Saturday, February 21, 2015

Released

OK, So I'm gonna keep this fairly brief.  Cause my brain is dog tired.  But, it's time for me to share with you all a secret I've been keeping for months.  Since November, specifically.  Not even my family or closest of friends knew...

Just this past week I was officially released from my agreement with Food Network on being cast in their upcoming show, Food Network Star.  I made it to the final rounds of casting and was just informed that they have gone in another direction.  So, to put it simply- my life has been on hold since I got my first email and phone call in early December, telling me I had advanced to the next round and to continue to stay available until April.  I'm incredibly glad I went through with it, as having my own show is my ultimate dream, but the timing apparently just wasn't right for me this year.  I was told that they really liked me and that they would keep me in mind for the future, among many other incredibly kind and generous things.  And those are always nice things to hear.

Although I can say I'm a tad disappointed that things didn't go the other way, I'm just glad the process is over, if I'm being honest.  Spending 3 months waiting for a phone call or email to tell me I had to pack my bags and leave for New York the next day was not my cup of tea, but it was an exciting process and I'm proud of myself for making it as far as I did and getting the positive feedback that I got.  Unfortunately, I had to turn down a few excellent offers during my holding period, which were very difficult decisions to make, but all in all, they were made for the right reasons.

The unknown is a tricky thing to live with- especially for me.  So, now that I know where my tomorrow will be spent, I can rest a little easier and cherish what I have in my life at the moment.  I also want to take this time to apologize for any mood I may have been in over the past 3 months...I'm sure I wasn't always as calm and kind as I would like to be...and now you all know why.  But I'm back now and have no plans of going anywhere any time soon!

I would now like to share with you my initial audition video that got me my first callback.  I'm so very proud of it, as my husband shot it and edited it in just a few hours.  He has been my rock throughout this process and was willing to allow me to chase my dream, knowing that he would have to stay home with the kids on his own for months...longer if things went my way.  He's amazing.  And I'm incredibly lucky.

So now I would like you all to see how brilliant he actually is...


(If you can't view the above embedded video, 
follow this link to my Youtube page and view it there:


Thanks for listening, as always.  

Follow your dreams.  No matter how out of reach they may seem.  If they don't come true, it only means that they haven't yet. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Flourless Chocolate Birthday Cake

This week I hosted my mom's birthday dinner.  The whole family came over and we ate, drank, laughed and talked to celebrate her special day.  It's my favorite way to celebrate anything- having all the people I love under one roof sharing a home-cooked meal.  I'll take that over a restaurant or a party any day.  Her dinner was my Central Asian Beef and Lentil Stew over Coconut Barley except I used leg of lamb instead of the beef because 1.) My mom loves lamb and 2.) It's just a little more special.  I also made a Cumin-Coriander Slaw to go on the side (I'll post that recipe soon I'm sure...it was delicious!!)

But the purpose of this post is to share her birthday cake recipe.

My mom eliminates processed wheat from her diet so I decided to make her a flourless chocolate cake.  And knowing that my mom loves dark chocolate paired with fruit, and also wanting to create something that paired well with the meal, I decided on a Flourless Dark Chocolate-Orange Cake with Candied Kumquats.  And I served it with cinnamon whipped cream and raw cocoa nibs.  It was amazing.  So rich and simple and decadent, and extremely flavorful.

And, because I like you so much, here's the recipe...


*FLOURLESS DARK CHOCOLATE-ORANGE CAKE 
WITH CANDIED KUMQUATS

First, we candy the kumquats...

Thinly slice 4 kumquats and remove the seeds.  Place them in a small saucepan and add 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a simmer and gently simmer/poach for about 30 minutes.  They're done when they become translucent and shiny.  Remove from the pan with a fork and place on a piece of wax paper to dry. (This can be done far in advance if need be.)

And reserve the poaching liquid...it's now a kumquat simple syrup and is great in a cocktail!!


Now, it's chocolate time...

