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Use Fresh Figs and Cherries in a Shortcake

Use Fresh Figs and Cherries in a Shortcake

Shortcake is a wonderful way of showcasing a host of fresh fruit, and not just strawberries.

Fig-Cherry Shortcake

Fig-Cherry Shortcake

With that in mind, I mixed together figs and cherries in this quick recipe that combined store-bought biscuits with macerated fruit and whipped cream.

Fig-Cherry Shortcakes

1 (5-pack) can of biscuits
Egg bath (1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon water)
1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
1 generous cup chopped and pitted sweet cherries
1 generous cup chopped figs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 cup favorite liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, frangelico, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur or kirshwasser
Whipped cream

Open the can of biscuits and lay out on a baking sheet according to instructions. Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle the top with sugar, using no more than 1/2 teaspoon for the five biscuits. Bake the biscuits, according to the instructions on the label. Set aside.

While the biscuits are baking, mix the cherries and figs together in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar or less, to taste, over the top. Stir. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add the liqueur and let sit for another 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, take a biscuit and pull it apart. Spoon one-fifth of the fruit over the bottom half. Spoon a little of the liqueur over the fruit. Top with whipped cream. Angle the top of the biscuit at the back of the serving. Repeat.

Serve immediately.

Makes 5 servings.

From John Griffin

 

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Get Your Clafouti Fix While the Cherries Are Good

Get Your Clafouti Fix While the Cherries Are Good

Whenever cherries come into season, I often think of cherry clafouti, not necessarily because I love the dish, but because I love the way the word “clafouti,” in all its French charm rolls off the tongue. Say it: clafouti (kla-foo-TEE).

What exactly is clafouti?

Cherry Clafouti, Cooks Illustrated style

Cherry Clafouti, Cooks Illustrated style

“Food Lover’s Companion” says it’s a “country French dessert … made by topping a layer of fresh fruit with batter. After baking, it’s served hot, sometimes with cream. Some clafoutis have a cakelike topping while others are more like a pudding. Though cherries are traditional, any fruit such as plums, peaches or pears can be used.”

Most versions I’ve had have been on the cake side, dense and a little too bready with the occasional brightness of fresh cherry breaking through all that flour. The latest issue of Cooks Illustrated goes strictly for the custard version, and it’s what I tried recently with good results.

I wasn’t expecting the custard aspect of the dish (I’ll admit I only read the recipe and not the page-long background), so the batter described was far more liquid than I was expecting. But it only had 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour to its load of eggs, cream and milk. The end result was light and airy, an eggy and rich encasement for those delicious cherries.

One twist of this recipe is that the folks at Cooks Illustrated suggest roasting the cherries first. “Briefly roasting halved and pitted cherries for our clafouti adds a little time to traditional approaches that call for tossing whole raw cherries into the batter — but we think it’s worth the effort,” they write. “Instead of bursting and leaking juices into the custard, which leave it soggy and stained red, the fruit adds bright, sweet-tart flavor that complements the rich custard.”

I used coconut palm sugar instead of white sugar, which left the batter darker than expected. No matter. It tasted good. A word of caution: The recipe says that the edges will be dark brown; mine burned slightly, but they were easily removed before serving. If they burn too much before the center reaches the desired temperature, just top everything with whipped cream, which covers all defects.

So, while cherries are in season, enjoy them in this light and delicious dessert, And if you want to know more about clafouti, look for the July and August 2015 Cooks Illustrated.

Cherry Clafouti

“We prefer whole milk in this recipe,” Cooks Illustrated writes, “but 1 or 2 percent low-fat milk may be substituted. Do not substitute frozen cherries for the fresh cherries.”

A slice of cherry clafouti.

A slice of cherry clafouti.

1 1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup flour, divided use
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
4 large eggs
2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Adjust oven racks to lowest and upper middle positions; place 12-inch skillet on lower rack and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place cherries, cut side up, on sheet. Roast cherries on upper rack until just tender and cut sides look dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer cherries to medium bowl, toss with lemon juice, and let cool for 5 minutes. Combine 2 teaspoons flour and cinnamon in small bowl; dust flour mixture evenly over cherries and toss to coat thoroughly.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla and salt in large bowl until smooth and pale, about 1 minute. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and milk until incorporated.

