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Inspiration from Gabrielle Hamilton & Mark Bittman

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Let’s face facts, as homecooks, we all take inspiration from other cooks and chefs.  At Bleuberet, we are no different.  We peruse magazines to find trends, learn about new spice and food pairings, and use many cookbooks as references to create our own recipes.  And of course, we frequently find recipes that we try to the letter. Quite often they are so good that we stick to them.  Sometimes we give them a tweak, and always give credit to the original. This week we were inspired by two recipes from two of our favorite food writers-recipe writers-chefs, Gabrielle Hamilton and Mark Bittman.

If you are not familiar with Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of Prune in NYC and the author of Blood, Bones & Butter(Kindle Edition), she is a chef with whom to become acquainted.  Her recipes are full of flavor and classically current.  We subscribe to the NYT Food Blogs and get the recipes sent several times a week.  When we came across the Roasted Mushrooms with Braised Black Lentils and Parsley Croutons, it looked too good to pass up.  

Black Lentil with Fennel sliced
Black Lentil with Fennel
Black Lentil with Fennel roasted mushrooms
Black Lentil with Fennel 2

The dinner we were having also had polenta as a side, so we skipped the parsley croutons, although we were sure they would have been great.  Limited on mushroom choices, we only had white and crimini, so that is what we want with.  Our fennel had no fronds, but we did not find the flavor lacking, so forged on.  As we were skipping the croutons we added the parsley directly to the dish.  Instead of slivering the garlic, we put it through a masher.  The other major adjustment we made was to par-cook the lentils until they were al dente, sautéed all the other ingredients in a Dutch oven, added the lentils to the Dutch oven and like a risotto, added some of the lentil cooking water to create the “braising” effect.  This finished the cooking process for the lentils and helped the flavors to blend.  The lemon zest was great, but we felt it needed a bit more of a pick-me-up, so we added a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

Black Lentil with Fennel 3
Black Lentil with Fennel pressed garlic
Black Lentil with Fennel lemon zest
Black Lentil with Fennel 4

Mark Bittman is the author of many books, articles and videos.  We know him from the NYT and again, if you do not know his work, check his recipes out in the NYT to start.   He is the author of How to Cook Everything.  (Kindle) Think of it as a cookbook that you might use every night of the week.  We chose his recipe for Ribollita for one of our vegetarian meals last week. 

Veggie Stew
Veggie Stew Beans
Veggie Stew Beans Added

If you look at the top banner of our blog, you will see the motto, “Everyone unwraps a bouillon cube from time-to-time. There should be no shame in doing so.”  This is a recipe where we practice what we preach.  Mr. Bittman calls for stock. As we were cooking a smaller batch for only two of us, we used a cup of water and a bouillon cube.  Instead of fresh herbs, again based on quantity and storage, we used dried rosemary and Italian seasoning. While looking for the kale, we ran across some beautiful baby spinach. Needless to say, we are over-kaled, and felt the spinach would be a nice twist.  Instead of the sprinkling of Parmesan, we made melted cheese under the broiler/grill with sliced Gouda cheese.  See photos below…

Veggie Stew no Cheese
Veggie Stew Cheese Toasts
Veggie Stew Topped Cheese Toasts
Veggie Stew Cheese Toasts Grilled

With the recipes that we post, we hope that you use them as a springboard of inspiration to create your own tasty meals.  But it’s ok if you follow them step-by-step too.

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