Mushrooms with Pearl Barley and Preserved Lemon

We are all working to stay happy, healthy and somewhat sane during this time. It is the middle of the coronavirus pandemic as I write this draft. We are social-distancing, a new word, and we s-d even in our own homes. It is a scary time that is changing the world in many large and small ways. Oh, so many countries have been devastated with so many deaths, my heart is broken for you. Who knows what is to come ….

As it happens, I happen to have a couple of flat mushrooms in the fridge, barley in the pantry and feta from the Afghan shop. There is parsley and thyme in the garden, so this seems to be the perfect use for the mushrooms. I also have wine! It is a rare occurrence, but is perfect for this dish. The mushrooms are slowly braised in the oven in wine, stock, butter and thyme, to become achingly soft, fragrant and highly flavoursome. The stuffing is barley, feta, preserved lemon, garlic and herbs. It is an unusual stuffing for mushrooms, but one that is divine and perfect against the soft ‘shrooms. They mended my heart a little, just for a moment.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Ottolenghi. I serendipitously came across it while browsing last evening. We are always free to massage his recipes into a shape that fits what we have at hand, but this time it needed little alteration. I toyed with the idea of using goat cheese for feta, and it would have worked, but used feta instead. I did chop up the mushroom stems and add them to the barley as it cooked. No waste, no want, always my mantra. This recipe doesn’t appear to be on the Guardian website, so you will have to check his books for the original.

Similar recipes include Toasted Barley and Pistachio Pilaf, Sweet Barley and Ginger Poached Rhubarb, Roasted Mushrooms with Burrata, Pan Fried Mushrooms in Butter, Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic, Black Barley with Mushrooms, and Mushrooms in Terracotta.

Browse all of our Mushroom dishes and all of our Barley recipes. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Capsicums Cooked in Tomatoes and Garlic

These might look like a mess to you, but to me the pics make my mouth water. It is one of the best ways to cook capsicums that I know – the flavours in this simple dish are truly amazing. The capsicums are slowly simmered in tomatoes, garlic and olive oil until collapsed and tender. Some of the capsicums melt into the sauce. It is sweet and delicious. Eaten with just feta, crusty bread and perhaps a green salad, it evokes the rustic cooking of Greece. Add wine to your meal if you wish. It is a great Summer dish – imagine eating it under the grape vines outside with a dozen friends.

I have long said that Diane Kochilas is my favourite Greek cookbook author, and I’ve had her huge bible of Greek cooking for decades. (Follow her on Instagram.) Recently I fell in love with two more of her books – Country Greek Cooking and Ikaria. This dish is adapted from one in Ikaria. If you love Greek food you should get this book.

Similar dishes include Greek Village Salad, Sweet Capsicum Salad with Tomato Dressing, Capsicum, Tomato and Pistachio Dip, and Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Red Capsicum.

Browse all of our Greek dishes and all of our Capsicum recipes . Or browse our Mid Summer dishes.

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Korean Braised Tofu with Sesame-Soy-Chilli | Dubu Jorim

This is a glorious way to serve tofu. It is a Korean braised tofu dish that is enormously popular as a side or main dish. To make this dish, the sliced tofu is pan fried and then braised in a soy sauce-based sauce.

The recipe uses a little known trick to firm up the slices – this makes it easy to handle them and to serve them in a variety of ways. The trick is to simmer the slices in salted water – this process tightens protein structures and causes the tofu to exude its moisture. This in turn gives the tofu slices textural integrity so that it can be simmered for a longer time while absorbing the flavours of the sauce.

Serve the tofu atop a bowl of rice, with kimchi, with steamed greens, in salads, as part of a mezze spread, or in a wrap or sandwich.

Similar recipes include Bean Curd (Tofu) with Mushrooms, Tofu and Spinach Layers, and Sticky Kaffir and Tamarind Tofu.

Browse all of our Tofu dishes and all of our Korean recipes. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Slow Braised Red Peppers in Olive Oil

When you are on your own (or not), and you have some left over red peppers in the fridge, and you are thinking, quick and easy eating for supper, take the red pepper (or two) and slow cook it in olive oil with some thyme (oh the aroma!).

Similar recipes include Capsicums cooked in Tomato and Garlic, Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and White Beans, Grilled Sweet Peppers and Eggplant Salad, and Roasted Red Peppers Salad.

Browse all of our Capsicum recipes and all of our Italian dishes. Or simply browse our Mid Spring collection of dishes.

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Green Beans with Tomatoes | Fagiolini in Umido

Green Beans are versatile and delicious. They are common in many parts of the world, so common in fact that we take them for granted. The humble green bean is always there, forming part of our meals without hogging the lime light and without us paying too much attention to them.

But I have some recipes that will change that view. This recipe is Italian, a simple dish but delicious in that the flavours of the beans shine against the tomatoes. It is rustic, a farm dish indeed, but worthy of any table.

