Creamy Mustard, Egg, and Quinoa Bake (or How to Turn Easter Eggs into Dinner)

creamy mustard, ham and egg bake

Spring is finally peeking around the corner here in the north. I thought I saw the faintest tinge of green along a ditch yesterday – and then in typical northern Alberta spring style, it’s been snowing all day today!

There’s not much colour around here yet, but I’m guessing the Easter Bunny is busily painting eggs day and night right about now. Maybe this year he’ll even get to hide some of them outside, if the snow melts by Sunday.

I love this time of year – it’s all about hope. Hope for the soft greens of spring to arrive. Hope for the warmth of the sun shining on my face. Hope for the thrill of digging deep into the soft soil of the garden soon.

I know that January is all set up for new starts and making resolutions and all the hoopla that goes with the beginning of a new year. But really, for us here in northern Alberta, January is just another cold day deep in the middle of winter. In the dark of winter it’s too easy to sink back into hibernating lethargy. I think spring is truly the time to make resolutions and plans for changes in our lives.

Right now – with Spring dawning in the air – I feel charged with energy and an eagerness to move ahead.

And the Easter weekend ahead means special time with family, wonderful foods, and a bounty of leftovers.

So, what do you do with all those leftover coloured eggs the Easter Bunny hid around your house and yard? (And maybe bits off that chunk of ham from the Easter feast.)

Turn them into dinner!

Transform something old into something new, and celebrate the coming spring weather with a luscious, creamy bake of healthy quinoa, protein rich boiled eggs and ham, snuggled up with a tangy, mustardy sauce and a kiss of flavourful cheese.

Yes.

And make a Spring Resolution!

creamy mustard, ham, and egg bake with white wine

Kitchen Frau Notes: This dish makes great use of the leftover Easter Eggs and the ham from your Easter dinner. But if you feasted on turkey or lamb, use that – just add another half teaspoon salt to the sauce, since turkey doesn’t have the saltiness of ham. Or omit the meat altogether and toss in frozen peas or other leftover vegetables instead.

Brown rice or white rice will work well as substitutes for the quinoa. Here’s a handy tutorial on how to cook quinoa.

I like to use sharp, or extra-old, cheddar since the strong flavour means I only need to use a small amount. The one cup called for in this recipe adds plenty of cheesiness.

creamy mustard, ham, and egg bake

Creamy Mustard, Egg and Quinoa Bake

  • 4 – 5 cups (1-1.2 litres) cooked quinoa or rice (how to cook quinoa here)
  • 8 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml/100gms) grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (240ml/150gms) diced ham, cooked meat, or vegetables
  • ½ cup (120ml) chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish

For the Mustard Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (or all purpose flour)
2 cups (480ml) milk
4 tablespoons (¼cup/60ml) Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt if using ham, 1 teaspoon salt if using other meat or vegetables
¼ teaspoon white pepper

Grease a 9″x13″ pan with butter or oil.

Cook the quinoa and let it cool.

Cook the eggs and let them cool. Peel the eggs and cut them in halves lengthwise.

boiled eggs, halved for the creamy mustard, ham and egg bake

When cool, mix the quinoa with the diced ham, half of the grated cheese, and the chopped parsley.

quinoa mixed with the ham, cheese, and parsley for the creamy mustard, ham, and egg bake

 

Spread it evenly into the greased pan. Nestle the egg halves into the quinoa, wiggling them down into the mixture.

quinoa, ham, and eggs ready for the creamy mustard sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make the Mustard Cream Sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the diced onion and cook until the onion is translucent – about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until it coats the onions. Add the milk, about ¼ cup (60ml) at a time, cooking and stirring after each addition until the sauce is bubbling and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. The mustard will thicken the sauce. If it gets too thick to pour easily, add a few tablespoons more milk or water to thin it out.

Pour the Mustard Cream Sauce over the eggs and quinoa. Gently spread it out to the edges of the pan with a spatula. Sprinkle on the remaining half cup of grated cheese.

creamy mustard, ham, and egg bake ready for the oven

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and brown around the edges.

Before serving, sprinkle the top with a small handful chopped parsley.

Serve with steamed vegetables or a green salad.

