Thursday, October 29, 2009


Last night's dinner: red lentil veggie chili, served with garlic sauteed spinach and a poached egg.

I cooked this week! Well, I cook all the time, but I haven't tried anything new or particularly creative for a while, until this week.

Chili isn't new, of course, but I tried a couple of new ingredients and techniques. Red lentils and split peas were a welcome new addition, though I think I should have soaked them overnight, rather than using the quick cook method, as they turned out a bit al dente. For the flavor base I diced onions very fine and caramelized them for quite a while, before adding in finely diced mushrooms, celery, green peppers, and bok choi. The resulting sauteed mash wasn't much to look at, but with the addition of tomatoes and chicken stock, everything disintegrated and provided a wonderfully deep and slightly sweet flavor to the chili. I only used one jalapeno, so the dish was milder than my usual chili. I'll definitely use some of these ideas again. I've never made chili that turned out the same way twice!

Garlic greens are old news as well, but I keep finding new dishes with which to pair them. They're so tasty and so good for you!

The poached egg was an experiment. I love eggs, but poaching has always been an intimidating mystery. This week I found a poaching recipe that used cling wrap to isolate the egg while it's in the boiling water, which seemed like it'd make the whole process much easier and more reliable. And what do you know? It totally worked. My only regret was that I didn't make two of them.

Earlier in the week I paired the chili with cauliflower sauteed with garlic and garam masala, which turned out really well. Cauliflower is not a vegetable I've used often, though after eating it a couple days, I can't imagine why. It's so yummy! I'm going to look for more recipes that feature it.

This is my favorite part of the cool time of year--making soups, stews, chilis, jambalaya, and every sort of big pot dish, and pairing them with new and classic sides throughout the week.

The law firm for which I work is moving to a different office building in March, so I'm enjoying my view of Autumn in Central Park for the last time.

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