Remove skillet (skillet handle will be hot) from oven and set on wire rack. Add butter and swirl to coat bottom and sides of skillet (butter will melt and brown quickly). Pour batter into skillet and arrange cherries evenly on top (some will sink). Return skillet to lower rack and bake until clafouti puffs and turns golden brown (edges will be dark brown) and center registers 195 degrees, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through baking. Transfer skillet to wire rack and let cool for 25 minutes. Sprinkle clafouti evenly with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Slice into wedges and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Cooks Illustrated

For a more cakelike version of clafouti, click here.

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Sandy Oaks Olive Leaves — Try Tea From the Bountiful Olive Tree

Sandy Oaks Olive Leaves — Try Tea From the Bountiful Olive Tree

By Saundra Winokur
Owner, Sandy Oak Olive Orchard
Founded 1998

ELMENDORF –For centuries, olive trees have been valued for the medicinal properties of not only the fruit and oil, but also the leaves.

When I started my orchard in 1998, I read every article I could find about the virtues of olive oil.  In the process, I learned that the ancients brewed a medicinal drink from the leaves, using it to treat various ailments and fevers.

Sandy Oaks Olive Leaf Tea

Olive leaf tea tastes good, and has health benefits, too.

That piece of information piqued my curiosity so I brewed a cup for myself, only to discover that the healthful tea is also quite tasty.  I served some to my crew at Sandy Oaks, and from that point forward, we drink it hot every winter and iced every summer.  During the exceptionally cold winter of 2015, my staff and I consumed buckets of hot tea to help alleviate the aches and discomfort that accompany colds, allergies and sinus infections.

Sandy Oaks Olive Leaf Jelly a popular item at Sandy Oaks' store.

Sandy Oaks Olive Leaf Jelly a popular item at Sandy Oaks’ store.

In 2002, I used leaves to make a unique olive leaf jelly.  The recipe is obviously a closely guarded secret.  When you taste it, you are definitely in for a treat. We use it in a number of ways in our restaurant, The Kitchen, which we opened in 2009.

It was so good, we began serving the olive leaf tea to our customers.  We also serve it for special events and offer a sample in our gift shop and at the Farmer’s Market. Not surprisingly, our customers prefer olive leaf iced-tea to the traditional iced-tea that we also offer.

Sandy Oaks leaves are used in several of our products because olive leaves contain twice the antioxidants found in green tea and 400 percent more vitamin C then other sources of that vitamin.

All of our skin care products are made using the leaves in one form or another.  Our creams are made with extra virgin olive oil, infused with olive leaves.  Our soaps are made with olive leaf tea as the liquid in the manufacturing process, and some of them also contain the ground up leaves in the bar.

So, celebrate the leaf with us!  Buy fresh leaves from us at our booth at the Pearl Farmers Market, in our store at the orchard, or from our on-line store.  Better yet, come dine in our restaurant at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard or stop by our booth at Pearl Farmers Market to taste our freshly brewed olive leaf tea.

Editor’s note: Check out Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard’s website here for a thorough preview of the property just a 25-minute drive from downtown San Antonio at 25195 Mathis Road. If you love the olive leaf tea — you can buy it by the bagful at the store or grow your own — from a tree at the olive tree nursery, also carefully managed at Sandy Oaks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lunch at Southerleigh, Basil Fest and More

Lunch at Southerleigh, Basil Fest and More

crawfish1Southerleigh opens for lunch at Historic Pearl

Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery is now open for lunch. Beginning this week, Southerleigh will serve lunch from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Chef Jeff Balfour says the lunch menu is featuring favorites from the dinner menu including the wood-fired pretzel served with beer cheese and sweet and spicy mustard, smothered and fried Parker Creek Ranch chicken breast served with red eye gravy, and the crawfish boil served with corn and red potatoes.

Southerleigh will also offer new sandwiches and salads including a pressure cooked pot roast in gravy sandwich served with shredded lettuce and tomato; Griddled 44 Farms Texas chili dog with 1015 onion, white cheddar, and hand-cut fries; and a chilled gulf shrimp roll with green goddess dressing, lettuce, and tomato.

Additionally, Southerleigh will offer the Cellarman’s Lunch Pail, which includes a choice of entrée from southern pot roast, crisp fried gulf golden tilefish, and wood-broiled oysters, served with your choice of green salad and market soup for $11.

