First things first: thank you to Ali and James for coming to dinner and committing to keeping the night moving. It was such a pleasure to sit in the bathtub together. Secondly, I must say, this is one of those moments I find myself so thankful for this small, creative outlet. Where else could I share my combined love for Barefoot Contessa, dancing, and having friends over for dinner? I hope you enjoy it!
Lentil Vegetable Soup via Ina Garten
1 pound French green lentils (which is 2 1/2 cups lentils, which I think is really really good to know.)
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
French Chocolate Bark via Ina Garten
8 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews (I used peanuts, which worked fine. I think the important thing here is that the nuts be salted and roasted.)
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Melt the 2 chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9 by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper facedown on the baking sheet.
Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the cashews, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1 by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature.