Pearl barley tabouleh with marinated feta

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A bit more nutritious and wholesome than regular tabouleh, but a very interesting spin on this dish. The kind of stuff that makes you look forward for your lunch box…

Pearl barley tabouleh with marinated feta (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients 

  • 40g pearl barley
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 80g parsley, leaves and stems
  • 4 spring onions (about 40g in total), finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 40g cashew nuts, lightly toasted and crushed roughly
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into 1cm dice
  • ½ teasponn ground allspice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 60ml olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

Put the pearl barley in a small saucepan, cover with water and boil for 30-35 minutes, until tender but still with a bite. Drain into a fine sieve, shake to remove all the water and transfer to a large bowl.

Break the feta into rough pieces about 2cm in size, and mix in a small bowl with the olive oil, za’atar, coriander seeds and cumin. Gently mix together and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Chop the parsley finely and place in a bowl with the spring onion, garlic, cashew nuts, green pepper, allspice, lemon juice, olive oil and cooked pearl barley. Mix well together and season to taste.

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Pearl barley, orange and sesame pudding

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The mix sounds a bit odd and way too healthy for pudding, but truth to be said, it was delicious…  Not the kind of thing you would expect coming from pearl barley. The orange syrup complemented to perfection the sweetness of the barley and the sesame seeds just added a bit of complexity to it. A total foodie moment, I’d dare to add…

Pearl barley, orange and sesame pudding (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)

Ingredients

  • ½ tbsp each white and black sesame seeds, toasted (or use 1 tbsp white)
  • 1½ tbsp unrefined  sugar
  • 125g pearl barley, covered with cold water and soaked overnight
  • 750ml whole milk
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • Finely grated zest of ½ lemon,
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Salt
  • 20g tahini paste

For the orange syrup

  • 1 medium orange
  • 40g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp orange blossom water

Start with the orange syrup. Shave off a long strip of orange peel, avoiding the pith, and put in a small pan. Trim off top and bottom of the orange, then cut down its sides to remove all the skin and pith. Working over a small bowl to catch any juice, cut out the segments by slicing between the membranes. Add the segments to the bowl and set aside.

Add the caster sugar to the pan with the peel and add 75ml water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves – this should take less than a minute. Set aside to cool, then add the orange segments and juices, and the orange blossom water.

Roughly crush the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of muscovado sugar, and set aside.

Drain and rinse the barley. Tip it into a medium saucepan with the remaining muscovado sugar, milk, vanilla pod and seeds, citrus zest and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is cooked but still has some byte: if it’s becomes very thick, add a little milk towards the end. Leave to cool for five minutes, then remove the vanilla pod and divide between four bowls. Dribble a teaspoon of tahini over each portion, spoon over the orange segments and syrup, sprinkle with sesame and serve.


Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake

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A dish specially dedicated to B., who passionately loves quinoa. (not). Much for his despair, quinoa invaded the summer salad world and then slowly start to creep up into brunch domains and now makes an appearance in pudding-land. Actually, this is a sort of upside down deconstructed crumble (minus butter) also ideal for a brunch menu… It is very tasty, filling and it can even be considered  * gasp * super healthy.

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake (adapted from a recipe found in fitsugar.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 apples, peeled, diced
  • 1/4 cup (app 50g)raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (500mL) milk with the seeds of 1 vanilla pod
  • 1/4 (50mL) cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 (app 75g) cup almonds, chopped

Methods 

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Lightly grease a baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the uncooked quinoa with the spices. Pour into the greased dish. Sprinkle the apple and raisins on top of the quinoa.

In that same small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk and maple syrup. Pour the egg-and-milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.

Bake for 1 hour or until the casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left.

Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate.

 


Thomas Keller’s creamy polenta

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It was not my intention to make this a polenta cook-off between two of the best chefs in the world…  Adrià’s polenta is a very popular dish in this blog, and I get to cook it often. However, this polenta looked so creamy and fluffy, I had to give it a go…  The mobile calorie intake units  My guests got a bit worried about the extra calories, but ate it all without too much complaining. The general consensus was that it was indeed creamy – a bit too much even.

Creamy polenta (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 L (=6 cups) of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • salt to taste
  • about 500g of coarse polenta
  • 600 mL (=2.5  cups) of heavy cream
  • 170 grams ( =12 tablespoons ) of unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Combine the stock, garlic and sprinkle with salt in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Pour in the polenta in stream and cook over low heat, stirring often, stirring often, for about 20min, until the polenta is quite dry and coats the bottom of the pan. The moisture must evaporate, because it will be replaced with fat.

