Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Warm Food on a Cold Night

Remember what I said in the last blog about spring?  Well, FUGEDABOUTIT!  It snowed here today and it is freakin' cold.  Even I (the Hot Flash Queen) can't seem to get warm.

So did I need a better excuse to stay home and test recipes all day?  Umm - maybe not.

I thought about hanging out in my pj's (well, for me that would be an oversized T-shirt), but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that.  I compromised.  Did not wash my hair, did put on make-up (why, Liz?), put on a pair of jeans instead of my beloved ripped up chef's pants, opted for a pair of warm socks instead of shoes and did not wear a bra.  Enough info?

I then proceeded to spend the better part of the day in my kitchen.  All the while listening to an audio version of  "The Help." 

I'll post later about the Meyer lemon cake I made.  For now, you need to know about the lentil gratin.  SO GOOD.  It (along with a bottle of inexpensive, but decent red wine) was exactly the comfort food we needed.


2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
5 carrots, cut into small dice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 bay leaves
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 1/2 cups green lentils
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 t. crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 cup Panko crumbs (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 t. kosher salt
1 T extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.  Add carrots, thyme and salt and pepper (be VERY generous) to taste.  Reduce heat to low, cover pan and cook for 10 minutes or until carrots are barely tender.

Add bay leaves and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add lentils, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until lentils are almost done, about 30 minutes.

What you are looking for here are lentils that are almost done, but still "soupy."  (The reason for this is because when you add the breadcrumb topping before baking, it will soak up all of the liquid and leave the lentils dry.  So make sure your lentils have enough leftover liquid before baking).

Once you get to that point, remove the bay leaves and stir the parsley, mustard, vinegar and red pepper into lentils.  Taste to adjust seasonings and turn into a greased 13x9-inch baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, Reggiano and salt in a small bowl.  Stir to blend, then add olive oil and stir again.  Sprinkle over lentils.

Bake for 30 minutes until just warmed through and top is browned.  Do not overbake.

Yield:  at least 10 servings.

Just remember to save enough for those of us who would happily eat this for breakfast the next day.

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