It feels like we are in between seasons. It’s still cold and looks grey but the daffodils, primroses and spring gentians are up and gradually, a few things in the garden are sprouting. So, to alleviate the “winter is too long blues” I decided to invite some friends for dinner.
I don’t know if there’s anywhere else I’ll ever live where guests come bearing their own cheese made from their own goats and fresh lambs lettuce salad from their early spring (or is late winter?) garden. And, hiking up from the edge of the Atlantic on the Cliff path, more guests arrive with backpacks full of French wine and chocolates. Add to that, French baguettes and pastries from Fabiolas Patisserie, a warm fire, a stunning sunset and the night is indeed, a success!
For another memorable dinner party last winter in NJ, a friend made a Lentil Loaf from an English Vegetarian Cookbook . I thought it was perfect for this occassion but I tweeked it, leaving out the cheese and changing the spices according to what has wintered over in my little herb garden. Pair it with roasted potatoes, ginger honey carrots and soy gravy from my cookbook and you have a hearty, impressive meal. Enjoy!
Red Lentil Loaf
serves 6, cook at 350 or gasmark 4 for 1 1/2 hours.
12 oz. cooked red lentils, 1 1/2 cups hard cider, 1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 1 large stalk celery, 2 cloves garlic, 4 large button mushrooms,1 1/2 tsp. thyme and rosemary, 4 oz. hazelnuts, 1 Tbl. chopped parsley, 2 eggs, sea salt and pepper.
Cook lentils in cider until all liquid is absorbed. Finely chop onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms and garlic. Saute all in olive oil until cooked. Beat eggs. Roast hazelnuts in oven until brown, about 10 minutes. Grind in a food processor. Mix all ingredients together, it will be mushy. Spoon into an oiled bread pan (tin) or line with parchment paper. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until brown and skewer comes out clean. Let sit for about 15 minutes to set. Remove from pan and slice.
Happy Spring from Ireland!