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Posts tagged ‘Parsley’

The Last of the Corn, Peppers. . .

We are having a beautiful fall here in Oregon. Days are sunny and warm, evenings and mornings cool and sometimes foggy and all those dreaded green tomatoes have (or will!) turn red. The peppers are glorious and abundant in every color, size and shape. And while I’ve mostly shifted to late fall/winter vegetables for my classes (still spots left in Soup Class on 10/24!) I am still clinging to the summer ones for the duration of their existence this year for my home cooking

I first made this salad almost a month ago as part of the dinner I catered for a forestry conference my mother hosted. It was well received and prompted my brother (the one who recently got married) to tell me that he wished I would have catered his whole wedding. I say this in part because I was thrilled to finally have created a barley salad worth writing about unlike this attempt you might remember.

So if like me, you’re trying to get the most of late summer treats like corn and peppers give this a try and let me know what you think. And I just might try a winter version of this hearty dish when I fully embrace the colder seasons.

Corn, Barley, and Roasted Pepper Salad

1  cup pearled or *hulled barley or about 3-4 cups cooked

3-4 ears of corn, kernels cut off cob

2-3 **poblano peppers or sweet Italian red peppers or really any kind or combination of sweet or mildly spicy peppers

3 oz of feta, crumbled

Dressing:

3 tablespoons lime or  lemon juice

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 cloves of garlic minced

salt, pepper

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 bunch parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

*Note: I used hulled barley which, unlike pearled barley, has only had the outer layer removed and the bran layer is still intact. It’s delicious and full of good fiber but does take a little longer to cook so depending on what kind you’re using adjust your cooking time. ** Poblano peppers vary widely in their level of heat/spiciness. Taste them as you go and you may not want to use as many as I suggest if they’re really spicy. Final note, if you’re using sweet peppers and are in a hurry you can skip the roasting step and just dice them. The roasting adds a wonderful smoky richness but the salad is still good with fresh peppers.

If you’re using hulled barley add it and 4 cups of water  to a pan with 1 tsp kosher salt. If you’re using pearled barley, add only 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for about one hour for hulled and 45 minutes for pearled. Test to check for doneness. You want it to be soft but with a bit of a bite still, not mushy. It’s pretty forgiving though and firms up a bit as it cools so don’t worry too much. Remove from heat and put in a large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile roast the peppers under the broiler or directly on your gas flame until blackened and blistered on all sides. Set in a bowl and cover for a a few minutes to cool and loosen the skin. When you’re able to handle them remove the skin, stem and seeds and roughly chop.

Cook the corn kernels with a splash of water and several pinches of salt until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix all the dressing ingredients. Add corn, peppers, cilantro or parsley (if using) and dressing to barley and mix well. Then add the feta.  Add salt, lemon juice or cumin to taste. The barley soaks up a lot of salt and acidity.

Note: It’s easy to cook barley in larger quantities ahead of time and freeze for  super quick meals like these.

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Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce, Organic Ag, Raj Patel, etc.

Raj Patel wrote the book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. I have only read excerpts of the book but have recently subscribed to his blog and am eager to read the whole book. One of his most recent posts is about a study comparing the energy it takes to run a conventional farm vs. an organic one. Questions of how best to feed the world are immensely complicated and Raj doesn’t shrink from these complications. Having coincidentally tuned into a debate on npr on my way to the airport the other night (to pick up another worthy-of-following food figure Bryant Terry) about whether organic food is just marketing hype, I was particularly interested to look at the study Raj discusses and its massive amounts of data.

Subscribing to Raj’s blog has been a welcome addition to my more strictly food/cooking blogs (with the exceptions of Michael Ruhlman who regularly interjects food system/policy related rants (his word!) into his posts and Culinate).  When you spend as much time as I do cooking, testing recipes, planting and tending a vegetable garden,  shopping at local farmers’ markets, and just living in one of the “bread baskets” of the world, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the challenges we face locally, nationally and globally when it comes to food, food-security, access to real food, . . .

All this to say that I am trying to find a balance between being totally immersed in the details of cooking and teaching with an awareness, no more than an awareness, maybe tactics to infuse a bit of the challenges of our food-system into my work. Whether that means teaching free classes to Portland Farmers Market shoppers who use their Oregon Trail cards (starting in May)  and really making simple, local ingredients shine in all my classes, I am going to continue thinking about ways to  advance a healthier more equitable food system.

Now to the recipe! And speaking of local and organic, eggs are one of those things (like tomatoes) where once you’ve had a good egg–fresh, local, bright yellow/orange–it’s hard to go back to grocery store eggs. And speaking of food system challenges. .. figuring out how to make good eggs like this accessible to much of the world should be at the top of someone’s agenda. Eggs are such a little miracle of deliciousness, protein, nutrients of all kinds, and adaptability.

I taught this recipe in class this weekend to rave reviews. This dish is sometimes called Eggs in Purgatory but whatever you call it, just make it!

