Sunday, January 17, 2010

Crabapple Cottage: The Cookbook

I started working on what will be an amazing cookbook someday--the collection of seasonal recipes that my housemates and I love to eat. We're all pining for spring, so we can have asparagus with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce again. In the meantime, there's lentil shepherd's pie...and my go-to winter salad, frisee and butter lettuce with avocado and oranges. It's simple--the only trick is that I cut the peels off the oranges and cut them into rounds, then squeeze the orange peels into my salad dressing bowl so that the dressing has a little orange juice in it. I usually make a quick vinaigrette with sherry vinegar, the orange juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, sea salt, and some chopped onion or shallot.

Since I get most of my vegetables from my year-round CSA, there are a lot of root vegetables in the fridge all winter...parsnips (they are huge, sweet, and delicious), sunchokes, beets, turnips, and sometimes carrots. This sometimes makes me fall into a borscht rut. I just learned that a spoonful of homemade fermented sauerkraut is really nice in a bowl of borscht. But variety is important...especially a variety of pot pies. To make lentil shepherd's pie, just take some of those winter storage vegetables (an onion, a parsnip, a couple of carrots, maybe a stalk of celery and a clove of garlic), chop them and sweat them in a small soup pot with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or butter and some salt.

Meanwhile, boil a big pot of salted water and boil some potatoes--ideally Russets.

To your onion mixture, add a cup of French green lentils and a mixture of red wine and water to just cover the lentils. Throw in a tablespoon of tomato paste and a spoonful of veggie broth powder, maybe a shake of red chili flakes, a couple of bay leaves and a little chopped fresh rosemary. Cook until lentils are done, adding more water if needed, but you want the lentils to absorb most of the liquid by the time they're cooked.

By this time, your potatoes are probably good and soft. Preheat the oven to 350. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a lump of butter and a big splash of milk, and salt/pepper/red pepper to taste. I like to use the whisk attachment of my girlfriend's KitchenAid stand mixer to mash and whip the potatoes, but any way you want to do it is fine. If the lentil pot can go into the oven, you can do the next step right in the pot; otherwise, transfer the lentils to a baking dish. Mound the potatoes on top of the lentils, so that they make a crust. Put the shepherd's pie in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes start to turn a little bit brown in places (if you're getting impatient, just turn on the broiler for a minute). This recipe is flexible enough to absorb lots of different vegetables, and it's also tasty with any kind of cheese added to the mashed potatoes!

1 comment:

  1. you should totally make that cookbook! this recipe sounds great :)