Friday, January 25, 2013

Red Lentil Soup - For Warmth!

The temperature has been hovering around the freezing mark, but the sky is holding at a wispy blue, bringing walkers out of their houses to enjoy the crisp air and the sunshine at mid day. After a good long walk, Harvey and June come into Stella's for a hot bowl of soup and some warm conversation with their friends. Meeting for lunch at Stella's has become a bit of a Friday routine for them all, and a pleasant one at that. 

On the menu today is a vegetarian soup, which appeals to June today, so she orders the large bowl, rather than the cup, with a side of fresh whole grain bread. "I could use a bowl of hot good hot soup," she says loudly, to no one in particular. "These bones are cold as well as old." 

Harvey is not fond of lentils, and orders something else. June admits that lentils are an acquired taste, and not for everyone. The couple sits down with their friends, Ellie and Surinder to wait for their lunch to arrive.

After a few spoonfuls of the soup, June calls out,"Very good, Stella!" 

Stella pops her head round the counter and says, "Well, thank you, June, but Savannah must take all the credit for the soup today." 

"Very good, Savannah, then," calls June, waving her spoon like she's conducting an orchestra.

Savannah smiles with satisfaction and begins serving the waiting customers. The lunch hour is upon them and it looks like a busy one today. 

Red Lentil Soup -from Moosewood Cooks at Home

serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups red lentils
6 cups water
3 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 slices fresh ginger root, each about the size of a quarter

2 medium carrots (1 cup grated)
1 cup canned tomatoes, or 1 medium fresh tomato, chopped (undrained)
1 small red or green bell pepper (1/2 cup finely chopped)

1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
pinch of cayenne
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Sort and rinse the lentils. Put them into a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, garlic, and ginger. Cover and place on high heat. (Watch carefully so it doesn't boil over!)
Prepare the carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
While the veggies simmer, saute the onions on medium heat in the olive oil in a heavy skillet for about 10 minutes or until browned. Add the cumin, coriander, and cayenne, and saute for another minute, stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat. When the lentils are tender, remove the bay leaves, and ginger from the soup pot. Stir in the sauteed onions and the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*writing and photo by Rebecca

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The BEST Bran Muffins!

"So girls, what would you like for breakfast? I see you still have far too much chocolate under the tree..." Stella said. It was early Saturday morning, and Stella's Cafe was closed for a much needed week of resting and post Christmas re-grouping. Stella knew it was time to take the tree down when the ornaments were jumping off of their own accord.
"No way mom, I'm sick of chocolate...and food in general. I don't want to eat anything for a long time." Zoe replied. She was currently sprawled across the sofa in a position mimicking that of a sloth hanging from a branch.
"Well I'M not sick of chocolate," Kendra said jumping onto Zoe, "I could eat chocolate FOREVER!"
"No you couldn't Kendra, and you won't," Stella said entering the living room, "and you have to eat, Zoe. Your life depends on it! How about pancakes with blueberry sauce?"
"Nope too sweet,"Zoe said.
"French toast?"
"Too 'toasty'," Kendra replied.
"Too rich." sighed Zoe.
"Well, I don't know what you are going to eat, but I'm going to make some yummy bran muffins for myself." Stella said leaving the room.
"Sounds tasty!"
"But you hate bran muffins! You tell me so every time I make them!"
"They actually sound like they'd be good today...simple you know?"
" muffins simple...well alright, I'll double the batch then. I think we all could do with some good ol' fashioned simple cooking in our lives at the moment!" Stella exclaimed as she walked into the kitchen.
"But Mom, can you make chocolate bran muffins?" asked Kendra.

The BEST Bran Muffins

1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts
2 eggs
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup molasses (or honey)
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and grease a muffin tin with butter (or line with paper muffin liners).
2. Mix together bran, flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix in nuts and raisins.
3 .In a separate smaller bowl beat eggs. Add oil, molasses and applesauce and mix thoroughly. Add milk and stir till mixture is all one colour.
4.Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.
5. Spoon into muffin tins, (I find a 1/4 cup measure is the perfect amount of batter) and bake 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy these amazing, moist and tender muffins! (Best served hot with butter. Stella likes them with some cheddar cheese, too)

Post and photography by Emma