Serves 5 to 6.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Bacon, Egg and Spinach Salad with Mustard-Miso Vinaigrette

Ham ‘n Egg Salad with Hazelnut-Flax Crackers and Asparagus with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Eggplant, Kale and Cannellini Bean Ratatouille with Poached Eggs

Erin’s Corn Pie

Slowcooker Shipwreck Casserole

creamy mustard, ham, and egg bake - up close

Posted in Eggs & Cheese, Grains & Seeds, One-Dish Meals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Breakfast Balls – Handy Little Balls of Goodness for On-the-Go Breakfasts or Snacks

Breakfast Balls - High fiber, nutritious breakfast on the go

What fits in your pocket, is sturdy enough to carry around in your purse or backpack, can be eaten with two fingers, fills you right up, is made with pure healthy ingredients, and tastes great?

Breakfast Balls – yummy little balls of banana-nut-oat goodness that are a cross between a hearty breakfast and a granola bar type of snack. They’re not too sweet, yet have that wonderful little burst of chocolate that fools my brain and makes it think I’m having a treat.

I learned this recipe from my daughter Olivia – a university student who gets together with her friend once a week to make a huge batch of these. The girls have honed the recipe until it is absolutely straightforward, easy to make in their simply equipped kitchen, and economical to fit their student budget. They divvy up the batch and live on these tasty little bites for the week, toting them in their backpacks and munching them in lieu of meals or snacks as they study.

breakfast balls - banana and oat high fiber breakfast on the go

I love that the Breakfast Balls are sweetened naturally with bananas, have a great amount of fiber from the oats and coconut, and are full of flavour from the cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate. Way to go, girls.

This recipe is very flexible – Olivia says the original recipe had coconut oil in it, and peanut butter. You could certainly add those in. Olivia and Luiza have streamlined the recipe (for economy and simplicity) and they prefer the taste of the Breakfast Balls this way. Olivia likes to eat hers with peanut butter spread onto each bite as she eats the balls. I have added a handful of ground nuts to increase the protein level, but the girls don’t put the nuts in (student budget restrictions) and like the softer texture of the balls without them.

Either way, three Breakfast Balls contain the same amount of oats you’d get in a bowl of oatmeal – not bad for a snack that’s sturdy enough to survive in a baggie in my purse for a few days.

The only problem in our household is getting bananas to the lusciously sweet and overripe state needed to make Breakfast Balls. I buy two big bunches of bananas almost weekly, and they’re often gone just as I think, Oh good, I can make a batch of Breakfast Balls tomorrow, or maybe even a banana loaf. (As a note – I rarely eat bananas – I happen to live with monkeys.) I am going to have to confiscate and hide some bananas so they can ripen in the dirty laundry hamper, or maybe in the vacuum cleaner box – someplace nobody will think of looking.

* * * * *

breakfast balls with a mug of tea - great high fiber oat breakfast on the go

Kitchen Frau Notes: I make a batch of Breakfast Balls and keep them in the freezer. It’s easy to toss a few into a plastic sandwich bag and tote them in my purse when I’m heading off to do a day of shopping, or even when I’m off to work and too rushed to eat breakfast in the morning. I relish the thought that at recess time I can nibble on them with my cup of tea. They beat instant oatmeal right out of the race!

I like the denseness of the Breakfast Balls when I add the ground nuts, but they are just as tasty without. I always try to drink something when I eat these, to have the liquid in my stomach for digesting the oats. I think of it as having a bowl of oatmeal on the go.

Since the only sweetness in this recipe comes from the bananas and the sprinkling of chocolate chips, try to have your bananas as ripe as possible – well freckled with brown, or even mostly brown. When the bananas look too ripe to eat, they are just perfect for making Breakfast Balls.

Mini chocolate chips distribute the chocolate more evenly and make the balls easier to form, but normal-sized ones would work well, too. Or you could use raisins or chopped dates instead of the chocolate chips.

Olivia often uses baking soda instead of baking powder because that’s all she has in her cupboards, and says that works fine, too. You can roll the balls small, like I make them, or bigger if you feel like it. The recipe is very flexible.

breakfast balls - high fiber banana oat breakfast on the go

Banana Oat Breakfast Balls

  • 4 large, very ripe bananas
  • 4 cups (400 gms) large flake oats (old-fashioned oats), gluten-free if necessary
  • ½ cup (50 gms) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup (50 gms) ground hazelnuts or almonds or more coconut – optional
  • ½ cup (100 gms) mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

ingredients for banana oat breakfast balls

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease it.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a potato masher or a fork.

mashed bananas for banana oat breakfast balls

Add all the other ingredients and stir well to combine.

