Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cozy Green Lentils

One of my favorite comfort foods is a good lentil dish. A member of the legume family, one cup of lentils contains only 230 calories and is packed with iron, fiber, and protein. Lentils can help in lowering the risk for heart disease, are full of maganese, folate, and copper (for more on copper, see Interesting tidbits at the end of this post). Really, the lentil is a superfood!

In addition to being healthy, lentils are easy to cook and they absorb flavor very well.  Lentils make a great substitute for meat. Post Punk Kitchen  creates many delicious recipes using lentils. My great grandmother from Naples made lentils often. I never tried her recipe, and it was lost through the generations. I did find a Lentil and Sausage Soup recipe by Maria Esposito. I was fortunate enough to meet her at an event for the release of her most recent cookbookCiao Italia with Maria Ann Esposito. I recommend checking it out. It was not until I started eating dal (also dhal, daal, or dahl) that I could really have a true appreciation for the lentil. I became hooked after traveling to India for a wedding back in 2009 (I will expand upon my trip in a future post).  It was in Chandigarh that I had my first thali, a combination plate served in little metal dishes which usually includes dal.

Vegetable Thali - Chandigarh, India

For this recipe, I purchased some green lentils from one of my favorite Armenian markets in Watertown, MA.  called Arax. I have tried a few Armenian Lentil dishes containing a delicious mix of bulgur with lentils. I typically use green lentils when cooking, but you can use any color. I found a great online reference listing some different types of Lentils. I am told that there is not really a difference in flavor, but people do have preferences as to which type to use for certain recipes. I enjoy experimenting with spices and may have gone a little spice crazy with this one. Perhaps I will consult with some dal experts next time and make some masoor dal or dal makhaniThis dish will pair well with with chicken, tofu or anything else bland since it has so much flavor. I find the taste of cumin to be a little overpowering, so I would use less next time. I would also maybe use a little less sage, and add in some garlic. Your home will definitely smell wonderful while this dish is cooking! Add vegetables, potatoes, or any of your favorite ingredients. This versatile dish will keep you warm in the winter months!


2 cups lentils
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
(measurements for the spices are in the photo below)
curry powder
1 cinnamon stick
chili powder

Be sure to wash the lentils very well. Wash and drain until water is clear. Next, place lentils in a pot on medium high heat with water at a level so the lentils are just covered. Add the oil to a pan and saute the onions with a dash of salt and pepper for a few minutes. Next, add all of the spices except for the cinnamon stick. Saute until well mixed for another few minutes. Add onion mixture and cinnamon stick to the lentils. Mix well. Lower heat and simmer. The longer this simmers, the better. I left it for a few hrs adding water when it became too thick. It will definitely thicken up.

pretty colors!
almost forgot the cardamom!

Enjoy your lentils!

Interesting tidbits:

Copper is an essential component in the formation of cells that protect against free radicals, aids in the transport of oxygen into red blood cells, strengthening of connective tissue, and also is great for healthy functioning of brain cells. The body can regulate and store excess copper in the GI system via the liver. Deficiency is rare, but could happen in cases of malnutrition.

Check out Boston's own Streight AngularEveryone is Syncopated! 

Interesting tidbits, indeed!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolates in Back Bay

Sweet-N-Nasty store front

Living in Back Bay, I am constantly surrounded by picturesque views, art galleries, restaurants, shops, etc... Minus the traffic & high tourist season,  it can be pretty romantic.

One can now find a number of places to purchase chocolate in this area. I thought this would be a good time to list my favorites which I am familiar with. If you are looking for a last minute gift this Valentine's Day, there is something for most everyone. Even for the budget conscious.

First, I will start with a legendary store which has been in business for over 30 years now! Sweet-N-Nasty located at 90A Mass. Ave, Boston, MA. They boast as being "New England's only home for erotic cakes, cupcakes, and chocolates"! By mentioning the words penis, vagina, boobs, and ass, I can only imagine where my blog will pop up now on the internets! This is a great place to go for bachelorette, bachelor parties, valentines, etc.. They know their craft very well as you can see in the photos! While I was taking these photos, a man had walked in and asked the woman at the register if she knew whether or not the TSA would allow vibrators in carry-on baggage. I am sure they get many interesting questions!

Valentine Spirit

Next, we have my favorite place for purchasing chocolate, teucher Chocolates of Switzerland. I have become a chocolate snob since traveling to Switzerland twice in my life. Here is where you can find quality chocolates, but for a price. I highly recommend their champagne truffles. They run out of them fast on holidays. You can purchase a 5 pack for about $12. They have many different options. I'll let the pictures speak for themself. Their hot chocolate is also my favorite. I have been to the cafe in Zurich. It is difficult to find in the old town, but well worth the adventure!

teuscher - Zurich

230 Newbury St.

teucher also has impeccable gift wrapping

The hot chocolate is appropriately sold in a pretty gold bag consisting of sugary chocolate squares that you add to hot milk. I like to add a little whipped cream, chocolate shaving, and caramel! 

Best champagne truffles in Boston!

Max Brenner has also opened a location at 745 Boylston Street. I have been to the restaurant and thought the chocolate menu was very creative, and the decor in the restaurant is well done. A great place for a date! Here is a review by Rachel Leah Blumenthal on Tasted Menu

Next, we move on to the UK based company,  Hotel Chocolat. They generally do not allow picture -taking in the store. Rosanna who works there is very nice. She let me sneak in a couple of photos with my iphone. What I like most about this store are the samples, and their chocolate slabs. The quality of the chocolate is so-so, but they mix spices, caramel, cookies, and other delicious concoctions into small, medium, and large squares of chocolate.  I will most likely go through the proper channels and head back for a tasting in their tasting room to try more of the chocolates.

141 Newbury St.

Most recently, L.A Burdick has added a new location at   220 Clarendon Street. The cafe is not open as of yet, but their retail store is open. I really like the adorable chocolate mice. Be prepared to pay a price for them. They may be handmade, but they are a little over $3 each. I would prefer the champagne truffles over at teuscher. When the cafe opens at this location,  it is worth checking out for the chocolate drinks. Quality chocolates from around the world are combined to create rich, milk and dark,  hot and cold liquid delights. Actually, they are more like liquid crack so be careful!

I would have to mention the chocolate selection over at Trader Joes on Boylston Street. I love their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. Great selection, fair trade, and at an affordable cost, you really can't go wrong!

Also worth mentioning is the chocolate bar selection at DeLuca's Market located at 239 Newbury st. They have a nice variety of exotic Vosges bars. 

and last, but not least... do not forget about your pet! Give them extra hugs, love, and treats! The Fish and Bone over at 217 Newbury Street always has specialty treats for the holidays. 

Treats are usually from Polka Dog Bakery or Taxi's Dog Bakery in Holyoke, MA. where these Valentine dog treats are from.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Take a listen to Valentine by Viva Viva.

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