In a glass bowl situated over a medium saucepan with a little bit of water (the bottom of the bowl cannot touch the water inside the pot), place 10 ounces of dark or semi sweet chocolate, chopped (you can use semi sweet chocolate chips, or chop 10 ounces of a dark chocolate bar...whichever you'd prefer) with 1 stick of unsalted butter, (8 TB) diced.  Bring the water to a simmer and gently melt the chocolate with the butter.  (This is called a double boiler.)  Stir as needed.  You're done when the mixture is completely smooth and glossy.  Set aside to cool slightly.

While you're melting your chocolate, take care of the other ingredients...

Separate 6 large eggs and place the whites in a medium mixing bowl and the yolks in a large bowl.

Add 1/2 cup of light brown sugar to the bowl with the yolks and whisk until thick and creamy.  Add the zest of one orange and several fat pinches of kosher salt.  Set aside.

Whip your egg whites (using an electric mixer if you have one) until stiff peaks form.  This takes awhile, so settle into it.  Set aside.

Trace around the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan onto a sheet of parchment and cut out the circle.  Place that parchment circle into the bottom of the pan and grease the bottom (on the parchment) and sides of the pan with either cooking spray or use the wrapper from your stick of butter.  Just make sure it's heavily greased.  Sprinkle a layer of sugar into the pan as well.

Now you're ready to make the cake!


Using a whisk, scoop out a large bit of the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk it into the yolk mixture.  The chocolate should still be warm, and therefore you don't want to cook the yolks...so you want to 'temper' them by adding just a little of the chocolate at first, before adding it all.


Add the rest of the chocolate and whisk until fully blended. Next, you're going to fold in your whipped whites...


Take a large spatula-ful of the whites and add to the chocolate bowl.  Fold them into the chocolate by slowly stirring from the center and incorporating gradually.  You want to keep the air that you whipped into the whites, so do it slowly.


Continue until all the whites have been fully incorporated.  You're done mixing when the mixture appears light and airy, but you shouldn't see ribbons of white anymore.


Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan...


And bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. You want the center to not be wet and loose when you jiggle it, but it should shimmy like jello.

Allow to cool in the pan on a rack until cool enough to touch.


Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the parchment...


Then invert onto your serving plate.


Garnish with your candied kumquats.


Before serving, sprinkle with some powdered sugar if you'd like and serve with some softly whipped cream (an 8 ounce/half pint carton was the perfect amount).   I also garnished each plate with some ground cinnamon and raw cocoa nibs, which is highly recommended ;-)


Happy birthday, mama.

If you want to read what I wrote for her birthday on Instagram, check it out HERE.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Meh.

Here we go again...one of my many rant posts I publish whenever my husband leaves town.  Funny how that happens, huh?  He leaves and sh!t hits the fan.  The best thing I can say about it is that we all survived.  Grrrrrr.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah, positive Abbey will be back soon.  Just let me have this one, K?)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I woke up the day he left hungry.  So. Damn. Hungry.  I had decided to give up my daily bread for a week, maybe two, to rid myself of the post-holiday bloat we all know so well.  (And also training for something I can't yet talk about.)  And if you know me at all, you know that I depend on that damn piece of bread every morning of my life.  I look forward to it when I fall asleep, it's the first thing I think about when I wake up.  Bread.  My soft, homemade sourdough bread.  It's my thing.  But I needed to jumpstart my system to get back on track, so here we are.  It's only temporary.  But still.  The struggle is reeeeal.

And since I wake up starving and ready to eat pronto, I've been prepping my breakfast the night before so it's easy to do and quick to finish.  I'm not a microwave person, apart from the occasional reheating, but I'm breaking all sorts of my rules this week, so the night before I've been prepping my eggs and veggies in a glass dish so all I have to do is microwave it for a minute or so and eat it shortly after.  No cooking required, nothing but pushing a couple buttons while I wait for coffee.  I've done this before, no problem.  But for some damn reason, on this particular morning (of all mornings) this decided to happen....



It sounded like gunshots coming from the kitchen.  So instead of eating my quick breakfast, I cleaned it up off the microwave as my kids woke up demanding theirs...and just stayed hungry.

I worked out, got cleaned up and dressed.  But only after I searched for the right pants.  You know those days when NONE OF YOUR PANTS are showing up to the party?  It's like they all have a little meeting and say, 'OK guys, today is when we're gonna all f*** with Abbey.  Hey you, skinny jeans- tighten up!  You, wide leg trousers- run and hide.  You, boyfriend jeans- why are you even here?  Nobody invited you.'

