Chilled Red Lentil Ginger Lime Soup


From chef Robin Leventhal, Wine Country Culinary Institute and

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

1/2 cup shallots, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

2 cups water

2 cups coconut milk

2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed, sorted and soaked for 15 minutes in water (Leventhal uses Sunrise red lentils from PNW Co-op)

1 cup chopped tomatillos

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish

2 slivers Serrano chili, plus garnish

1 teaspoon lime zest

1/8 cup lime juice

Scallions, slivered for garnish

Cucumber, slivered for garnish

In a 2-quart saucepan on medium heat, saute oil, shallots and salt until fragrant. Add ginger and toast until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add water, coconut milk and lentils. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add chopped tomatillos, cilantro and slivered chilies. Cook 10 minutes more, until lentils are tender. Puree with a stick blender and add lime zest and juice, adjusting salt as needed. Serve chilled, garnished with cilantro sprigs, sliced cucumber, serrano, lime and a drizzle of coconut milk.

Variations: Add poached prawns or crushed peanuts. Garnish with bean or lentil sprouts or slivered apple, especially a tart varietal like Granny Smith. Serve with cold bean thread noodles for a more substantial meal.

Yield: 1.5 quarts

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Avocado Vinaigrette

This falls into the “who knew how much I would love this” category. The creaminess of the avocado balances the acid components beautifully. Try this on vegetables or pork, or on plain old green salad.

avo vini

This is how I made it. Nothing’s set in stone.

1 small avocado

juice of 1/2 lemon

about 1/3 cup white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

about 1/2 cup olive oil

garlic salt or salt

Mash avocado with a fork until smooth. Add lemon juice and some vinegar. Then add oil until the balance of acid to fat tastes right, then salt until the flavors pop. You’re very welcome.

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Salsa rice


This classic almost-from-scratch dish is a great side for a Mexican meal.

1/2 c chopped white onion

1 cup white rice

1- 7 oz. can of salsa of your choice



Preheat oven to 350F

Sweat onions in oil over medium heat in an ovenproof saucepan. Add rice and cook until it turns a milky white color. Dump in salsa and stir for a moment while it sears.  Fill salsa can with water and add that, plus a bit of salt. Bring to the boil, and scrape down any remaining grains of rice. Cover pan tightly and bake for about 25 minutes, tasting for doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

(adapted from Rick Bayless’s Classic Red Tomato Rice recipe)

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Smoked Paprika Chermoula

I recently had lunch at Lola,  James Beard award-winning  chef Tom Douglas’s Mediterranean –inspired restaurant. My simple marinated beef sirloin kababs were paired with a smoked paprika sauce that blew my mind. I replicated the kababs quite easily, and with a little fine-tuning, was able to make a convincing version of what he calls a ‘chermoula,’ though I think of them as being slightly chunky. It pretty much goes with anything.

Yield is about a cup. It’s potent enough to use in small doses

1/2 preserved lemon, meat removed (use just the rind and the pith)

1 bunch parsley, including stems (see below, this is optional)

2T smoked paprika

4 cloves garlic

dash of cayenne

pinch of saffron

pinch of coriander

salt to taste

olive oil

Blend everything except the oil in a mini-prep. Add olive oil in a stream until you have a good consistency, like a chunky sauce. Run sauce through a sieve to remove the parsley. Adjust seasonings, and serve. It keeps at least a week.

Note: The parsley could probably be omitted. I included it because chermoulas typically contain it. It didn’t grind up fine enough, and the sauce had a woody texture. I sieved it and it came out perfect. I think it would be safe to omit that step, but I haven’t tried making it without yet.

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Pork Shoulder


1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 7–8-lb. skinless bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt or picnic)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Crush fennel seeds and peppercorns with the bottom of a heavy skillet, or use a mortar and pestle. Transfer spices to a small bowl; add 1/4 cup salt and sugar. Rub mixture all over shoulder. Place in a large glass baking dish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.Preheat oven to 325°.
Brush off spice rub from meat and place pork in a deep roasting pan; discard excess spice rub and any liquid in dish. Add 1 cup boiling water to Dutch Oven, cover tightly.
Transfer pan to oven and roast until meat is very tender and falling off the bone (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center without touching the bone will read 195°), about 5 1/2 hours.
Remove pan from oven, deglaze with a little water if necessary. Increase heat to 500°. Stir 1/4 cup vinegar and brown sugar into juices in pan. Return to oven and roast, watching closely to prevent burning, until pork is browned and liquid begins to reduce, about 12 minutes.
Transfer pork to a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Pour liquid in pan into a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil and cook, occasionally spooning off fat from surface, until a thick, syrupy glaze forms, about 10 minutes (there will be about 1 1/2 cups glaze and up to 1 cup fat; discard fat). Season glaze with salt and pepper; set aside.

To serve: pour reserved liquid over pork.

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Impromptu: Golden Beet Salad

I threw this parts-bin special together after scoring some gorgeous organic golden beets at Ballard Market last week. My cooking method for the beets is as follows: Give them a light scrub, then place in a loaf pan. Cover with water, tightly cover pan with foil. Bake at 375F for an hour and 15 minutes. Let them cool, then peel and slice.


beet Salad

I never would have considered putting cheese and beets together, but after enjoying a beet salad at a Boise Restaurant called Fork, all that changed. The creaminess of the cheese pairs wonderfully with the earthy beets.

So—this is what’s in the salad. I can’t really call this a recipe so much as a place to start.

roasted golden beets

pickled shallots

sherry vinaigrette

pickled mustard seeds (they are in the Momofuku cookbook, I just happen to have some on hand)

chopped hazelnuts, toasted in saute pan until golden

crumbled Cougar Gold cheese

Fold beets, shallots and mustard seeds into vinaigrette and let stand for an hour or so. To serve, top with hazelnuts and cheese.

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Improv: White bean chimicurri salad

white bean salad

I threw this together from stuff I had in the fridge, and it was so so good that I thought I should write it down. There’s not a single component here that couldn’t swap out—lentils for the beans, Italian dressing for the chimicurri, chicken for the beef….use your imagination!

1 1/2 c white beans, cooked

3T chimicurri

6 oz cooked steak, cut into bite-sized pieces

10 cherry tomatoes

2 roasted cippolini onions, sliced

Blend, eat. Damn, that’s tasty!

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