Scoop up about 1½ tablespoons dough at time and squeeze it together to make a rough ball. (I use a size 40 cookie scoop.) I find that squeezing and gently tossing the ball from one had to the other several times helps form it into a neater ball.

banana oat breakfast balls

Place the balls about ½ inch apart on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until when you lift up one of the balls, you can see that the bottom is golden brown.

Cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months.

Makes about 40 breakfast balls 1½ inches in diameter (less if you omit the ground nuts).

*If you make them this size, each Breakfast Ball has 1.6 tablespoons oats, so 3 balls will give you almost 5 tablespoons oats – the same amount in a serving of oatmeal porridge (and more fun and convenient to eat!)

banana oat breakfast ballsGuten Appetit!

You might also like:

A Warm and Cozy Breakfast – Baked Oatmeal

Yogurt, Honey and Walnuts – Beautiful Breakfast Simplicity

Oaty Chocolate Bites

High Protein Pancakes

Ham and Green Onion Egg-Buns

 

Posted in Breakfast & Brunch, Chocolate, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Super Easy Bison Roast Technique – and a Profile of a Canadian Bison Farmer

The Canadian Food Experience Project (April, 2014)

super easy slow-roast bison roast technique

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7, 2013. As we, the participants, share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us. This month’s topic is: A Canadian Farmer or Producer

Dennis Johnson's bison bulls, Valhalla Centre, Alberta

Farming the Mighty Bison in Northern Alberta – Dennis Johnson – Profile of a Bison Farmer

Go back in time a couple hundred years and picture the sun shining in a wide open prairie sky, with a gentle wind blowing over an ocean of waving grasslands. Or picture a harsh blizzard ravaging the snowy landscape. Which animal do you picture roaming across the vastness?

bison in a snowstorm

I see a herd of mighty buffalo, now calmly grazing, then thundering noisily into the distance, dust billowing and ground shaking.

Bring yourself back to the present, and you can find that scenario playing itself out again in today’s times. Over the last thirty years or so, a growing movement of farmers, ranchers and conservation agencies have been working successfully to bring back this near-extinct monarch of the Canadian and American prairies. The magestic animal that once provided life-sustaining nourishment and spiritual strength to the Plains Indians, is again thriving and providing food for our tables.

Northern Alberta is home to an active community of bison farmers. Meet Dennis and Linda Johnson, of Valhalla Centre in northern Alberta.

Dennis and Linda Johnson, bison farmers in Valhalla Centre, Alberta

photo by June Saastad

Dennis is my husband’s brother, and they are second generation family farmers, growing the family farm into a large, thriving enterprise, now including the next two generations – their children and grandchildren. Dennis and Linda have been farming since the 1970′s, and in 2000 thought it was time to diversify from grain and fescue crops, to bison. They had first been introduced to bison meat in 1994, due to their young daughter’s health problems. She was diagnosed with a severe allergy to many foods, including beef. Bison turned out to be a highly nutritious alternative her body could handle.

bison laying in the field

Convinced of the health and economic benefits of raising bison for meat, they equipped part of their land with the the extra strong electric fencing and coralling systems needed to handle bison. Dennis and Linda now have a herd of over 50 bison cows, and every spring purchase over 300 yearlings to pasture for the summer. These animals are sold for slaughter in the fall. Since the Johnson’s main crop is fescue (sold for lawn seed), bison are an efficient addition to their farm. The fescue grass is baled after the seeds are harvested, and the bales are fed to the bison in winter or to supplement when pasture is scarce.

bison in a blizzard

There are two types of bison – wood bison and plains bison – Dennis and Linda raise plains, which make up the majority of farmed stock. Farmed bison originate from animals that are culled directly from wild herds, still ranging in several protected areas of Canada and the northern United States. Although they are commonly referred to as buffalo, the scientific name is bison. Bison are much wilder than cattle – if a female has trouble birthing or if an animal becomes sick they either live or die on their own – it is difficult for veterinarians to work with them out in the pastures. The animals never lose their wild tendencies.

tractor and fences for handling bison, Dennis Johnson, near Valhalla Centre, Alberta

feeding is always done with a tractor

feeding is always done with tractors

Bison are herd animals, skittish and quick to follow any animal leaving the group. That makes handling them or separating members from the herd a tricky experience, requiring special fences, gates and chutes, and wily, knowledgeable human handlers.

Dennis Johnson closing a bison gate

Dennis closing a bison gate

The Johnsons have a separate calving pasture that has no bulls or yearlings in it. Calving starts mid-April. Babies are not handled or tagged until late fall.

