The original name of this blog was actually one day cafe. I had just moved to France and had no idea what I was going to do with myself, but I knew I liked pastries and coffee and I had this dream that I would one day open a small little coffee shop. This blog was going to a space where I could test and share recipes for my future kitchen. I would wear a cute apron and know all my customers by name and sip on lattes every morning. I’ve spent the last 5 years working in and out of kitchens and I now know that running your own food business is not the fairy tale I once thought it could be. Kitchens can be a stressful place and customers always seem to walk in just when you’ve sat down for your lunch break. There is a constant back up of dishes, a never ending shortage of milk and people always want to eat at the only table in need of clearing. I don’t have some big chef ego or a quest for culinary fame but the act of feeding people is not something that has worn me down over time.
I still find myself thinking about what my meals would look like if I ever owned my own space. I’ve realized I’m a pretty horrible pastry chef (I just don’t have the finesse) and I like my dishes heavy on the vegetables. So there would be sourdough bread and bowls like these. Nothing fussy or fancy, just simple meals made with good ingredients and a focus on local produce. I guess this is maybe why I have kept up with this site for so much longer than I originally expected. I never set out to be a food blogger but I’m always so happy to be able meet you here. And here I can change the recipes on weekly basis, connect with readers that I know by name and put my values to work daily by using the best produce I can afford.
Maybe somewhere down the line there will be a few more tables in my kitchen and a small veggie patch out back. It might only be for special events or weekend gatherings, or perhaps more of a bed and breakfast kind of place. Because it’s me, I know that the tables probably won’t match but it will be quaint and cozy and full of charm. Maybe one day I’ll finally wear that pretty apron but rest assured it will be covered in flour.
Maybe, one day. But for now I’m grateful to be here and this week I’ve come with some really good lentils.
HOW TO COOK LENTILS (REALLY GOOD ONES) + A SPRING BOWL
I’ve had a crush on lentils for a long time now (you can read more about that here). But this wasn’t always the case. Plain old lentils can often be a little lack luster, so don’t be scared to really season them up – they can handle it. My new favorite way to cook lentils is to slowly simmer them in lots of salted water with shallots, garlic and olive oil. They end up almost risotto-esque (minus all the stirring) and make the perfect base for meal style bowl like these, or these.
This is my spring take on a build your own bowl kind of meal. As always, adjust to your liking and season to taste.
Serves 2 with leftovers.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated with a microplane
1 cup black beluga lentils*
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups water
1 1-inch piece of kombu, optional*
2 dried bay leaves
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removes
Sea salt and black pepper
Half a lemon, thinly slices
1/4 cup thinly slices radishes, (pickled, optional)
2 cups arugula
2 7-minute eggs, optionals
Microgreens of choice
Fresh Chive Vinaigrette
1 small clove garlic, finely grated
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
Good pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Rinse the lentils well under cold water, set aside and allow the water to drain.
Heat olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add sliced shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, then add in the lentils. Stir to coat the lentils in oil, then add the salt, pepper, water, kombu and bay. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated. You can allow the lentils to simmer uncovered for the last 5-10 minutes if there is still lots of water left. Remove and compost bay leaves and kombu. Finish lentils with a drizzle of olive oil, some fresh lemon zest and a good pinch of salt.
While the lentils are simmering, roast the asparagus. Preheat oven to 300 F / 205 C. Trim of the woody ends and slice stalks in half, the toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and add lemon slices. Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through (or more or less depending on the thickness of the stalks). You want to asparagus to be tender and crispy around the edges.
Prep the remaining ingredients; slice the radishes, wash the greens, cook the eggs if using. To make the vinaigrette add all the ingredients to a bowl or jar and whisk/shake until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Assemble the bowls. Add a large scoop of lentils in the middle of each bowl. Divide the arugula between the two bowls and top with asparagus, radishes and drizzle with vinaigrette. Add the eggs and mircogreens. Garnish with lemon, chives and black pepper.
*I used black beluga lentils here because I love how dark and rich they get, but French green lentils work just as good
*Kombu is a dried seaweed that can be added to grains and legumes as they cook. It infuses them with minerals, enhances flavor and can help reduce phytic acid.
Let me in on your kitchen creations – tag your photos #happyheartedkitchen and share the love!