I got the kids got off to school, then set out to Barnes and Noble in search for a particular thing that I was sure they would have.  A super important element to my day.  No.  No, they didn't.  I went to the library...surely they would have it.  No. No, they were closed.  (Damn budget cuts.)  I was grumpy.

I came home, managed to get some work done, took out the trash, came back inside to find the dog staring and barking at something upstairs.  I walk up to find a cat staring at me.  She's our cat, but an outdoor one, and she looked as confused as I was.  I went to grab her and she ran.  Of course.  Into the master bedroom.  I shooed her out of there, closed the door and saw her run into the playroom.  I shooed her out from behind the desk and she ran into the closet.  I shooed her out of the closet and she ran out into the hallway.  I closed the door and saw she ran into my daughter's room.  (WHY ARE ALL THESE DOORS OPEN?!?!?!) I shooed her out of there, and closed the door (meanwhile the dog is helping me by barking and not helping me at all.) She ran into my son's room.

(Now is the point in my story where I would like for you to visualize this- I was performing in a farce.  A damn Neil Simon play.  All the running and screaming, all the doors slamming shut.  I'm quite sure it would be funny as an audience member to witness.  However, as the reluctant ingenue, it was nothing of the sort. OK, back to it...)

The cat decided that in big brother's room, she would go under the bed.  Her little grey tail was sticking out and I tried to push her out from the other end but she wouldn't budge.  So I jumped on the bed and yelled until she ran out.  This time, with all the damn doors finally closed, she ran downstairs.  I ran after her- thinking of all the open doors we had downstairs- and found that she had actually decided to go back outside.  She was sitting on the door mat, licking her paws.  Completely pleased with herself.  I closed the last damn door, caught my breath and looked at the time.  Damn, I'm late.

I had an errand to run before I could get my daughter so I headed out.  Got stuck in traffic.  Of course.  Was late to pick up my daughter.  Of course.  And she was not a happy camper.  Of course.  Something about a broken stick and a lost cracker?  I was too tired to ask questions.  Went home, got her cleaned up and snack-ed before it was time to head out to get big brother.  Brought him home.  Went outside to play.  It was a beautiful day- that would surely lift the mood.  

Big brother proceeds to ignore every request slash demand from little sister, leaving her to scream every minute of the hour we spent out there.  I go in to grab something from inside and immediately hear a loud bang and pitiful cry, followed my my daughter running inside to tell me in broken english that her brother had fallen off the chair and was hurt real bad.  Before I can make it outside I find big brother at the door with tears in his little eyes.  Turns out he was sitting in our iron patio chair backwards, so the chair just bucked him off.  He was fine, just a little banged up knee.  I performed the magic rub on it, kissed it and he was fine.  But not before the screen door decided to fall behind us.


Just big, fat fall.  Like it was hanging on by its fingertips and decided, yep...now would be a good time to let go.  I tried to get it fixed, get it back on track, but eventually gave up.  I just propped it up against the door jam and called it a day.  We played some more outside and then I noticed a big poop schmear on the outdoor rug.  (dog, not human)  OK.  Someone has poop on their shoe.  I checked both kids.  They were fine.  It was time to go in.  Big brother came up to wipe his feet off before heading in and wipes them right on the poop.  Of course.  I cleaned it up and we head inside.  Kids go wash up and head upstairs.  I look down.  There is now poop on the kitchen floor.  Now how in the hell....  Oh.  Right.  Never thought to check my feet.  Cleaned the floor.  Slipped and fell on the wet floor, but at least the floor was clean and poop free when it caught me.

Meanwhile my husband is on the road for a 6 hour drive.  And I realized, standing there alone in the kitchen, after the whirlwind of the day, that I felt kinda sad.  And lonely.  This is not like me.  I'm a damn independent woman, damnit!  I'm not one of those women who solely depends on her husband for happiness.  And yet...something about this day put me in a lonely mood.  So I texted my best friend (obviously) and called my mom.  (I mean...if I'm already being the sad, lonely wife...why not be sad, lonely mommy's girl while I'm at it.)  She said she would come over later.  She did.

