Everything aged is new again

My mom desired to tell a story about when her mother, my Noni, asked her to make some lentil soup. It was her initial time cooking lentils and did not comprehend that 4 cups of them — probably a whole package — was distant too vast a apportion since of how they bloat in cooking. She kept adding gas to a lentils as they cooked, that was fast absorbed, and she finished adult with adequate to offer an army.

I consider of my mother’s story when we make a soup. Italians have lentil soup on New Year’s Day desiring it will move good fitness for a year. My grandmother was committed about this custom. There were many “old wives tales” like this — some followed so obsessively that they were some-more like superstitions rather than customs; bread can't be faced downwards as it is rejecting of God. Birds in a residence are a no no — no pictures, no paintings, no ceramics depicting birds, it competence trigger bad luck. we mostly consternation how these stories got started. Someone should do a book.

My mom was one of 10 children, that meant my grandmother had to be unequivocally clever how she spent my grandfather’s paycheck. He worked as a director in a shoe bureau and he mostly brought home pieces of animal hides so he could do square work on weekends — a approach to acquire additional income — and intent his kids in doing so. Noni was always possibly in her garden in good continue or in a kitchen putting adult what she grew or creation something tasty in her groundwork kitchen, that was meant to be used in summer, yet in her aged age it was her elite space for cooking. The dishes that my grandmother shopped for were all common in those days. However, she would use each partial of a animal, going so distant as to use a stomach backing for sausage casings and regulating skeleton for soup. She always had a good attribute with a grocer who happily gave her beef necks and duck feet. Nothing was wasted.

Waverly Root, one of America’s strange food writers (born in Rhode Island in 1903), wrote on common dishes from ancient times to a benefaction (almost — he died in 1982). In one of my favorite books of his, “Food,” he tells a story of his father returning home during World War we with a vast paper bag containing what looked like a store of gravel. Lentils, according to his father, were one of a dishes that nationalistic Americans were urged to eat in a seductiveness of a wartime economy.  

“It is on record that that lentils were cultivated in a gardens of a aristocrat of Babylon in 800 B.C.,” he wrote. There was a prolonged story of how a lentils finally done their approach to India, that is a largest lentil-consuming nation in a world, a Middle East being second. “Lentils have been consistently cheap, that has warranted them a disregard of a lofty and a pretentious, yet they have concurrently perceived regard from those able of judging dishes by other criteria than price,” explained Root. On today’s menus, we will find a accumulation of lentil dishes since today’s chefs conclude their food value as good as a possibilities for creativity from soup to salad to a ragout underneath a easily grilled chop. Think lentil soup with a side plate of feta, olives, salad and a crusty bread with a good olive oil for dipping. we like to offer it with a tiny play of Greek yogurt, with chopped packet and a tiny sugar churned in.

When we started my griddle in 1973, we put together a menu, mostly Italian with a few Greek dishes. These enclosed a Greek salad, Spanakopita, Moussaka and Baklava. we done adult a plate that won a esteem of $25 in a Boston Herald, that we called Spinach Pie, that was arrange of Greek and was a patron favorite. we had never been to Greece, still haven’t, yet we adore a flavors, generally feta and Greek oregano and olive oil. We mostly have a Greek salad during home with olives, feta, red onions and homemade croutons. Also a unchanging object in my residence is a comfortable Caesar salad — usually brownish-red some garlic in a tiny olive oil on a stove tip griddle or a skillet and place a half conduct of romaine on tip of a garlic and brownish-red it on both sides. At portion time, we consider it’s good to shower some some-more olive oil and uninformed lemon extract over a greens along with a commanding of grated Pecorino Romano. Some white anchovies are also a good addition.


Cooking Notes   

A elementary soup like lentil is graduated to a new turn with a skeleton from a few leftover chops or leftover tomato salsa or gravy from duck or turkey. If we adopt a opinion of a aged timers like a grandmothers who had a “waste not wish not attitude” we will not usually save income we will feel some-more adventuresome with tasty rewards, infrequently unequivocally surprising.


There are so many varieties of lentils available. Experiment with them until we find one that we unequivocally like.


Homemade gas is always delicious, yet currently there are many good broths on a market, beef, duck or vegetable, all good.


There are pleasing carrots in several colors that demeanour pleasing in a soup or meal or pot pie.


Most markets have uninformed spices accessible all year. Thyme, rosemary perennials will final a few weeks. The annuals like prosaic root parsley, basil and packet have a shorter life. Treat yourself to a uninformed spices that supplement so most to your cooking.


When we settle a makings of a good recipe, your possess substitutions will give we so most satisfaction. For example, a thought of a moussaka that usually calls for belligerent lamb and eggplant can be usually as tasty with belligerent beef, pig or turkey. And instead of eggplant, try it with zucchini. Think of recipes as a starting indicate from that we find a certainty to be creative!



Moussaka, my way. Serves 4 to 6 depending on appetites.

This is a good association dish.  Can be done a day before, too.  

Slice 4 middle potatoes into half in. slices, no need to flay a light skinned ones.  

Place in a saute vessel hardly lonesome with H2O and a teaspoon of salt.  Pierce after 15 mins to check for doneness.  Drain and put aside.

Cut adult a middle onion into tiny bones and feverishness a few tbsp. olive oil and saute a onion with a few cloves of garlic compartment easily browned in a pan.  Add a bruise and a half of your choice of belligerent meat, stirring to brownish-red all over. Add a crater and a half of tomato salsa and a entertain tsp. cinnamon if we like, stir to combine. Add a crater of grated mozzarella and several tsp. of grated Parmesan. Set aside.  

On an oiled stove tip griddle brownish-red several slices of eggplant or zucchini, on both sides.  Set aside.

Now it is time to assemble.  In a vessel that will go from oven to list mist a tiny olive oil.  Line a bottom with a potatoes, flow in half of a belligerent meat, tomato sauce, cheese reduction and widespread a reduction over evenly.  Arrange a zucchini or eggplant slices on tip of this and afterwards flow in a remaining beef mixture.  

In a tiny saucepan feverishness compartment frothy 5 tbsp. butter.  Add 5 tbsp. flour and stir well.  Gradually supplement dual and a half cups of divert and drive compartment it thickens, stirring all a while.  Add a shower of nutmeg and stir.  

In a play kick 4 egg yolks and flow a tiny of a prohibited divert reduction over and drive well.  Add a rest of a divert reduction and a half crater of grated Parmesan.  Pour this over a stew and widespread evenly.  

Bake for one hour until bubbly. and browned on top.  Serve with a cold immature bean salad and Baklava for dessert.  You will be unequivocally happy, and so will everybody else propitious adequate to be invited to sup with you!  

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