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Today's blog entry has been brought to you by...my latest book! A thief hiding in plain sight, an oath and a debt with severe con...

The Most Perfect Food?

By 8/24/2016 , , , , ,

Today's blog entry has been brought to you by...my latest book!


A thief hiding in plain sight, an oath and a debt with severe consequences, a family with secrets, and one very troublesome procyonid. And that’s just in the first chapter!  Steampunk meets fantasy in this exciting novel of deception and discovery.

Pre-order Out of the Shadows now for $0.99 on Kindle here.  You can also buy the print version for $10.99 here.  Special pre-order pricing ends October 28th.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog entry.
Have you accepted lentils into your life, into your heart?  Lentils are amazing!  I daresay, they’re miraculous.  Why you ask?  Oh, you didn’t.  Well, let me tell you anyway.  Lentils are cheap, quick cooking (no soaking required), they count as both a protein and a vegetable, high in fiber and low in fat, and they put nutrients back into the soil.  Now I’ve got your interest piqued with that quintuple whammy.  “But there are only, like, maybe three or so varieties widely available,” you say.  And?  The lentil is a veritable blank canvas for flavor.  Just be sure you use the right canvas for the job…is that an applicable metaphor?  I’m not an artist.  You can do pottery on a canvas, right?

Right, let’s get you educated in the way of the lentil.

Red lentils – They lose their shape and fall apart when they’re cooked.  Great in soups and stews and in dishes where you want to use it as a pedestal to display other foods like duck confit, sausage or salmon filets.  <--Narcissistic food.  That’s right!  I’m calling you out!  Why you gotta show off like that?  Check your attitude, food!  Where were we?  Oh yeah!  You can make a lovely bed of red lentils so soft, you’ll want to take a nap in them.

Green/brown lentils – I've heard it both ways.  The everyday workhorses of the lentil world.  They’ll keep their shape so long as you don’t overcook them, so you can do soups or side dishes with them.

Green French lentils – the darling princess of the lentil world, with those from the Puy area of France being the queen.  Like the aforementioned peasant green and brown lentils, you can use these in either soups or side dishes, but they really are so special you should make them the star of the show.  I like them as a main dish with chevre and walnuts or in a cold salad.

There are more besides this, but they're much harder to find.  I've seen black beluga lentils at Target, and there's a variety from Spain called Pardina.  There's also a lovely canary yellow variety that I've never seen in real life.  It might not even be real, just a myth that circulates on the internet.  We'll call that the unicorn lentil.

There are so many things you can make with these little powerhouses.  Here's the recipe for that fancy French main dish I mentioned: Laura Calder's French Lentils with Goat Cheese.  If you search the words "lentil dal" online, you'll find about a million recipes for that delectable Indian dish (a very thick lentil stew).  One of my favorite things to do, though, is make a bed of flavorful, spiced lentils to set some sausages on.  Then I just cut up the sausages and eat them together.  Yummy!

See?  Delicious!
The top lentil dish in my house, however, comes from a sad place.  You see, there was a restaurant here in Nashville called The Silly Goose, and it was just marvelous.  They did a dish called The Hustler that the hubs just loved.  None of their dish names ever had any relation to the food itself.  Case in point, I liked one called The Wizard.  The Silly Goose has since closed, thus the sad part, but I wanted to make a copycat Hustler for the hubs, so here it is.

The Fast-Talker (see what I did there?)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 lb chicken thighs, cut into cubes
bamboo skewers soaked in water
1.5 tsp smoked paprika 
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
Pinch of chili flakes (more if you like it hotter)
.5 tsp garlic salt
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
1 quart chicken broth

Combine the yogurt, thyme, and salt in a large resealable plastic bag and mix well.  Throw in the chicken, seal the bag, and squidge it all around until the chicken is completely coated with the yogurt mixture.  Marinate for 4 to 6 hours in the fridge.  After marination is done, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and remove the chicken from the bag to a plate (tongs are your friends here).  You don't need to shake off the chicken, but discard the bag and leftover marinade.  Skewer your chicken pieces onto the soaked bamboo skewers like shish-kabobs and lay them out on a baking sheet (lining the sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper before will save on cleanup time later).  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Don't worry about overcooking the chicken; thigh meat is incredibly forgiving, but your yogurt will burn if cooked too long, so be aware of that.  While your chicken is cooking, combine all the rest of the ingredients in a pot over high heat.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and cook the lentils for about 20 minutes until they are cooked through.  You'll know when they've disintegrated into a lovely, soft, orange, semi-solid mush.  Serve skewers over a bed of lentils on a plate or in a shallow bowl.

It is possible that lentils are the world's most perfect food, their quick cooking times barely edging out the mighty bean, but that is a discussion for another day.  Give lentils a try.  It won't cost you much.  Thanks for reading!

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