creamy mixed lentil soup

creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

There are a couple of things you get used to eating all the time if you grew up in an Indian household, one of them being lentils. We eat a lot of lentils, black, green, yellow, orange, red etc. And though the names might not really match the color, for example the red lentils look orange to me, they are still one of the most popular and affordable source of protein in India. They're also pretty easy and fast to cook which adds to their attractiveness.

This lentil soup is one of the easiest to make and it's also one of the creamiest versions you'll try! It's got the texture of silky bisque and I've used Califia's unsweetened almond milk creamer to give the soup its characteristic body and "richness". The base of the soup is seasoned with aromatics and flavored with cloves and bay leaves. And though this isn't a "hot" soup you can easily bump up the heat levels by adding your favorite hot sauce in the desired amount. To give this lentil soup a little freshness,  I've garnished it with fresh cilantro and lemon zest and a generous drizzle of a fruity extra virgin olive oil.

 

creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this soup;

  • I use black and red lentils for this soup but you could also substitute green/beluga lentils. 
  • You can make this soup a little hot by adding a little hot sauce if desired.
  • Adjust the consistency of the soup as needed using water after blending. 
  • Califia's new line of creamers have made it possible to create that silky smooth and creamy bisque like texture in this soup. If you want the soup a little creamier, then I recommend playing around with the ratios of the lentil soup base, the water and the creamer. Don't forget to taste and season as you proceed.
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

creamy mixed lentil soup

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 cup black lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced red onion

5 whole cloves

2 large bay leaves

1 teaspoon minced garlic clove

1 teaspoon ginger root cut into 1 inch strips

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup Califia almond milk creamer (unsweetened)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil for garnish

1. Clean and rinse the lentils. Keep aside until ready to use.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan on medium-high heat. Sauté the onions for about 2 to 3 minutes until light pink. Add the cloves, bay leaves, garlic cloves and ginger and cook for 1 additional minute with occasional stirring. Then add the salt, black pepper and turmeric and cook for 30 seconds. Add the lentils and water and increase the heat to high, bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender. Once the lentils are cooked, remove and discard the bay leaves. 

3. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender. Add the Califia creamer to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick add a little more water and blend until you get the desired consistency. 

4. Transfer the soup from the blender to the saucepan and keep warm. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. To serve, garnish each serving of the soup with the lemon zest and cilantro leaves and a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

apple coconut and clove scented pound cake

apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table

What was I thinking? I decided to adopt a cat. A couple of weeks ago, a hungry kitten kept coming over to our garden at the back and I decided to feed her, play with her and she'd jump like a puppy into my lap as soon as I'd click my fingers. Yup, I got attached! I kept her for a night, and slept with her on the couch. We took it to the shelter (to make sure it wasn't microchipped) and posted a note our neighborhood to see no one was missing a pet. By law the shelter had to keep her for two weeks to make sure she belong to no one. After coming back from NYC, I ran over directly from the airport to see if she was still available but sadly, someone adopted her the day before. My jaw dropped and it was pretty obvious that I looked devastated. The cop who was working at the front desk could tell because she said, why don't you go and take a look at the other cats we have. I was a little hesitant at first, to replace my affections for one feline with another, it felt similar to cheating but then I met Vesper Lynx and fell in love and we brought him home. So yes, our "zoo" has grown!

Vesper Lynx | A Brown Table
Vesper Lynx | A Brown Table

Cloves!!! If there is a spice that I feel gets tossed to the side, it's got to be cloves. It's not that I don't use it but I don't use it enough by itself, it's always tossed into some combination of sorts. In desserts, except for a few combinations in cider or other spice mixes it's rarely used by iteself to add flavor to dishes. In this pound cake, the scent and flavor of freshly ground cloves, adds a mild yet distinct taste to the apples and coconut. I decreased the amount of sugar to reduce the sweetness so the flavor of the cloves, apples and the toasted coconut in the cake stand out. Using Califia's newly revamped unsweetened almond creamer, I was able to create this whole wheat pound cake this dairy free and it has three forms of coconut, there's coconut cream in the Califia creamer, there's coconut oil and toasted coconut.

I came across this technique that's used in Italian apple cakes where thinly cut slices of apple are sandwiched between the cake batter before baking. This helps the flavor of the apple to permeate through the batter while it's cooking but also makes it easy to cut the cake easily without having it fall apart while cutting and of course, more importantly, eating!

apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when baking this cake;

  • Use crips baking apples that are sweet yet mildly tart. I'm on my pink lady apple obsession and they work perfectly here.
  • Sweetened / unsweetened shredded coconut - use either. It's your call how sweet you want this to be.
  • Since coconut oil is the main source of fat and I've cut back on the sugar, the cake will be best kept wrapped tightly in cling film and refrigerated. Both coconut oil and low sugar reduce shelf life of food products, one gets rancid in a couple of days at room temperature while the other makes food dry out fast.
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table

apple, coconut and clove scented pound cake

yields: one 9" loaf

ingredients

1 1/2 cups (144gm) whole-wheat pastry flour

1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

5 cloves, powdered

4 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup coconut oil, at room temperature

3/4 cup (148.5 gm) super fine sugar

1/2 cup Califia creamer, unsweetened

1 pink lady smith apple, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1. Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line a 9" loaf pan with a little coconut oil and parchment paper cut to size.

