This post is sponsored by Canadian Lentils. As always, my opinions are my own.
Our house doesn’t have air conditioning. Getting central air in to a house built in the 1700’s is near impossible, and it will certainly empty your pockets. Older New Englanders seem to take pride in the lack of AC, saying things like “You can’t hear the peepers with the windows closed”, or “don’t you want to smell the summertime?” – no, people. No. I want to be cool, I want to not sweat while doing nothing. I want to breath air without feeling like its filling my lungs with water. I want the summer to hurry up and finish its thing so I can move on to fall and crisp weather and cinnamon and nutmeg overload.
Needless to say, I’m not much of a summer person. And let me tell you, this one has been a doozy. What was it? Ten straight days of 90F (-ing degree) weather? I don’t live in the south for a reason. This is not the typical New England climate. We have yet to have a full inch of rainfall this season. My first attempt at a garden is an epic fail, except for my tomatoes – those are doing beautifully by some mysterious miracle. The cucumbers are little weird nubs that look more like something a witch would have for a nose rather than something edible. The zucchini was doing fantastic for a few weeks, then suddenly toppled over and began to rot. My basil was great for a few while and then was munched down to the roots by some pest. Don’t even get me started on the squash. They began to revolt as soon as they were put in the ground. Ah well. I’m going to blame some on the lack of rain (yet I’m watering!) and some on the fact that I don’t think we put our raised beds in direct sunlight. The tomatoes get the most of the sun (surprise surprise they are the only things growing…) and the rest get maybe 4-5 hours of sunlight a day. Not enough for squash and veggies, me thinks. Next year I need things that do well in partial sun – any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! And I think I will try the rest again, but somewhere with more light. Perhaps the center of the yard…
I am always in awe of the people that get things to grow like magic. Eva is one of those people – I don’t know how the girl does it! She’s a miracle worker. I would love to learn to turn my brown (or moldy-gray) thumb green, but I think it’s going to take some time. We didn’t grow up gardening. My mom always had flowers, and window boxes, but never vegetables for some reason. I think with four babies running around it was probably the last thing on her mind. But I think gardening, especially veggies, is an awesome tradition to start with little ones. The two littles I nanny for love coming over and picking the tomatoes and eating them right off the vine. The few green beans I had, they also munched right up. It’s so great, seeing them excited about vegetables. Talk about getting your kids to eat their greens – if you grow them, they definitely will. So, I’m determined to start this gardening thing now in hopes that by the time I have children that are at an age where they can help, I will be a tad bit better at this whole gardening thing. I’m also figuring that over the past three centuries, the people living in this house must have had gardens at some point, right? Send some of that good juju over this way, house ghosts!
In this oppressive heat we have been experiencing here in New England, I have felt rather uncreative in the kitchen. We have been having grilled chicken, salmon or steak tips almost every night, accompanied by some boring vegetable like asparagus or Brussels sprouts and sweet potato. How enticing. I have been creatively drained and completely void of inspiration these past few months. I’m not quite sure why – I think it’s a mix of a bunch of things, but it’s definitely not fun. So when Canadian Lentils contacted me to do a blog post a few weeks ago, I was surprisingly thrilled. I needed that push of “here’s an ingredient – go!”.
When I think about lentils, my mind immediately goes to fall. I imagine hearty stews, stuffed squashes and giant steaming bowls with sweet potato and dried cranberries. I get that warm and fuzzy feeling any time I think about fall – it makes me want to put on socks and light a fire right now! So, I was a tad stumped at first. I knew I wanted to do a recipe that complimented the season, and seeing how this summer has been treating us thus far, I knew I needed a recipe that didn’t require too much time in the kitchen.
After thinking on it for a bit, I decided that I also wanted to challenge myself and do a recipe that may not shout “lentils!” at first glance. I decided on doing something on the dessert, (or breakfast if you’re anything like me…) side of things. I love quick breads, so I thought that I would adapt a familiar recipe to incorporate the protein packed ingredients. I also thought that trying an ice cream recipe might be a weird little challenge – and I’m happy to say that I was correct! It was completely strange adding a lentil puree to a creamy custard base, but it totally worked. They almost have the consistency of beans, like a red bean paste. And they are just as packed with protein! My husband and brother in law described the ice cream as having a “pistachio ice cream texture”, so, a bit grainy like pistachio can be, but with a great creamy base and that toasted almond and cardamom flavor. Plus – extra protein for dessert, right? Basically a health food.
This bread can easily be enjoyed at breakfast, with a smear of butter or some jam. It also works so well as a dessert – almost like a pound cake – topped with a scoop of this ice cream. I hope it cools you down from the inside out, and gets you inspired to cook with lentils in any unexpected ways! I know I am now spinning with ideas – cookies? Cake? Savory breads? Yes please!
• Peach Cardamom Lentil Bread •
makes one 9x5 loaf or three mini loaves
• 1/4 cup vanilla creme fraiche
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup red lentils
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 1 tablespoon cardamom
• pinch of salt
• 2 peaches, peeled and diced in to small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease either 3 mini loaf pans or one 9x5 loaf pan.
Simmer lentils in two cups of water until the lentils are soft. Drain excess water. Puree the lentils in a food processor until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Combine the creme fraiche and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light yellow. Add the eggs one at a time and incorporate fully. Beat in the creme fraiche mixture. Add in the pureed lentils and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Stir in the remaining ingredients until just blended.
Pour the mixture in to the prepared loaf pans and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
•Cardamom Lentil and toasted almond ice cream •
makes about one pint of ice cream
• 1/2 cup red lentils
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon cardamom
• 6 egg yolks
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup toasted almonds
Simmer the lentils in one cup of water until the lentils are soft. Puree the lentils in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
Combine the milk, cream and cardamom in a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer.
In a large heat proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow. Slowly temper the egg and sugar mixture by adding a ladle full of the cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Add one more ladle full and continue to whisk.
Reduce heat to medium low and pour the egg mixture back in to the sauce pan with the remaining cream. Stir over medium low heat until thickened. Allow the custard to cool slightly, stirring periodically.
Pour the custard in to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrapping is pressed right on the top layer of custard, so it doesn't form a skin. Chill 12 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Once your custard is cool, churn the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.
When you have reached "soft serve" consistency, mix in the almonds by hand. Once the almonds are fully incorporated, spoon the ice cream in to a serving dish and freeze for 12 hours or overnight, again covered in plastic pressed to the surface top.
Once the ice cream is finished, allow to warm up for a few minutes to ease the scooping. Top with maple syrup, grilled peaches, anything your cravings call for!
listening to: Les Mis soundtrack