She spent time with the kids, and bathed the little one, while I bathed myself.  (Don't you just love moms?) Then she left as I got the kids fed. Bed time approached and I fell asleep shortly after they did.

Woke up and hit the ground runnin'.  Exploded my eggs again, heard my daughter upstairs awake way too early.  Put her back to bed, which she was not happy about, but she fell back asleep. Worked out, welcomed big brother awake and fed him.  Scones for breakfast.  I gave him his and set out hers for when she woke up.  Then remembered we had Valentines to send in to school that day.  I gave him 23 envelopes to write on while he ate his breakfast. He messed up 22 of them.  Gave him 22 more.  He messed up 15 of them.  Gave him 15 more.  When he was done I came up to collect them and saw little sister's scone half eaten.  He had eaten his scone and half of his sister's.  Who does that?! I set out another scone for her.  I took the valentine envelopes and shoved a gummy heart and a Spiderman piece of cardboard into each one and threw them in his book-bag.   Little sister woke up just in time for us to leave to get big brother to school just in time for him not to be late.  Took her back home, got her and myself dressed and headed out for her school drop off.

Then headed to my sometimes office and got some work done...writing this here post, and feeling another damn cold coming on.  On my second cup of coffee and still starving and craving that damn piece of bread.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hungry?  Check out this recipe post from last year ;-)

A Healthier Brownie - a rich and decadent dark chocolate brownie made with coconut flour, coconut oil and agave...gluten free!!!

***

(And here's a fun idea- Maybe go back and count the number of times I said damn and make a drinking game out of it.  Drink for me, will ya?  Yeah...I also gave that stuff up too.  Damn.)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sprinkles... So. Many. Sprinkles.

There comes a point in every foodist parent's life where she's faced with the ultimate dilemma, and forced to make a life altering decision.  A couple weeks ago I came head to head with mine.

I picked my daughter up from preschool and she said she wanted to make scones with me. (Not an unusual request- we bake together a lot.  Scones specifically.  And they're her favorite after-school snack.). I asked her what kind she would like to make this time. (This would be my first mistake.  Right here.  But...in my defense, the last ones we made together were Pumpkin...and before that it was Coconut...so she's quite used to my scones being made of things coming from one of the food groups.) 

Her answer?

"Sprinkly Scones.  I want to make sprinkly scones, mommy."

And there, my friends was where I stood face to face with the devil.  Scones with sprinkles?!  That's not a thing!  No.  Uh uh.  That's just a dessert.  That's just a scone excuse for a cake. 

Also- side note?  I have a thing against all that funfetti stuff.  Not unlike my 'thing' for red velvet. Funfetti needs to calm the hell down.  It's just white cake with sprinkles mixed in, folks.  There is no need to go crazy.  And red velvet is simply almost chocolate cake with so much red food coloring that it changes your insides.  Only you don't know it because your insides are already red velvet colored. 

But.  Of course I said yes.  I'm not heartless

And below is what we did...in case you also have a little princess who asks you one day to make sprinkly scones after school.  These would actually be perfect for birthday parties...maybe even hers next month!  And you know what?  They're really damn good...for a scone excuse for a cake ;-)

Enjoy!

*SPRINKLE SCONES

(makes 14 small scones)

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the following...
-3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (yes you could use white AP flour, but this was my way of combatting the sprinkles...)
-3/4 cup white sugar
-1 TB baking powder
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pulse to combine all your dry ingredients.

Add in...
-1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cut into tiny pieces and very, very cold (I freeze mine for about 10-15 minutes first)
Pulse this until the butter is broken down and the mixture becomes the consistency of wet sand.

Through the spout of the food processor lid, slowly drizzle in...
-2 good splashes of vanilla extract
-roughly 1/3-1/2 cup cold half & half or cream (add it until the dough is moistened but not wet...it will still look relatively crumbly but you want the dough to come together easily when you squeeze some between your fingers, but it shouldn't be one big dough ball in the food processor.)

Turn the dough onto a dry surface (you won't need bench flour unless you got your dough too wet) and add...
-1/4 cup of rainbow sprinkles to it.  