Southerleigh offers weekday lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner daily from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and the bar is open daily from 2 p.m. to midnight. Southerleigh is located on the ground floor in the historic Pearl brewhouse at 136 East Grayson, Suite 120. For more information, please visit www.southerleigh.com.

 

Houston Street Food Community Picnic is Sunday

Support the San Antonio Food Bank by attending this Saturday’s gourmet picnic, with basket selections from Bohanan’s, Luke, the Monterey, Market on Houston, The Palm and more. Your basket purchase includes live music and unlimited wine and beer.

The picnic baskets must be reserved from participating restaurants ahead of time and picked up at the event Sunday, May 31.

picnic basketThe event will be on Houston Street between Navarro and St. Mary’s from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The gourmet picnic baskets will be $50 each. For $25 you can pick up a “kid-friendly” basket.

Visit the Houston Street Food website by clicking here at the store to look over the menus and reserve your basket. Each dollar raised from this event helps provide seven meals for a child this summer, while school is out and children lose their daily access to school lunches and breakfast.

 

Basil Fest is this Saturday at Pearl

Laurel Tree Basil1The San Antonio Herb Market Association is proud to present Basil Fest 2015 Saturday, May 30
from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Historic Pearl. The event is free and open to the public and includes plants sales, cooking demonstrations, a chef’s challenge and other educational features for all ages to enjoy.

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How to Use Loquats

How to Use Loquats

loquatsThe winter rains have resulted in an explosion of loquats. Across the city, trees are laden with dark yellow fruit just waiting to be harvested.

For many, eating them straight off the tree is the perfect way to enjoy these beauties, which are often called Japanese plums. (If you’re not familiar with loquats, click here to learn more.)

loquat pickles1

Several types of loquat pickles.

There are so many this year that you have to have a plan of what to do with them. And no one wants to see that much fruit go to waste.

From my single tree, I picked more than three gallons. First I froze some whole, with the peelings and the seeds intact. You get sweeter and firmer fruit when it comes time to use them than if you seed them before freezing.

But what should I do with the rest? In the past, I’ve made wine, cobblers, pies and empanadas with the fruit. This year, I decided to pickle them, but the recipes had to be quick and easy, because, lately, time is a four-letter word in my book.

So, here are three recipes that are easy to make, if you have more loquats than you know what to do with.

Enjoy them while they last.

Spicy Pickled Loquats

Shred these pickles, jalapeños and all, and add a little to the slaw on your fish tacos.

1 pound loquats, stems and seeds removed
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 limes, juiced
4 garlic cloves, whole
1/2 teaspoon salt

Have a sterilized quart jar with a tight fitting lid at the ready – You can sterilize yours in the refrigerator.

Layer the loquats and jalapeño slices in the sterilized jar.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, garlic cloves and salt. Pour mixture over the loquats and jalapeño slices.

Place the lid on the jar and give it a good shake.

Refrigerate for 1 week before eating.

Makes about 3 pints pickles.

From saltedandsyled.com

Pickled Loquats

I made these beauties several years ago. It’s well worth revisiting this recipe.

2 1/4 pounds loquats
3 heaped tablespoons of cooking or rock salt
Fresh bay leaves
Stems of fresh rosemary, about 4 inches in length
2 generous cups vinegar
2 generous cups water

Loquats growing at the top of the tree.

Loquats growing at the top of the tree.

Pick yellow to orange loquats without blemishes. Halve the fruit.

Remove all seed pits and the blackish end of each fruit (end opposite the stem).

Leave the skins on.

Don’t worry if the cut fruit browns. Rinse the prepared loquats with water.  Place in a bowl and add salt.

Leave for 24 hours in a bowl. Stir whenever it is convenient to allow the fruit to make contact with the salty juices.

Drain the salty juices. Rinse the loquats with water to remove excess salt.

Mix vinegar and water in a stainless steel saucepan; bring to boil and allow it to cool for 3 minutes.

Put a fresh bay leaf and two stems of rosemary into each jar. Firmly pack the washed salted loquats into the jars.  Carefully pour hot mixture of vinegar and water over the loquats. Ensure that there are no trapped air bubbles. Fill to the top of the jars.

