Sunday, June 30, 2013

Recipe Review: Lentil and Garlic Sausage Cassoulet

Recipe: Lentil and Garlic Sausage Cassoulet

Ace's Opinion (the short version): Delicious! We have already made this twice. It's time-consuming but I'm thinking of ways around that and I actually learned something about cooking lentils. Keep reading to find out what.

Ace's Opinion (the long version): Of course I am going to love any meal involving lentils but if you want to impress and feed a crowd cheaply, this recipe is the way to go. Z. and I were planning a small dinner party and wanted to serve a multicourse French meal. Finding a traditional French entree that didn't have chicken, pork, beef, or fish was proving to be difficult. We did a little searching and found the Bon Appétit recipe for lentil cassoulet, something a little different than the traditional cassoulet of duck confit, white haricot beans, and sausage.

Let's take a look at the basic ingredients of the version Z. and I made that are already a feature in some of my lentil recipes, such as this one or this one:
  • lentils
  • onions
  • carrots
  • celery
  • garlic
  • seasonings
What makes this recipe special:
One reason this recipe is so time consuming is the first step. You create a stock using bacon, water, onion, and cloves. The stock is used to cook the lentils then to finish the cooking process in the casserole dish. This stock not only creates flavorful lentils, trust me when I say that the carrots and celery in the finish dish were the best carrots and celery I've ever had. Don't fret, the bacon is used again.

What we did differently:
  •  We changed some of the proportions. Each time we made this recipe, we used about 1 cup of Puy lentils. Even with just 1 cup of lentils, this could have served 6-8.
  • We also added extra carrots and celery. See above for a description of sauteed vegetables simmered in bacon stock.
  • Go heavy on the seasonings (herbs, spices, and garlic). Perhaps because we were using dried herbs, we needed to use more than we thought at the first time we made this dish. 
  • We couldn't find the right kind of sausage and just omitted it, while going a bit heavier on the bacon.
  • The recipe doesn't specify fresh bread crumbs or dried. We used dried bread crumbs and certainly had no need for the 4 cups called for in the recipe. One cup of dried bread crumbs was plenty.
Make this recipe and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pineapple Round #3: Pineapple Muffins with Oatmeal Crumble

Fresh pineapple has a wonderfully strong, fresh flavor when raw. I have found that pineapple's flavor mellows when cooked so finding ways to highlight pineapple in a cooked dish has been a challenge. That's why I began to experiment with muffins. I took a tried and true muffin recipe from Better Homes and Gardens and created a variation that highlights the pineapple.

Here is the basic recipe I used: Muffins.

The only change I made was to add about 3/4 cup fresh pineapple to the batter. I also added 1/4 cup rolled oats to the streusel topping. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pineapple Round #2: Black Bean and Pineapple Chili

Since we made pineapple fried-rice, Z. and I have made pineapple stir-fry several times more. I have so enjoyed the flavor of the pineapple with vegetables like broccoli and greens, I decided to be a little more adventurous with my pairings. I used Zucchini "Chili" as a starting point, trying a few changes with that recipe, and added pineapple. It was great! First of all, I like the variation of the chile I made. It had more of the consistency of chili. I also loved the flavor the pineapple added. Enjoy!

*A whole jalapeno, even with the seeds removes, makes this chili rather spicy. If you don't want something super spicy, leave the chili pepper out and use a dash of cayenne instead.

Black Bean and Pineapple Chili

by Ace Nation
Keywords: entree soup/stew vegan pineapple vegetables
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced finely
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water or broth (if a more stew-like or chili consistency is desired, add 2 cups of water or broth)
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small Italian zucchini, diced
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh pineapple
In a large high-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally, cook until soft, a little color is nice, 8-10 minutes.
Add garlic, jalapeno, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender, about 5 minutes.
Add water or broth, chili powder, cumin, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, black beans, corn, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let simmer 10-15 minutes, until sauce is desired thickness.
Add squash and pineapple. Heat until zucchini is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.
Garnish is with fresh cilantro or lime, if desired.
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Monday, June 3, 2013

Pineapple Round #1: Pineapple Fried Rice

Yesterday, I shared that I will have an abundance of pineapple and to expect a flurry of pineapple recipes in the near future. Last night, Z. and I enjoyed pineapple fried rice. Z. cooked! I had nothing to do with the creation of our meal except I was his sous chef and chopped vegetables. We used onion, carrot, broccoli, Thai bok choy, and pineapple. This was delicious!

What's the key to Z.'s delicious fried rice? Stir-frying the rice at the end with very dark soy sauce. I share a picture of the soy sauce we prefer in my Green Bean Stir Fry post. We purchase ours at our favorite Asian foods market but occasionally you can find this brand in the grocery store. Just look for something that is viscous and dark. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pineapple Abundance!

During a trip to the supermarket last night, I found pineapple on sale for $1.50 each. Of course I bought three. Well, today, they are now on sale for $1. Expect a few pineapple recipes in the near future. I have a couple already in mind!