Dennis and Linda say their most enjoyable annual experience with the bison comes in April and May when they drive around in the pasture watching all the new calves. They have two pickups they call ‘the blue buffalo truck’ and ‘the white buffalo truck’ and the bison are so used to these two vehicles, they remain calm around them. Dennis and Linda can slowly idle the trucks quite close to the herd to observe the bison mamas and their babies.

very rare bison twins

very rarely seen – bison twins are born (sharing the range with an oil pumpjack facility)

Linda tells of some of their more heart-stopping bison experiences. One night a group of partying teenagers opened their bull pen, and the bulls got out into the crown land bordering their farm. Carrying a gun and driving his quad, Dennis went searching. One of the bulls charged him, and at about 40 yards away he fired his rifle. The first bullet only caused the animal to stumble but keep thundering toward him. Bison skulls are extremely thick, and from the front their massive heads form a shield for the rest of their bodies. Dennis fired again several more times and finally dropped the bull with the last bullet in his gun when the animal was far too close for safety – a harrowing adventure and costly loss.

Another time, when Dennis went with the tractor to feed the bison, he was horrified to find their hired man’s 3 year old son and his small dog out in the bull pen. The little boy wore rubber boots, so had somehow made it through two high voltage electric fences without a shock. The bulls were only 15 feet away from the toddler and coming closer to satisfy their curiosity. Dennis frantically got the gate opened and drove the tractor between the boy and bulls, pulling him to safety in the tractor. Linda says the lesson the toddler learned was that if he went into the bull pen . . . he got a tractor ride.

. . . . . and Dennis learned his heart was in good working order.

The bison have their own adventures. One day the hired man went out to the bison pasture and found one of the bulls had cornered an angry black bear on top of a brush pile. The bear was smart enough to stay out of reach. Even bears don’t want to be on the receiving end of a bison’s advances.

Sennis Johnson's bison herd at the fence, near Valhalla Centre, Alberta

The Peace River Country (in northern Alberta and British Columbia) has 14.4% of Canada’s bison herd. Alberta has 49.7% of Canada’s herd. The Johnson’s little hamlet of Valhalla Centre is a key area for Bison Production – one farmer alone has over 1200 animals in his herd.

Raising bison is a naturally sustainable farming industry, playing an important role in preserving natural grasslands, and preserving a species of animal directly descended from the magnificent beasts that roamed this vast continent long before we did. The superior hardiness of these tough wild animals makes them disease resistant, resulting in less drug and medical intervention. Bison are raised with no added growth hormones, stimulants, antibiotics or animal by products, producing a highly nutritious and incredibly flavourful meat.

Consider this information from the Canadian Bison Association:

DID YOU KNOW…

Nutrient Composition of Various Protein 

Wow! Bison has less calories than chicken, less cholesterol than beef, and considerably more iron than any other meat. It also has more vitamin B12 than beef, pork, or chicken.

Plus, it tastes great – similar to choice cuts of beef, but leaner, richer and slightly sweeter.

Bison is easy to cook, almost like cooking beef, but with a bit of modification. Linda recommends the best way to cook bison burgers is on a barbecue or over a campfire. She uses only pure ground bison – no added ingredients – and cooks the patties until they are just slightly pink in the middle for the juiciest and most intense bison flavour. Shortly before they are finished, she lays a slice of cheddar or other cheese on top. Linda says the cheese melts and gets almost completely absorbed into the meat, adding a luscious layer of flavour. Her favourite way to cook bison burgers is over the campfire. Place a grate over the flames, cover the grate with tin foil and cook the burgers til juicily perfect, then top with the cheese.

Bison roasts, because of their leanness, benefit from long, very slow roasting. Years ago, Linda gave me her technique for making her amazing tender roast bison. I have been using it ever since, and I tell you – it works perfectly for any kinds of roasts: beef, pork, leg of lamb. I’ve tried them all and had perfect results every time. If you are looking for easy – you have found it. Plunk the solidly frozen roast in the oven in the morning, and leave it. That’s it. Just leave it alone. You’ll have melt-in-your-mouth roast bison for your dinner guests in the evening.

For more information on bison and how to cook it, check out the Canadian Bison Association and the National Bison Association websites.

