Cooking with Carrots / easy recipes

About this time in winter I start looking for fresh vegetables that don’t require my approaching a senate subcommittee for a bailout. I’d have taken my private jet toWashingtonto ask but I had to hock it last week to buy hamburgers and pay my kids college tuition. This is when I turn to my friend the carrot

Carrots are a fantastic source of vitamin A. In fact, a single carrot provides two times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. They are also low in calories and sodium are a source of potassium and a cup contains less than 50 calories. Surprisingly to most, carrots come in orange, red, black yellow, white, purple and you can roast them, grill them, simmer them in stocks and stews, toss them in a stir fry or on a salad or just eat them raw.

While most people I know love the pre peeled mini-carrots that are perfect for snacking or throwing in a salad or lunch bag you pay for convenience. These ready to go treats can cost three times as much as peeling your own.

Store carrots in the refrigerator, they’ll keep for at least a month stored in an open bag in your vegetable drawer. To peel or not to peel is a question most cooks ask at one time or another. You do not have to peel your carrots. If you wash them well with a vegetable brush it’s just a matter of looks.

My favorite way to prepare carrots is to oven roast them. The roasting caramelizes the sugar and creates a delicious, lip smacking side dish. To roast them, slice them in 1″ chunks, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, dot with butter or margarine or drizzle olive oil over them and bake covered, at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Before you get to the recipes, I have to share a carrot factoid I discovered in my extensive search. Mel Blanc, the voice of the quintessentially carrot loving Bugs Bunny, hated carrots, go figure.


MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD

 

4 large carrots cut into 1 inch wedges.
1/2 cup black olives.
6 to 7 radish, sliced thinly.
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon of paprika.
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin or 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch cinnamon.
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1/3 cup olive oil

 

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the carrots and cook until tender and then rinse them with cold water. Drain the carrots and mix with the olives and radishes. In another bowl combine the garlic, cumin, pepper, cinnamon, salt, parsley, lemon and olive oil. Mix to combine Pour the marinade over the carrot, olives and radishes and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour for flavors to meld. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

CARROT SPREAD

 

3/4 cup of finely grated carrots.
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened.
1 stick of margarine, softened.
2 tablespoons chopped green olives
2 tablespoons of grated onion
Dash of white pepper.

 

In a bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. Makes 1 1/2 cup spread

 

SCALLOPED CARROTS

 

4 cups sliced carrots
1 medium onion diced
3 tablespoon butter
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated
3 cups herb stuffing
1/3 cup butter melted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 qt. casserole dish and set it aside. Cook carrots in salted water until almost tender. Drain. In a skillet melt the 3 tablespoons butter and saute the onions until soft. Stir in soup, salt, pepper and cheese. Stir in the cooked carrots. Place the carrot mixture in the prepared casserole dish. In a bowl combine the bread stuffing with the melted butter. Mix to coat and spoon over the carrots mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Serves 6. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

CARROT PUFF

 

2 1/2 cups carrots, cooked, mashed, and seasoned with salt and pepper

2 egg yolks, beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 qt. casserole dish. In a bowl combine the cooked carrots, egg yolks, milk, bread crumbs and onions. Mix to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg whites until they are stiff and then fold them lightly into the carrot mixture. Turn into prepared casserole dish. Bake at 45-60 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean. Serve immediately. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

CARAMEALIZED CARROT COUSCOUS

1 lb carrots, very coarsely grated
3-4 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
spices to taste, such as ground coriander,
1 package couscous (prepared according to the package directions)
2 tablespoon margarine for frying
Fresh lemon juice (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Saute onion in margarine over medium heat until soft, then add carrot, salt, sugar and spices.  Cover and leave on medium to low medium heat, checking occasionally to ensure that it doesn’t burn, but not stirring so frequently that it don’t get a nice variation of browning.  Should be done in about 10 minutes. Serve over warmed couscous topped with toasted sesame seeds. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