In the meanwhile, warm the cream in a small pan

Increase the cream under the polenta to medium and stir in the butter. Add a cream, about half a cup at the time, and let the polenta absorb it all before adding more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Quinoa pancakes with blueberries

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Allow me a brief interruption of the regular programming of this blog, for a super * gasp * healthy creation made with not one, but  two * gasp * super foods and barely any fat or sugar * gaps *. It also tastes good. Actually, very good indeed., This is what I have for breakfast as of late. I just cook a batch, keep them in the fridge wrapped on tin foil and grab one to eat on the go;  it keeps me running for the whole morning (plus a few double expressos). I know that eating quinoa might be controversial, but…. truth to be said, I like its flavour and texture. And, it is good for you.

Quinoa pancakes with blueberries (adapted from Popsugar Fitness and Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa (about 100g)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 70g)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk (about 60 mL)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • Blueberries and maple sirup to serve (or any fresh fruit or quark)

Directions 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the quinoa, flour, baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, butter, milk, and syrup until smooth. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to combine.

Lightly coat a large non stick frying pan with butter and heat over medium-high. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, approximately 2 minutes.

Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on the underside, about 2 minutes. Wipe the frying pan with a paper towel and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter (reduce the heat to medium if it starts to brown).

Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit or preserves if desired.


Rice Pudding with Orange Jewels, Tarragon and Puffed Rice

I cannot make rice pudding the way my Mother does. No matter how many times I have watched her doing it or how scrupulously I follow her instructions, it is not the same thing. It doesn’t taste the same, it doesn’t feel the same and it doesn’t do her recipe any justice. It seems just impossible to reproduce her pudding rice. For a while, I tried other recipes, like the one Spanish chef Juan Maria Arzak has in one of his books, to less than optimal results.

A few days ago, while watching season 2 of Masterchef Australia, I saw how Gary Mehigan  and George Calombaris did this rice pudding during one of their masterclasses. It looked delicious, packed with different flavors and textures, and they comprehensively explained how to cook it. And, I decided it to give a another go to rice pudding. Anyway, what sort of expectations would you have on an Australian rice pudding recipe?  It was worthwhile the effort. In fact, there was a respectful silence around the table while people eat their desserts… Do not feel tempted to remove the tarragon, on the pretenses that no rice pudding has green stuff on it. With the orange, it is a delicious combination.

Rice Pudding with Orange Jewels, Tarragon and Puffed Rice

Ingredients 

Rice pudding

  • 40g caster sugar (or sugar too taste )
  • 700ml milk (the real thing, with all its fat)
  • 135g Arborio rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

Candied orange peel

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • the peel of 1 orange, pith removed, julienned in the vertical
  • 1 orange, peeled zest, pith removed, julienned

To serve

  • tarragon leaves,
  • 1/4 cup puffed rice, toasted
  • 1 orange flesh segmented

Orange jewels

  • 15g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder (do not follow the instructions on the bottle, as they are aimed to get a gelatin consistency. The jewels need to be solid to be cut properly, so it is OK if you add agar agar in excess).
  • 190ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained (I used the juice of 2 oranges and topped with water until I had 250mL of liquid)

Method

Step 1: For the candied orange peel, place 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium, add orange peel and simmer gently for 45 minutes until syrupy. If you are not using it immediately, it is better to separate the peels and letter then cool).

Step 2: For the orange jelly, line a 500ml plastic container with cling film. Add ¼ cup water, orange juice and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Sprinkle in agar agar and whisk for about 5 minutes until dissolved. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into the lined container. Refrigerate for about 25 minutes or until set. Invert jelly from container onto a board and cut into 1cm cubes.

Step 3: For the rice pudding, add the milk, rice, vanilla bean and seeds to a non-stick saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until creamy and the rice is tender, stirring regularly. Add the remaining sugar and stir for about 2 minutes until dissolved (I had to use the whole 1-L of milk, as the rice absorbed the first 700mL of milk).

Step 4: To serve, divide rice pudding between serving bowls. Arrange the jelly jewels on top, along with the orange segments, tarragon leaves, candied orange peel, a spoonful of syrup and some puffed rice. Serve immediately.


Couscous salad with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and lemon

To go with the tzatziki, I made a couscous salad using a recipe I found in Jeff Koehler‘s  Rice, Pasta, Couscous. In Jeff’s own words, it’s as lovely as it is simple. The lemon makes it refreshing, cilantro gives it extra flavor and depth, the couscous feel a bit more lighter than past or rice… Just the right thing to have in a hot Summer day.

Couscous salad with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and lemon

Ingredients 

  •     500g couscous of  medium-grain couscous
  •     8 ripe tomatoes grated or finely chopped
  •     Juice of 2 lemons
  •     2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  •     1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  •     Salt and pepper
  •     3 olive oil to taste

Method

Cook the couscous according to the instructions of the packet. Put in a large salad bowl.

Add the tomatoes to the couscous along with the lemon juice, cilantro, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Let the mix sit for at least 1 hour for the flavors to develop and marry. Add the olive oil and fluff just before serving.