Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Did you Know Barley in Spanish is Cebada?

Risotto Style Barley with Winter Squash.

Local ingredients used: barley, winter squash, goat cheese - which are really the main ingredients in the dish.

I think barley may be my favorite grain, I really like the texture. I usually describe it as "meaty" which I guess my discourage vegetarians, but it shouldn't. Chewy is another possible adjective. Risotto style barley is not a typical or authentic risotto by any means. And I am not really even sure if this should qualify as risotto style, since you don't have to slowly add the liquid as it is absorbed which I feel is key to risotto. But you do add wine, and it is fairly creamy.

I don't actually remember what type of squash I used. It was probably butternut, but I can't be sure. Neither do I know how many types of winter squash are out there, but there are tons! I was talking with a farmer the other day who said that they personally grow about 25 varieties. I haven't found one I like significantly more than butternut though.

You could do this with pretty much any vegetable instead of squash, I have made it with mushrooms several times. I topped the "risotto" with goat cheese and walnuts. Goat cheese because it is delicious and walnuts because they are delicious, but also because this dish could be considered mushy and the walnuts add a really nice crunch.

Risotto Style Barley:
4 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken etc. I use the little cubes)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Other good "winter" seasonings include rosemary, thyme, or sage - I might add 1/2 to 1 tsp of each, or none
2 tsp. butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup pearled barley
1 winter squash chopped and seeded (I wash my winter squashes but I DO NOT peel them, the skin gets tender and with butternut squash in particular I think tastes delicious, plus many nutrients are in the skin)
1/2 cup white wine
Toppings: toasted walnuts, goat cheese

Start boiling the cubed and seeded winter squash in enough water to cover it
Heat butter in a large sauce pan and add onions. Cook until translucent. Add any seasonings and cook 1 or 2 more minutes. Add barley and saute another minute or two. Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

Meanwhile, when the squash is tender - about 30 minutes later - mash it up.

When the barley has absorbed the broth, add the wine and stir. Now add the mashed up squash. Now you are done. Each person can put their own toppings on, or you could, it doesn't really matter.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crisp Leaves and Root Cellar Foods

The Farmers Market has closed for the season hear in Minneapolis. Which means we are moving towards winter and eating lots of root vegetables! It is sad to bed farewell to all of the tomatoes and peppers that I have been eating, but I do love root vegetables.

One pleasant and simple fall meal that partner and I enjoyed recently was creamy parsnip soup with yoghurt and herb muffins spread with goat cheese. For some reason I didn't eat parsnips very often growing up, but I now really enjoy their slightly sweet, earthy taste. They look like white carrots.

The soup is Curried Parsnip Soup with shredded apples from Epicurious.com:

While the soup is simmering you can make the muffins. I used the recipe for Yogurt and Herb Bread from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen who wrote all of the Moosewood Cookbooks, except I made them as muffins

  • 1 cup unbleached white hlour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tep baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp each - oregano, thyme, basil, tarragon
Mix all ingredients well and pour into a greased muffin pan. Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh Boy, Organ Meat

I guess you could consider this a Halloween post...

Lamb liver was on super special at the Farmers Market ($0.50/lb!), and if I want to eat local, on a budget, it's hard to pass up a good deal, right?

Waste is also bad, so if I am going to eat meat I should try new cuts. By the way, I have never had liver before. I don't think I am alone in not eating much organ meat, at least not in the US. I think it is interesting that we consume a fairly large amount of meat, but certain cuts, and even certain animals (like I mentioned this was LAMB liver) have almost gone out of fashion. When I was looking up recipes one website said that lamb was very popular in the US until WWII and then the army bought very large quantities and served a lot of poorly prepared lamb to soldiers. When they came home they told their wives and mothers that they didn't like lamb- and just like that, the entire country switched primarily to beef. Sheep tend to be lighter on the land than cattle, so I am trying to build my skill preparing less common cuts of meat.

This is a pretty standard liver and onions with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Pretty  much everything was purchased at the Farmers Market except spices, oils, and butter. Here are the ingredients:

For Two Servings
  • 2 onions, chopped or sliced
  • 2 small liver steaks
  • about 5 smallish potatoes, washed and cut into small pieces
  • maybe 1/2 lb of green beans, washed
  • Oil, butter, vegetable broth, salt and pepper
Put potatoes in a small sauce pan, cover with water and/or vegetable broth (I add a vegetable broth bullion cube) boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. When they are tender drain, add about a tablespoon of butter plus salt and pepper to taste and mash with a fork. If you like creamier mashed potatoes you can add a couple of tablespoons of milk and just keep adding small amounts until the potatoes are at the desired consistency

Meanwhile... while the potatoes are cooking - Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large pan and add onions. Saute until tender and beginning to caramelize - about 10 minutes, but the longer the better.

Meanwhile 2... once the onions are sauteing - Put green beans in a pan (I use a saute pan so that they can remain long) with a little bit of water. You can also use a steamer but I don't have one. (Side note: one of the benefits of a steamer is that you don't lose as many of the nutrients in the water. I save the water I cook vegetables in and drink it like tea, this way I get most of the nutrients) Cook green beans for about 8 minutes.

When everything is about done, move the onions to the side of the dish and add the liver cooking 1-1/2 minutes on each side. Apparently the "secret" to good liver is that it is just barely done. Serve immediately.

OK, full disclosure. It turns out I don't really like liver. I liked the texture, it is like a very very tender steak. But there was something in the flavor that I felt was distinctive. But my partner really liked it and didn't taste whatever the flavor note that I was picking up on was. And if you have enough caramelized onions it's hard to notice the flavor. Liver is also very high in iron, and like I said, affordable... so... I am glad I tried it and will probably continue to prepare it on occasion (if only because we kind of stocked up when it was on sale)