With your hands, knead the sprinkles into the dough until they're evenly distributed.  Be careful not to overwork it or your butter will become warm and affect the consistency of your scones.

Shape the dough into a long rectangle and slice down the middle, then across to give you 14 small rectangles.



Place your scones on an un-greased cookie sheet spaced apart as best as you can- they will bleed into one another a bit but that's not a big deal.

This part is very crucial-
Make sure you have a tiny helper close by to look after them, making sure your dough rectangles don't go anywhere...



It also helps to have said tiny helper stroke them...they like that...



Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven, for 18-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown on the bottoms but still soft to the touch at the center.  (They will firm up as they cool.)

Allow to cool on the cookie sheet until they're firm and easy to transfer.  Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Bring back your helper to keep another eye out on them...



Make sure she does the oh-so-official poke test...



Once they're completely cooled you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days, or in a freezer zip bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.



But if you're eating them right away, grab a glass of milk from the fridge to enjoy them while they're slightly warm...



Little helpers can be quite impatient...but very determined...



Then enjoy your sprinkle scone...



But be quick about it...



Happy little chef.



Have a lovely day! XOXO

Sunday, February 1, 2015

It's Still The Thought That Counts

I wrote this piece last year.  Overnight it became my most popular post- the response I received from it, the outpouring of love and positive feedback was overwhelming and quite surprising.  So I decided to do something I never, ever do- repost it.  I didn't edit it for today, even though I'm sure it could benefit from such.  But I'm posting it again because I think it deserves another merry-go-round.  

Sending you all much love today. xoxo
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everyone needs to just stop. Chill out. Calm the hell down. Stop the insanity! I blame the Internet. More specifically, I blame Pinterest. No one has original thoughts anymore. Every action, every 'emotion' is a copycat version of love, interest and care.  It's the constant need to be better than our neighbor, (or at the very least, the same as). We are now simply mimicking someone else's love and pretending that it's our own. We make big deals out of things that needn't be elaborated on. The last day of school, in and of itself, is a big deal. It does not need to be celebrated with a parade and a cake and a marching band with balloon animals. The 4th birthday of a child does not require an elephant or a jet or a Katy Perry performance.  It can be made special with a cake and 4 candles, a song and a gift. If you celebrate with a circus and a trip to Paris, then you are teaching that child that nothing has meaning without choreography or a generator. When that child grows up, and they receive a handmade gift or a handwritten card, they will not believe in or feel that love because it didn't make noises or explode when they opened it.  

Whatever happened to 'it's the thought that counts'?

We need to be teaching our children that privacy is something to cherish, to appreciate, to strive for.  We should be showing them that they are good enough just by being who they are and by doing the things that they do.  A good grade on a report card is a wonderful thing, and we can show them our pride by saying these words, 'I am so proud of you.' They don't need a carnival.  We can show them our love by giving them a hug and taking the time out of our day to kiss them and to tell them we love them.  They don't need anything else from us.  But if we give them more and more every time they complete a task, they will grow up to think that they are not good enough. 

We should allow them to be alone and play, to feel and to think things, to go outside and witness something simple that cannot be clicked on or 'liked'. And we should teach by example.  We should not rely on our phones or our computers or our tablets to guide us. We should find ways to enjoy things that will always be there for us, things that were there far before we set foot on this earth- the leaves on a tree or the clouds in the sky.  Those are the things that used to bring joy to the people who we used to be. 

The internet has us all believing that simple is ugly.  That plain is boring. That life is nothing on its own.  The things we go through as we age are beautiful, magical occurrences. Not everything should have to be explained or googled. Not everything has to be 'a thing'.  It can just Be.  You do not need a gender reveal party or an ombre cake.  Finding out the gender of your baby is already something magical and special and is one of the most amazing things you will ever get to experience.  And a wedding proposal is something that should be between two people who love and cherish one another- two people who want the marriage...not the proposal or the wedding.  Holding the hand of someone on bended knee with sand between your toes and the waves crashing behind you is beautiful. And important.  It is not any less beautiful and important than something projected into the sky and posted on Instagram with a hashtag. Just because someone didn't see it or 'like' it doesn't mean it didn't happen.  It doesn't make it any less special because no one retweeted it. 

