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Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a NYC based food, travel, and hospitality consulting services website!  I'm glad you're here.

xoxo, 

Lindsay

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Thursday
Feb072019

Recipe: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Photo credit: Green Valley Kitchen
*This gorgeous photo was found here*
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Creamy and velvety, yet dotted with carrot nibs, this hearty bowl of goodness is diet-friendly, incredibly flavorful, and perfectly filling.  Pair it with a side salad and some crusty bread/pita for a colorful and waist-friendly meal that is guaranteed to please even the pickiest of palettes!
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Ingredients:
Serves four large bowls of soup; recipe adapted from the NY Times 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet white onion (Vidalia and Maui are my favorite sweet varieties), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of ground chile powder
  • 1 quart plus 2 cups chicken broth (Want to make it vegetarian?  Sub the chicken broth for vegetable broth!)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (cilantro or arugula will also do!)

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.  Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder; sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add broth, lentils and carrot.  Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low.  Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.  Taste and add salt if necessary.
  4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, puree half the soup then add it back to the pot.  Soup should be somewhat chunky.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and chopped greens.

...

Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle 

Wednesday
Jan302019

Recipe: Beef Bourguignon a-la-Instant Pot

The Instant Pot: Formerly known as the my "most intimidating kitchen appliance."  Truth be told, it took me almost a year to pull this pressure cooker-extraordinaire out of its box!  I guess I was afraid that I'd lose an eye from the steam function/somehow ignite my apartment on fire/receive third-degree burns.  Or something else disastrous and life-threatening along those lines... 

However, with the New Years resolution-fire lit under my ass to cook more homemade meals in 2019, I can proudly say that the IP (Instant Pot) and I have become quite friendly over the past month.  The blustery January temperatures here in New York were the inspiration behind my inaugural IP meal: Beef Bourguignon, a hearty French stew comprised of beef braised in red wine and stock and flavored with carrots, onions, garlic, pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon.  For this recipe, I substituted sweet white onions for the traditional pearl variety that it calls for (because they are a bitch to peel), and completely did away with the bacon (not because I don't love the stuff, but because omitting pork belly shaves off some serious calories).  The final result?  Dynamite!  And trust me when I say that you won't miss the bacon...or those annoying pearl onions!

This recipe is easy to prep and cook - takes approximately two hours from start to finish (including gathering ingredients, food prep, and cook time) - and is a huge crowd pleaser.  

*Tip: Make one day ahead of time for flavors to fully marry!  This stew is like a fine wine - I swear that it gets more delicious by the day!

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Ingredients:

Serves four large bowls of stew; loosely based on the recipe from My Food Story

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. stew meat (1.5" - 2" sized chunks)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup sweet white onions, chopped in 1" pieces (most recipes recommend using pearl onions, but they're a nightmare to peel, so I will spare you)
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, halved
  • 3 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 1 1/3 cups red wine, separated by 1 cup and 1/3 cup (make sure to use a wine that you actually enjoy drinking; NOT cooking wine.  For this recipe, I use a juicy California Merlot or Red Zinfandel)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1.5 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Turn on your Instant Pot (IP).  Set to Sauté function and select high (heat).  
  2. In a sauté pan, heat oil over medium/high heat.  Allow the pan to get hot.  Meanwhile, liberally season the beef with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, sear the meat on each side for 30 seconds and set aside.
  3. Pour the pan grease (from step 2) in to the IP.  Add the garlic, onions, mushrooms, and carrots and sauté, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, using the pan from Step 2, return to the stove.  Add 1/3 cup of wine and simmer for five minutes, making sure to scrape the delicious bits stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan (from searing the beef).
  5. Add the deglazed wine from the pan, seared beef, remaining wine (1 cup), broth, thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste to the IP.  Lock the lid in place and change the setting from "Sauté" to "Pressure Cook" and manually set the timer dial for 40-minutes.
  6. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup water.
  7. Once the 40-minutes has elapsed, release the pressure manually from the IP and carefully remove the lid.  Turn on the "Sauté" function and select low (heat).
  8. With a ladle, add a small amount (1/3 cup, approximately) of the hot stew to the flour mixture to temper, stirring constantly.  Once fully combined, slowly pour in to the stew and stir to incorporate.  Simmer for 5 minutes, until the stew thickens.
  9. Taste the stew and adjust the flavor by adding salt and pepper, according to your liking/preference (if need be).
  10. Serve immediately or store overnight and enjoy the next day for an even more flavorful and robust stew!  

Bon appetit!

...

Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle 

Friday
Jan252019

List: My Top 10 Favorite Dishes of 2018

In no particular order, I'd like to present you with ten of the absolute BEST new dishes/items that I had the pleasure of eating in 2018. So come and see what made my list!

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan162019

Recipe: Naturally Sweet Overnight Oats

Growing tired of hard boiled eggs for breakfast, I decided to start looking around to observe what some of my healthier colleagues were noshing in the mornings.  Save for the rail-thin dude who breaks his daily fast with a Maison Kayser chocolate croissant, oatmeal - or some sort of porridge - seemed to be the overwhelming item of choice.  OK, so oatmeal is healthy enough, right?  Sure, when it's in its simplest form - plain and made with water.  Yawn.  But when you add Craisins, chocolate chips, sliced almonds, milk, butter, honey, banana slices, granola (I always found this to be a strange addition), and brown sugar, this hearty cereal becomes as calorically dense as an ice cream sundae! 

For the new year, I made two goals: 1) Attempt Dry January again (this would be my second year), and 2) cook more of my meals at home.  Hell, I have a freaking CULINARY SCHOOL DEGREE - it's about damn time that I put it to use!  Plus, making my own food gives me the peace of mind in knowing every single ingredient that goes in to what I'm eating.  And that helps to put my rampant mind a bit more at ease.

Speaking of, I've been trying to pick apart my favorite recipes and make them a bit more healthy (cutting the oil in half, using less sugar, playing around with different spices, etc.).  With that, I have created the easiest, tastiest, waistline-friendly overnight oats recipe using coconut water (because plain water is so boring and I think that almond milk sucks) and dates (which add natural sweetness and texture), a fruit that I fell in love with during my trip to the Middle East last year. 

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Ingredients

1 packet of Quaker Instant Oatmeal Original    

1/3 cup coconut water

3 pitted dates, chopped

Optional: a pinch of salt, dash of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla extract

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Method

Combine all three ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate overnight.  Enjoy!

...

Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle