It’s been a while since I’ve posted here but a new follower prompted me to report on a recipe. Like the books I review so that I won’t forget I read them, the recipes here are reminders of good things I’ve made and like to eat – and easy access to the ingredients when I’m roaming the grocery store aisles without the list I left behind on a counter.
Barley is a favorite food of mine; hulled barley can take longer to cook but I like the idea of the whole grain (instead of the pearled variety). But, I have used pearled barley – even farro – a grain is a grain. Since I had a bag of hulled barley and a freezer with bags of whole edamame and peas, I was ready to improvise the rest. The result was a yummy one pot dish that I ate both hot immediately and cold later that night.
- 1 cup barley
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup edamame beans
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- fresh basil (if you have it)
- a little sea salt to taste
Rinse the barley in a strainer; then pour into a medium pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes, covered, until barley has absorbed most of the water.
Shell the edamame beans ( place in deep dish of water to soften, or let them sit out for a bit). Add the beans and peas to the barley for the last 10 minutes and continue cooking until most of the water is absorbed. Drain, if necessary.
Roll up washed spinach leaves and cut into strips. Add to the pot and stir. Transfer to a casserole dish.
Mix olive oil and vinegar together with basil and salt. Pour over the barley mixture. Season to taste. Enjoy warm immediately. Refrigerate the rest for your cold midnight snack.
Yeast bread always smells so good baking. These onion buns don’t take a lot of kneading – only if you need to punch something to feel better. The secret to success is to have all the ingredients warm – not too hot and not too cold – just right.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 packages active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons (3/4/ stick) melted butter
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
Finely chop three medium onions and cook in olive oil until translucent – about 15 minutes. While the onions are cooling down, mix 2 packages of yeast with 2 cups of warm water and let sit for five minutes. Mix separately: a tablespoon of sugar, 2 beaten eggs, and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Pour mixture into the proofed yeast and add three-quarters of the cooked onions. Add about 6 cups of flour and mix until a sticky dough forms. Brush the top of the dough with a little olive oil and cover with plastic wrap for about an hour to rise.
With well-floured hands, tear off pieces of dough and form into balls. Place on well-greased 9×12 pan. Tops buns with remaining onions and let rise again for about 45 minutes – loosely covered with plastic wrap.
Remove plastic when buns rise again and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
In honor of Julia Child’s birthday, I wanted to eat. Going off to Paris was not an option, and no French restaurants were open in the area – but Julia would want me to cook.
Channeling her joie de vivre and her courage to use whatever happened to be on the shelf, I found shallots, garlic, elbow macaroni, olive oil, fresh parsley and basil from the little pots I nurtured – and Romano Pecorino cheese.
After slicing the shallots and chopping the garlic, I heat the pan before pouring in a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. First – the shallots sautéed to a shimmer; then the garlic – just soft, not burnt. In the meantime, the pasta boiled to al dente in 6 minutes.
I poured the shallots and garlic into a deep crockery bowl from my Grandmother’s era, and then remembered her cheese trick. I grated the cheese into the now empty shallot/garlic pan – mmm, melted cheese – browning and aromatic.
Only a cup of the macaroni went into the crock (I had used only one shallot and 2 cloves of garlic – lunch for one). Then, the chopped parsley and basil and, finally, the liquid cheese. I gently tossed all together, and sat down to eat right out of the bowl.
A moan of pleasure out of my mouth and a toast to Julia – happy birthday! No pictures – ate it all!
Back to the Barefoot Contessa for some real food. Much as I would like to, I cannot live by butter and sugar alone, so I ventured beyond her yummy desserts.
My adaptation of Ina Garten’s lemon chicken was as easy as Ina’s and delicious – substituting limes (from a local tree) for lemons, basil for the thyme and oregano, and skinless chicken breasts for skinned.
Julia (Child) always warned it’s better to cook with the same wine you would drink; since Riesling is my favorite, I had some for the pot and lots left over for later (and for sipping while cooking).
The Barefoot Contessa suggests making couscous and “haricot vert” to accompany the chicken – too much trouble for me – threw some red potatoes and carrots into the pot, and sopped up the great juices with a rustic bread (from the Farmer’s Market).
The Barefoot Chicken
Mince 9 cloves of garlic and heat in 1/4 olive oil for one minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup wine, 2 tablespoons dried basil (fresh will not work here), 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemons if you have them).
If you are using a pot that can go into the oven, hurray for you. Otherwise, pour the sauce into a baking dish that will fit 2 to 4 chicken breasts. Cut up the limes and tuck under the breasts. Cut the red potatoes into quarters and place around the breasts, along with carrot chunks cut on the diagonal. Spoon a little sauce over the breasts and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
My mother made her famous meat and carrots meal whenever she was running late, which happened a lot. It could have been one of those Rachel Ray under thirty minute meals – fast, easy, tasty. I loved it – still do…You’ll need:
- 1 lb. good quality ground meat (my mother would have the butcher – or the man behind the meat counter – grind up a filet – much to his dismay), but ground round will do.
- a bunch of carrots, some garlic, and fresh Italian parsley
- a sturdy iron skillet and some olive oil
Heat the skillet and then simmer sliced carrots with a little water to soften them. Drain the water and add extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and 2 chopped cloves of garlic. Add beef and brown over medium heat. Add the chopped parsley last – after meat is mostly cooked. Salt and pepper to taste.