Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Things I've Been Eating and Enjoying

Last week, I made this and could not stop eating it. I will make this all year long; a new favorite.

Warm Sausage and Lentil Salad

- serves 4 -

Adapted from Pork & Sons by St├ęphane Reynaud


2 1/4 cups green lentils, preferably Puy, the French green kind
2 links Italian sausage, about 1/2 pound
1/3 cup chopped bacon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Balsamic vinegar to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts (optional)
Slim bunch of chives, chopped


1. Simmer lentils with sausage in plenty of water and a bouquet garni (French for "garnished bouquet"; optional), for 30 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through. (Other types of lentils will require less cooking time.)

2. In the meantime, saute the bacon over medium heat until browned but not crisp.

3. Combine the Dijon, olive oil, shallots, chives, and bacon with its fat in a small jar or bowl. Shake well or whisk, then add the balsamic vinegar little by little to form a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Once cooled, slice the sausage. Toss the lentils with the vinaigrette and top with the sliced sausage. Finish with a little chopped shallot, chive, and the hazelnuts.

Right now I have this in the oven, and it smells heavenly:

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

To shred the zucchini use a box grater - most micro planes are too fine, you want shredded zucchini, not mush. Feel free to play around with the "add-in" ingredients - for example, use whatever chopped herbs you like. I had dill on hand, and I like how it tastes with summer squash, so dill it was. I suspect anything from chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or chives, to spices, chopped spinach, or corn could work here. Also, when I have the time and inclination I'll drain the ricotta through cheesecloth to get even more moisture out of the cake, but to be honest, most times I won't bother. Lastly, I use a springform pan here, but you could use an equivalent baking dish or deep tart pan as well.

2 cups zucchini, unpeeled & grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 325F degrees, racks the middle. Butter/oil a 7-inch springform pan.

In a strainer, toss the shredded zucchini with the salt and let sit for ten minutes. Now aggressively squeeze and press out as much moisture as you can. Set aside.

In the meantime, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and continue mixing until well combined. Now stir in the shredded zucchini. Fill the springform pan with the ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for sixty minutes. If there is any moisture left on top of the cake at this point, carefully use a bit of paper towel to dab it off. Now sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20 -30 minutes or until the goat cheese is melted and the cake barely jiggles in the center (it will set up more as it cools).

At this point, if the cake is baked and set, but the top isn't quite golden, I'll zap it with the broiler (just about a minute) to get a bit more color on top. Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes, then release the cake from its pan. Cool completely, serve at room temperature drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Serves 8.


I've also been eating homemade tollhouse cookies (I like the texture from shortening, but I do think butter's flavor more profound), zucchini muffins, purslane from the sidewalk, frozen gyoza, and halvah.

I also ate a variety of on-the-road food on my way to Michigan and back, nothing spectacular. I went to Auburn Hills/Oxford for an herb conference, where I got to hear herbalists (Althea Northage-Orr and jim mcdonald) in action, which was all I wanted. Very inspiring. I'm not sure yet where I'm going on this plant path, but I am on it for sure.