Monday, June 27, 2016

Persian Chickpea Lentil Soup with Dill

The summer is in full swing, with hot days, so hot that women bump into each other at the crowded bikini section at Target to finally get this new bikini for the season. Over the next days, it will cool down and some necessary showers are coming. In Maine, the farmers often don’t have irrigation systems, they will be more than grateful for the rain. A long weekend is also on the horizon, and by then, hopefully everyone is closer to their summer vacation.

I had this wonderful soup a few weeks ago at Chase’s in Belfast’';  it was a daily special,  a “Persian chickpea soup with spiced and dill.” So delectable! The dill made all the difference in the soup, plenty of fresh dill. Just for this dish (and cucumber salad) I bought a few dill plants for the garden.  This recreation comes close, but the original is still hard to beat.

persian_chickpea_soup

Persian Chickpea Soup with Dill

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), sorted and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup green lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam massala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • dash of honey or agave
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint

1. Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, or until it is soft. Add the garlic and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 1 minute. 

2. Add the chickpeas, the broth and 2 cups water to the saucepan. Stir well to blend in the onion mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 1½ hours.

3. Add the lentils, spices, salt, pepper and 2 cups water. Return to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chickpeas and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, mix the dill, and cilantro.

5. Add the dill and cilantro to the soup. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 2-5 minutes.

6. Ladle the soup into a bowls and garnish each serving with a fresh dill. Serve hot.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hopscotch

The summer is back, after a phase of unseasonably cold weather, and today is the second day of summer.  Summer brings back childhood memories, of going swimming all day, picking berries, playing all day long with friends and racing home for dinner with the town’s church bell rang 6pm. Summer days seemed endless.

I am not sure what brought it to my mind but I’ve been thinking about the endless rounds of hopscotch I played as a child. Is this something people still do today? It is just  low-tech game but so much fun.

hopscotch_1

Just a paved driveway, sidewalk or residential street, some colorful chalk and a few stones, and you are ready to go.

hopscotch_chalk

The version that I played included throwing a small pebble stone into the first number, the jumping over this block with one leg to the ground and the other leg angled up, hopping through the numbered blocks, turning around, hopping back, picking up the stone, jumping over the block, and being done with the first round. The lines could not be touched, not with the stone or hopping through them. Then, the next number. If you make a mistake, it is the other person’s turn.  The person who is finished first, wins the game.

-hopscotch_trad

We played endless afternoons, again and again and again, as only children can repeat things, and get into a state of flow, talking, telling stories. It requires quite some skill and stamina that gets really better over the course of a summer, and next year it would start from the beginning.

Memories…

At least parents have legit reasons to get in on the action…

hopscotch_2

although, it seems popular and fun at any age….

kids-stuff-old-hopscotch

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Quinoa Salad

Summer is doing a disappearing act at the moment. It’s been cold, gray and rainy for days, oh well. By the second half of the week, the temperatures should be back to normal.

Summer is a great time to make a large salad to keep in the fridge and use for lunches, light dinners or picnics. Quinoa has such a nice, nutty flavor so that it is one of my favorite grains. Cooked with a bit of white wine and onion and garlic and broth, it has even more flavor.  Adding some fresh vegetables like radishes, apples or cucumber for color and crunch, and some nuts for more sustenance.

quinoa_salad

Quinoa Summer Salad

Cooking Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, minced
  • 1/2 cup of crisp white wine like pinot grigio
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth or chicken broth

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 min (don’t burn it). Add the quinoa and stir around dry in the onion and garlic for a bit to toast it and give it an even more nutty flavor. 

Now, add the white wine and stir well, scrap off the brown parts from the bottom and less the wine mostly cook off. Then, add the broth, stir, and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid, and cook for about 20 min, until the quinoa is fluffy. 

Take off stove and cool.

Salad

  • cooled quinoa
  • 3-4 radishes, sliced
  • 1/3 of an English cucumber, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • optional: pomegranate seeds, celery
  • chopped mint, dill and cilantro
  • some sliced almonds or toasted walnuts

Mix all the salad ingredients and serve.