Saturday, February 13, 2010

Indian-inspired lentil soup

We all need a little lift from now and then to keep our spirit high. When something goes wrong, we have to remember all the other good people & things that are still there with us, and it may sooth the pain. These are times when we need to keep our heart & tummy warm, because the temperature refuses to collaborate.

I came to making this soup out of literally whatever I had in the house. The only thing that I had to go buy, was the fresh parsley. Let me tell you, tough out the cold bum and run to the store to get it, because it adds a really nice touch.

 Indian-inspired lentil soup (makes about 10 servings)
  • a splash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • a couple cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 can of Italian tomatoes, whole
  • 2 boxes of chicken broth (about 2L)
  • 1 large bunch of curly parsley, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped. And a few for garnish
  • about 1 cup of dried lentil, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (or more depends on your taste)
  • Chili flakes if desired
  • Lemon, sliced 

Heat oil in a big pot over medium heat, add onions and garlic, cook for a few minutes until fragrant but not burnt. Add the tomatoes & the juice, mash them up in small chunks with a wooden spoon. Then add the chicken broth, leaving about half of a box for thinning the soup later.

Turn heat to maximum, add the parsley and the lentils. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Add the masala, curry and chili flakes half way and mix well.

Serve with fresh parsley for garnish, with some freshly ground black pepper, and a small wedge of lemon. It really kicks it up a notch (unfortunately I didn't get the lemon when I made this, boo!)

****I put this soup into individual microwavable containers for lunch, and before taking them to work, I would add a bit of chicken broth, because it thickens up quite a lot

It is Valentine's Day weekend, and I made some cakes for the occasion, for an order. One was a "kitsch" Birthday/Valentines Day theme (yes, "kitsch" was an important part of the order) It was chocolate layer cake with fresh strawberry buttercream.

Yeehaw!!!!! Chocolate layer cake with fresh strawberry butter-cream

And then there were the cute cupcakes *sigh*...

From front to back: Cinnamon "bun" & Orange butter-cream, Double amaretto, Green Tea & Lemon butter-cream, Double Root Beer

I wish you all a wonderful weekend with your Valentine (although I am sure that everyday is Valentine's Day for a lot of you *wink*) Share some soup, share some cupcakes. Most importantly, spread the love!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sauté Shrimp Primavera Ptitim (Israeli couscous)

Ptitim, also called Israeli couscous, is my new favorite pasta! There is a slight chewiness to them that is very pleasing to eat, somewhere between a pastina and barley.

I've had them before in restaurants, but this is the first time I cook them. They really keep their shape through cooking, reheating and they don't clump like couscous. They cook a tad faster than other pasta because of their small shape, and the sauce really cling to them. It's awesome!

I made something pretty simple, with stuff that I already have in the fridge: primavera sauce purchased at Jean Talon market, broccoli and shrimp. Quite straight forward, really....

Sauté Shrimp Primavera Ptitim
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup Ptitim/Israeli couscous
  • 6-8 shrimps, peeled, devained
  • pinch of salt, pepper & chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups of your favorite sauce, ready-to-eat
  • About 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
Boil the water, then add the ptitim, and simmer covered, for 10 minutes. Drain under cold water, set aside.

In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat, sauté shrimps just until they turn opaque (which means they are cooked) sprinkle the salt, pepper and chili flakes, stir around to coat, set shrimps aside in a bowl.

Use the same pot & add the sauce over medium low heat until it starts bubbling. Add the cheese, it will thicken the sauce. Stir to mix well, then add the ptitim.