I love to cook and bake, almost as much as I love to eat! When I go to a new restaurant I usually look for the strangest combination of flavours on the menu. On the weekend Kyle took me to a new restaurant in Michigan for my birthday and we ordered a guacamole topped with grapefruit slices and pickled red onion... kinda weird, but delicious. We also ordered a pumpkin apple soup garnished with duck confit, toasted pumpkin seeds and roasted radicchio... odd combination, but it totally worked.
For me, cooking is a way of expressing myself. I enjoy sharing with others what I spent time and effort creating. It's rewarding for me to dream up unique and unexpected flavour combinations and see how they turn out (or sometimes fail completely). Wolfgang Puck said, "Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colours, there are only so many flavours - it's how you combine them that sets you apart."
That being said, I would like to share one of my favourite recipes with you - my Moroccan Lentil Stew. I make this recipe at the cafe all the time. It's a favourite around here, almost everyone loves it, almost. A little while back a customer came into the shop, saw this on the menu, and informed me that she's Moroccan and lentils do not come from Morocco so it's inaccurately named. Haha okay lady.
You can call this vegetable lentil stew whatever you'd like, but I call it Moroccan Lentil. I found the recipe online and kind of adapted it to my own tastes and preferences. It's hearty, flavourful, slightly sweet and spicy. It's a great Fall/Winter dish. Well, enough talk, here it is...
Moroccan Lentil Stew
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (you can use ground ginger also)
4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground turmeric
4 tsp ground paprika
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas
2 cups dried red lentils
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
Saute onions, garlic, carrots, red peppers and spices in olive oil about 10 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and diced tomatoes. Cover with vegetable stock (enough to fully submerge all veggies). Bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn to medium heat and add lentils. Cook about 20 minutes (until lentils have expanded but are not mushy). Add chickpeas and pitted dates. You may need to add more vegetable stock depending on how thick you want your stew. Once all ingredients are cooked (sweet potatoes and carrots are soft and the lentils are plump), turn heat off and puree half the stew. I like to use a immersible hand blender, but you can also use a regular blender. Once it's the consistency you like, add the cilantro. Taste and add salt, pepper, or more chili powder to your liking.