ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD

Another recipe that was highly recommended by editors of the food section in The New York Times. We will be paying close attention to those reviews from now on, because so far everything we’ve tried has been a total winner. I made a few modifications to adapt to our taste, so I share my version with you. Barley is definitely under-appreciated.

ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD
(adapted from The New York Times)

1 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pounds carrots, washed, trimmed and cut into long pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups arugula
A handful of cilantro
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

for the spiced tahini:
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Ras-el-hanout
water to adjust consistency

Heat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack on the lowest shelf. In a medium saucepan, combine barley with 4 cups water; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain excess water if still some remains.

Meanwhile, place the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat, spreading into an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom oven rack and roast until tender and starting to turn golden, about 25 minutes.

While the carrots roast, make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Ras-el-hanout, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth and has a pourable consistency.

When the carrots are ready, remove them from the oven, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with lemon zest. Season with a pinch of salt and toss to coat.

In a serving bowl, combine the carrots with the barley, arugula and parsley. Drizzle with the spiced tahini and sprinkle with almonds. Try not to over-eat…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the best side dishes of the year of 2021 that showed up at our table. I do have a very special place in my heart for tahini, so maybe that explains my love for this recipe. You can cook the barley and roast the carrots in advance. In that case, just warm the carrots briefly in the microwave – I mean for 20 seconds tops – because it’s nice to have the contrast of warm carrots with the cold salad. If you are not too fond of arugula, spinach will work too, but there’s something about the slightly bitter nature of arugula that works well here.

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 Shrimp Moqueca

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE POBLANO TAHDIG

With this post I will upset a lot of people. First, by mixing a classic Middle Eastern recipe with a Mexican component. And second, by making it a much quicker version than the authentic. However, since I first made this version back in 2019, I never stopped. It is by far the most requested side dish by the resident food critic, and I adore it too. My only problem lies with that portion control thing. I tend to over-eat because it’s just too good. The basic method is the same, and to be honest I don’t even measure anything now, because it always works. This version rocked our little world.

POBLANO TAHDIG
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup rice
3 cups lightly salted water
1 Poblano pepper, roasted with a touch of olive oil until soft
1/3 cup full-fat yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper (or other pepper of your choice)
drizzle of olive oil

Mix the yogurt with the poblano pepper, salt and chipotle pepper. Process with a mini-food processor until smooth. Reserve.

Cook the rice for 12 minutes in salted boiling water and immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Rice and yogurt mixture can sit separately for a couple of hours before continuing.

Mix the rice with the yogurt. Heat a 10-inch non-stick skillet and add olive oil, swirling around the whole surface. When the oil starts to get hot, add the rice-yogurt mixture and spread it all over the pan, smoothing the surface with a silicon spoon. Cover the rice with a paper towel moistened with water, then place a lid. Don’t worry if the lid is not totally tight.

Place on a low-burner for exactly 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes check to see if the bottom is golden, if not, increase the heat lightly and remove the lid. Leave it for a minute or two, should be enough to make a nice crust at the bottom. Carefully place a platter on top and invert the rice on it. Cut in wedges to serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The above picture shows what was left once we finished our dinner. We could have inhaled it all, but I decided to consider my lunch next day. If you are a rice lover, please try this method. And now that we loved the poblano version so much, I have plenty of other variations to try. The only thing to keep in mind is under-cooking the rice in the beginning, and choosing a skillet that is right for the amount of rice you have. For 1 cup dry rice, the 10-inch skillet is perfect. Thirty minutes on low-heat. DONE.

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Green Beans and Tomatoes with Tahini Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: Brazilian Pao de Queijo 

THREE YEARS AGO: The Chignon

FOUR YEARS AGO: Rack of Lamb Sous-Vide with Couscous Salad

FIVE YEARS AGO: Focaccia with Grapes, Roquefort and Truffled Honey

SIX YEARS AGO: Moroccan Carrot Dip over Cucumber Slices

SEVEN YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

NINE YEARS AGO:A Moving Odyssey

TEN YEARS AGO:Hoegaarden Beer Bread

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:
 
Ancho-Chile Marinade: Pleased to Meat you!