*All photos of bison and bison farming by Linda Johnson

  * * * * *

slow-roasted bison roast

Linda’s Super Easy Slow-Roast Technique for Perfect Bison (or Beef) Roast

  • 1 bison roast, any cut, any size, frozen solid
  • barbecue sauce of your choice, purchased or homemade (recipe here), optional

Preheat your oven to 225°F. (Yes, you read that right.)

At about 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning, place the frozen roast into a roasting pan or dutch oven just a little larger than the roast.

bison inside round roast in the roasting pan

This inside round bison roast IS still frozen – it just doesn’t look like it because I rinsed and patted it dry since it had a lot of frozen water around it from in the freezer wrapping

Slather the roast with your favourite barbecue sauce, or rub it with your favourite spice rub mix, or sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper, or even just leave it plain. (I usually use the barbecue sauce option.)

bison roast ready for slow-roasting

Cover the roasting pan with a lid, or tent it tightly with tin foil if the lid doesn’t fit over the roast.

bison roast tented with foil

Place into the 225°F oven and leave it all day. Just walk away. By 5 or 6 o’clock the bison will be roasted to beautifully tender perfection.

There will be plenty of liquid in the pan to make gravy if you wish. Take the bison roast out of the oven, let it sit in its juices for about 15 minutes, then remove the roast, slice it and return the slices to the roasting liquid to keep warm until ready to serve. Since bison roast is so lean, this adds an external layer of moistness. If making gravy, reserve a few tablespoons of the meat’s juices to moisten the sliced roast.

*This slow-roasting method works with any type of frozen roast. I have tried it with beef and pork to great success. I roasted a whole leg of lamb this way and it was marvellously moist and tender.

(Linda says she has even prepared small bison roasts this way, by turning the oven as low as 175°F.)

slow-roasted bison roast, sliced and ready to serve

My favourite way to eat the leftover bison roast the next day is cold, thinly sliced and with an assortment of mustards.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Seared Duck Breast with Braised Apples and Cabbage

Honey Mustard and Three Seed Encrusted Pork Tenderloin with Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

Mexican Burgers with Smoky Chhipotle Sauce

Pork Chops with Saskatoon and Green Apple Chutney

Steam Baked Salmon with Lovage and Lime

 

View past Canadian Food Experience Project entries here:

June, 2013: My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory: Buttery Sauteed Mushrooms with Spruce Tips and Chives

July, 2103: A Regional Canadian Food: Saskatoon Roll or Saskatoon Cobbler and How to Freeze Saskatoon Berries

August, 2013:  A Canadian Food Hero in Northern Alberta, and Pickled Beets and Creamed Vegetables

September, 2013: My Cherished Canadian Recipe: Evans Sour Cherries in Brandy

October, 2013: Preserving, Our Canadian Food Tradition - Sweet and Spicy Apple Butter

November, 2013: The Canadian Harvest: Quinoa Harvest and Recipes (Quinoa Onion Frittata & Honey Vanilla Quinoa Pudding)

December, 2013: A Canadian Christmas: Gumdrop Fruitcake

January, 2014: A Canadian Resolution: Wild Rice and Mushrooms

February, 2014: Kransekage, a Danish Wedding Cake and a Canadian Love Story

March, 2014: What Else is a Canadian Food? Pancakes – the Thick, Fluffy Kind

bison statues

Linda’s collection of bison statues

Posted in Canadian Food Experience Project, How-to-Basics, Meats | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

German-Style Sweet and Sour Lentil ‘Eintopf’ (One Pot)

sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

Don’t you just love it when the tantalizing aroma of a savoury dish bubbling away on the stove brings family members sniffing into the kitchen? Mmmmm. Something smells good! What’s for supper?

And don’t you just love it when that savoury dish is full of flavour and good nutrition to boot?

This simple lentil, vegetable and sausage ‘eintopf’ is a robust and satisfying stew combining the goodness of vegetables with the healthy fiber, protein and minerals of lentils. The smoked bratwurst adds delectable flavour typical of hearty German country food, and the subtle sweet ‘n sour tang adds just the right piquant twist to enhance the earthy lentil flavour. It reminds me so much of my mom’s home cooking.

Sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

This Lentil Eintopf is typical of the Thüringen area of Germany – the region that brings us Thüringer Bratwurst, blown-glass Christmas ornaments, and is the home of Bach, Martin Luther and Goethe. Thüringen is known as the ‘Christmas State‘ and it is in this region of Germany that many Christmas traditions originate. The food in this cultural heart of Germany is as delicious and varied as any to be found in that country.

