Black sesame, black barley…  What can I say? Love them both, although black barley is not always available in our stores. Online I see what seems to be the exact same product described as “purple barley” and pretty expensive by comparison to the product I find here at Hy-Vee. I love the way it looks and it seems to be slightly more chewy and perhaps a bit more bitter than regular barley. In this recipe, I paired it with my current favorite way to roast all kinds of veggies.  It all started with carrots

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

(use enough veggies to cover a baking sheet in a single layer)
Butternut squash, cut in 1 inch pieces
Cauliflower florets sliced to have a flat side
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rose harissa
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
lemon juice to taste
1 cup barley

Heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, harissa, paprika, pomegranate molasses and salt.  Add the veggies to the bowl and toss well to combine. Spread on a baking sheet, add a tablespoon or two of water, cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until nicely golden brown.

Meanwhile cook the barley. Fill a large saucepan with lightly salted water, when it comes to a boil drop the barley and cook gently until soft. It should take between 30 and 40 minutes. I prefer to retain some texture. Drain it, coat lightly with olive oil and reserve.

Remove the veggies from the oven, add some lemon juice and serve over the cooked barley. Adjust seasoning if needed.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love this type of recipe, it “almost” makes me feel that becoming a vegetarian would be possible. Almost is the key word, though. I rather embrace my omnivore nature. Leftovers? You know I always cook dinner with leftovers in mind, and more often than not I pair them with another favorite food item of mine.

Lunch is served!

ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Chicken Thighs with Sun-dried Tomatoes

 Magical Lamb Stew


Have you ever thought of eating raw butternut squash? Probably not. Well, I am here to tell you it is surprisingly good, but I cannot take credit for this mind-blowing gastronomic twist. I saw this recipe years ago watching Southern at Heart, hosted by Damaris Phillips. Made a note to try, in fact I went as far as printing the recipe and filing it in my gigantic folder entitled “To Make Soon” ideas. Forgot about it until last month, when our friend Cindy visited us and mentioned that she makes it often, it is now one of her favorite salads. That nudged me in the right direction. Now, I will not lie to you, grating butternut squash is not fun. But once you try this simple, but super flavorful salad, you will grate it wearing a smile of anticipation. Ok, that might be a bit of a stretch…

(adapted from Damaris Phillips)

2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, grated on a box grater
1/4 cup dried green raisins (or substitute regular raisins)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk together the maple syrup, vegetable oil and sherry vinegar in a large bowl. Add the squash, green raisins, and sunflower seeds; toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For this salad, I used a new (to me) ingredient, green raisins. I first learned about them in a cookbook called Bowls of Plenty, by Carolynn Carreno. She confessed being addicted. I was lucky enough to find a bag in our special Oriental grocer in town, and brought it home. They look exactly the way a green raisin should look. Green. Not yellow, not brown. They are delicious indeed. I would say less sweet, almost lemony. Perfect for this salad, in place of dried cherries used by Damaris.  Feel free to substitute any dried fruit of your choice. All it matters in the salad is some bits of sweetness.  The raw butternut squash considerably mellows down by sitting with the dressing.  Leftovers were still very good next day, actually. And a tiny bit that was left on day three was incorporated in a stir-fry with ground turkey. I felt virtuous, even if the resulting dish was not exactly eye-candy. But, it all looked pretty nice on the first time around, as you can see below…

Dinner served: Butternut Slaw, Asparagus, and Grilled Pork Tenderloin.
Life is pretty good.

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ONE YEAR AGO: Auberge-Pecan Walnut Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Gluten-free and Vegan Raspberry Bars

THREE YEARS AGO: Lasserre, a French Classic

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

FIVE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

SIX YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese


My first cooking post in 2016 needs to be special, and special it will be. Maybe you don’t like butternut squash, maybe you are anti-pumpkin in general, but even if you are, please bear with me.  I fell in love with this recipe from the moment I tried the first bite, not sure what to expect. Kelly blogged about it a while ago, a great post crowned with the sweetest photo of her and her husband on the evening they got engaged just a few months ago (wink, wink, wink). I can understand how this humble butternut squash preparation could leave such a strong impression. It is warm, it is creamy, it is luscious, at the same time refreshing due to the acidity of the yogurt. You must, absolutely must make it. Even if you live with a crowd of picky eaters who are afraid of squash. Dare them to try a little bite. They won’t be able to stop there.

(very slightly modified from Inspired Edibles)

for the butternut squash:
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, cubed
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup liquid (mixture of veggie stock + water)

for the yogurt sauce:
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
good pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, smashed

for topping: 
toasted slivered almonds and dried mint

Make the yogurt sauce by whisking together: yogurt, sour cream, salt and garlic in a bowl – cover and place in fridge while prepping the remaining ingredients.

Purée onion in a small blender/food processor. In a separate small dish, combine the dry spices: turmeric, cumin, chili, coriander & ginger.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat and sautée onion until golden. Add fresh ginger, and the ground dry spices: turmeric, cumin, chili, coriander and ground ginger, stirring until the seasonings are well combined and fragrant. Add tomato paste, broth, water, sugar and salt, mixing well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the cubed butternut squash.

Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes (lifting the lid to stir the squash once or twice during this time). Remove the lid for the remaining cooking time until the squash is tender but still holding its shape. Continue to stir the squash on occasion and use more water or stock while cooking, if needed. The goal is to have about 80% of the seasoned liquid absorbed into the squash while retaining the remaining liquid as a golden sauce.

Remove yogurt sauce from the fridge, reserve about 2 tablespoons, and spread the rest on plates to make a base for the squash. Top each yogurt base with some of the warm butternut squash, then add a bit more yogurt sauce on top, sprinkling the toasted almonds and dried mint right before serving.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments: This preparation goes to my personal Hall of Fame of Veggies. I cannot think of a better way to enjoy butternut squash, in fact it would work for all kinds of pumpkin, I am sure, as long as you respect their optimal cooking time.  As Kelly says in her post, you could omit the sour cream if you prefer to keep it lighter, but it does add a lot to the dish in terms of texture and also taste.  Try it exactly this way, you won’t be disappointed. I added toasted slivered almonds, my main modification to the recipe. I like the added crunch and feel that almonds go very well with squash and all the spices in the sauce.

Kelly, thanks for yet another great recipe!

Looking forward to more deliciousness coming from your blog…



ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Broccoli Soup with Toasted Almonds

Fennel and Cheddar Cheese Crackers

THREE YEARS AGO: A Festive Pomegranate Dessert

FOUR YEARS AGO: My First Award!

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Message from WordPress

SIX YEARS AGO: Turkish Chicken Kebabs



If you’re fortunate enough to have friends who love to cook as much as you do, then think about spending an afternoon making pasta together.  My friend Cindy (who had attended a pasta class a few weeks before) came over with her recipe, her notes from class, and a butternut squash puree ready to become ravioli filling.  What can I say?  I happen to have very special friends… 😉

I’d made a pasta dough beforehand, but with the food processor,  and it felt like cheating.  I’ve always been mesmerized by the image of a woman with strong arms and hands breaking eggs over a mound of flour and bringing the dough together. No machines, just elbow grease.  So,  I was thrilled (and a bit intimidated) when Cindy’s recipe started with this:

but just 90 minutes later, we sat down with our hungry husbands to enjoy this:

(adapted from The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, Giuliano Bugialli)

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch kosher salt

Place flour in a mound on the counter. Make a large well in the center and put the remaining ingredients in the well. With a fork, mix the eggs, oil and salt then begin to incorporate flour from the inner rim of the well. When the dough is too thick for the fork, begin kneading and work as much of the flour into the dough as possible. Cover with a bowl or wrap in plastic to rest the dough for 30 minutes before rolling.

Cut the dough in 8 pieces, and start passing each piece through the rollers of your pasta machine, starting with the largest setting.  Pass each piece of the dough several times, folding it in half and passing it again through the same setting, until it feels slightly “elastic” as you stretch it.  Once you reach that stage (after 6-8 passes), move to the following – thinner – setting.    As the pasta becomes longer, you might want to cut it in half to make it easier to handle.  Stop at the next to last setting.   Lay the pasta sheets over a lightly floured counter top and form the ravioli with the filling  and shape of your choice. Place the raviolis on a  lightly floured cookie sheet as you form them.  Gently cook them in salted, boiling water, add sauce, and serve.

to print the recipe, click here

(from Cindy’s kitchen; makes 4 light servings)

for the filling:
1 Tbs butter
3 Tbs minced shallots
1 cup roasted butternut squash puree
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
Pinch of nutmeg
pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons
for the butter/sage sauce:
8 Tbs butter
12 fresh sage leaves
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely.

Lay the pasta ribbons over a lightly flour counter top,  place 2 teaspoons of the filling spacing the little mounds according to the size of ravioli you want to make. Form the ravioli either as squares or triangles.  Reserve, placing them on a lightly flour cookie sheet.    Place a large pot with salted water to boil, and start preparing the sauce by melting the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from the heat, keep warm.

Cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water until al dente (2 to 3 minutes) or until they float to the surface and turn pale in color.   Remove  from the water and drain well.

Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, sprinkle Parmiggiano-reggiano cheese over each plate and garnish with parsley.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Cindy pointed out that the most important detail about making the dough by hand is starting with a large “volcano opening” in your mound of flour. Like this.  Most people (me included) make the mistake of starting with a tiny little opening, leading to a  deluge of eggs flowing over the counter top, and considerable culinary grievance.  Make the opening a bit more like a meteor crater, and you will be in great shape.  😉

(click to enlarge)
When forming the ravioli it easier to make several at once, by laying the filling over the pasta, folding it over and cutting the individual raviolo once the full extension of the pasta is filled.   It is important to avoid air bubbles, so gently press the upper layer of the pasta, smoothing out the surface.  I like to seal the edges with a little water, and sometimes use the tines of the fork to lock them in place, but we did not do it this time and all went well.

There’s something particularly elegant about home-made  pasta in general, and ravioli in particular.  Keep the sauce and other dishes as simple as you feel like:  your made-from-scratch pasta will lift the meal to a higher level.

ONE YEAR AGO: Feta Cheese and Zucchini Loaf (a must-try French-style savory cake)

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