Red Lentil, Cauliflower, and Thai Red Curry Soup

You’re looking at a full head of cauliflower. Trust me, it never looked this good. Not even when it’s roasted in the oven whole, the current en vogue style. It’s also super hip because this cauliflower and red lentil thai spiced soup is a riff on a Yotam Ottlenghi recipe from Plenty More. And you know, because I needed to post another soup recipe on this blog.

I don’t have any pithy words or cute stories that accompany this soup. We’ve just gotten home from a family ski vacation, in which we tackled two-deck rummy; managed to not injure ourselves; skied big moguls safely, albeit not artfully; and, stapled dollar bills to a wall. So coming home to this beauty after a long weekend away, a full day of work, and minimal groceries in the house is pure delight.

Thai Red Lentil and Cauliflower Soup

Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More

  • 3 tbsp cooking oil, like olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 head of cauliflower, stem removed and florets roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed and lightly bashed
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Juice of one lime
  • Cilantro, coarsely chopped

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and starting to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook for an additional minute. Add the cauliflower. Stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the water, lentils, lemongrass, lime leaves. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring the soup to a boil. Return heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils and the cauliflower are soft, roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lemongrass and the kaffir lime leaves.

Allow the soup to cool on the stove. Puree using an immersion blender. Stir in the coconut milk and the lime juice. Serve with freshly chopped cilantro. Toasted pita bread is also a tasty accomplishment.

*If you’d like to freeze the soup, leave the coconut milk and lime juice out. Thaw your frozen soup and reheat on the stove. Then stir in the coconut milk and lime juice.

Thai Red Lentil and Cauliflower Soup

 

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Weekend Reading | Kitchen Notes

We’re off to Colorado this holiday weekend for a little family time, skiing, and R&R. This will be Casey’s first year on the “big skis” after over a decade skating around on snow blades. I’m excited to see how he likes them! On the drive, here’s what we’ll be listening to:

Stuff You Missed in History. We’ve been with this podcast for at least 4 years now. It’s a good way for me to get my history nerd on.

Serial. This has been all over the internets as of late and I’m eager to find out if we like it. Nothing like an 8 hour car trip to test out something new

And for reading, here are my favorites for the week:

– Bec over at My Bloggable Day posted incredible pictures of blue, serene water. Nothing like beach pictures during the winter!

– I’ve been working only improving my photo processing with Adobe Lightroom and enjoyed this matte Lightroom tutorial over at Eat the Love.

– I just finished Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. It’s been a while since an epic fantasy style novel has engrossed me — I cared about the main character and his evolution and didn’t want to put the book down.

Chicken and Dumplings

Sometimes, you get to a point in your relationship with a magazine you’ve subscribed to for years where you start to forget why you subscribed in the first place. And then, given that it’s a new year and you find yourself re-evaluating how you spend, waste, and use your time, you discover something profound. That really, it may be your perspective on the publication that stalled your relationship.

When January’s Cooking Light came in the mail, my first reaction was a sarcastic mental comment, “Gee, wow — chicken on the cover. Surprise, surprise.” And yet there I was, leafing through the pages before going to bed, paying attention to the recipes as I sipped my morning coffee. A complete departure from haphazardly scanning the entire magazine, which is what my relationship with Cooking Light had become over the last 6-8 months.

We’ve been talking a lot of mindfulness and being present, both at home and at work. With this, that, and the other pulling on our time (what do mean there’s a new season of White Collar on Netflix?), it’s easy to be “there” but not present. Which is how I’d approached Cooking Light previously — there, but not “present.”

This mindfulness paid off — with a delicious, warming chicken and dumpling soup. And because I wasn’t paying total attention, the dumplings came out a bit larger and “rustic” looking.