Of course, you can use any kind of bratwurst, or even other sausages, in this recipe, though preferrably a smoked variety, for the extra layer of flavour the smokiness imparts.

sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

I love how Canadian lentils can be the star of a German-inspired dish – it epitomizes the cultural diversity of our Canadian identity. Settlers and immigrants from all over the world have brought us recipes from their homelands and shared them to become part of our culinary fabric. Canada is the largest producer of lentils in the world – our big sunshiny skies and rich prairie soil provide ideal growing conditions for this super healthy little legume.

We’re still covered deep in winter snow here in northern Alberta – so even while the rest of the country is thinking light spring meals, I’m loving the comfort of a warm lentil and sausage stew. It’s good any time of year.

our yard in winter, April 2014

our yard in April, 2014

This is what our yard looked like yesterday. You can see it’ll still be a while before I can get to my greenhouse, so I might as well make lentil stew!

This is my last entry into the Canadian Lentils Recipe Contest, in the Main Dishes category. If you like this or any of my other lentil recipes I’d love your vote – see how at the bottom of this post.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Lentils normally don’t need to be soaked before cooking, as long as they are cooked in plain water. However, salt and acids will toughen lentils if they are added before the lentils are fully cooked. In order to cook the lentils in broth in this recipe, soaking the lentils first helps them stay tender. During soaking they swell up and absorb the unsalted water, thus buffering them from the salt in the broth.

For this Lentil Eintopf, I like to use the large flat green lentils if I can find them. I think they look more attractive here, but other varieties of lentils would work just as well.

If you can’t find smoked bratwurst, use any kind of smoked sausage for this recipe (even ‘smokies’) or use an equal amount of cubed smoked ham.

Germans would use sugar beet syrup (a thick, dark syrup) to sweeten this dish, but I use honey.

German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

German-Style Sweet and Sour Lentil Stew

(Linsen Eintopf)

  • 1½ cups (300gms) green or brown lentils
  • 6 cups (1.5litres) low-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 large stalks celery (or 1 cup grated or finely diced celeriac/celery root)
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 3 or 4 links of smoked bratwurst or other smoked sausage (gluten-free if necessary)
  • 2 medium onions, sliced into rings
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Rinse the lentils in a seive, then soak them, covered by several inches of water, for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.

Drain the soaked lentils,

soaked green lentils for the German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

soaked large green lentils

and combine them with the broth in a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are just tender, but not mushy. Test by tasting or squishing one between thumb and finger to see how soft it is.

While the lentils are cooking, peel and grate or finely dice the carrots. Finely dice the celery (or shred or dice the celeriac). You should have about 1 generous heaping cup of each.

German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

Peel and dice the potatoes into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes.

Add the vegetables to the lentils. Season with the salt, pepper and thyme.

German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

 

Bring the vegetables back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes more, making sure all the vegetables are submerged under the simmering broth.

While the vegetables are simmering, heat a skillet with the oil. Slice the sausage into coins, then saute them in the oil until browned on one side. Turn the slices over to brown the other side. Remove the sausages slices to a plate, leaving the fat from the sausages in the skillet.

fried Thuringer bratwurst slices for the German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

Add the sliced onions to the skillet and saute them until some of the edges caramelize and turn a deep brown. Add a few tablespoons water to the skillet to loosen the browned bits from the sausages, and continue cooking the onions until they are golden brown and the water has evaporated.

fried onions for the German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stewcaramelized onions for the German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

When the vegetables are tender, add the honey and red wine vinegar to the stew, stirring gently to distribute it. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if it needs it. Add the sausages and onions to the pot, and stir once more, gently so you don’t break up the lentils. Remove the thyme sprigs if you see them surface.

German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

Ladle into flat bowls to serve. This goes wonderfully with a crusty chunk of bread and a cold German beer (or for gluten-free, a slice of gluten-free bread and a chilled glass of Sekt).

German sweet and sour lentil eintopf stew

Makes 4 hearty servings. (The leftovers are wonderful to pack for lunch the next day and reheat in the microwave, to make your coworkers drool.)

Guten Appetit!

Note: I have entered this recipe into the Canadian Lentils Recipe Challenge and would love to have your support! To vote for my recipes, click on over to the Canadian Lentils Facebook page, then find my recipes on their page (including this one for the Lentil Eintopf) and ‘like’ them, leave a comment under them, and/or share them. I also have a Garlic Lentil Soup recipe, a Lentil Rice Bowl recipe, a Lentil Fries with Currywurst Sauce, and a Confetti Crepes with Chocolate Lentil Creme entered, if you feel like scrolling through and liking each of them, too. You can also leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post. Part of the points given in the contest are for the social media support our recipes receive. You’d really make my day!

