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Briarcliff Manor's Inspired Chef Overcomes Slow Start

Laura Mogil is a resident of Briarcliff Manor.
Laura Mogil is a resident of Briarcliff Manor. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- I have to admit that I didn’t even start cooking until I was in my late 20s.

When I was growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, I made myself scarce in the kitchen, preferring to run out of the house to play sports or hang out with friends. Then I lived in a dorm while in college and ate all my meals in one or another of the school’s lackluster dining halls.

Moving to New York City after graduation, I managed to dine out or take in almost every meal, including Sunday breakfast, which my husband, Bob, and I used to get delivered from a place on the Upper East Side called Mr. Chips.

If I had to pick the moment in time when I started cooking, I would say it was right after my older son, Sam, was born. I was 28 years old and remember serving Bob what I considered to be one of my specialties at the time, Stouffer’s frozen macaroni and cheese. His response – and these were his exact words – was “Never make this for me again!”

Thus began over two decades of cooking adventures, full of forays to gourmet food stores, farmers markets, cooking classes, and friends’ kitchens. In this blog, I’ll share stories about some of my favorite dishes, plus some special recipes from local residents who love to cook.

Below is one of the first recipes I ever made, my grandmother’s lentil soup, served frequently at Sunday night family dinners while I was growing up and updated for the 21-century and a healthier lifestyle!

LENTIL SOUP

From the personal recipes of Martha J. Joseph

  • A piece of smoked meat or a ham bone (if the former, cook for one hour in water before adding lentils, etc.)
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 package of lentils (rinsed and picked)
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 finely diced garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 hotdogs (I use turkey sausages)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat (I use olive oil)

Cook meat, lentils, and water slowly for 1 1/2 hours. Chill. Remove meat and bone, and skim fat from pot. Heat one tablespoon bacon fat (I substituted olive oil but bacon fat certainly adds a salty, smoky flavor!). Fry sliced hot dogs (I used turkey sausages) lightly and add to soup. Remove all but one tablespoon of fat from pan; add one tablespoon flour and some of the soup mix gradually. Mix with remaining soup. Season. A touch of vinegar may be added. If too thick, add water.

Laura Joseph Mogil is a freelance writer and publicist residing in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. You can read her blog at www.theinspiredchef.blogspot.com

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