SWEET SPICED CARROTS WITH APRICOTS

4 cups baby carrots (or small-cut carrots) steamed yet a little firm
1 onion chopped
1 cup dried apricots chopped up
3 to 4  tablespoons oil (for frying)
1/4 cup  brown sugar
about 1/2 cup water
a generous dash each of: ground ginger, ground cloves and allspice
salt and pepper

In a frying pan, fry up onions with oil (and garlic if you choose to use it) until the onions are soft. Add the spices, sugar, and apricots to the pan. When the sugar has been absorbed, add the water so it’s like a sauce and has a little liquid to cook in. Add the carrots (they should be steamed a little before hand so they cook faster), and cook for a few minutes. Stir with the sauce, until they are covered nicely and a little brown. Serves: 4 to 6

 

Modified from a recipe by Charlotte Millman

PEANUT ORANGE AND CARROT SALAD

1/4 cup peanut butter

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, shredded

1 pound shredded carrots

4 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

salt and pepper to taste
In a medium microwaveable bowl, microwave the peanut butter for about 10 seconds to soften. Whisk in the tamari, orange juice and ginger; stir in a splash of hot water if the sauce begins to tighten up. Stir the carrots and green onions into the dressing and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the mixture in a serving bowl and top with peanuts. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

CARROT APPLE SALAD

 

2 cups firmly-packed shredded apple

2 cups shredded, firmly-packed carrots

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon honey

 

In a large mixing bowl, toss the shredded apples, carrots and raisins (if using) together. In another bowl whisk together the lemon juice, sour cream, vanilla and honey. Pour the dressing over the apple carrot salad and toss well. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

 

CRANBERRY GLAZED CARROTS

 

2 lbs. baby carrots

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice

kosher salt

pepper

 

In a saucepan, boil the baby carrots in boiling salted water until tender-crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and leave the carrots in the pan. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes or until nicely glazed and piping hot, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

 

SAVORY CARROT AND APPLE CASSEROLE

 

1 lb carrots, peeled, cut into sticks

2 large white onions, sliced into wedges

5 tablespoons butter (or margarine)

3 large apples, cored, thinly sliced into rings

1 teaspoon thyme (optional)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart casserole dish. Steam carrots in boiling salted water until tender-crisp. Set aside. In a skillet saute the onions in the butter until golden. In the prepared dish, layer the carrots, onions and apples. Sprinkle with thyme. Drizzle with lemon juice. Melt the remaining butter and then mix in bread crumbs. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over vegetable mixture. Bake degrees for 15 minutes or until vegetables are heated through and crumbs are golden brown. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

SAVORY CARROT AND TARRAGON TART

 

Crust
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup yogurt

Filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 tablespoons white wine or vinegar, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350.  To prepare crust: Coat a 9- to 10-inch tart pan with cooking spray. Place flour, tarragon and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter one piece at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition, until incorporated. Add 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup yogurt and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan (it will be crumbly), spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom and all the way up the sides to form a crust. Bake the crust until set but not browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. To prepare filling: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in carrots and 1 tablespoon wine or vinegar and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.  Spread mustard over the crust. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and then evenly spread the carrot mixture in the tart shell.  Whisk 1/2 cup yogurt, milk, eggs, tarragon, the remaining 1 tablespoon wine or vinegar), 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and pour in the filling.  Bake the tart until the filling is firm and the edges are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or chilled.

 

CAULIFLOWER AND CARROT PIE

 

2 cups seasoned croutons, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted, divided

1 small head cauliflower cut into small florets (about 5 Cups)

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup shredded Cheddar, divided

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl, combine croutons and 1/4 cup butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9 inch pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned; set aside. In a large skillet sauté the cauliflower, onion, carrot, garlic, salt and oregano in remaining butter over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese into prepared crust. Top with the cauliflower mixture and remaining cheese. In a bowl, beat the eggs and milk. Pour over pie. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean and the cauliflower is tender. Serves 6 to 8

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Superbowl Update: We Dip, We Eat and Everybody Wins

Ok sports fans, it’s the end of the first quarter, the bases are loaded, one more goal and it’s a hat trick and the quarterback takes the snap. He runs down the court, the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking 5,4,3, 2…………he shoots, he scores and………………he was fouled!!! In my dyslexic world of sport this is how I see this Super Bowl being played.

