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October Favorites 2014

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Lentil and Brown Rice Salad with Smoked Salmon Recipe

lentil

Brown rice salads are one of my favorite things to prepare because they’re easy and don’t need much cooking. This week, I found a great addition to the recipe, an ingredient that I now think should be part of everyone’s pantries. I recently made a promise to myself that I would buy one ingredient I’ve never used every time I do my grocery shopping and this time, I ended up getting a box of lentils. High in protein and fiber but low in fat, I find it to be a perfect rice extender. Thanks to this new discovery, I can cut the amount of rice I eat in half and still get full.

If you’ve never worked with lentils either, they’re these tiny legumes with a nutty flavor and an almost starchy texture, somewhat similar to mung beans (but not in flavor). They’re nice to chew on and have a neutral enough flavor that it goes well with almost anything. I’ve incorporated it in 3 of my meals since opening the box and am seriously considering mixing it in with most of my meals. I’m sure there’s so many more ways to prepare it but here’s how I’ve been having mine:

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked lentils (Only 1/2 a cup of the cooked ones will be used, the rest can be refrigerated or frozen)

4 cups of water

1/2 cup of cooked brown rice

1 tomato, chopped

5 basil leaves, chopped

1 chili pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 tbsp feta cheese

2 slices smoked salmon

Procedure

1. Just like how you would cook your rice, remember: 1 part lentil : 2 parts water. When I cooked this, I waited until the lentils absorbed all the water (like how rice is cooked), but I’ve read that it’s best to cook it like pasta instead by adding the lentils after the water has boiled, reducing the pot to a simmer, and waiting until the lentils are your preferred consistency. It should take about 25-30 minutes.

2. Combine the brown rice with half a cup of your cooked lentils. After mixing, you can then incorporate the tomato, basil leaves, and chili.

3. Drizzle the salad with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or until everything is coated well–you don’t want this to be dry. After tossing, add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Top with feta cheese and 2 slices of smoked salmon.

*You can replace the salmon with almost anything you want. For lunch, I had mine with boiled shrimp and for dinner, I paired it with some beef and broccoli stir fry.

**I like mixing everything together before eating it, including toppings like the cheese but when serving, it’s probably best to wait ’til everyone’s ready to eat–for Instagram purposes.

Making Your Own Whipped Cream

Making homemade whipped cream is like getting a huge slap on the face. It’s the ultimate wake-up call and forces you to ask yourself the question… “WHY do I still buy ready made stuff?” It takes less than 5 minutes, hardly needs any measurements, and tastes way better than the ones in cans. Plus, it’ll make you feel like you’ve done something productive with your day.

cream

There’s really only 3 things you need to keep in mind when making your own whipped cream and that’s the type of cream, the cream’s temperature, and the mixing speed and time.

Type of Cream:

This part confused me the most. Here in the Philippines, the most common type of cream is one called “All-Purpose Cream” but as it turns out, it isn’t very “all-purpose” after all. See, you won’t ever come close to getting a proper whipped cream if you try to do it with that. It is literally–in the truest sense of the word–impossible. Instead, you want to grab anything that’s labeled “whipping cream”, or “heavy cream”. A word of caution: Now I’m not sure if this is just a problem for the supermarkets and groceries I go to but there’s just not much local brands that produce this type of cream, so you gotta pay a few extra pesos for them.

If you’re still not sure whether a certain type of cream will work, just make sure that it has at least 30% fat. In this case, more fat is better because the more fat the cream has, the more stable (not runny) your whipped cream will be, and that’s what you want. Good for the Chai, bad for the thigh.

fridge

ingredients

Ingredients

200 ml. of whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 tablespoon of sugar

Procedure

1. Chill your mixing bowl and beaters inside your freezer for about 40 minutes. I left mine for a couple of days so it was extra cold but that isn’t necessary. You just want to make sure that the (also cold) cream won’t warm up as you whip it, and chilling your bowl and beaters will keep that from happening.

2. Put all the ingredients in the bowl.

3. Turn on your mixer and beat the cream until it has formed stiff peaks. It’ll go something like this:

– forms bubbles

– cream gets thicker

– big ribbons, 2 inches apart from each other, start to form

– small ripples get tighter and tighter

You want to stop when the ripples are just about right next to each other but not completely. Go any further than that and the cream will start looking crumbly.

*There’s really no need to measure any of this. Flavor it however you want but you can start with the proportions I wrote down and lessen or add depending on your preferences.

*My main problem with making whipped cream is going a little bit too far and over whipping it. When that happens, it starts to form into butter and it loses its silky texture. So this time, I timed how long it would take for the cream to have the perfect consistency. It turns out, you need about 4 minutes at speed level 6 (for my mixer at least).

And that’s it. Easier than pie.