I just had a truly wonderful weekend here in Paris. I finally moved into a more permanent housing situation where I have access to a functioning kitchen. To boot, I absolutely love my new arrondisement. Life here is quite calm, but, filled with numerous markets that sell top-quality produce, as well as high-quality fromageries and pâtisseries, the 17th arrondisement is perfect for a food-lover such as myself, and I am so excited to live here now.
Without a doubt, the highlight of my weekend consisted not only of attending a lecture given by, but also meeting in person none other than Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini. Apart from writing Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, in which she discusses the array of restaurants, cafés, salons de thé, boulangeries, pâtisseries, fromageries, etc., also the book which excited me more than anything else about spending a year in Paris, Clotilde herself, through her extremely successful, professional-calibur food blog, served as a source of tremendous inspiration to me in starting my own food blog. It is through meeting and learning from people such as her that I really seek to build and expand my own culinary knowledge, particularly in a place such as Paris. Indeed, meeting her during this year in Paris was one of my major goals, and I am so lucky and fortunate to have been able to meet her so early on in my stay. Thank you again, Clotilde, for serving as a source of continued inspiration.
Finally, can anyone guess the other great thing that happened this weekend? Well, it's probably quite obvious anyway, but I started cooking again!!! Yes, yesterday I cooked both lunch and dinner for myself, and I really felt as though I were in Heaven! I spent Sunday morning wandering through the 17th arrondisement, and I returned home with a head of very fresh cauliflower and some red lentils. Yesterday actually proved quite chilly, so I decided to concoct an Indian-style soup for dinner using those two ingredients, as well as some coconut milk I had lying around, as the shining stars. Wow, it turned out incredibly flavorful and delicious! I really liked the flavor of the coconut milk mixed with such spices as fennel and cumin; the mé
lange resulted in a warm, comforting one dish meal perfectly suited to a cold night. One word, I did not puree the soup as I do not currently have food processor, and honestly, I really enjoyed it chunky. However, if your prefer, feel free to puree it to the consistency of your liking.
Red Lentil-Cauliflower Soup (Serves 3-4):
1/2 head cauliflower, washed and chopped into medium-sized florets
1/2 onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. garam masala
3/4 tsp red chilli powder, or as per your heat preference
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup dry red lentils, and thoroughly washed and drained
2 tbsp. powdered toasted almonds
1/2 cup water
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds, and wait until they begin to give off a fairly strong aroma, but not until they brown. Add chopped onion, and sautee until tender and transluscent. Add the garlic, and cook for one more minute, before it begins to brown. Add the tomato sauce along with the cumin, coriander, and garam masala, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the chopped cauliflower and drained lentils along with coconut milk, water and salt. Add more water if needed to cover the mixture. Let the mixture come to a boil, and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are completely cooked. About five minutes before the soup finishes cooking, add the powdered almonds and red chilli powder. Taste (be careful because it will be extremely hot!), and adjust seasoning as needed. Savor warm with a nice hunk of baguette or any other bread you enjoy.