Yes, surprising to most who know me, I’m a sports fan, sort of. It’s time for the annual Super bowl, you know that the annual game of who out lasted whom in the different football leagues (do they still have leagues don’t they?) or as it is less commonly known, the high holy day of chips and dips.

In keeping with the sports metaphors, dare I say puns, I feel are in keeping with the day, it’s a pretty much the same set up every year (only the players (re: guests) and game plan (recipes) change. Appetizers until half time and then sandwiches. Victory desserts after the game. This game plan gives everyone the ability to be “on the field” eating all day long and yet not feel as if they were not going to be benched for a foul like double dipping your chip or failing to stop passage of the “special” punch to an underage illegal receiver.

The following recipes are all winners no matter which team you’re rooting for to bring home the Turner Cup. It is the Turner Cup isn’t it?

HOT ARTICHOKE DIP

1 can (14 ounce) artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 teaspoon minced garlic (or to taste), minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoonTabascosauce or other red pepper sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Coarsely chop the artichoke hearts, and combine with all other ingredients. Stir to mix well. Spoon mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.

Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve with assorted crackers, bread, or other dippers. Makes about 12 servings.

HOT CRAB DIP

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Creole mustard

1 tablespoon horseradish cream

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1/4 cup minced celery

1/4 cup minced onion

Tabascosauce, to taste

1 pound fresh crabmeat

1 cup coarsely crumbled cornbread (I use store bought)

Heat the oven to 400 and arrange a rack in middle. Place mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish cream,OldBay, celery, and onion in a small bowl and mix until well combined. Season with salt andTabascosauce, add crab, and mix until well incorporated. Place crab mixture in a 3-cup ovenproof dish and top with crumbled cornbread. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with toasts or celery sticks. Serves 8 to 10.

Submitted by Bettie Aldich-WagnerOak ParkIL

BROWN SUGAR DIP

1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup pecans, toasted
3 pounds pears, cored and sliced
3 pounds apples, cored and sliced

Combine first 4 ingredients in a heavy saucepan; cook over medium heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with pear and apple slices. Serves 12 to 14.

HOT PIZZA DIP

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (8 ounce) can pizza sauce
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons sliced green onion

Heat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine cream cheese and Italian seasoning; mix well. Spread mixture in the bottom of a medium-size casserole dish. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over cream cheese. Spread pizza sauce over cheese. Top with remaining cheese, pepper and onions. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until bubbly. Serves 12. Can be heated in the microwave.

HOT BRIE DIP

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
8 ounces Brie cheese, trimmed and cut into pieces
8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce salt and pepper to taste
1 (8 ounce) round bread loaf

Heat oven to 400. Saute onion and garlic in butter until golden. Set aside. Put Brie and cream cheese in a bowl and microwave until soft. Mix in onion and garlic, sour cream, lemon juice, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; season to taste with salt and pepper. Hollow out the middle of the loaf and fill with mixture. Wrap in foil and bake in oven until bubbly, approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Dust with paprika if desired. Serve hot with bread pieces or crackers. Makes 2 cups.

 

HOT RUBIN DIP
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large onion, finely diced
1/2 pound corned beef, sliced and shredded
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained and chopped fine
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups grated Swiss cheese

Melt butter or margarine in a 4-quart sauce pot. Add diced onion and cook until golden brown. Add corned beef and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often over medium heat. Drain excess fat. Add cream cheese in chunks, stirring after each addition. Add sauerkraut and pickle relish. Add ketchup, mayonnaise and Swiss cheese. Stir until well blended and melted. Serve in fondue pot or chafing dish with toasted mini rye triangles. Serves 6 to 8.

