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Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Pecornio

Pâte à Chew lives!  Sorry, I’ve been terribly busy with life lately, and haven’t been cooking much (or at all).  But I made time this past holiday weekend to make a quick and hearty soup to keep us warm during this cold northeast winter.

I love lentil soup.  It’s healthy, it’s easy to make, it comes together fast.  And it can be changed into a unique soup each time you make it by the addition of a few new ingredients.  For example, I make it a French lentil soup by adding fresh thyme and a drizzle of sweet balsamic vinegar to finish.  This time, the few new ingredients were Italian sausage and some gorgeous rainbow-colored Swiss chard.

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Pecornio

The addition of meat and Swiss chard make this a heartier, comforting meal.  I personally loved it, and will be making it again soon. And of course, the soup can easily be adjusted to your taste.  Use turkey sausage to lower the fat content.  Leave out the sausage to make this vegetarian.  Leave out the cheese as well to make this vegan.  The possibilities are endless!

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Pecornio

One year ago: Chicken with Apples, Rosemary, and Blue Cheese, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, Hazelnut Linzer Cookies, and Salmon with Lentils
Two years ago: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Pasta e Ceci, Homemade Oreo Cookies, and Lasagna + Garlic Bread

Lentil Soup

Adapted from Secrets of the Best Chefs, where it was provided by Gina DePalma, via smitten kitchen

Serves 6


1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (use half of this if you prefer that the sausage not dominate the soup’s flavor)
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish

1.  Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (or enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes.  Next, add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water (6 cups is 2 empty 28-ounce cans), more salt and black pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.  It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick.

2.  When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.

3.  To finish, add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Divide soup into bowls, then drizzle each with a little garlic oil, and top with fresh Pecorino, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.

Traditional, Darn-Good Carrot Cake

For someone who bakes as much as I do, it is impossible to choose an all-time favorite dessert.  It depends on the season, it depends on my mood, it depends on my stress level, and so on.  But as far as cakes go, I do have an all-time favorite: carrot cake.

I will pick it over all cakes when ordering at a bakery or a restaurant.  If I ever get married, I’ve already decided that my wedding cake will be carrot cake.  If you consider I’ve already make Brown Sugar Carrot Bread and Carrot Fig Muffins, I suppose it’s not a surprise.  But what is surprising is that I have never made my own carrot cake – until now.  Another carrot cake lover at work just had a birthday, and that gave me the perfect excuse to make a carrot cake for the first time.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Also not surprising is that for my first carrot cake, I used Gesine Bullock Prado’s recipe, which turned out beautifully.  It’s a basic recipe but a truly great one.  Feel free to add chopped walnuts to the batter, or press walnuts to the sides of the cake after icing it with the billowy, rich cream cheese frosting.  Just don’t add raisins; in my opinion, raisins only ruin an otherwise-perfect carrot cake.

I’m sorry – I know it’s only January, and I’m encouraging you to toss out your pesky “this year is the year I’m going to get healthy and lose weight!” resolutions.  But if you limit yourself to one small slice, you’ll be fine.

But good luck with that.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

One year ago: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa and Minestrone and Meatball Soup
Two years ago: Hot Chocolate, Cuban Black Beans, and Moussaka

Carrot Cake

Recipe by Gesine Bullock-Prado, recipe can be found on her blog and in her fun, charming book My Life From Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time

Makes one 8 or 9 inch cake


1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups finely grated, peeled carrots (about 1 pound)

4 cups (2 boxes) confectioner’s sugar
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract

1. Preheat oven to 325º. Lightly grease (or use a baking nonstick spray) 2 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, and grease the parchment. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) in a bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together oil and sugar until well-combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer set on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the sugar, oil and egg mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix!). Fold in grated carrots.

3. Pour the batter into prepared pans. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the cake springs back when you poke it, around 45 minutes. Check after 40 minutes.

Cool cakes in their pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack, then remove cakes and cool on cooling rack until completely cooled.

For the frosting:

In a standing mixer with whisk attachment, beat all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy, for several minutes.  You want to make sure you don’t have any lumps in the frosting from the confectioner’s sugar; if you see lumps, just keep on beating for several minutes, they will break up eventually. Refrigerate the frosting at least 30 minutes to stiffen the frosting a bit.

Once cake has cooled completely (this is important!), frost generously at will, and decorate to your heart’s content.

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Happy New Year!  We may be 15 days into 2013, but better late than never, right?  I started 2013 off with moving into a new apartment and attempting to settle into a new – and much smaller – kitchen.  A lot of my baking and cooking pans are in piles in my living room or stacked on my book shelves.  I just have so much stuff, and it’s stuff I just can’t bear to part with.  It’s all still a work in progress, but it’s slowly getting better.  If anyone out there wants to help me install a hanging pot rack, please let me know.

The first post of 2013 is dedicated to all the meat-lovers out there.  My last six (!) posts were all baking all, all the time.  I unsurprisingly got no complaints, but I do occasionally like cook.  Lately all I’ve had the patience for while working in a half-unpacked kitchen is simple meals, and this one was a hit.  I like steak.  I like Brussels sprouts.  I put them together with some rosemary and garlic.  Done.

As you can see from the pictures, I overcooked my steak a bit.  It was still delicious, but try not to cook it more than medium!

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

One year ago: White Chocolate and Sour Cherry Scones, Nutella Oatmeal Cream Pies, and Greek New Year’s Cake (Vassilopita)
Two years ago: Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins, Black-eyed Peas with Garlicky Black Pepper Shrimp, and Six Days in Rome: a Food Retrospective

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Recipe by Pâte à Chew

Makes 6 servings


1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 2-pound flank steak

Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, rinsed and cut in half length-wise
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  For the steak: mix all ingredients except steak in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish, then add steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally.

2.  Prepare grill (medium-high heat) or preheat your broiler. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade. Grill steak to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

3.  For the Brussels sprouts: While your steak is cooking, heat 1/4 olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, and garlic, and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally to ensure the vegetables aren’t charring on the bottom.

Transfer steak to cutting board, and let stand 5 minutes to allow the meat to rest. Slice across grain into thin strips.

Beurre and Sel Jammers

It’s my third (and sadly, last) cookie recipe for Christmas Cookie Extravaganza 2013.  And I saved the best for last.

These cookies – simply called Jammers – are famous in the Cookie World.  They are a Dorie Greenspan creation, and Dorie serves them at her cookie-centric bakery in the Lower East Side, named Beurre and Sel (or, Butter and Salt).  I haven’t made it down there to taste test what would inevitably be all her cookies, but this cookie’s reputation is known to most bakers.  Lucky for us, Dorie and Bon Appetit have brought her Jammers recipe to the people.

Thumbprint cookies, jam cookies

They are, essentially, the best butter cookie ever.  The bottom is a simple butter cookie; put a dollop of jam, and envelop that jam with a buttery, sweet, simple streusel.  Bake.  The result is incredible.  The jam and the streusel give these cookies a truly excellent flavor and texture.  The cookies can be made with any thick jam, but my favorites were blackberry and my homemade quince jam.  The blackberry gives the cookie a rich, deep, juicy taste, and the quince – well, it’s my favorite jam EVER.   My grandmother made simpler thumbprint butter cookies with quince jam in the center, and eating these Jammers with quince made me feel like I was back in her kitchen.

Stop whatever you are doing right now, run to your kitchen, and make these cookies.  Trust me, they are so worth it.

Thumb print cookies, Dorie Greenspan cookies, Beurre and Sel

One year agoAlmond Wreath Cookies (Mandelkränzchen) and Cauliflower Purée with Parmesan and Thyme
Two years agoSweet and Sour Glazed Pork Chops with Stewed Sweet Peppers, Pistachio Meringues and Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese

Beurre and Sel Jammers

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Makes 33-36 jammers


Cookie Dough
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Streusel and Assembly
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 1/2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup thick jam, such as quince, apricot, and blackberry

Special equipment
A 2-inch cookie cutter; 3 standard 12-cup muffin tins (you can use one tin and bake the cookies in batches)


1.  Cookie Dough.  Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add both sugars and salt, then beat until well blended, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to low; beat in egg yolks and vanilla.  Add flour n a few batches and mix just to combine. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.

2.  Dump the dough onto the counter or cutter board, and divide it in half.  Place each half between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Flatten dough into disks. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough, occasionally lifting paper on both sides for easy rolling, until the dough is 1/4 inches thick.  Freeze the two rounds of dough in the paper until firm, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep frozen.