And we need to think more.  We need to think before we speak, to look in someone's eyes when we do so, to not hide behind the keyboard when we have something to say.  Those words, whether typed or spoken, have meaning and have consequences.  On the other end of those words are ears, human ears, and in between those ears is a brain that can do many things with those words.  We need to be more compassionate and judge less.  We need to place more meaning in the simple gestures of others.  But that can only happen if we, ourselves, begin to gesture more simply.  Remember hearing the phone ring and not knowing who it was until he or she spoke?  Remember that feeling? It was a fluttery sensation in your stomach and it cannot be manufactured.  Remember getting a handwritten note from a secret admirer?  

Remember hand writing? 


No one has thoughts anymore. We're too scared to be original. We look to Facebook and Twitter to see what everyone else is doing before we leap. We are scared to be sad. We are scared to feel.  There are medications we can take to stop being sad, to stop feeling.  Not every emotion is a happy one.  That's life.  And that's OK.  We are scared to be alone. With the phone always in our back pocket, we are never alone. But what's wrong with being alone? What's so wrong with us that we don't want to spend just a minute or two with ourselves. The second it gets quiet, we pull out our phones to search something. But what are we searching for?  When was the last time you can say you were truly alone in your own peace and quiet? Let us allow ourselves to study that peace and quiet and discover ourselves.  Let us raise our children so that if the world stopped manufacturing an internet connection tomorrow, if our phones and computers and tablets all became useless pieces of plastic, they would be OK with just their bodies, their minds and their thoughts.  


Because it's the thought that counts.  

Isn't it?

So on this Valentines Day, do something original.

I dare you. 

-----------------------------

(but if you can't think of anything, make something of mine and be original tomorrow.)

*Follow this link to find all of my chocolate desserts to scroll through:

Also, you can view what I wrote on Instagram about this here:  http://instagram.com/p/yj4u3klK_N/

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Steelhead Trout. Duck Egg. Lentils. Beets

Hello, lovelies.  I have a pretty damn good recipe to share with you guys today.  It's one I made up last Friday night for 'date night dinner'.  My husband and I generally stay in and eat a nice dinner after the kids go down every Friday, and most of the time it's steak of some sort, but sometimes it's salmon, or something similar.  We're big salmon fans in our house.  But salmon is a bit overfished and if we can help it, we try to eat sustainable seafood.  So while shopping at our local market last Friday I came across some gorgeous steelhead trout.  (If you aren't familiar, it looks pretty much exactly like salmon.)  And, in a hurry to get through the shopping trip before I had to get back on mom duty, I quickly grabbed a big bunch of beets and a carton of local duck eggs.  The rest of the meal, I figured, I would just sort out when it came time to cooking later.  And that night, after going through my fridge and pantry, this is the meal I came up with on the fly.  And...um...it was incredible.  I couldn't put my fork down.  And I think my husband licked his plate.  So...I thought I would be generous and share it with you guys.  (A giver, I am.)

I also feel like this is the perfect meal to cook that special someone for Valentines Day...it's elegant, it's just fancy enough but so easy to execute, it's incredible, and anytime a runny egg yolk is invited to the party, the party becomes instantly sexier so...I mean, what more could you ask for?

Just sayin'.

And here's how it all went down...

*FENNEL AND CORIANDER STEELHEAD TROUT 
WITH LENTILS, BEETS AND DUCK EGG
(serves 4, but can easily be scaled down by using less fish.  You'll see below that I cooked 3 portions of fish so I would have a lunch the next day but had plenty of lentils leftover.)

For the Beets...
(plan on 1 standard, medium-large beet per person.)


This is the first thing you want to do for this meal.  Start these earlier in the day, even the day before if you can, and store them in the fridge before the second roast.  The best way to cook beets is to dry roast them whole first, before you slice, saute or roast them.  It's so easy.  All you have to do is cut off the stems (keep the greens to saute for another meal-they're delicious!), cut off any long end pieces and wrap each one in several layers of heavy duty foil.  Place them on a roasting pan and cook at 350 for about 2 hours, or until they're fork tender.  Allow them to cool in the foil and once cooled, the peel just slides right off when rubbed with paper towel.  After the peels have been removed, slice them into wedges and place back in that same roasting pan with enough olive or canola oil to lightly coat, a good amount of kosher salt, a bit of sugar, and a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar to coat.  Roast at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until caramelized on the outside, while your lentils are simmering...

