Thursday, January 04, 2018

Red Lentil Soup

Will a lentil soup change your life?   I think this one will...

I knew it was a winner when I made it late on a Sunday after a pre-Christmas dinner at my sister in law's house where we all ate way too much pizza and fudge and peanut butter kiss cookies and we needed a little something later in the evening.   I whipped up a batch and my "meat and potatoes" twenty something son proclaimed it "really good" and ate the rest of it.   It takes 30 minutes to make!  Next test was the vegetarian friend Patty who said that not only was it the best lentil soup she ever tasted, it was in the top 5 soups she ever had.   Those are some pretty wonderful compliments, especially coming from a soup that doesn't take all that long to make. 

I started with a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, which looked good, but had some pain in the a$$ things about it, like spiced butter.   I didn't have time for that.    Why not just put those spices in the soup?  Here is how I've made it.....3x now and I can see I will keep on making it for a long while.   For the vegetarians, just substitute the chicken broth for vegetable.    So good!

Red Lentil Soup with Cilantro

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
10 ½ ounces (1 ½ cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.

Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste.

Ladle soup into individual bowls, sprinkle with  paprika and cilantro, and serve.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Miscowaubik Potatoes

In 1903, the Miscowaubik Club was founded as a private club for the rich in Calumet.  Named for the Native American term for Red Metal, the Miscowaubik Club was established for "the encouragement of athletic exercise and the establishment and maintenance of places for reading rooms and social meetings."   I have visited it a few times as a guest, and enjoyed seeing Henry Ford's signature on the guest book, along with mine, which was added almost a hundred years later.   I love the stained glass in the billiard room, as well.  (see above picture).  Also, I have been informed that the urinals in the men's room in the basement are majestic marble affairs, complete with Roman columns.   Wonder if Henry used them during his visit with Firestone, Kingsford, et al?

Continuing on my quest to find the great recipes of the Upper Peninsula, I found this recipe for "Miscowaubik Potatoes" in several  of my U.P. cookbooks in  my collection.   These potatoes can still be found on the menu at the Miscowaubik Club today.   So I set out to try it....the original recipe called for boiling 12 potatoes in their jackets, peeling them and then grating them, but I think you could easily just use 3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed.  I made my version with 6 potatoes to make it "family size" instead of restaurant size.

Miscowaubik Potatoes
makes 4 servings

6 potatoes
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 small jar pimentos, chopped
1 large onions, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. paprika
1 T vegetable oil

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until tender. Cool potatoes and refrigerate for several hours or over night. Peel and grate the potatoes on the coarse side of the grater. Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add onions and cook until they are limp and translucent. Add grated potatoes, pimento, grated cheese and salt and pepper.  Add onions to the mixture and blend thoroughly. Press mixture onto a well-greased 8"x 8"  pan or small baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Dribble salad oil over the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350ยบ for about 40 minutes.

They came out delicious!  Nice for a special occasion or for breakfast. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Keweenaw Style Spaghetti Sauce

Italian Hall Memorial Calumet

When I was a student at Michigan Tech, I became acquainted with the local foods, such as pasties, pannukakku  and pickled eggs.   Also, I discovered the unique style of spaghetti sauce served up there...slightly sweet and spiced differently than I had back home in the Detroit area.    In the Hancock, you can taste it at Gemignani's Restaurant, or in local grocery stores up there, you can find it on the shelves as Baroni's Spaghetti Sauce or Rudy's Spaghetti Sauce.   Consulting my collection of Upper Peninsula cookbooks, I found a common theme....the U.P. style favored warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc over garlic and long cooking times

a collector's item

Some Googling told me that carrots and celery and onion are also key ingredients.  So, I decided to give it a shot using some of the plethora of ground beef we have in our freezer.   We split a half steer with our neighbors this year, and with our empty nest, it will take us a long time to eat it all.   Most of the recipes I saw used half ground pork and half ground beef, which is also an option.

Keweenaw Style Spaghetti Sauce

2 T. olive oil
1 onion
2 carrots, peeled
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb.  ground beef (or 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 lb. ground pork)
1 t. dried parsley
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. cloves
dash nutmeg
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
small can sliced mushrooms, undrained
Salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven heat olive oil.   In a food processor fitted with grating blade, grate onion, carrots and celery.   Add vegetables and garlic to pot and cook until soft.   Add ground meat and cook until brown.   Add spices and tomatoes and cook for 1-2 hours, adding water as needed.  Season with salt and pepper.    Sauce can be made in bulk and frozen.

Buon appetito