Chicken and Dumplings Soup, adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried tarragon
  • 2 leaks, trimmed, washed and cut into thin half moons
  • 2 celery stalks, cut along the diagonal into thin slices
  • 2 carrots, cut diagonally into thin slices
  • 1/5 cup sugar snap peas, cut identically to the carrots and celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, push through the garlic press
  • 3/4 pound of shredded, cooked chicken breast
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, unsalted or home made
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4.5 ounces of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk

In a large Dutch oven, sauté the leeks over medium head. Add salt, pepper, and half of the tarragon. Saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the celery, carrots, garlic to the pan. Saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bringing the whole contents to a boil. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are just tender. Add the chicken to the dish, cover to keep warm.

Combine the flour, baking power and remaining tarragon with salt and pepper in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the butter until the mixture is course and meal like. Add the milk, combine until just moist. Using 2 teaspoons, drop the dough into the stock, forming 16 small or 8 large dumplings. Cover and simmer for 7-9 minutes, until the dumplings are cooked through.

Chicken and Dumplings

This is January in Arizona

This is January in Arizona. Sunshine, patio cleaning, and reading cookbooks in the afternoon sun. Hate us, colder climates. I give you permission to. If you’re reading on your patio, by your fire, on your phone in line, or at the library computer this weekend, here’s stories, articles, and recipes I liked this week.

– A reflection on Nigel Slater’s Epiphany Day Soup at The Kitchn. I went straight to Amazon and contemplated buying Mr. Slater’s “Tender” for the 100th time.

– Dear Economist, I am not disciplined enough to keep up. This article on a virtual and accessible workforce = worth my continued effort to keep reading.

– A bright, winter salad from A Girl Named Allyn

– For all you get fit and start running new year’s resolution makers, find inspiration from my BFOWP (that’s best friend on wordpress.com) Annie at the The Little GSP. 38+ races over the past 14 months. I call that rocking it.

Shrimp on the Beach

We’d been dreaming of these shrimp in the weeks leading up to our flight. On the Big Island of Hawaii, we eagerly mentioned our excitement at being on Oahu soon. We schemed and planned how many times we’d be able to make it to the North Shore and these shrimp. And once we arrived on Oahu, we couldn’t stop raving about how delicious these shrimp were to all our friends who’d travelled farther than us to be in Hawaii at the same time.  Our rental mini van and sedan full of hungry travelers, we led the cavalry to battle, confident in our knowledge and “native traveler” know how.

The shrimp truck was not there.

Worse, the dirt lot normally occupied by many food trucks was roped off, with large signs spray painted with black. “Closed,” they said.

Closed. I’m pretty sure I felt a small ping of adrenaline kick in, maybe even a twinge of remorse. My fondness for seafood had been minimal at best for many years prior. And shellfish: no thank you. Then I ate these shrimp – naked cajun barbecue shrimp, with brown rice, fresh baguette, and a buttery, spicy, umami-i sauce. Hooked ever since.

Small panic subsided when, thanks to the miracle of cell phones and 3G connectivity, we found out where we could hunt down our lunch truck. We found him – Dat Cajun Guy – just north of Shark’s Cove, tucked off the side of the road.

And we ended up eating shrimp on the beach. We’re still trying to figure out what was better: our serendipity in connecting with the owner/chef over cell phone or our lunch time view.

Shrimp on the BeachIf you’re possibly craving shrimp after that little tale, here’s my quick and tasty shrimp — not quite what we ate that afternoon in Hawaii, but tasty enough to do the trick. I honestly think it’s the butter that helps give the shrimp a bit of richness. If butter isn’t your style, olive oil is great too. If someone has done this with coconut oil, let me know…because it sounds…you know…yummy.

Salt, Pepper, Lime Shrimp (aka, I can’t believe this is a recipe)

  • 1 TBS of butter per 3/4 pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp
  • Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of course sea salt
  • 1 clove of of garlic
  • Zest of one lime

In a medium or large non stick sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. At the garlic, cooking until fragrant, maybe 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, sprinkling with the black pepper, sea salt, and about half the lime zest. Watch for the shrimp to start to turn pink (1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan). Flip them over. Repeat the same seasoning pattern.

Remove from pan and serve with rice. Or, as pictured below, with rice and sautéed corn and red onion. You can even poor any left over cooking liquid on top.

