I love the lengthening days of late January, but for many of us winter stretches on for three more months! For me, neither Aspen nor Connecticut sees a hint of green until the third week of April. I always thought spring came in March, but it seems I am wrong about that in my neck of the woods. Last week in Aspen it was a lovely 13 below zero, and this morning in Connecticut it was a toasty 16 above!
I am back east, working on Charleston plans and shopping the market (will show you some of that before too long). I looked out on a dreary winter’s day and thought, “Time for some stick-to-your-ribs soup.” Since I am trying to clean up my act in the eating department (no more chocolate chip cookies for breakfast), I decided to do a hearty lentil soup and a healthy salad. I had tried Michale Anthony’s ‘Slow Food Fast’ recipe from the Wall Street Journal of a couple of weeks ago, mixing raw kale and cabbage with a creamy caper dressing, and it was quite good. Inspired, I invented my own kale salad with red cabbage, a few thin slivers of red onion, a sprinkling of dried cranberries, and toasted pine nuts. It was tasty, colorful, and, oh, I felt soooooo virtuous!
As wholesome food alone cannot push the winter blahs away (though a glass of wine helps), I decided that we needed a flash of spring. So I ordered five bunches of white tulips and set the table you see. I loved the clear simplicity of the white flowers on the white linen — it just looked so fresh, like the shot of bright energy I was seeking.
For those of you who are interested in china, a brief side note: I bought these plates from the YSL auction of Yves’s Chateau Gabrielle in Normandy. I had wanted to buy, as a memento of this great designer, something from the historic first sale of his things from Paris. But as you may remember, the prices went through the roof and I got nothing. It seems the rest of the world wanted a piece of this remarkable talent as well. The YSL Collection Sale, Part II, made for my lucky second chance.
Back to a happy and healthy lunch or dinner. If anyone is interested in the recipes please let me know and I shall post them.
8 cups Water
3.5 cups Beef Broth
1 Smoked Ham Bone
1 cup Celery, chopped
1 cup Carrot, chopped
3 Onions, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
We used regular lentils, however, any variety of lentil will work.
Sort and rinse lentils, then put in a large pot with 8 cups of hot water. Simmer gently, with tilted lid for 15-20 mins until tender.
Add remaining ingredients to pot and simmer for 90 mins.
Take bay leaf and ham bone out of the pot. Remove ham from the bone, chop into small pieces and stir back into the soup.
Serves 6-8 people
Kale and Red Cabbage Salad
1 bunch of kale leaves
1/2 red cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (or to taste)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pan roasted pine nuts
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
I was taught by a young friend that in order to make kale more tender, chefs are massaging kale. Go figure! You can probably look it up online, but basically, put olive oil on your hands and massage the kale between your fingers. Remove the spine of the kale and chop or tear into 1/2″ pieces ( approx.). Mix kale with the red cabbage and onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Roast pine nuts in a skillet until golden. Add cranberries and pine nuts to salad and toss.