Sunday, March 9, 2008

Wontons, Lentils, and maybe a house?

There was a time, not so long ago, that the only pictures on my camera were of food. I've become better at getting it out for different occasions, including having my two-year-old nephew overnight last weekend. Most of the day looked like this-

Tim defending himself while Buddy whirls around in a dervish. The house always feels more empty after he leaves. Empty, but clean.

I have done a bit of cooking. Usually I run solo in the kitchen. (Tim is very good at observing and discussing food, but he shows little to no interest in actually cooking anything.)
This, however, is about to change. Tim has developed a revolutionary two-spooned approach to preparing the filling for one of our favorite eats: won tons. The filling is interchangeable with that of my potstickers.

This formula is easily modified based on what you have around. We didn't have any yellow onion, so I added some minced carrots and stirred in some green onions after I'd removed the meat mixture from the heat.
The process is exactly the same, but rather than fry the bottoms and steam the rest, I simply steamed them in the dutch oven. We didn't manage pictures of the final product, but Tim was especially proud of the look of the filling, so here's a photo.

The important thing is having the filling really well chopped up so that there aren't any chunks of carrots or meat in the dumplings.

Delicious served with the sweet and sour from the potstickers recipe, or with soysauce with sesame oil stirred in.


I also whipped up some lentils this week. I always keep lentils on hand. They're cheap and really good for you. This recipe comes from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home, a cookbook I've used a lot since I got it.

These lentils are hearty and satisfying, and vegan, too! They're great as a side for dinner, or for dinner along with a simple salad.
Ina purees her tomatoes, but I'd rather not clean my food processor bowl, so I skip that step. It gives a chunkier product. If you'd prefer a smoother one, by all means give it a whirl.

You'll need to check the lentils periodically to check for doneness and liquid levels. I had to add a little extra stock about 30 minutes in, so be diligent or they will burn.
I used yellow curry paste. I added a little more than called for and could have liked more, but we like things spicy. :)

Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes
Barefoot Contessa at Home

2 teaspoons good olive oil
2 cups large-diced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups large-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 gloves)
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup French green lentils (7 ounces)
2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.

Meanwhile, place the canned plum tomatoes, including the juice, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no stones in the package.

Add the tomatoes, lentils, chicken broth, curry powder, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid is still simmering. Remove from the heat and allow the lentils to sit covered for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, season to taste and serve hot.

I've always found it interesting that Ina instructs that you use a wooden spoon. I almost always am anyway, but.....why, Ina? Let the masses choose their stirring instruments as they please.

Finally, I am probably really jinxing it here, but I'm too excited. We've been house hunting for what feels like ages, and we just might make an offer tomorrow. I'm totally in love with it and have said it out loud, which practically guarantees that we won't get it, but I can't help it.
Here's a little peek-

Soon to follow will be how it went, or the crushing story of our defeat. We'll take any good house vibes you can send our way!

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