Friday, January 11, 2013

Mujadara & Things to Cook in January

There hasn't been much cooking going on in light of the pervasive sickness, but we did manage to make a batch of mujadara one afternoon.  Also, now that I'm feeling better there will hopefully be more to come.  This recipe is an old one from Orangette and was perfect for a cough-filled afternoon because it can be made from pantry items and takes a little while to pull together.  Mostly it just takes a while to properly caramelize the onions, as per this article sourced by Claire, which give the dish most of its flavor and so can't really be cheated. We also added some red pepper flakes for additional flavor, and because they pretty much go in most everything in our house.

While it is certainly not very photogenic, it is tasty, and good comfort food for winter.  I ate the leftovers yesterday for lunch, and inadvertently followed Molly's advice exactly, with a grapefruit for dessert.

We have been getting a fair amount of cabbage in our produce box, so I'm excited to try out this Asian Cabbage Salad from Tea & Cookies, and this Roasted Cabbage Wedge Salad from The Yellow House.  We also just got turnips, which I don't think I've ever cooked before, so I'm looking to this NYTimes blog entry for inspiration.

I've also been diving into the archives of The Yellow House, and this Collard Cobbler sounds delicious, and another nice way to indulge my love of vegetables with grits, just in cornmeal biscuit form.

Also, in the hopes of starting the new year off well, my sister and I have been thinking about trying Bon Appetit's Food Lover's Cleanse.  Granted, we haven't started yet, so we'll see if we get around to it this month, let alone this year, but I thought it was an interesting idea worth sharing, even if only to pull a couple of recipes or the general idea behind it.

And on that note, I've also been thinking about Apartment Therapy's January Cure, for getting your space in order.  Granted, once again, I haven't actually done any of these tasks yet, meaning I'm already 10 days behind, although I take that back, I have set up an Outbox.  I have a notoriously hard time getting rid of stuff, so the slowly weaning away, and emotional detachment before physical detachment, will really help me, I think.

Also, I'm not feeling badly about my lack of progress on either of these tasks.  At the beginning of the year it's so easy to fall into the resolution, failure, guilt cycle, that this year I'm opting out, at least of the guilt portion.  I've made some resolutions because it's nice to have something to strive for, but there's no need to beat yourself up over them.

Mujadara, from Orangette

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over
1/2 cup brown rice
1 tsp. salt, plus more for serving
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

In a large saute pan/skillet/Dutch over, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized, a rich shade of amber.  If they're burnt and blackened in spots, even better.  This takes a while.  Depending on the size of your pan and your stove, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

While the onions cook, put the lentils in a small-medium saucepan, add water to cover by an inch, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, undisturbed, for 20 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

When the onions are ready, stir in the rice.  Add the cooked lentils, along with 2 cups of water, the salt, and red pepper flakes (to your taste).  Stir to mix well, and bring the pan to a boil.  Reduce the heat to keep the pan at a slow simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is done.  This last step will depend on the size and shape of pan you use, but should take roughly 25-40 minutes.

After about 20 minutes, remove the lid and give the pot a stir.  If there is still visible liquid, replace the lid and keep cooking.  If there is no obvious liquid, taste some to check the doneness of the rice.  If the rice isn't there yet, add some more water and keep cooking until it is.  It's all ready when the rice is tender and there's no liquid left.

Serve with additional salt and hot sauce, if needed.

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