For the Lentils...
In a medium saucepan with a bit of olive or canola oil, sweat out the following...
-1 carrot, peeled and diced
-1 celery stalk, diced
-1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
Season with kosher salt
Cook til the onions and celery are transluscent

Add in...
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Stir until the garlic is fragrant.

Add in...
-1 cup french lentils*
Toss around with the vegetables and allow them to toast a bit.

Deglaze the pan with...
-a good splash of a dry, white wine such as a pinot grigio
Stir and scrape up any bits that were stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Allow the wine to bubble for about 30 seconds.

Add in...
-2 cups of broth/stock (I used chicken only because I had an open carton already, but vegetable would be perfectly fine.  As would water...you would just need too add more salt to taste.)
-a large handful of fresh sage leaves, wrapped in kitchen twine. (This is because you want the flavor of sage but not the pieces.)

Bring the liquid to a boil.  Stir well and cover.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, simmering and covered, for 20 minutes.  The lentils will still have a bite to them and that's what you want.

Remove sage bundle and adjust seasoning if necessary.

(*I prefer using french lentils instead of the larger green ones because they hold their shape better.  The traditional green ones break down too easily and become mushy.  But the french lentils, which are smaller and almost black in color, keep their integrity.  They're a bit more expensive and you know me and saving money, but I feel it's worth it.  If all you have are domestic green lentils and everything else to make this dish, please don't go out just for fancy lentils.  That's ridiculous.)

For the Trout...

Season your filets well, on the flesh side, with kosher salt, whole fennel and coriander seeds, finely ground (plan on roughly 1/2 tsp of each spice per fish portion), and lemon zest (2 fish portions take the zest of about 1/2 a lemon-reserve the lemon for later).  (If you have the time, season your fish at least an hour beforehand, if not earlier that day.)

Allow the fish to come up to room temperature while your beets and lentils are cooking, for about 10 minutes.

Preheat a large skillet on medium-high heat (I don't add oil to my pans when I'm cooking salmon or something similar.  There is already a lot of oil in the fish and it's unnecessary to add more.)  Once the skillet is hot, place the fish, seasoned flesh-side down into the pan.  Do not touch it.  Allow it to cook, unmoved for 4-5 minutes.  Most of the cooking is done on this first side and you want a good crust on it before you flip.  You also know it's ready to flip when it pulls away from the pan and doesn't stick.  Flip the fish over, skin-side down, and transfer to the oven where your beets are cooking.  They should only take about 6-8 minutes to finish cooking, depending on how thick your filets were.  They should be a little springy to the touch.


For the Duck Eggs...


(Yes, you can use chicken eggs.  Absolutely.  I was just feeling fancy.  Duck eggs have a much richer flavor, a higher nutritional count, and are super duper yummy.  But, then again, so are really good chicken eggs ;-)  And you're going to start cooking these once you've transferred your fish to the oven.)

Preheat a medium, nonstick skillet on medium-high heat.  Add some canola/olive oil to the pan once it's hot.  Crack each egg into the pan, season well with kosher salt...


...and cover the skillet with a lid, or a pan of equal size, or a piece of foil.  Just make sure it's completely covered.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, checking to make sure you don't overcook it.  You want a still-orange yolk and a firm, opaque white.  A little foggy film over the yolks is perfect for a really thick but still runny yolk.


How to plate...

First, take a handful of fresh arugula leaves and place in the center of each plate.


Then take a large mound of your lentils and place on top of the arugula bed.


Then take your fish (remove the skin if you need to, your choice) and place centered over the lentils.


Arrange some of your balsamic beets around the fish and over the lentils.


Top the fish with your cooked egg.


Add a bit of sea or kosher salt over everything, some cracked black pepper, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon (from the one you zested earlier.)


And enjoy.

Consider stopping halfway through...


But then, most likely reconsider.

Continue enjoyment.

Love and cheers to you all!!!

XOXO,

Abbey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Still hungry for more?  Of course you are, darling.