From an old SUNSET Magazine in my files.

SPINACH BACON DIP

1/2 cup pecans
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed, 8 oz. frozen, thawed and drained
8 slices bacon
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
3 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapenos
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Heat the oven to 300. Spread the pecans in a cake pan and toast them until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool, and then coarsely chop the nuts. Set aside.

Wash the spinach well. Drain the spinach and immediately transfer the damp leaves to a large pot set over high heat. Cover and cook until the leaves are just wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Strain and let stand until cool. Squeeze the spinach and dry on paper towels. Chop very fine and set aside. In a saute pan, fry the bacon over until crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then cut each slice crosswise into half-inch pieces. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the spinach and jalapenos and mix well. Stir in the pecans and bacon. Add the Worcestershire sauce and salt and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate the dip for at least 1 hour. Bring it to room temperature before serving. Serves 12.

BUFFALO CHICKEN WING DIP

1 can chicken (large size)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
celery sticks, crackers or corn chips

Preheat oven to 350. Melt cream cheese over low heat. Once creamy, add blue cheese dressing, hot sauce, and chicken. Remove from heat, fold in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Pour into square 8×8 oven-safe dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks, crackers or corn chips.

Submitted by Carlos RaminezNY,NY

NAUGHTY NACHO CHEESE DIP

1/2 cup beer

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 16-ounce can refried beans

1/2 cup purchased chunky hot salsa

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Tortilla chips

In a saucepan combine the beer, cumin, dried oregano and garlic powder. Bring to simmer. Add beans and salsa; stir until heated through. Add cheese; stir until cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Transfer to bowl. Serve warm with tortilla chips. Makes about 4 cups

Barley There (Ok, a bad pun but a great grain)

So there I was, cleaning out my pantry in a crazed moment of organization (believe me, they are few and far between) and lo and behold, I discover an open box of barley I had conveniently misplaced behind the other opened boxes of pasta, wild rice and ramen noodles I really need to finish. As I contemplated the box I realized that I have tons and tons of recipes that utilize this great grain and what better time to share them than when I’m all trying to use up this “stuff”

Barley is kind of a super fiber filled food and who can’t use more fiber in their diet these days. There are two types of barley typically available to consumers.  The first is pearl barley. This process barley has had its outer fibrous hull removed and is almost like white rice, great for soups and salads. Scotch barley is less processed barley. It holds up better in stews and cooked casseroles.

Barley has a slightly nutty and chewy flavor. I like to toast it (for 8 to 10 minutes in a skillet over a low heat) before cooking it to bring out its more robust flavor. You should know that barley expands A LOT when it cooks so make sure you have enough liquid to keep it from scorching. 1 cup dry barley expands to makes approx. 3 cups cooked barley. In the event, unlike me, you need to purchase some barley to make the following recipes please try and steer clear of the quick cooking kind. In my opinion, it’s just a poor imitation of the real stuff. Yes you can use the quick cooking barley if you’re in a hurry but for my money and taste the slower cooking kind is better in terms of flavor and texture.

 

How cook pearl barley:
In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup pearl barley, 2 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Makes approx 3 cups.

SHANGHI STIR FRY

 

1/2 cup barley
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small peeled and diced eggplant
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
8 to 10 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup shredded red cabbage

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

 

Place the barley and water in medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Set the barley aside. In large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken and garlic and stir fry 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked barley to the pan and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture to a bowl and set it aside. Do not clean the pan. Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add eggplant, bell pepper and onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add basil, hot sauce, sugar, peanut butter and soy sauce; cook 2 more minutes. Add the barley mixture to the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the serving bowl and garnish with peanuts, cucumber and red cabbage. Serves 4.

