Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup


For days when you feel like eating extra healthy, you really can't beat a lentil soup. Every 35 g serving of green lentils has 11 g of fiber, 10 g of protein, and no fat. Pretty incredible. I chose this recipe, courtesy of, because of it contains a stellar array of spices---I always get excited about diving into our spice cabinet. When I first finished making it and dug into a bowl, I found it to be a bit unsatisfying; the total absence of sweetness or richness hit me harder than I had anticipated. However, it held up better the next day, when I wasn't so tired from cooking and in need of some truly hearty sustenance. It would make a meager entree, but as a side dish or replacing a salad before a meal, this soup is really quite delicious.

Recipe adapted from
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 zucchini, chopped in 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces
  • Other vegetables such as eggplant, if desired
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 teaspoon sumac
In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in 1/2 cup of the water for about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and any additional vegetables and saute for 3 more minutes. Stir in the spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the lentils and the remaining water. Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked (the time may depend on what kind of lentils you are using). Stir in the salt, and add the parsley. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice or sprinkle each bowl of soup with a little sumac.

Yield: 4 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish time: Not given
Actual Start-to-Finish time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Substitutions: The original recipe called for red lentils, but I couldn't find any so I used normal yellow/green ones, which are much more fibrous anyway. I didn't have any coriander or turmeric on hand, and I decided that purchasing one new spice for this simple weeknight recipe was enough. Deeming turmeric to be more important (if nothing else, the color of the dish would have been totally different without it), I left out the coriander. I added a bit of extra cumin to replace it. I took the easy way out and used lemon juice instead of sumac. If I make this again, I might try to find some---I'm curious what it's like.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lime Glazed Coconut Snowballs


Long-time readers of Stellar Recipes may recall that back in November, I served The Gastronomer smoked salmon canapes, Castilian stew, and rosemary cream biscuits to cap off her 2008 Christmas present. You might have worried that this meal didn't include a sweet finish.... What kind of Christmas present makes the poor recipient forgo dessert? Well, never fear--dessert was indeed served, even if the corresponding blog entry has been a long time coming. These lime-glazed coconut snowballs were a fitting conclusion to a wintry feast.
The Gastronomer particularly loved the sugary lime glaze--fortunately, I had some extra left over for her to eat with a spoon.

Recipe by The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar (if you don't want to buy it, process regular granulated sugar in the food processor for 30 seconds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, chopped fine
Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, using an electric mixer on medium low speed, then continue to beat until the mixture looks crumbly and wet, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in 2 tablespoons cream cheese and the vanilla until the dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Knead the dough in the bowl by hand a few times until it forms a large, cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide it in half, and pat into two 4-inch disks. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, whisk 2 tablespoons of the lime juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon cream cheese together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth, adding the remaining lime juice as needed until the glaze is thin enough to spread easily. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using your hands, roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, about 12 minutes, rotating and switching the baking sheets halfway through baking.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Dip the tops the cookies into the glaze and scrape away any excess, then dip into the coconut. Set the cookies back on the wire rack and let stand until the glaze dries and sets, about 20 minutes.

Yield: 40 cookies
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour 40 minutes plus cooling time
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Related Posts with Thumbnails