 You might also like:

Lentil Fries with Currywurst Dipping Sauce

Garlic Lentil Soup

Lentil Rice Bowl with Candied Pecans, Cranberries and Tahini-Miso Dressing

German Potato Salad

Sauerkraut Potato Salad

Posted in Beans & Legumes, German Cooking, Meats, One-Dish Meals, Soups & Stews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Confetti Crepes with Chocolate Lentil Creme, Toasted Hazelnuts and Fresh Pears

confetti crepes with chocolate lentil creme, toasted walnuts and fresh pears

Are you looking for a luxurious, decadent dessert for your next dinner party or lazy Sunday brunch? Look no further.

It’s hard to believe lentils can be the base for a dessert so sinfully smooth and chocolatey, and toothsome and crunchy and fresh, all at the same time.

Think creamy Nutella with a hit of something lush and mysterious, wrapped in a coat that’s polka-dotted and fun!

Ever since I first tasted crepes with Nutella from the street stands in Paris five years ago, that is my favourite way to eat these delicate little pancakes. Chocolate, hazelnuts and lacy crepes are one of those simple combinations that can’t be improved upon – unless you add a few slivers of perfectly ripened pears.

Earthy black lentils are the perfect pairing with dark chocolate, smoothing and mellowing the richness of the cacao’s intensity. Add the crunch of golden toasted hazelnuts and the crisp freshness of juicy pears – you’ve got yourself an unforgettable dessert. And since there’s so much lentil goodness hidden in the smooth creme, these confetti crepes make a lovely brunch dish. You’ll never know you’re eating all that nutrition as you indulge in your ultimate chocolate fix, lazily sipping a good espresso latte and chatting with friends.

confetti crepes with chocolate lentil creme, toasted hazelnuts, and fresh pears

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Kitchen Frau Notes: The beauty of this recipe is that all the components can be prepared the day before you plan to serve it, making it easy to just assemble everything last minute for guests. I even make the crepes the day before and keep them covered with plastic wrap on the counter. Any unused portions can be kept in the fridge for 4 to 5 days and enjoyed for breakfast or snacks. Any leftover chocolate lentil creme is delicious slathered on toast or just about anything else. The only thing you need to do last minute is whip the cream for the garnish (or use a purchased real whipped cream aerosol can – I won’t tell).

I use the Bernard Callebaut dark chocolate chunks I buy in bulk at my local supermarket, but any good dark chocolate will do, even semi-sweet chocolate chips, if that’s all you have.

I entered this recipe into the desserts category of the Canadian Lentils recipe contest. We’ve been lentilling it a lot at our house lately, and loving all the cool ways I’ve been discovering to use our wonderful Canadian-grown lentils.

confetti crepe with chocolate lentil creme, toasted hazelnuts, and fresh pears

Confetti Crepes with Chocolate Lentil Creme, Toasted Hazelnuts and Fresh Pears

  • ½ cup (110gms) black beluga lentils
  • 2 cups (480ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

for the crepes:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (270ml) milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) melted butter or oil
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) all purpose flour (or for gluten-free crepes: ½ cup/75gms millet flour, 1/3 cup/50gms sweet rice flour, ¼ cup/35gms tapioca starch)
  • ½ cup (120ml) cooked, sweetened black beluga lentils – from above
  • a small amount of butter or coconut oil for frying the crepes

for the chocolate lentil creme:

  • 1 cup (170gms) dark chocolate chunks or chips, or chopped dark chocolate
  • ¾ cup (180ml) whipping cream
  • ¼ cup (50gms) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • the remaining cooked, sweetened black beluga lentils from above (about 1 cup/240ml)

to fill and garnish crepes:

  • ¾ cup (100gms) raw hazelnuts
  • ½ cup (120ml) whipping cream, whipped
  • 2 ripe, juicy pears

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To cook the lentils:  Place the lentils, water, and 2 tablespoons sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover the saucepan and simmer until the lentils are tender, but not mushy, about 40 to 45 minutes. When they are cooked, drain them in a sieve, and spread them on a plate to cool. Remove ½ cup of the cooked lentils for the crepe batter, and reserve the rest of them (there should be about 1 cup/240ml) for the chocolate lentil creme.