Salt Pepper and Lime Shrimp | Kitchen Notes

 

Cranberry Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

 

All day, the cats have been curled up sleeping their way into the new year. New Years in Phoenix started out with a chill, grey morning. Even now, well into the afternoon, the sunlight does a poor job a warming up outside. Given this weather, I don’t blame the cats. In fact, I’m all for joining them.

I’m starting this year out simply: cleaning the house, catching up on reading, and baking straight forward, uncomplicated goodies for you to try at home. And I’m working on keeping the new year simple. Last year, Casey and I made pretty straight forward resolutions: easy to keep, easy to remember. This year, as is very much en vouge,  I’m forgoing resolutions and focusing on goals.

Goal 1: Improve my German

Born in Heidelberg, I’ve often said that German was truly my first language. Currently out of practice, and also very uncertain of my own skill, I don’t speak much, even to friends at work who try to encourage me. For  Christmas, Casey and I found an excellent deal on Rosetta Stone. So what’s the goal: 3 times a week, I’ll complete at least two modules.

Goal 2: Become unconsumed by the internet

Now that might be a funny statement for a gal who blogs and online video games. The spirit of this goal is to not decrease blogging or video gaming, but rather to do these activities and also spend time on the internet mindfully. How am I going to get there? In small doses, and my changing my week night behaviors.

Goal 3: Date my husband

Look, this isn’t a lifestyle blog, so I won’t be posting about all the mushy stuff, but over the past month, Casey and I have had an incredible time! We went on a little vacation, we started hiking together again (thank you cooler weather), and we started changing up our routine. Last night, we watched a movie together to ring in the new year. It’s not earth shattering nor rocket scientist IQ requiring: spend time engaging with each other. Video games do not count.

And now the cake…

sugared cake | Kitchen Notes

Cranberry, Blueberry Buttermilk Cake, adapted from une gamine dans la cuisine

  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 TBS for sprinkling
  • 1 TBS citrus zest (I used a combination of orange and lime)
  • 3/4 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups flour, plus 1-2 TBS for coating the fruit
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prep a 9 inch springform pan with butter or preferred grease.

Combine together the sugar and citrus zest in the bowl of stand mixer. Use either your fingers or a fork to rub the zest and sugar together. Beat in the butter for about 3-5 minutes on high, until the butter and sugar are incorporated and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, mix together the fruit and 1 TBS of flour. This will help the fruit from sinking straight to the bottom of the pan.

Once the sugar and butter have been incorporated, slowly add the flour and the buttermilk, alternating between both of them. Combine, but don’t over mix.

Slowly mix in the berries. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan. Sprinkle the top with sugar.

Bake for 40-55 minutes. Mine was done closer to 55, but start checking at 40, as all ovens are different.

Cool for 30 minutes before serving. Also good the next morning with a splash of cream and a cup of coffee.

*if you don’t have a springform, use a 9 inch cake pan, well buttered. Consider using a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pan.

Cranberry Blueberry Cake | Kitchen Notes

 

Happy New Year! Hope you’re enjoying the last moments of 2014, if you’re out and about or tucked safely under some covers — as Lyla demonstrates below. See you in 2015 with recipes, travel notes, and general goodness from my Kitchen Notes.

Lyla's Favorite Spot

Look for an update tomorrow to kick off the new year in style! Until then, take a look at the top recipes in 2014:

Gruyere Macaroni and CheeseA classic from 2011 when this blog was brand new and just getting it’s footing. Sounds perfect on a cool winter night!

crispy, delicious mac and cheese

Cranberry Cobbler:  Cranberries have a short season, and while it’s technically over, you can still find some of these tart, red jewels of winter in grocery stores. Go ahead, buy some extra and make this in February for easy weekday mornings!

cranberry wonderful

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Brownies:  No explanation or excuse needed.

Cherry and Chocolate Brownies | Katie's Kitchen Notes

Almond Butter, Maple, and Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesStart the New Years resolutions off with a treat. A slightly healthier, delicious treat.

Maple and Whole Wheat Cookies | Kitchen Notes

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