We recently hosted a small recital at our home for my son’s graduation from his Suzuki Cello Book 1. It seems that I’ve hosted so many recitals for my students before and I’ve always had so much fun coming up with a refreshments menu to serve afterwards. This time was different. All of a sudden it was my responsibility to make sure that he practiced and could play all 17 of his pieces for memory. Refreshments were not even on the radar for me this time. I found myself at Whole Foods the day before his recital with my mind drawing a blank as to what to serve after the recital. As I wandered around the store, I found samples of these Rock Creek Crisps. They were served with creme fraiche and jam and the whole thing tasted like one delicious cookie. Yes, please. A perfect hors d’oeuvre which required practically no effort!
This doesn’t even count as a real recipe, but it’s so good that I’m posting it just so that I keep it in my repertoire. I used sour cherry jam, but I think almost any flavor jam would be scrumptious.
Lentils seem to be my fallback for quick meatless meals these days. These curried red lentils are one of those one pot dishes that make a great weeknight meal. When cooked long enough, the red lentils turn creamy while the garbanzo beans help add texture to the stew. The cucumber raita complements the curry perfectly and helps to brighten up the flavors. I like to serve this stew over a bed of brown rice to make it extra hearty and filling.
Curried Red Lentils with Garbanzo Beans and Swiss Chard
For the Red Lentil Stew:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons curry powder
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt plus additional salt to taste
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
1 large bunch swiss chard, stalks removed, coarsely chopped
1 pound red lentils, rinsed and drained
⅔ cup dried garbanzo beans, cooked and drained, or 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
For the Cucumber Raita:
2 cups plain yogurt
½ cup grated cucumber
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
⅛ teaspoon cumin
salt to taste
For the Red Lentil Stew:
Using a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat and saute the onions until they start to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and stir for another minute. Add the red lentils, give a quick stir, and then add the broth.
Bring red lentil mixture to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the swiss chard and garbanzo beans and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until lentils reach desired consistency.
Serve with brown rice and cucumber raita.
For the Cucmber Raita:
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together gently with a wooden spoon or spatula.
I am in LOVE with this dessert. It is creamy and rich, with a perfect balance of super smooth chocolate with subtle coconut and espresso flavors. It tastes totally indulgent, and yet it is full of good-for-you ingredients. Cacao powder. Oats. Hazelnuts. Cashews. Coconut oil. And of course, one can never go wrong with combining chocolate and hazelnuts.
I used a 10 1/2 x 1 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, but the original recipe calls for a 9 inch pie dish. I thought being able to remove the sides was helpful in being able to slice the frozen torte. Also, I used a Vitamix to blend the filling and I think that helped to achieve the ultra smooth consistency of the filling. If using another blender, make sure to blend long enough to ensure the filling is smooth. I love that this can be served chilled from the freezer. It’s such a great dessert for having company over since it can be made ahead of time. I know we will be making this dessert over and over again!
1½ cups unsalted cashews, soaked at least 4 hours, drained and rinsed
½ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
5 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
⅓ cup raw cacao powder
⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
shaved dark chocolate and unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
For the crust:
To remove the bitter skins off the hazelnuts, roast the hazelnuts in a single layer for 10-12 minutes in a 350 oven. Transfer the hazelnuts to a kitchen towel, and use the towel to rub the skins loose.
In a food processor, process ½ cups of the oats until it becomes a coarse flour. Remove oat flour and set aside. Next process the hazelnuts until finely ground, being careful not to over process into nut butter. Add the oat flour, the remaining oats, the coconut oil, maple syrup, and sea salt. Pulse until mixture forms a loose dough and sticks together when pressed.
Transfer dough into a lightly greased tart pan or pie dish. Using slightly wet fingers, press the dough tightly and evenly around bottom and sides of the pan. Use a fork to poke holes in the crust to prevent air pockets.
Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until it starts to turn golden. Allow crust to cool before filling.
For the filling:
Add all of the filling ingredients to a blender. Blend on high speed until completely smooth.
Pour filling into cooled crust and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.
Freeze the torte, uncovered for a couple of hours, then cover with foil and freeze for another 4-6 hours, or overnight.
To serve, garnish with shaved dark chocolate and/or coconut flakes. Serve straight from the freezer, but allow 5-10 minutes for torte to thaw before slicing.