Seal jars with thin plastic wrap to stop any rusting under jar lids. Place in the fridge and store for at least a week before using.

Makes about 2 quarts.

From www.loquatworld.com

Sweet Pickled Loquats

If you like a sweeter pickle, add a little more sugar and cut back slightly on the vinegar.

1 1/2 pounds loquats
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
A few cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
1 cardamom, optional

Halve the loquats, removing the seeds and stems, but keep the peels on. Combine the sugar, water, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom, if using, in a large saucepan. Add the loquat halves.

Cook the loquats gently over medium heat until they are soft. Put them in the jar, fill the jar with the hot syrup. Tighten the jar lid and store in the fridge.

Makes about 1 quart.

Adapted from Notjustboilwater.com

Here are two other ideas for how to use your loquats:

 

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It’s Time for Green Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip, Or What the Germans Call Spargelaufstrich

It’s Time for Green Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip, Or What the Germans Call Spargelaufstrich

May is here, which means its time for Spargel in Germany. That’s German for white asparagus, and folks over there go crazy for it. Restaurants load up their menus with all sorts of dishes featuring the springtime treat, and markets showcase it almost in the same way that Italians cradle their porcini and their white truffles.

green asparagus and aged gouda dip

Asparagus cooks with shallots and garlic in wine and lemon juice.

But it’s only the white asparagus that Germans really love. They rarely eat a green vegetable, except lettuce possibly, and only under some sort of imminent threat or doctor’s orders.

I was made fun of one on one trip to visit family when I gorged on an incandescent nettle soup. It was so green that all of my relatives retreated in horror at the very sight. Not a one would taste it. Fine, I said, the more for me, and I treasured every spoonful.

So, I was surprised to find this recipe for Green Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip (Spargelaufstrich) in “New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited” (Chronicle Books, $40) by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen with Drew Lazor. Then I read that the Nolens own Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia and I immediately understood. This is a dish meant for American tastes, which are developed enough to eat and enjoy asparagus, no matter the color. (As long as it’s fresh, that is; keep the canned stuff away from me.)

green asparagus and aged gouda dip1

It’s called Spargelaufstrich. Got that?

Though the name of the dish calls for aged Gouda, the Nolens offer a substitute, if you can find it: “We like to use Dutch-made Prima Donna, a cheese that marries the best qualities of Parmesan and Gruyere, in place of the standard Gouda. The dip can be served hot or at room temperature.”

I didn’t have a teaspoon of fresh marjoram on hand, so I used a combination of dried savory and dried herbes de Provence in a smaller amount. It worked well.

So what if the green asparagus isn’t echt Deutsch, or  authentic German? This starter tastes great: salty, tangy, bright and creamy all at once.

Green Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip (Spargelaufstrich)

1 tablespoon canola oil or grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound green asparagus, tough ends trimmed and spears cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
4 shallots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Riesling
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 ounces aged Gouda or Prima Donna cheese, grated
Rye, sourdough or pumpernickel bread for serving

Green Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip

Green Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat. When hot, add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring until the shallots and garlic are lightly browned, about 3 minutes longer. Pour in the Riesling and lemon juice, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper, and stir well. Remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. have ready a 2-quart baking dish.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise and Gouda, and beat on medium speed until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, and fold the asparagus mixture into the cheese mixture with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish.

Bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Accompany with rye bread.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from “New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited” by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen with Drew Lazor

 

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Fragrant Fields at Becker’s Lavender Fest — Soon!

Fragrant Fields at Becker’s Lavender Fest — Soon!

Plowed red earth contrasts with long rows of purple-blue flowers under the brilliant Texas sun.  A lavender fragranced breeze blows gently over the winery’s limestone verandah …

If this sounds inviting, you can experience it as Becker Vineyards hosts its 17th annual Lavender Festival, Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3.  The event will feature speakers and vendors promoting lavender education as well as herb-related products. 

There will also be gardening tips, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, and luncheons.  Business hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.  The event is complimentary; parking is $5.

 Lavender plantThere will also be Lavender Luncheons by Alfred’s Catering of Austin on both days of the festival.  The luncheons will be a three-course meal served with wine beginning at 12:30 p.m. and are $85 + tax, per person.  Reservations required, purchase on-line at www.beckervineyards.com or 830-644-2681 x 230. NOTE:  Saturday is sold out.  There is availability on Sunday.