2. Place the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and ground cloves in a medium sized mixing bowl and dry whisk to combine. Keep aside until ready to use. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, hand whisk the eggs, coconut oil, and sugar until pale and creamy, this will take about 3 to 4 minutes (you can also use an electric handheld mixer). Whisk in half of the dry ingredients from step 1 until combined, add the creamer and whisk in the remaining flour mix. Pour half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan, then spread half of the apples on the surface of the cake batter in the pan in an even layer. Then pour the remaining cake batter over the apples. Arrange the remaining apple slices in a single row in the center across the length of the cake. Brush the surface of the apples with the maple syrup. Sprinkle the shredded coconut along the edges where the cake batter is exposed. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking process. The loaf will be done when the surface is golden brown and a skewer or knife comes out clean through the center when inserted and the surface of the cake will be firm to touch. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, remove from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack completely before serving.

 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions expressed are solely my own. 

peppermint mocha bundt cake

peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table

The week before Christmas and especially if you're traveling is kinda intense in every way. I wanted to get the bathroom remodeled before we left but that was too grand of an ambition. So it's going to be pushed to my list of things to focus on next year. Next week, I'll be visiting family and friends in Virginia, my MIL wants me to make her Sam's cake, I have to let our youngest nephew play in cake batter because he has a kid's chef set and likes to stir things (I'd be happy if he likes to wash dishes too), and one of my SIL's wants me to make her something I cooked for her a while back but to make it spicy, the problem is none of us can remember what it was. I'm really excited about visiting my in laws, sleeping in late and doing nothing at the farm. I'm looking forward to antique store shopping with my MIL (who encourages this much to M's vexation) and eating a lot of Southern food. Even though, I don't care for snow that much, I'm looking forward to the possibility of it snowing hard at the farm so we can go sledding down the hills. I'm excited to go back to Virginia after two years!

If you're looking for some wonderful baking ideas and treats, I have a biscotti a recipe in the holiday special issue of King Arthur flour's magazine Sift. And the magazine is a Christmas treat in itself for any baker!

Holiday baking | A Brown Table

I'm used to making most of my cakes with butter or nut oils or avocado but never coconut oil as the sole source of fat. The butter swap turned out to be trickier than expected and with coconut oil, I'm always a little concerned about the fragrance that it might impart to whatever dish I'm using it in. Thankfully with chocolate it's easy and in this peppermint mocha cake, it's practically undetectable!

Every Christmas I look forward to a few traditional things, some of them being eggnogg and peppermint because they taste delicious! Califia Farms makes some tasty versions of these drinks and for this holiday season, I've used their peppermint mocha drink to make a very chocolatey and "pepperminty" flavored bundt cake. Since, I'm not a huge fan of sugar frostings, I used a chocolate ganache type of frosting to decorate the cake and then studded the top with crushed candy canes. This might be the closest, I'm getting to making a very cutesy cake this year.

I've also realized as M has pointed out to me on multiple occasions, I keep referring to candy canes as peppermint sticks! I gotta stop making that mistake. 

peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table
peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table
peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table
peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table
peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table
peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this cake:

  • Do not over mix the flour in to the batter, the cake uses coconut oil and if you mix it too much, the final texture can be dry. I noticed that in the second iteration of this recipe.
  • You can use cake flour in this recipe, just keep the weight the same as it is for the whole wheat pastry flour.
  • I used regular cocoa powder over dark because that gets very intense in this combination. 
  • Store the cake at room temperature in an airtight container, avoid refrigerating it as coconut oil will harden making the texture of the cake a bit hard.
peppermint mocha bundt cake (butter free) | A Brown Table

peppermint mocha bundt cake

yields: 12 servings (one 2 quart bundt cake mold is what I used)

ingredients

226gm coconut oil, melted but cooled + 2 tablespoons to grease the mold

3 cups (726gm) whole-wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup (30gm) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt

1 cup Califia peppermint mocha milk

3 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, cold

1 1/2 cups (340gm) finegrain/baking sugar

1. Grease the bundt cake pan with the two tablespoons of melted coconut oil. Then Take 1 tablespoon of the flour and dust the pan with the flour evenly. 

2. In a large mixing bowl, dry whisk the remaining flour and all the dry ingredients up to the salt. Keep aside until ready to use.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs, sugar and remaining coconut oil. Whisk on medium-high speed until pale yellow, this should take about 4 minutes. Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, then add half of the whisked dry ingredients and half of the peppermint mocha milk into the batter. Whisk on low-speed until just combined, then add the remaining flour mix and peppermint mocha milk to the cake batter. Pour this batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process. The cake will rise and should be firm to touch when done. A skewer when inserted should come out clean through the center. 

5 . Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip the cake over onto a plate lined with parchment paper and let it sit in the mold for 5 minutes. The cake should release easily, transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow cool completely to room temperature before glazing it.

chocolate ganache and peppermint glaze

yields: about  1 1/2 cups

ingredients

1 1/2 cups semisweet dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup crushed candy canes, coarse

1. Melt the chocolate and the coconut oil in a thick bottomed saucepan placed over a bowl of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is smooth and has a shiny sheen. Pour the hot melted chocolate glaze over the top of the cake while it is sitting on a wire rack. You can use a parchment paper to collect the extra chocolate that drips to the bottom. 

2. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the top of the cake and allow the chocolate to set before cutting. 

 

Disclaimer: A big thank you to Califia Farms for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are solely mine.