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Shrimp Moqueca

BULGUR PORK TOMATILLO PLATTER

Some call it bowls, but I will go with platter. It is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a meal, all components served together. Not too long ago “sheet dinners” were a thing. It seemed like every popular food blogger was showcasing them. I never joined that party, because I find it hard to perfectly time the cooking of different items on the same sheet pan. You have to do a lot of rearranging and/or adding ingredients in stages. It never appealed to me. But in this preparation, items are cooked each to their optimal stage, and then simply placed together for the finale.

BULGUR PORK TOMATILLO PLATTER
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for pork:
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

for veggies:
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz asparagus stalks, cut in pieces
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
splash of water
salt and pepper to taste

to serve:
1 cup bulgur wheat
tomatillo salsa (store-bought)
blood orange segments (or regular orange)

Marinate the pork. Mix olive oil, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper, emulsify with a whisk. Cover the pork with it and leave for several hours in the fridge. I like to butterfly the pork tenderloin, but you can leave it whole. Grill the pork to your liking, when butterflied I like to grill it for a total of 16-18 minutes. We do not like pork pink in the center, so do as you prefer.

Cook the bulgur in 2 cups slightly salted water, boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until water is absorbed and grain is cooked. Reserve.

Heat the final tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add asparagus, bell pepper, water, salt and pepper. Cover, and cook for 2 minutes, then remove the lid, increase the heat and cook until the bell pepper starts to get some golden color.

Assemble the dish. Place the cooked bulgur on a platter, top with the cooked veggies. Cut slices of the grilled pork and arrange on top. Add orange segments, and drizzle a nice amount of tomatillo salsa all over the dish. You can process the salsa in a small food processor to make it smooth, or use it straight from the bottle.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one delicious meal! I know you can make your own tomatillo sauce from scratch, but we often use bottled and don’t mind it at all. It makes life easier and there is no compromise of flavor. You can use freekeh, quinoa, couscous, in place of the bulgur. Bulgur cooks so fast, it is a great option. The blood orange gives that burst of freshness, and goes perfectly well with the tomatillo salsa. This will be incorporated in our regular rotation, no doubt. I hope you’ll give it a try!

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GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME & BUTTERNUT SQUASH

I drink tea every evening and often incorporate it in my cooking (and baking). Any green tea will work well for this recipe, but I used a very special kind, that goes by the beautiful name Thunder Dragon. I did not know, but that’s how people of Bhutan call their country… Bhutan: The Land of the Thunder Dragon. Isn’t that beautiful? The tea they produce is rarely exported, but not too long ago was available for sale by “In Pursuit of Tea”, and I got some. First time I made this dish, I brewed some tea and used it to cook the rice later, but if you don’t have a problem with the tea leaves staying around… this method is easier and delivers the same flavor.

GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the rice:
1 cup Basmati rice, rinse and drained
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tsp, or to taste)
2 cups water
2 tsp green tea leaves (loose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled edamame (frozen works great)

for the butternut squash:
1/2 butternut squash, cut in 1-inch pieces
olive oil to coat
salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Start by roasting the butternut squash. Heat the oven to 420F. Coat the pieces of squash with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place as a single layer on a baking dish lined with aluminum foil, sprinkle a bit of water (a tablespoon or so), and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 25 minutes, remove the cover and roast for 20 more minutes uncovered while you prepare the rice.

If using frozen edamame, remove it from the freezer and place on a baking dish to defrost while you make the rice. Heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the ginger, saute for a few seconds, and add the rice. Season with salt, and saute for a minute, until all grains are well coated with oil. Add the water, tea, and bring to a gently boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Place the edamame on top of the rice and cover the pan again. Leave for 10 minutes undisturbed, and when the butternut squash is ready, fluff the rice, mix the edamame with it, and serve with the squash around it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The rice can stand on its own as a side dish, but the color, texture and taste of the roasted squash was surprisingly good with it. I often do a very similar approach using frozen corn kernels instead of edamame. The residual steam as the rice is ready and waiting is enough to warm up the corn and it retains a very nice texture. If you ever want to perk your rice up, it’s a pretty easy way to do it. I might do a double feature next time, edamame and corn together, green and yellow, the colors of Brazil!

