Recently, I had the opportunity to work alongside a lovely woman by the name of Linda Whitworth who is on a multi-city tour promoting the health benefits of cooking with barley. The grain which is commonly (and lovingly, in our house) associated with beer making has been recognized with the health claim that barley fibre can positively contribute to your wellness by reducing your cholesterol level. I look at this as a bonus because cooking with barley, simply tastes good!
There are many ingredients that I might not ever cook with, were it not for my work as a food stylist. Barley is a good case in point. I keep barley in our pantry for a single family recipe Hamburger Soup. But now that I know the difference between pearl and pot barley (the former is “polished” longer than the latter), and have had the pleasure of baking with barley flour, barley and barley flour will always have a place on my shelf.
First up were Yoghurt Barley Fruit Scones. I made mine with raisins but I would love to try them with blueberries next time. I tucked one away for D to try with his supper. He asked me to please, please make these all the time.
I had to make another substitution as I could not find rhubarb around at this time of year so I made the Rhubarb Pecan Muffins with tart cranberries instead. The topping on these muffins was amazing (and another cholesterol reducer too with the inclusion of quick oats). I plan to mix up a bag of this crumble topping to keep on hand in the freezer to put onto a variety of muffins. I am making banana muffins this afternoon. I often call my muffins “cupcakes” and serve them for dessert.
The recipe that Linda made on set was this gorgeous Black Bean and Barley Salad. It was so simple, so healthy and so delicious-win, win, win!
But my favourite of the day was the Barley Jambalaya. It was so good, that I literally can’t stop thinking about it and just talked myself into making it for mandatory Sunday supper this weekend.
The recipe links here are from the newly launched website that Linda was in town to promote: http://gobarley.com/. Be sure to bookmark it as it is chock full of amazing recipes.
Keep open house, let fidlers play.
A fig for cold, sing care away;
And may they who thereat repine,
On brown bread and on small beer dine.”
from the 1766 ‘Virginia Almanack’
My family was shocked to find out that I love soggy French fries. My favourite fry is typically accomplished when a potato is freshly cut and not allowed too much time in the frying pie. If it is floppy when you spear it with your fork, I am a happy camper. When not cooked to crispy, I think that the sweetness and fleshiness of the potato shines through.
They were appropriately surprised because most other foods that I eat, I like crunchy. If there is cheese or sauce stuck to the bottom of a casserole dish, I am in heaven by scraping it off with a spatula and popping it right into my mouth. I think that this comes from being one of six kids when I was growing up. I was the oldest daughter, so I was often in charge of dishes and scraping these little treats up while doing dishes, was my “consolation” prize, as it were.
I think that this is why I love a pan-seared steak. I know that grilling is the healthiest way to cook a steak so that the fat runs away from the meat but let’s face it; fat is what makes a steak taste good! I would rather give up a creamy sweet than pass on a juicy steak. My Dad taught me how to perfectly sear a steak. I bet that I was no more than nine or ten at the time.
His technique was exactly like the one in the attached video by Canada Beef with one exception: he would always sear a steak in butter and not oil. He declared that the nutty saltiness of the butter was the perfect enhancement to the hearty taste of the steak. And,if you serve the pan-seared steak on a piece of garlic toast, you have an even easier time of capturing all of the crispy bits and juices to savour and enjoy.
Canada Beef has all kinds of recipes and references on their beef info website. So if you have never learned to perfectly pan-sear a steak, you can learn right on their site. And, in order to make food video watching super easy in the kitchen, Canada Beef is giving away 5 Ipads! Click here to enter their contest (closes March 31, 2014).
Kath’s quote: “The only time to eat diet food is while you are waiting for the steak to cook.”-Julia Child
Even though we do not typically sit down for big weekend breakfasts in the city, the morning after our big family wedding called for special sustenance. When I am a little bit sleep deprived (read: had too many glasses of wine), extra carbs, sugar and fat, really do boost my energy. Besides, (my bro in law Michael says that I can rationalize anything), we didn’t imbibe with pancakes on Fat Tuesday.
Spelt has a fascinating origin and I am just learning how to prepare it. Daughter #2 suggested the inclusion of lemon. She has had a craving for my lemon blueberry muffins that I have not had a chance to appease as of yet.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Combine the milk and melted butter, and the vanilla.
Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened: it will seem very wet, but will thicken as it sits. Add the lemon rind and juice.
Let the batter sit for 15 minutes before you use it.
Heat a non-stick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. If your surface is not non-stick, brush it lightly with canola oil.
When the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across the surface, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to eliminate excess oil, and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, ¼-cupful at a time. Gently place the desired amount of blueberries in the middle of the cake.
Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, about 2 to 3 minutes. You may need to adjust your heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface, or being too pale.
When the cakes are just beginning to set, flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, about 1 minute more, until they’re golden brown on both sides.
I grilled up a pound of bacon, which is another treat that we don’t often indulge in. We like our pancakes topped with cottage cheese and then in honour of the Frenchman, real maple syrup. There are no pictures of the finished product because a) I was very hungry and b) was not thinking straight.
Kath’s quote:“’When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’
‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.”-A. A. Milne
Perhaps on Valentine’s Day, you were checking this space for a long dissertation on love. In my mind, the giving of love, is not about this day. It is about every other day in a year. My only other thought, is that I have found joy and happiness in living my life as a love “distributor”. Love someone new on this day.
I have recently discovered the loveliness of black rice. Last evening, D and I headed out to an Ash Wednesday service and I wanted us to eat quite light. So this was perfect! Actually better than perfect. We were blown away by the flavours-like summertime in your mouth.
I do not believe in completely eliminating a food in one’s diet in order to achieve wellness. For example our family loves bacon and yet we know that it should be consumed in moderation. Because the aroma and taste of bacon is synonymous for us with cottage life, we generally only eat it for weekend brunches up at the beach house. But occasionally in the winter we have it as a “treat” and include it in our evening meal when higher calorie and fat portions are consumed already. Last night, I wanted a quick dinner before the start of the Jets Game and so I broiled chicken wings seasoned with “Bone Dust”, simmered some black rice and the hit of the dinner-an old school warm bacon spinach salad.
4 cups of loosely packed spinach leaves, prepared for safe consumption
2 large eggs, hard boiled and chopped
1 small red onion, sliced
⅓ c dried cranberries
8 strips of bacon, chopped
4 T bacon fat
4 T red wine vinegar
1 T maple syrup
1 T Dijon mustard
Prepare and place spinach, eggs, onions and cranberries in salad bowl.
Cook bacon until crispy (fried or baked).
Retain 4 T of bacon drippings as your remove the bacon from the pan.
Blot with paper towel, after a quick spray at the sink with very hot water.
Place bacon in salad bowl.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
Adjust with pepper (salt is likely redundant)
Pour over top of salad just before serving.
If time has passed and the dressing starts to solidify, simply place in the mic for a minute.
The hot bacon fat with make the spinach wilt a wee bit-that is what you are going for.
Another trick to reduce fat from a dinner like ours on this evening, is to season the chicken drummettes under the skin and then completely remove the skin before eating. This way you enjoy all the flavour provided by the skin without consuming the extra fat in the skin.
And if you have not tasted the treat of black rice yet-you must. The taste is nutty and creamy at the same time and the health benefits will make it a new staple in our house. Black rice is a soluble fibre that is packed with anti-oxidants, making it a super food on par with blueberries!
Kath’s quote:“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”-Doug Larson