So in my dreams I am the most gracious and endearing of all hostesses ever to live. In reality, I stress over every crumb and never start cooking soon enough. My guests nearly starve as I forget the sweet potatoes oozing vegetable starches onto the bottom of my stove.
But the other night was different. I enlisted my crock pot and reaped the benefits tenfold.
There is nothing better than coming home to a fully prepared meal, opening the front door to an ocean of herbmatic aroma and knowing that my little fingers must no more than pull bowls from the cupboard. I cannot rightly explain the uncoiling of each muscle fiber I experienced upon that entrance. It made my whole evening a joy.
I’d feared the stew would taste overwhelming like dried oregano, as I’d heaped a whole teaspoon into the pot. But with a dash of rosemary and thyme, and the ever reliable garlic and onions at work, I rode the possibility of a balanced combination. In the end… delicious. Brewed with broth and red wine, the lentils morphed into a perfectly stewy consistency, and the vegetables were soft enough to melt in the mouth while still maintaining a shape.
This recipe is loosely adapted from the Nourished Kitchen, but closely resembles a traditional beef stew in flavor. Do yourself a favor: cut up all the veggies the night before and store them in a tupperware container with a damp paper towel in the refrigerator. Soak the lentils overnight. In the morning, boil the beef broth and chop up the garlic, throw it all in the crock.
Winter Lentil Stew
2 cups lentils, soaked
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup dry red wine
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. each rosemary & thyme
To soak lentils: Pour lentils into a crock pot or large mixing bowl and cover two inches with warm water. Add apple cider vinegar. Cover crock pot or place a kitchen towel loosely over the mixing bowl. Allow to soak 8-12 hours.
To prepare stew: When the lentils have finished soaking, rinse well and transfer into crock pot. Peel, chop, and mince all vegetables. Add to crock pot. Cover vegetables with broth, water, and wine. Add spices and cook on low 8-10 hours. Salt and pepper to taste.
Our lovely guests gifted us with apples and cranberries to adorn dessert. I had actually prepared a precious little shortcake tart for a Christmas party the night before, but what with getting locked out of our house and other tedious obstacles, we never made the party. I envisioned an intoxicating combination of sweet apples and tangy cranberries dolloped over the buttery tart, but I proceeded in its creation with nothing save my imagination.
Directions aren’t precise. Be encouraged that it will turn out one way or another.
Warm Fruit Tart
(base adapted from the Bisquick Party Book)
1 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup soft butter (1/2 stick)
1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. boiling water
1 1/2 cup cranberries
2 cups water
old orange peels
Heat oven to 450° (hot). Put Bisquick and butter in 9 inch pie pan. Add coconut, sugar, and vanilla. Add boiling water; stir with fork until dough forms ball and cleans pan. With fingers and heel of hand, pat evenly in pan, bringing dough up to edge. This will not be skimpy when baked. Flute edges, if desired. Bake 8 to 10 min. Cool.
Peel and core apples, place in an 8X8 inch glass dish. Fill the dish with cranberries. Using a measuring cup, fill the dish with water until 1/2 inch from the top of the pan. Put any available orange peels into the dish with the cranberries. Top with a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon. Place the dish in the oven and bake until apples are soft, flipping the apples every now and then. Roughly 30 minutes.
Top a slice of tart generously with apples and cranberries, drizzle with plenty of molasses.
*If you don’t keep molasses around, I understand, because no one really does that anyway, right? Wrong. I keep molasses and it makes food worth eating.
This has been a Recipe Wednesday post.
Happy cooking, may health guide you.