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Salsa Verde

Basic Tomato Sauce

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, 1/4-inch dice

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried

1/2 medium carrot, finely chopped (optional)

1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

Salt & pepper

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add a few pinches of salt and the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and pepper. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

4-6 eggs (depending on number of people and/or appetite)

salt & pepper

4-6 Tbs Salsa Verde (recipe below)

Toasted bread

Heat tomato sauce in a wide sauté or frying pan until bubbling, turn down to medium/medium high. Make slight indentations in the sauce with a spoon and crack eggs into indentations. Sprinkle generously with salt and a few grinds of pepper, sprinkle on the parmesan (if using) and cover the pan. Cook until the eggs are cooked to your liking—about 5 minutes for typical poached egg quality.

Serve with toasted bread and Salsa Verde on the eggs.

Salsa Verde

There are many variations of this simple sauce. Vary it as you like but start with a couple of handfuls of parsley, chopped. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, minced garlic and olive oil to desired consistency and taste. It doesn’t take much garlic so start with half a small clove. It should be strongly seasoned since it is used with mild dishes but the garlic can easily overpower things. You can add chopped capers or anchovies as well but for the poached eggs I think the simpler one is best.

This sauce is also wonderful over roasted root vegetables, over a hash of veggies and /or potatoes, with fish or beef.

Celebrating Mothers and Daughters & Homemade Mayo

I was born on Mother’s Day. I joke with my mother that I don’t need to give her a gift as long as I’m still around. And my mother always says, “All I want is a hug and maybe a piece of chocolate cake.” I added the latter – she doesn’t actually say that but I think that’s what she would love to have, in addition to that hug.

As you might recall from previous posts, my mother is also my biggest culinary influence. She is the original “cook with what you have” cook. And she does it with style and for a dozen people on the fly practically weekly. She also lives 13 miles from the nearest grocery store. And she has the most bottomless and varied of all chest freezers (all home-grown too)– far better than most stores!

I don’t know about you, but it’s not always easy cooking with other people and in other people’s kitchens. And my mother, who is a very fast and efficient cook, does not always love sharing her kitchen with others. But whenever I’m at her house I inevitably cook and we have such a seamless rhythm together in the kitchen and she never fails to note how much she loves to have me in the kitchen. I’m sure it’s that we’ve worked side-by-side in kitchens for 30 +  years but it still seems noteworthy that it’s such fun.

We do have our culinary disagreements, particularly about what constitutes properly cooked meat and fish. She’s more of well-done type! And she doesn’t quite see the point of stocking two different kinds of olive oil: one for finishing dishes, salad dressings, etc. and one for sauteeing and such. But beyond that, we’re pretty similar. We just cooked Easter dinner together and I have to admit, even though the leg of lamb was more done that I would have chosen, it was very good.

So I think we should celebrate mothers and daughters for the whole month of May this year and I’ve scheduled a class on Sunday, May 16th for you mothers and daughters who would like to spend a few hours in my kitchen with each other and cook together. And if you’d like a private class with another mother/daughter pair or two either in my kitchen or yours we’ll schedule something!

And speaking of spring and Easter and Mother’s Day. … home-made mayonnaise season has started in my house! It is actually never really not in season, it’s just that now that my chives, oregano and parsley are prolific in the garden I love it even more. We had fried razor clams the night before Easter and dipped them in herbed mayo; last week we ate it with sweet potato fries (made with lime juice and cilantro), and this week it will go in the egg salad (using up all those easter eggs).

Homemade Mayonnaise with Fresh Herbs

2 egg yolks (organic or from a local farm if possible)

1 -2 tsps lemon juice (plus possibly a bit more to taste at the end) or white wine vinegar in a pinch

Couple of pinches of kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

3/4 – 1 cup or more of safflower oil or canola or some neutral vegetable oil

Herbs you have on hand (good with chives, parsley, basil, chervil, tarragon, etc.)

Whisk egg yolks with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Then very, very gradually start pouring in the oil in a very thin stream, whisking as you go. After you’ve incorporated about 1/4 cup of oil you can start speeding things up a bit. Continue until you have a consistency you like. It will get thicker and stiffer the more oil you add. Add chopped herbs at the end and add more salt and/or lemon juice if it needs more tang.

Aioli

To make the classic French garlicky mayonnaise (aioli), mash as many cloves of garlic as you want (you can start with as few as two and go up to about 10 for a very spicy, strong aioli) with some coarse salt with the side of a chef’s knife (or in a mortar) until you have a fairly smooth paste. Add the garlic paste to the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt and proceed as with the mayo above. Typically aioli does not have fresh herbs in it but sometimes I add some chives or parsley or basil. And traditionally you would use olive oil for this but I find that it often gets too bitter and strong if you use 100% olive oil so I suggest you use half very good-tasting extra virgin olive oil and half sunflower or some other more neutral oil.