 

APPLES AND BARLEY CHICKEN

 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup barley
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3 tablespoons apricot jam or apple butter

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish. In a large skillet heat the oil and sauté the onion, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apple and curry powder and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the barley and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes. Spoon the liquidly barley mixture into the greased casserole. Arrange the chicken pieces over the barley mixture. Season with garlic salt. Cover and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and brush the chicken with the apricot jam. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

CORN AND BARLEY CASSEROLE

 

1 cup barley
3 cups water
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced

In medium saucepan bring the water and approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the barley and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the corn and simmer 10 to 15 minutes longer. While the barley is cooking in a bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, basil, approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the warm barley mixture and mix to combine. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Add the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to combine. Serves 6 to 8

ORANGE ALMOND AND BARLEY SALAD

 

2 cups hot cooked barley
4 to 5 tablespoons sesame oil

1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar
3-1/2 to 4 cups shredded romaine or red leaf lettuce

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges drained but save 2 tablespoons liquid
1-1/2 to 2 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Rice noodles, for garnish

2/3 cup toasted almonds

 

Place the hot cooked barley into a large bowl. Drizzle the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar over the hot barley, mix gently to coat Cover the barley and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. Add the mandarin oranges, orange liquid, turkey, celery and green onions to the cold barley. Toss gently to combine. Arrange the salad greens on 4 dinner plates. Mound the barley mixture over the greens. Sprinkle the top of each salad with the rice noodles and almonds for garnish. Makes 4 main course servings or 8 salad servings.

 

BARLEY BEEF SOUP

 

1 1/2 lb beef stew meat cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 onions chopped

6 carrots diced

1 to 1 1/2 lb mushroom sliced

8 cups beef broth

1 cup barley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

In the bottom of a soup pot brown the meat in the oil. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, mushrooms and barley. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. In the last 15 minutes add the parsley and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper before serving. If the soup is too thick add water to thin it. Serves 8

 

VEGETABLE BARLEY SOUP

 

1 onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 parsnip, diced

2 potatoes, diced

2 tablespoon oil

8 cups water or broth

1 cup uncooked pearled barley

1 can pinto beans, drained

1 small can crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 large bay leaves

Salt and pepper

 

In a large soup pot, sauté the onions, celery, parsnip, potatoes and carrots for 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth or water and the remaining ingredients. Mix to combine and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve. Serves 8 to 10.

 

Submitted by Victoria Cambria Northbrook IL

 

CHICKEN BARLEY GUMBO

 

1 lb skinless chicken thighs

2 teaspoon olive oil

4 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

1 onion, chopped

2 cups seeded diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups corn

2 cups sliced okra (sliced)

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon sage

2/3 cup barley

 

In a large sauce pan sauté the onions in the olive oil for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the chicken, cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water and broth the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Skim off the foam and add the garlic, red pepper, bay leaf, and sage. Cover and let simmer 15 to 30 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, corn, and barley, cover and simmer for an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8 to 10.

 

Modified from about.com

I’m Cuckoo for Cocoa

            When our friends Debbie and Dennis came to visit last year Debbie brought some FABUOLOUS homemade chocolate Mandelbrot/biscotti which I promptly devoured all by my pretty little self. When asked for the recipe she graciously gave it to me and I tried (tried being the operative word here) to reproduce it.  While it was close and really quite good, it just wasn’t “quite” the same deep dark rich chocolaty tasting as hers. Knowing that in the sacred world of “friends exchanging recipes” leaving out an ingredient or step in the instructions is not something she would do I called her and asked what I’d done wrong (yes, even I, the queen of the kitchen occasionally make what are euphemistically called mistakes). Seems I’d used the wrong kind of cocoa powder. I’d used the regular Hershey’s brand and she’d used Dutch Cocoa powder.

So what, you ask, is the difference between cocoa powder and Dutch cocoa powder? Let’s start at the beginning. First there is the cocoa bean. These babies are roasted and then ground to remove the cocoa butter, (that natural fat in the cocoa bean so often found in sun tan lotion).  What remains is a paste called chocolate liquor.  This chocolate liquor is dried and ground to produce cocoa powder.  Dutch cocoa powder is regular cocoa powder that has been treated with an alkali to neutralize the cocoas natural acidity. Regular cocoa powder is acidic while the Dutch variety is neutral.