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: OCTOBER 2020

It’s been a while since I shared with you recipes that are super simple but tasty enough to justify being featured on a blog post.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1
EGGS WITH ZA’ATAR AND LEMON

This very simple “recipe” is from a wonderful cookbook called “Falastin.”  Gently boil as many eggs as you want, but just for 6 minutes. The idea is to get the yolk still pretty creamy. Now in a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and za’tar. Peel the eggs, and chop them coarsely, drizzle your little sauce and sprinkle salt on top. Amounts are totally flexible, I usually go with 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon olive oil and then improvise.  I don’t know how many times I’ve called this lunch, with Ak-Mak crackers or a slice of sourdough bread. So good!

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2
SMOKY CHICKPEAS

Inspiration for this recipe came from Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea (I adore it). You will need some smoked tea (Lapsang Souchong), but it is totally worth it to get some and keep in your pantry, even if you don’t enjoy it as a regular tea. I use it in chocolate ganache and quite often in cooking. It gives the food a very nice, subtle smoky flavor.

Slice open one bag of smoked tea, mix its contents with some cumin, smoked paprika, and salt. Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse well. Add into a bowl, drizzle some grape seed oil all over it, add the dry spice mixture and mix.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and roast in a 400F oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Once again, amounts can be totally eye-balled, no need for precision here. Relax and have fun with it.

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3
AROMATIC BASMATI RICE

I found this gem of a recipe at Spice House website and made it four times in a row. That tells you how much we enjoyed it. It just turns a regular batch of rice into something special.  I made some adjustments to their recipe as I felt that the rice was turning out a bit too underdone for our taste.

AROMATIC BASMATI RICE
(adapted from Spice House)

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed
1 Tablespoon grape seed oil (or another mild-flavored oil)
5 whole cardamom pods
2-3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
salt to taste
2 cups cold water  

Add oil to a non-stick saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cardamon (you can lightly crush them if you want more flavor), cloves and cinnamon stick to saute briefly. When fragrant, add rice and salt. Saute a minute or so to coat the grains of rice with the flavored oil. Add water, but don’t put the lid on yet.

Once the water boils, turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for 7 minutes. Cover the pan, and let it cook on very gently heat for 7 more minutes. Turn the heat off and let the rice sit in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the spices and fluffing the rice for serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Make sure to count how many little spice pieces you add to the pan so you can be sure to remove them all, although they are pretty visible on the cooked rice later.  There is so much flavor in this recipe, I guarantee you will be hooked on it.

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4
BAKED SALMON WITH SOY-GINGER GLAZE

BAKED SALMON WITH SOY-GINGER GLAZE
(inspired by At Home with Natalie)

3 salmon filets
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil (do not add more, it is powerful stuff)
salt to taste
sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Place the salmon filets (skin side down) over a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil leave at room temperature while you heat the oven to 350F and reduce the sauce for glazing.

Mix the soy sauce and mirin in a small non-stick saucepan, add the ginger, brown sugar and sesame oil. Simmer gently for a few minutes, until it starts to get a little thicker.   Brush the top of the filets with some of the glaze, season very lightly with salt, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Reserve the rest of the glaze.

Remove the pan from the oven, brush with more glaze and sprinkle sesame seeds. Return to the oven, and cook until done to your liking. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We eat salmon every week, but usually the husband is the seafood cook in our house. I rarely venture into his department, but was tempted to try this very simple preparation. I know I’ll be making it regularly, the only key thing is to get the fish cooked to the exact point you want (which is easier to do with sous-vide, but sometimes it’s nice to simplify things further).  Probe the filet with a paring knife, and remove from the oven when it reaches your personal Nirvana level.

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