Lentil & kale soup

  • 1 large onion , chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped ½" slices
  • 3 cups rinsed and chopped kale
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup lentils (7 ounces), rinsed and picked over
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2¬†cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add olive oil to soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. 
  4. Add chicken broth, water, tomatoes, bay leaf; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.
  5. Puree 3 cups soup in blender until smooth, then return to pot.
  6. Add kale and simmer in soup for about 5 minutes until tender.

You can serve the soup with a spoon of yogurt to make it creamy. Stir the yogurt into your bowl of soup.

Chinese tea eggs

image

On a recent visit to SF Chinatown, street vendors were selling Chinese tea eggs as a Chinese New Year specialty. I decided to make my own as a treat for myself since eggs are one of my favorite foods. I adapted from a few recipes I saw online and came up with my own method for the recipe.

I love eggs and eat them like candy if I can’t help myself, so I decided to up the recipe to 10 eggs and soft boil them with my tried and true method – cover eggs in room temperature water in a pot, high heat for 10 minutes, then rinse eggs under cool water.

The main variation in my recipe was inspired by my desire to multi-task. The longer you simmer the eggs, the more flavorful they get, but I wasn’t about to sit around for 2 hours watching the stove and adding more water to my simmering egg + tea leaf mixture, so I bought the tea leaf mixture to a boil and threw everything into a crock pot (slow cooker). 15 hours later, I had the best tea eggs I’d ever tasted – the yolks were infused with the flavors of the tea and spices, while the whites were perfectly marbled and pretty (my friends think it looks like a dinosaur egg in my photo).

Storing the tea eggs is important, too. I didn’t want the eggs drying out, so I put them into a large glass jar and covered them with the remaining liquid mixture. This way, as they keep in my fridge, they will derive more flavor from the liquid!

The tea eggs are delicious as a snack or in ramen and I love how they look. I’m keeping the leftover liquid for my next batch.

Vegetable soup for the sick

image

Since I’ve been eating a B.R.A.T. (bananas, rice, apple sauce, dry toast) diet for almost a week now and felt a bit better last night, I attempted to have some canned chicken noodle soup. That didn’t sit well with my stomach and I had another miserable day.

My doctor told me it was because canned soups are high in fat and sodium, as well as preservatives, which my body wasn’t ready for after a bland diet. I needed to eat greaseless foods that were gentle to my stomach, but offered nutritional value, so I decided to make a vegetable soup with chicken. Ingredients:

  • 1 quart fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 2lb Napa cabbage, cut into 1" strips
  • 3 carrots, cut
  • 1 large zucchini, cut
  • about 6 oz. pasta, cooked according to instructions and then left to soak in the hot pasta water [note: I added pasta because I need carbs in my diet]
  • 1 chicken breast, cubed and poached [note: added for protein]

I didn’t sautee the vegetables or add any seasonings at all – just threw in the veggies with the simmering liquids for 30 minutes. It’s important to leave the cooked pasta in the cooking water so it will soak up as much water as it needs and not soak up the soup liquids when you add it. Also, poached chicken breast was important to my diet since I hadn’t eaten any protein in days, but was still sensitive to fats.

After eating the delicious soup, I feel better. This is a good introduction back to food after being so sick I couldn’t eat.

Miso eggplant

image

Inspired by the cheapness of eggplants at the market, I decided to try my hand at miso eggplant from this recipe. Everything was fine, except the following changes:

  • 2 cups of miso mix for 4 eggplants? No way. I didn’t know what to do with 2 whole cups of the miso mix and decided to distribute it evenly over the eggplants. WAY TOO SALTY. Ended up scraping off the excess miso and eating the eggplant with a touch of the miso. I would suggest half the miso mix or double the eggplants next time.
  • Pan seared the eggplants in a sautee pan first, instead of broiling them pre-miso basting.

I’d make this again, maybe even with different vegetables like zucchini.

A Christmas lamb & mushroom orzo

image

My family has a traditional “special” meal during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which usually consists of seafood. This year, we decided to have a go at boneless leg of lamb since the demo station at Costco had excellent samples. They had a very simple recipe – sauteed cubes of lamb with Montreal steak seasoning. We bought the smallest leg we could find – 3.5 lbs for $15.

Montreal steak seasoning was one of those items we didn’t want to buy because we’d never use it again, so I decided to make my own since we had all the spices in the house. Some seasoning, olive oil and soy sauce made a delicious marinade. Most of the effort was in cutting up the leg of lamb and removing all the fat.

The marinaded cubes of lamb were sauteed in a wok over medium heat for ~10 mins until they were medium. Delicious, especially paired with my favorite mushroom orzo! I was pretty proud of my holiday meal, especially since this was the first complete meal I had made for my family.