I surely did not think I’d be discussing lentils at this juncture. But it’s official, this is the one-year anniversary of A Plum By Any Other Name … and I’m about to suggest to cook a seed. I had figured to usher in this event, I’d probably write about something truly impressive. A gorgeous three-tiered cake. Or an effortless plum crostata.
At the very least, I thought I’d have brioche for you, which I finally got up the nerve to make again after a disastrous first attempt that required transport through Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief. I’d like to say the results this time around were glorious, but—while the brioche wasn’t bad and was certainly edible—it wasn’t quite right. So it will likely get reincarnated as pain perdu, which is a step up from being whirled into gazpacho, the fate of attempt #1, but I digress.
The more important message here is that one thing I was certain I wanted for this blog was a list of go-to recipes. Recipes that would be like old friends. Recipes to keep in your back pocket, knowing even if you didn’t see them regularly, they’d be there if you needed them. So while I’ve failed at brioche (again) and have slacked in the celebratory dessert department, I’ve found a lot of great recipes that have enriched my life.
Enter: beurre maître d’hôtel and beluga lentils. Consider it a recipe for the Rolodex. It’s transformative and yet easy going enough for any occasion. It’s heavenly on fish, and carrots, and chicken, and pretty much anything that can take a little butter. Eating food graced with its presence is like getting to spend spring in Paris. In fact, it’s a celebratory dish in its own right, a feat that the French manage to pull off quite regularly.
The recipe itself is from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. It was originally published in 1960 with David, a British cookery writer who lived in France while studying history and literature, stressing the glory of simple French food. And so I can’t think of a better way to usher in year two than with her—who I hear was a bit of a wild woman—and a simple recipe that plays very well with others. Consider it a new old friend. (And a bit more reliable than brioche.) The brioche will come one day, I’m sure. But for today, lentils are where I am at.
And if there is one thing I’ve learned this past year, it’s that if you can take the heat, stay in the kitchen. You won’t always find the food that you've imagined, but if you keep at it what you'll find is well worth the wait. And so it’s been a wonderful first year, lentils and all. Thank you for coming along.
Beurre Maître D’Hôtel (parsley butter)
4 tbsp butter
1.5 tbsp chopped (very very finely) parsley
A few drops of lemon (the juice can also be used below)
Rinse a bowl out with hot water, add your butter and parsley (which David stresses should be very finely chopped) and work together with a fork, adding a few drops of lemon until well combined.
Lentilles Maître D’Hôtel (lentils with parsley butter)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1.5-2 cups beluga lentils
- 1/2 cup chicken stock (plus additional if cooking the lentils in stock instead of water*)
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley