and basil, or embellished with whatever mix of vegetables, meats, or herbs strikes the cook’s fancy. In America, we sometimes confuse whether bruschetta refers to the bread or the topping, but in Italy, the bread is always the object.
Crostini, in contrast, are smaller slices of bread — typically sliced from a baguette and narrower in diameter and thickness than bruschetta — that are toasted (the word literally means “little toasts” in Italian) and topped with all manner of good things in the vegetable, meat, and cheese categories.
And here’s something else I didn’t know: bruschetta is pronounced brews-ketta! For years, I’d made the “c” soft, pronouncing it brews-shetta.
Whether you call it bruschetta or crostini, or pronounce your “c” hard or soft, the tasty, flexible appetizer below comes together quickly and makes people happy. Try it, you’ll see!
Serves: Variable (depends entirely on how hungry the lucky recipients are!) Read the rest of this entry »
I do declare: pattypan squash just may be the most adorable squash in existence. Its name is definitely the most fun to pronounce out loud (say it with me — happiness will follow!): pattypan, pattypan, pattypan! We had some today for lunch, sauteed with white beans, heirloom tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. I do love it when both Matt and I are working from home — we cook and eat our biggest meal mid-day, and it really suits us.
Summer is easing toward fall. Slowly, tentatively, the heat of midsummer has started to subside. The light is changing — have you noticed it, too? Each year, something within me senses the shift before my mind fully registers that it has begun: a subtle downshift in mood from the buoyancy of high summer, a slight lag of the internal clock.
Annually, surprisingly, the reason for these internal changes does not occur to me until the inevitable late August night when I glance out the window and note with a jolt that the twilight view that had greeted me at 9 PM in June now arrives almost an hour earlier.
In just a month, autumn will officially be here. Enjoy those last trips to the pool and the beach, everyone! And, if back-to-school shopping is in your future, relish that, too. I still get a little giddy at the prospect of buying new pencils and notebooks, markers and folders. The hunt for school supplies is a pleasure I will never outgrow!