Because having the right level of acid to alkaline agent is critical when baking you shouldn’t substitute regular cocoa powder for Dutch cocoa powder or vice versa if a recipe calls for a specific type of cocoa powder.

COCOA RASPBERRY TORTE

 

1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup ground blanched almonds
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
10 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 cup raspberry jam
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350. Put flour, almonds, granulated sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt into a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal; transfer to a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat together yolks and lemon juice then add to flour mixture along with milk and stir with a fork just until mixture comes together.

Press about 2/3 of the dough into an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or spring form pan to form a 1/2-inch-thick crust. (If using a tart pan, crust should reach the top of the pan. If using a spring form pan, crust should reach about 1 inch up the sides.) Spread jam thickly over the bottom of the crust; set aside.

Working on a well-floured surface, use floured hands to roll remaining dough into 3/4-inch-wide ropes. Press ropes into 1-inch-wide strips and lay across tart in a crisscross pattern to form a lattice top. Bake tart until jam is bubbly and crust is just golden brown around the edges, about 40 minutes. Serve tart at room temperature or chilled, dusted with powdered sugar, if you like.

 

COCOA ALMOND SMOOTHIE

 

2 ripe fresh or frozen banana cut into chunks
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
3/4 to 1 cup milk
2 tablespoons ground almonds
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup ice cubes

 

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and whirl at top speed for about 1 minute or until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy. When making fruit smoothies, adding ice to the blender is a matter of personal choice. If you are using frozen fruit in place of fresh fruit you may choose to omit the ice.

ZUCCHINI COCOA MUFFINS

 

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup margarine or butter

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups shredded zucchini

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup pecan pieces

 

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper liners in muffin pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in shortening until flour mixture resembles coarse meal. Slightly beat eggs. Add eggs, milk, lemon juice zucchini, and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Add pecans and mix to combine. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then cool on racks.

 

COCOA MERINGUES
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate squares, chopped
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

 

Preheat oven to 220. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil and set them aside. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa and then set it aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the whites and cream of tartar until it starts to form soft peaks. Increase speed to medium high and slowly, in a steady stream add the sugar. Beat until mixture forms stiff peaks and is glossy. Stop the mixer and by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold in the cocoa mixture and chopped chocolate. Try to make sure that the cocoa mixture gets thoroughly mixed in but don’t over mix. Using a tablespoon drop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Let meringues sit at room temp for 1/2 hour before baking. Preheat oven to 220. Bake for 1 hour and DO NOT open the oven door. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet. When the meringues are cool remove them from the foil. Makes 25 to 30.

 

PEAK A BOO SCONES
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, chilled
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2-3/4 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender or knife, cut chilled butter into flour mixture to resemble coarse crumbs.In a small bowl, combine egg, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of whipping cream. Stir cream mixture into flour mixture. If needed, add up to 1/4 cup more whipping cream, until mixture is just moistened. Stir in both chips, and than use hands to knead dough about 10 times. Lightly flour a working surface. Pat dough into 8-inch circle. Cut circle into 12 wedges using a sharp knife. Place each wedge 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Let stand for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling surface. Makes 12 scones.

Groovy and Gourmet Grilled Cheese

I just discovered that there’s a nation grilled cheese month (April). Who’d a thunk it? Obviously a cheese board somewhere. With the two simple core ingredients of bread and cheese, the grilled cheese sandwich innately lends itself to added bells and whistles. Meat, veggies, chocolate, fruit or even the kitchen sink if you feel so inclined.

Personally I don’t want to wait till the spring to have myself one of those ooey gooey melt in your mouth sandwiches. I took it upon myself (on my readers behalf, of course) to research the best of the best, over the top, can’t wait to stuff it all in my mouth at once grilled cheese delights.