3.  Streusel.  Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Using your fingertips, rub butter and vanilla into dry ingredients until no large lumps remain and butter is well incorporated. The streusel will be sandy and hold its shape when pressed between your fingers.  Cover and chill in the fridge. DO AHEAD: Streusel can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

4.  Assembly.  Arrange a rack in middle of your oven; preheat to 350°.  Take one of the two disks of dough, and using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds of frozen dough, then repeat with other dough.  Place rounds in bottom of muffin cups and gently pat to flatten.* Continue cutting frozen dough into rounds; gather scraps and repeat process of rolling out and cutting to make 34 rounds. Cover muffin tins with foil and chill in freezer until dough is firm, about 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

*  Since I only have one muffin tin, I placed the cut-out rounds of cookie dough on baking sheets, and frozen them for 30 minutes.  Then I’d take out 12 cookie dough rounds, place in the 12 cups of the tin, while leaving the rest in the freezer.

5.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon jam into the center of each round of dough.  Using your fingers or a small spoon, sprinkle 1-1 1/2 tablespoons streusel around edges of each cookie, trying not to get any in the jam.  Bake cookies, in batches if needed, until sides and streusel are golden, 20-22 minutes.  Let cool in tins for 15 minutes, then run a small knife around edges of muffin cups; gently remove cookies and let cool completely on a wire rack. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature .

Speculoos Buttons

Pâte à Chew has been baking up a storm in cold, rainy New York City over the past few days.  Cookies are one of my favorite things to experiment with in the kitchen, but when the holidays arrive each year, my mind is consumed with finding new and creative Christmas cookie recipes to try.  My coworkers are going to love me this month.

My third annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza continues this week with an adorable and yummy take of speculoos cookies.  Speculoos are a lightly-spiced shortbread cookie with a hint of molasses.  The cookies were traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas’ feast (December 5), but they can be enjoyed all year long.  Many of us have had speculoos cookies before, but with the growing popularity of speculoos spreads such as Biscoff - a delicious spread made of speculoos cookies – we are seeing a lot of new and creative ways of using this treat.

Speculoos Buttons

Speculoos Buttons Christmas Cookie

Bon Appetit always publishes a great December issue that includes many exciting and creative recipes for Christmas cookies.  Speculoos Buttons are featured on the cover of the magazine this December (just like these heavenly Peppermint Meringues last year).  What makes this December cookie cover story even more special is that it features cookies by the great Dorie Greenspan.  I’ve tried many of Dorie’s recipes in the past, and each one has made a treat that is out of this world.  Her Speculoos Buttons are no different – they are sweet, a little spicy, and make a beautiful gift or contribution to a cookie exchange.  Just as good: they are bite-size, which will satisfy your cookie craving while making sure you don’t gain that inevitable holiday weight.

You can use sprinkles or colored sugar to decorate the cookies, but I love the elegant look of dragées.  Dragées are little colored balls of sugar, that come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Many of my cookies did not turn out as perfectly round as Dorie’s, but I personally think they are still pretty darn cute, and the bright, shiny dragées are the first thing that draws the eye!

   Christmas Cookies recipes, Speculoos recipe
One year agoPeppermint Meringues
Two years ago: Starry Starry Nights

Speculoos Button Cookies

Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

Makes around 3 dozen little cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
Sanding or other decorative sugar

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Sprinkles, colored sanding sugar, or dragées (optional)

1.  Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Next add both sugars and molasses and continue to beat until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and vanilla and mix for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add dry ingredients in 3 batches and mix to blend well.

2. Scrape dough from bowl and divide into thirds.  To get near perfect thirds, I gently patted the dough into a round disk, and then cut the disk into thirds.  Next, using your palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch log.  Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper and freeze for at least 3 hours.  (For neater edges, remove logs from freezer after 1 hour and roll on counter.)  DO AHEAD: Dough can be made up to 2 months ahead. Keep frozen.

3.  Arrange the oven racks in top and bottom thirds of your oven and preheat to 375°.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  If you don’t have three cookie sheets, you can bake the cookies in batches.

4.  Remove one log from the freezer.  Whisk egg white in a small bowl to loosen, and lightly brush all over 1 log. Sprinkle with (or roll in) sanding sugar.  Using a long, slender knife, slice off a sliver of dough from each end of log to make ends flat. Cut log into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Transfer to 1 baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart; place in freezer while you cut the next log. (The cookies hold their shape better if you bake when dough is cold.) Repeat with remaining dough.

5.  Bake 2 sheets of cookies, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers are almost firm, 11-13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with third sheet of cookies, reusing a baking sheet if you don’t have 3 baking sheets.  DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

4.  Make the Glaze.  Mix powdered sugar and 7 teaspoons cold water in a large mixing bowl – the glaze will be very thick.  Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of glaze onto each button. Decorate with sprinkles, colored sugar, or dragées, if desired.  Let stand on rack at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for glaze to set. 

Cookies can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


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