Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef, Carrots, Sherry Vinegar

Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef, Carrots, Sherry Vinegar, Parmesan, Cilantro

Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef and Carrots
Sherry Vinegar, Parmesan, Cilantro

Chase away those winter blues with a hearty healthy cold-weather soup. Quick and easy preparation plus wholesome ingredients make this soup a shining star. And as a bonus, eating lentils in the new year is said to bring luck and prosperity.

This lentil soup is a bit different from the traditional, as ground beef, French lentils, and carrots share the stage equally. A drizzle of sherry vinegar adds that bright sharp counter-balance to the rich soup and earthy lentils. Cilantro brings fresh herbal notes while cumin and chile powder add warm spice overtones. A generous dusting of grated Parmesan adds the nutty components. This simple, humble soup actually has a complex flavor profile.

Wintery French Lentil Soup Recipe

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Chili Chocolate Brownies with Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Chili Chocolate Brownies with Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Korean Influence Chili Chocolate Brownies
with
Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Gochugaru is a Korean red chili powder that is definitely spicy – but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried red peppers. Korean chili plus a fruity California olive oil and the sharp, exotic flavor of ground ginger come together in this fusion brownie that is an intense spicy grown-up dessert.

Gochugaru Brownie Recipe

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Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Why not add a touch of whimsy to tonight’s dinner? Baked potato, ok. Baked sweet potato, even better. Baked sweet potato topped with a tangled nest of puffed brown rice vermicelli and drizzled with salted caramel, wow!

Puffed vermicelli (skinny rice noodles) are rather neutral in flavor (with a slight popcorn-y essence), fried in peanut oil for just a few seconds, the rice noodles puff up into light crisp nests. Seasoned with a bit of sea salt, they add a delightful crunch to the baked sweet potato. But to take it over the top, caramel sauce is drizzled over the puffed noodles, then it’s sprinkled with fleur de sel.

Who is going to resist a steaming orange-hued baked potato studded with butter and vanilla yogurt, seasoned with salt and pepper, then topped with sweet and salty flavors and a crunchy light-as-air garnish???

Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Baked Sweet Potato with Salted Caramel Puffed Vermicelli Recipe 

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Fabulous Filipino Chicken Adobo

Fabulous Filipino Chicken Adobo

Fabulous Filipino Chicken Adobo

I make chicken adobo, a lot. It is one of my go-to dishes when serving a crowd. And it is an easy one-skillet dish for weeknight dinner. While my method is somewhat traditional, my garnish is not. We love the flavor of the chicken and sauce with white fluffy rice, but I think it needs a little bit of fresh green flavor and a little crunch. So I garnish with sliced scallions, cilantro, radish sticks, and toasted sesame seeds.

Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe

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Halloumi “Grilled Cheese” Salad, Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream

"Grilled Cheese" Salad, Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream, Edible Flowers

A “Grilled Cheese” Salad

Halloumi Cheese, Foraged Garden Herb Salad
Violas, Nasturtium Flowers, Nasturtium Whorls, Meyer Lemon Wheels
Tempeh Croutons, Roasted Sunflower Seeds
Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream

This primavera-is-right-around-the-corner-salad was inspired by a stroll through my garden. All of a sudden it seems that the herbs and flowers are perking up. Meyer lemons are in full swing. Additionally, my friends over at Food Network are featuring “Grilled Cheese” this week. I wanted my contribution to be a low-carb version of grilled cheese – queue up Halloumi – a semi-hard, brined goat/sheep milk cheese originally from the island of Cyprus, with a high melting point that makes it perfect for grilling.

The salad is meant to be nibbled, shared, perhaps as an appetizer. Take a bite of cheese with a bit of herb, or flower petal, crouton, or greens with a delicate swipe through the savory Meyer lemon whipped cream. It’s quite delightful. Halloumi is often garnished with mint, so be sure to try that flavor combination.

Years ago, I made a Meyer lemon cream dressing adapted from Chef Suzanne Goin. Here, I turn that dressing into a thicker sauce to serve on the side as a dip rather than as vinaigrette-style.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese Salad, Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream Recipe

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Chocolate Mint Parfaits with Chocolate Hearts

Chocolate Mint Parfaits with Chocolate Hearts

Chocolate Mint Parfaits with Chocolate Hearts

With just five ingredients, a few minutes, and some cute little serving glasses – you can prepare a delighful dessert that is elegant enough for fancy entertaining, yet humble enough for family dinner. A classic flavor combination of chocolate and mint, a striking color combination of chocolate brown and pale green, plus an artsy chocolate heart make this an enchanting sweet treat.

And since chocolate mint parfaits are perfect any time of year, you can serve them for almost any holiday. Just adorn them with the corresponding chocolate shape. On Valentine’s Day make chocolate hearts, on Saint Patrick’s Day make chocolate shamrocks. You get the idea – stars, crosses, pumpkins, baby showers, wedding showers, graduation…

Chocolate Mint Parfaits Recipe

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Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake {Breakfast Bindaetteok}

Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake {Breakfast Bindaetteok}

Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake
Breakfast Bindaetteok

Mung Bean Pancake (Gluten-Free, Low-Carb)
Nappa Cabbage Kimchi, Scallion
Topped with a Sunny-Side-Up Egg
Gochujang Sauce

It’s those savory caramelized bits of kimchi that make this pancake so irresistible. Dried-peeled-split mung beans are soaked overnight in water, then pureed in a blender to produce a pale yellow batter that yields a tasty low-carb, gluten-free pancake with an interesting slightly chewy texture.

The pancake is topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Gochujang sauce made from fermented red chilis, is spicy and slightly sweet and makes the perfect condiment for this breakfast which is a twist on the popular Korean appetizer called bindaetteok.

Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake Recipe

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