Hello, fellow campers and food aficionados!
Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Loire, France. The nip of late fall early winter is upon us here in the Valley of Kings and it’s time to turn on the heat and start eating comfort food.
One of the best and most reasonably priced winter delights that I have come to love is a bowl full of lentils studded with boiled new potatoes, carrots, garlic, and onions, spiced with salt, pepper, and cumin. Lentils do not need pre-soaking and cook up in 30 minutes if you like them a bit al dente, or a bit longer if you want them softer. That makes for a pretty quick meal! I throw two cups of lentils, the spices, and all the veggies into a pot with three cups of water or chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. (I like them creamy so I don’t let all of the liquid absorb.) This makes about four large helpings as a side dish or two main dish meals. One of my favorite ways to serve the leftover lentils is to re-heat the lentil stew in a ring around the edges of a non-stick frying pan, add olive oil to the bare spot in the middle, and crack one or two farm-fresh eggs in the middle (or you can add a poached egg). I heat this on low heat with the lid on so that the eggs cook on top and serve it when there is a white film over the eggs. Be careful because the eggs can get overdone fast! Here’s a picture of this but honestly, lentils do not photograph well as they are a rather paltry shade of dark olive green. Not the stuff of good food porn. They are delicious though! And don’t forget to add the sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley!
A dessert I recently made is rather photogenic. I had a bumper crop of white nectarines this summer and a ton of fresh blueberries that I picked this year so I froze them with the intention of making several fruit tarts this fall. I buy the puff pastry dough to make the process a bit easier and I do not defrost the fruit beforehand. Here is a photographic step by step:
As a final glaze, I melt a tablespoon of apricot preserves with a small amount of Cointreau and add a pat of butter off the heat, swirling the pan until the butter has melted and incorporated into the glaze. Yum!
I was given a great tip from a friend of mine here in Mouliherne! When using frozen or very wet fruit, before adding the fruit to the raw pastry, dust the pastry with powdered tapioca. Then top that with the fruit. This absorbs the liquids as the tart bakes and the bottom crust stays crispy. Great advice! Another tip is to coat the tart pan with light brown sugar before adding the pastry. This makes a delicious, crunchy, bottom crust too. Why not try both methods?
Until next time, keep well and take lots of walks outside to build up your appetite. Then come home and bake!
Denise, Gail, and Lindsey