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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Orange Scented Lentil Soup 3_15_13

This time last year we had a 3 day run of 70 degree days.  This year the winter wants to hold on with days of  wind chills in the low 30's, blustery winds, some peeks of sun, and now a rainy, snowy, icy mix today.  Next week doesn't look any better. Sigh. Maybe that will mean we will have a long spring.  I love spring with the slow unfurling of bright green leaves of plants, shrubs, and trees.  That shade of 'new' green is my favorite.

So the weather called for soup, and as it turns out this week's 'Around My French Table' recipe was the Orange Scented Lentil Soup.  Lentils, carrots, onions, celery chicken broth, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, clove, orange skin peel, and fresh ginger were the ingredients.  This soup was super fast and easy to cook up, and then puree. Everything was great until the puree....I ladled half of the soup into the Vitamix, popped on the top, and turned it on. Guess that lid was on right as I had lentils flying around outside the blender.  Luckily not much was lost but the cleanup of under the cabinet and backsplash wasn't so fun. That's life in the kitchen!   I ladled the soup into 2 bowls for Husband and me, topped it with a little yogurt, and we agreed it was the perfect dish for the day.  Love the flavors of this lentil dish.  It will probably replace my own recipe for lentils; we liked it that much!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lemon Steamed Spinach

This week's recipe, I thought, was the lemon steamed spinach.  It appears that it was not, but I will go ahead with this post anyway.  What a crazy week!  In New Jersey we had a winter storm threat that didn't quite deliver the snow that was expected (so glad!) but we did have some wicked winds.  Then when we weren't expecting snow, I awoke on Friday morning to see about 1.5 inches on the ground (yes, I know that's not a lot) and had to drive up to the middle of the state for a quarterly conference for work.  March's storm in our are tried to put on a brave face, but she was mild in the end. Winter's last hurrah, I suppose.  Our neighbors in the north though got a good 6 inches.  I know the New Englanders would tell us to quit whining, after all, they got blasted again with some getting another 2 feet.  Oh, I love their summers but those winters...

I don't have a steamer basket (how's that you ask?) so I had no choice but to wilt the spinach in the olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice so it doesn't have full leaf appearance. 'Looks aren't everything' is a true adage many times, and certainly the case with my wilted spinach.  The lemon flavor was a real standout with the baby spinach flavor.  I made a version of the salmon Dorie suggested to go with this dish.  My salmon was simple with a hoisin sauce and toasted sesame seeds. Dinner in about 30 minutes, start to finish.

Now I have to go read all about the cheesy creme brulee that the other Doristas made this week.  It's sounds delish!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chicken Breasts Diable

I didn't think the recipe sounded so great, I have to admit.  But it was a simple recipe using chicken breasts, shallot, onion, white wine, heavy cream, french mustard, salt, pepper.  So it was to be the Friday night supper.  Son is rarely around for dinner these days with his work and social schedule and I try NOT to cook on Friday nights.  Husband reminded me of that. Usually it's pizza or chinese food night.  I assure him it was going to be a quick cook and not a bother.

I didn't have chicken breasts, but did have some skinless, boneless chicken thighs, which I use a lot as they are tasty and moist.  I pounded them out flat between wax paper before slipping them into the fry pan with olive oil and butter.  Is there anything better than the smell of chicken frying?  I got a nice brown crust on the outsides and then I let them rest under a foil tent on a platter in a warm oven while I started on the sauce. Into the fry pan went the shallot and garlic and I let them cook until softened and added the white wine, let it boil some, then added the heavy cream and some wonderful french mustard with provence herbs.  Wow, what an aroma.  It didn't take Husband long to come into the kitchen sniffing the air and asking how long until dinner!  I took a taste of the sauce, and while it wasn't 'hot', it had a nice mustardy-winey bite.
I served the chicken along with some carrots and 2 colors of green beans.  Wonderful dish!  It looked like spring on a plate, more than the pea soup from the week before.

We've got spring fever!  March has now arrived and I can't wait to get outside and work the gardens!  The daffodil leaves are up promising to deliver the gorgeous yellow blooms in just a few weeks. The red tips of the peonies also have emerged.  I saw some red flower buds coming on the trees.
I am a March birthday girl and I usually take the day off from work.  My birthday is mid-month and I've been lucky more times than not, to have a warm enough day to spend outdoors.  I walk around our three quarter acre and see all of the gardening tasks to be done and wonder how many hours I've spent doing that in the last 27 years here.  But I love it, especially since I sit and stare at a computer all day at work.  Every year I say to myself that I've planted enough and can just maintain what's there.  But that resolution doesn't last!  Already I have about 15 new plants coming from favorite mail order company  There plants are sizable, healthy, robust, and reasonably priced.  Do I know where I am going to plant these?  No, I don't, lol! I buy mostly perennials that the deer leave alone unless they are desperate.  Plants like peonies, daffodils, bleeding heart, foxglove, columbine, hellebores. I have my David Austin roses protected behind a wire fence.  Deer love roses.

I also want to start some heirloom tomatoes and eggplant from seeds. I did that a couple of years ago with good results. I have a grow light and heating mat that I set up in the garage.

So what do you do when spring fever strikes you?