Tag Archives: hearty recipes

Beetroot Pearl Barley Risotto

13 Nov
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I’ve loved pearl barley ever since I was a child. My mother would make an amazing sweet winter soup called haboub (translates to grains I think). My mother’s recipe includes pearl barley, chickpeas, sugar, aniseed, fennel and water. After she had filled our bowls, we’d sprinkle a little desiccated coconut on top and gobble up with delight. I would go for seconds, at times even thirds, depending on how much I could squeeze in after dinner.

Since then, I hadn’t come across pearl barley until my recent cooking class on superfoods. When I saw pearl barley on the menu, it instantly brought back memories of the cold Sydney winter, flannel pajamas and warm bowls of haboub. However, this dish was savoury as opposed to sweet. I couldn’t wait to learn how to make it and taste it of course. After the first mouthful, I saw myself making it often.

When the first opportunity to show off my fresh knowledge on superfoods arrived, this dish made it onto the menu. A small portion was served as dish number five out of a seven course dinner. My diner, a recent beetroot convert was very pleased with the result and so was I.

Pearl barley is an interesting grain and very versatile. It can be served cold in a salad or warm in a soup. However, I’m stuck on the idea of using it like aborio rice and following a risotto theme. I used it just a few days ago. Again, in the same way, only this time with mushroom stock, re-hydrated mushrooms, gai lan and hard tofu. I thought it was delicious but am still wondering whether its worthy of a post.

Should the next pearl barley post be dedicated to haboub or the asian-style risotto, preference anyone? Care to share your favourite pearl barley recipe? I look forward to it!

Serves 2 (with leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 6 small beetroots, wrapped in foil and roasted until tender (about 45mins at 180C)
  • 1 cup of pearl barley, soaked in cold water overnight
  • 1/2 onion, diced finely
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
  • 3 tbs of butter
  • 3 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup of chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel skin, then grate or blitz in a food processor and set aside. Reserve one beetroot and cut into chunks.

In a heavy pot, melt butter, add olive oil and then saute onion until translucent. Add pearly barley and cook for a few minutes on medium heat. Drop to a simmer, then add stock gradually stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the base. It should take about 30 minutes to cook the pearl barley.

Add beetroot and combine with pearly barley. Then add parsley and dill, season to taste. If the risotto is too thick, add a little more butter or stock.

Serve with fetta, a few chunks of beetroot, garnish with extra dill and a little olive oil.

Adapted from original recipe by Brenda Fawdon

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Wild Mushroom Soup

5 Nov
wild mushrooms wild mushrooms

I hated mushrooms during my childhood and almost gagged with every mouthful. I would avoid them at all costs, even developed a “mushie-phobia”. I would feel sick as soon as I caught a glimpse of my mother chopping them up. Perhaps it was the rubbery texture that threw me off? I’m not sure.

Nowadays, I love them: oyster, enoki, shitake, shimeji, button, swiss brown, chanterelle, porcini, …cooked any style. I don’t remember how or when I got over my phobia, but I’m glad I did. Have you suffered from a food phobia as a child and grown to like the same food as an adult?

The inspiration for this dish came from a spoonful of porcini mushroom soup which I’d tasted at Vetro, an Italian restaurant in Mumbai. Instead of porcini, I’ve used a mix of chanterelle, oyster and swiss browns. You can use any type that you like. I made this recipe up and served it as part of a 7 course dinner at home. It’s very easy to make and very tasty!

Serves 2 (with leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs of butter
  • 1/2 white onion, diced finely
  • 500g of mushrooms, chopped coarsely (reserve a few and roast in oven in foil with a knob of butter for presentation)
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp of dill, diced finely
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100ml of thick cream

Method

In a saucepan, melt the butter, saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and cook until garlic is soft.

Add the mushrooms, cover and cook on moderate heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened.

Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the mushrooms are tender.

Take off the heat, add half the cream. Use a stick blender or food processor to blitz until smooth.

Ladle into small soup bowels, drizzle the remaining cream and then arrange the roasted mushrooms in the centre.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with croutons (not shown) and garnish with dill.

Tip: When frying croutons in skillet, just add the desired herb or spice to the oil to infuse the croutons.

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