To make the crepe batter: While the lentils are cooking, make the crepe batter. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the milk, salt, butter or oil, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Add the flour (or gluten-free mixture of flours) and whisk until smooth. Alternatively, you can blend all these ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Stir in the lentils, and leave the batter to sit for at least a half hour, up to 2 or 3 hours. This allows the flour to fully absorb the liquid, thickens it up slightly, and allows the air bubbles to rise up and escape, making the finished crepes smoother.

resting the lentil batter for the confetti crepes

To toast the hazelnuts: While the crepe batter is resting, place the hazelnuts in a small pie plate or baking tin. Place them in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until you can smell their nutty aroma, and you can see that several of the skins have started to split. Remove the pan from the oven, and dump the toasted hazelnuts onto a clean kitchen towel. Pull the sides of the towel up over the nuts, and rub them vigorously with the towel. This will remove most of the skins, which can be slightly bitter, but don’t worry if they don’t all come off. Allow the nuts to cool, remove them from the towel (shake out and discard the skins), and place the hazelnuts on a cutting board. Chop them coarsely, then set them aside for when you assemble the crepes.

chopped toasted hazelnuts for the confetti crepes with chocolate lentil creme

To cook the crepes: Once the crepe batter has rested, heat a 10-inch/25cm non-stick or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of butter or coconut oil – about a half teaspoon). Once it begins to sizzle, the pan is hot enough for the crepes. Use a ¼-cup/60ml measuring scoop, or small ladle, to pour ¼ cup of crepe batter into the hot pan. Quickly pick up the pan and tilt it, rotating slowly so that the batter spreads around in an even sheet to make a round even crepe about 7½-inch/19cm in diameter.

confetti crepes with black lentils

Cook the crepe until the edges start to release from the pan, and when you lift the edges and peak underneath it you can see that it is a lovely golden brown, and the top is dry. Flip it over with a spatula, and cook the second side exactly 30 seconds, then remove it to a plate. You don’t want brown spots on the second side to interfere with the fun polka-dot effect of the lentils. Repeat with the remaining batter. The first crepe will invariably be a dud. Feed it to the dog, or exercise cook’s right to gobble it down. You should have 8 beautiful crepes after that.

confetti crepes made with black beluga lentils

To make the Chocolate Lentil Creme: Heat the ¾ cup whipping cream  and the brown sugar in a small saucepan or the microwave until it is hot, but not boiling. Place the chocolate chunks into a blender, pour on the hot cream, and process for about 5 seconds, until the cream has melted the chocolate and it is smooth. Add the vanilla and the remaining cooked black lentils. Process until it is a smooth puree. Scrape it into a container, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thickened and cold, several hours or overnight. It can even be made several days ahead. You will have about 2 cups (480ml) chocolate lentil creme.

chocolate lentil creme for the confetti crepes

To assemble the crepes: Lay each crepe on a plate or cutting board with the lentil polka-dotted side down. Spread a scant ¼ cup of the chocolate lentil creme around on the crepe, leaving a 1 inch/2cm border.

spread the chocolate lentil creme on the confetti crepes

Scatter about 1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts over the chocolate lentil creme. Slice a quarter of a pear thinly, and lay the slices over the chocolate, reserving a couple slivers to decorate the finished crepes.

layer the toasted hazelnuts and thinly sliced pears over the chocolate lentil creme on the confetti crepes

Roll up the crepe, using your fingers to tuck in the ingredients as you roll. Repeat with the remaining crepes. Cut them in half diagonally and arrange the two halves on a plate, or leave them whole. Garnish with whipped cream, another sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts, and the reserved slivers of pear.

Makes 8 delicious stuffed crepes, serving 8 as a decadent dessert, or 4 as an elegant and unusual brunch.

confetti crepes with chocolate lentil creme, toasted hazelnuts and fresh pears

Guten Appetit!

Note: I have entered this recipe into the Canadian Lentils Recipe Challenge and would love to have your support! To vote for my recipes, click on over to the Canadian Lentils Facebook page, then find my recipes on their page (including this one for confetti crepes) and ‘like’ them, leave a comment under them, and/or share them. I also have a Garlic Lentil Soup recipe, a Lentil Rice Bowl recipe, and a Lentil Fries with Currywurst Sauce entered. You can also leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post. Part of the points given in the contest are for the social media support our recipes receive.  You’d make my day!

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