Be warned, these are not your grandma’s grilled cheese sandwiches. All are gourmet and yet so simple that you’re gonna wanna try them all, just not all at once. Please  note that some of the combinations are not “kosher” becasue they mix milk and meat. You can, of course substitute smoked salmon or white fish for any  meat products or leave them out all together.

GOLDEN GATE GRILLED CHEESE

2 tablespoons softened butter

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk

1 cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese

4 freshly cut slices from a sourdough loaf

6 ounces thinly sliced turkey or smoked salmon

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 slices Muenster cheese

In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic, and chili flakes. In a medium bowl, whisk egg and milk. Spread parmesan on a plate. In a large frying pan, melt half the seasoned butter over medium heat. Dip 1 bread slice in egg mixture, coating one side only. Dip coated side into parmesan. Place to one side in frying pan, cheese side down. Repeat with 1 of remaining bread slices. Arrange turkey, avocado, cilantro, and Muenster on slices, dividing evenly.3. Dip remaining bread into egg and then into parmesan. Arrange on sandwiches, cheese side up, and cook over medium heat until undersides are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Lift sandwiches and add remaining butter to pan; flip and cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.

Modified from Sunset July 2009

PEAR AND GRILLED CHEESE

4 slices French or Italian loaf bread

4 slices  fake bacon strips, cooked

1 Bartlett pear, thinly sliced

2 slices provolone cheese

2 tablespoon butter

Place a slice of cheese on top of one of the slices of bread. Place few slices of pear on top and then top with, two strips of bacon, and another slice of cheese and then the last slice of bread. Repeat with the second sandwich. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet and place both the sandwiches in the pan. Cook until the bread is golden. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Flip the sandwich over and cook until the bread is golden. Remove from the pan and serve. This recipe can be doubled or tripled. Makes 2 sandwiches.

Modified from seriouseats.com

ARTICHOKE GRILLED CHEESE

4 slices of bread

Dijon mustard

shredded cheddar cheese

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced

1 jarred red peppers drained and cut to fit bread slice

2 tablespoons butter

Spread the mustard on the bread. Place a handful of shredded cheese over the top of 2 slices of the bread. Place the artichoke hearts and red peppers over the cheese then top with the remaining 2 slices of bread. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet and cook until the side is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and carefully flip the sandwich. Cook until the second side is golden and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

CRAB MELT

6 oz can crabmeat or fake crab, well drained or shredded

1/3 cup finely diced red pepper

2 green onions minced

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

1 stalk celery, finely diced

3 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon pepper

4 thick slices whole wheat

butter

paprika

6 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a bowl combine the crabmeat, red pepper, green onions, rice wine vinegar, mayonnaise and pepper.

Generously spread two slices of the bread with butter, dust generously with paprika, and place them butter side down in the pan. While it’s cooking place 1/4 of the cheese on each of the two slices. Spread half the crab salad on each; top with remaining cheese. Butter and sprinkle paprika on the remaining bread and place it butter side up on top of the cheese. Press down. Cook the sandwich until bottom is crispy about 3 minutes then flip if over. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted.  Makes 2 sandwiches.

Modified from about.com

CAPRESE GRILLED CHEESE

8 slices Challah or sour dough bread (1-inch thick)

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 (1-ounce) slices mozzarella cheese

2 (1-ounce) slices provolone cheese

3 large fresh tomatoes cut into thin slices

3/4 cup fresh basil leaves

2 avocado, pitted and thinly slices

Kosher salt and ground pepper

Heat griddle or large sauté pan over medium heat. Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Brush other side of bread with balsamic vinegar. Place 4 slices of bread, oil side down, on the griddle. Layer the mozzarella and provolone tomato, basil and avocado on the top of the bread. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is slightly melted, 3 to 4 minutes, flip once cook until the bread is golden, serves 4.

Modified from the grilledcheeseacademy.com/  created by Alison Lewis