A Trio of Winter Winners

We’ve certainly been experiencing our share of winter weather this month. Light snow, heavy snow, and wintry mix. Having a dog sheds a new light on winter because you have to go out walking, rain (or should I say snow) or shine. I’ve learned to enjoy winter walks, especially on a weekend afternoon when we can walk through the woods. Cold just doesn’t feel as cold as it used to.

That said, the amount of winter precipitation is getting tiresome. Any suggestions on where we should move for better weather? It’s tough to figure out because I don’t like to be hot.

In deference to the weather, in the past week, I’ve tried three new recipes for hearty fare. Two were from websites I follow and the third, torn from a magazine by a friend and shared with me. All three were successful, so I share the results here with you.

#1 Mujaddara

This is a relatively simple lentil and rice dish, Middle Eastern in origin. I found this on Food 52, the website of Amanda Hesser (of former New York Times fame) and Merrill Stubbs. I can easily get lost for hours, browsing through recipes and watching the videos. The thing I especialy like about this site are the videos. They make everything looks so easy, which is inspiring.

Each week, this site has a themed recipe contest. The top two recipes, as chosen by Amanda and Merrill, are demonstrated and readers can vote. If I understand the site correctly, all the winning recipes are being published together in a cookbook, coming soon.

Lentils are probably my top favorite bean or legume. For this recipe, three basic parts are cooked separately and then combined and served with a spicy yogurt sauce. You bake some rice, while simmering some lentils, while caramelizing some onions. That’s about it. After you combine the lentils, rice, and onions, they sit for a short while while the flavors blend. This is just enough time to make the yogurt sauce. Its components definitely sum up to something greater than its parts. If you check out this recipe, be sure to watch the video.

#2 Roasted Parsnip Fries

This recipe comes from Six Burner Sue, the website of Susie Middleton, former editor at Fine Cooking magazine and author of the recent book Fast, Fresh and Green. Given the 5 pounds of parsnips in the fridge, this one appealed to me right away.

The recipe uses only one pound of parsnips, so it use up my entire supply. However, this is a fast side dish that I will definitely make again. I think I made the “fries” a little to thin. I cut them to around ¼-inch sticks. That was fine for eating with fingers, but with a fork, slightly wider, maybe ½ inch sticks would have been better. I also might not have blackened as many if they’d been a wee bit thicker.

We opted for a simple sprinkle with kosher salt, though a lime and maple drizzle was offered as part of the recipe. Maybe we’ll try a little squeeze of lime juice next time.

#3 Beet and Fennel Soup with Kefir

My friend April (see her recent guest post on my blog here) passed this recipe along to me. It’s from the January issue of Bon Appetit, which I subscribe to, but hadn’t browsed yet. Again, I have a large supply of beets (10+ pounds) in the fridge from our winter CSA. They are gigantic beets too.

This soup has a lot going for it. The texture was velvety, the color was a shocking pink, and it uses kefir, a yogurt-like drink, which was a new taste adventure for me. I can’t say enough about the color. It’s wild! The double fennel taste, supplied by fresh fennel plus fennel seeds, is not overpowering as I feared it might be. It has an interesting flavor that complements the beets nicely.

I had some already roasted beets, so instead of peeling and dicing raw beets, I just peeled and diced my roasted cooked beets and simmer for only 10 minutes to blend the flavors as the beets did not need cooking. Because I love the caramelized sweetness of roasted beets and the ease of peeling them, I’d go this way again. Actually, I made a double batch of this soup.

I still have some kefir left, so I think I’ll try to use it in place of buttermilk for some scones or other quick bread this weekend. Or maybe for pancakes on Saturday morning breakfast, or maybe both!

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Posted on 20 January 2011, in Winter CSA and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. john drinks kefir. that color=my dining room? ;)

    • i don’t know about drinking it (for me). I think the soup color is a little too shocking for your dining room, though it isn’t that far off from the paint chips you had up…

  2. I recently tasted my first parsnip with ffwD’s “My Go-To Beef Daube” recipe and really enjoyed it! I’ll definitely be trying the fries.

  3. Glad you tried the beet soup. The color IS shocking. As in almost Pepto Bismal. If you have any you are freezing, can I try a little bit? I’ve never been able to appreciate beets.

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