 Becker Vineyards will also have food concessions by chef Jayson Cox for those not able to make the luncheons.  There will also be 35 or more vendors selling lavender products, gardening related items and artisan gifts.
For more information, visit www.beckervineyards.com (Facebook and Twitter) for more information on the upcoming 17th annual Lavender Festival or 830-644-2681 x 302.

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Taste of the North Side Rocks On For Fiesta

Taste of the North Side Rocks On For Fiesta

It's Fiesta time at Lily's.

Fiesta is this week!

A Taste of the Northside plans to to live up to its title of “Best Fiesta Event,” which it’s had for the past three years.

Located on the grounds of the private Club at Sonterra, A Taste of the Northside offers guests the opportunity to enjoy entrée samplings from more than 60 of San Antonio’s finest restaurants, sample from more than 35 wine varieties, choose from a large selection of beer, listen to music provided by three different bands and all with the convenience of one ticket price.

This year’s event it Wednesday, from 5:30 – 10:30 p.m. at the Club at Sonterra.

This Elevated Fiesta event attracts 7,000 attendees every year that include business professionals, influential community leaders, elite Northside residents and Fiesta lovers alike.

A Taste of the Northside is a great opportunity for those looking to market their business, entertain clients, appreciate staff, or simply to support a good cause.

All proceeds raised through A Taste of the Northside benefit the Brighton Center, a nonprofit organization that provides the most comprehensive services for children with disabilities and/or developmental delays in San Antonio.

Brighton Center Equips Children and Empowers Parents through a comprehensive approach that includes home-based therapy services, early childhood education, parent education and advocacy services for more than 2,500 children in San Antonio every year

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The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market Stays; Plans to Thrive

The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market Stays; Plans to Thrive

Business was a little slow at The Yard Farmers and Ranchers Market, a couple of the vendors told us as they were packing up to leave at 1 p.m.

But Scott Naegelin, of Naegelin Farms in Lytle and new market manager, said he believed the market would make it despite controversy over the past couple of weeks about an alleged angry exchange of words between a vendor and previous managers Heather Hunter and David Lent.

The market is open each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offers organic produce and a range of other producers only items. It is in the back parking lot of The Yard, at 5300 McCullough Ave.

YardLogo Farmers Market cropped

 

 

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Use Your Kale in This Slow-Cooking Lentil Dish

Use Your Kale in This Slow-Cooking Lentil Dish

I still have plenty of kale growing in the backyard, so I’m always on the lookout for new ideas of what to do with it.

Lentils with Kale and Shallots

Lentils with Kale and Shallots

This recipe, from Jody Williams’ “Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food” (Bookish, $30), fit the bill. It combined kale with another favorite, lentils, plus a healthy dose of garlic, chile peppers and sweet shallots. It didn’t require a lot of work, but it did need time to cook.

As Williams writes, “This hearty lentil dish is all about patience and slow cooking. You want the kale to really cook to the point where it just about loses its physical integrity and all of its freshness is dissolved into the lentils. The effect becomes rich and comforting. And while this is completely vegetarian, I am not. Really, I am just opportunistic and I believe in the freedom of what works well. Which is to say, this would be great with bacon!”

That led me to use pork stock instead of water.  I also used a good glug of olive oil on the top, so it may appear brothy — a no-no, according to Williams, who runs Buvette restaurants in New York and Paris — it is simply rich and delicious. If you do a vegetarian version, this could be a main course for two or three people. It would make a great meal with a simple salad and some rustic bread.

Lentils with Kale and Shallots

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and diced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
2 dried red chiles or 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1 cup dark lentils
Coarse salt
4 cups water
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Crème Fraiche, for serving
Some really high quality extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Heat the ¼ cup olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, chile, and kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, a healthy pinch of salt and the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the lentils and kale are not just cooked through, but really soft and lovely, a good hour, maybe even two; it will depend on the age and type of lentil you choose. Splash the mixture with additional water as it cooks, if it is threatening to dry out; you want the final product to be moist, but not at all brothy. Just before serving, stir in the nutmeg and season the mixture with salt.

Serve hot or at room temperature with generous spoonfuls of cold crème fraiche and a healthy drizzle of the raw, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food” by Jody Williams

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