Similar dishes include Salty Fried Beans, Green Beans Braised in Tomatoes and Olive Oil, Gujarati Green Beans, Green Beans with Freekeh, Green Beans with Lentil Crumble, and Italian Flat Beans with Blue Cheese.

Browse all of our Green Bean recipes and all of our Italian dishes. Or feel free to browse our Early Spring recipes.

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Butter Braised Turnips with Rosemary

Brassicas. Both of our quintessentially winter vegetables – turnip and swede (aka swede turnip and rutabaga) – belong to the brassica family. But they have quite different attitudes. The turnip is sophisticated, while the swede is common and a bit bogan. Turnips are white with purple tops, crisp and slightly bitter. They are perfect eaten raw in salads or as snacks, and are delightful if cooked but still retain some crunch. The flavour mellows on cooking. The swede is pretty unusual in that it’s yellow – more so than its sister vegetable, turnip, and some will say that they are sweeter. But mostly they are described as being strongly flavoured. They can also be eaten raw in salads, or, more commonly, are cooked.

Today, a simple dish with turnips. They are braised quickly in butter and rosemary before being salted and served. A gentle, understated flavour, and delicious.

Similar recipes include Turnips in Coconut Milk, Turnip and Swede Gratin, Turnip Salad with Capers, Turnips with Quince Molasses, and Turnip Soup with Yoghurt-Coriander-Walnut Cream.

Browse our other Turnip recipes, and Swede dishes. Or explore our Late Winter collection of recipes.

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Miso Slow Braised Cabbage

Four hours to cook a small white cabbage? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. This works both as a stand-alone starter or as a side for meal. I like it as a deeply flavoured mid afternoon snack too, but then our snacks are usually a little unusual. It is a wintery dish, but don’t let that prevent you from cooking it in the cooler weather of other seasons.

This dish is an Ottolenghi dish, from his Guardian column. First published four years ago, he speaks of it often as an amazing example of the transformation of food during the process of cooking. It is something that always enthralled me, in fact it is the basis of my love of cooking. The way that an ingredient changes from one thing to another as a result of little
more than the application of time and heat, it really is magic. We take it for granted: we sweat an onion in oil, for example, and it changes from something that makes us cry to something that makes us smile with joy at its brilliantly warming sweetness. Each time we throw the acrid, dung-scented spice asafoetida into some oil, it changes to an earthy taste of garlic and onions. We pop mustard seeds in heated oil and they lose their hot intensiveness and become nutty.

And we braise cabbage for 4 hours for this remarkable result. It doesn’t look like a vegetarian dish, in fact it looks quite meaty. But vegetarian it is. It does need a strong dish to accompany it, or something very bland. I have been serving it just with a little plain rice, lemon and soured cream.

Similar recipes include Baked Yoghurt in Vine Leaves, French Braised Lettuce with Broad Beans and Peas, and Pasta Baked with Cabbage and Cheese.

Browse all of our Cabbage dishes, our Braised recipes and all of our Ottolenghi recipes. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Mushrooms, Garlic and Shallots with Lemon Ricotta

Tray-Baked seems to be the catch phrase of the moment, and has me wondering whether I need to update all of my baked dishes to reflect current fashions. I have a lot of them, they warm the kitchen in Winter and provide needed comfort as well as nourishment in the cold weather. And right now, I think I will stick to the term baked.

Ottolenghi is in on it too, with recipes that are tray baked, but not this one. I have noticed that Yotham will often cook dishes on the stove top when I might throw them in the oven. It gives him more control, I suspect, whereas I am happy to have dishes bubble away in the oven, intensifying flavours, and then pull them out when they smell right. There is something about smell in the kitchen that we don’t often talk about, but it is there, just like sound is a cue to what needs to happen for stove-cooked dishes. It needs stirring, or it is running out of liquid or it needs a drop more oil, or it sounds cooked. All of these things can be identified without looking. We are such smart creatures.

So this recipe is not tray-baked, but it could be. Cook it on the stove top the first time, then make your adjustments and tray bake it next time.

If you are not put off by peeling lots of shallots and garlic cloves, you’re in for a winter treat with this hearty, oniony mushroom stew topped with ricotta. You don’t need much more, though a chunk of sourdough would not go amiss. To help with the peeling, soak the shallots and garlic in water for half an hour.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

The recipe takes an awful lot of small shallots and garlic, but the end result is definitely worth the effort. They are cooked with mushrooms, herbs, spices and PERNOD. There are a number of recipes in Plenty More that use Pernod, so we have overcome our reluctance to purchase it  and now have a bottle sitting proudly in our kitchen cupboard.

Sadly, we don’t get the really small shallots in Australia – our shallots are large and hefty. Halve the quantity, or take even 1/3 of the amount, depending on your shallots.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. We are running behind our schedule, so you are on the receiving end of a score of wonderful dishes.

Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Quick Pickled Shimeji Mushrooms, Udon and Shimiji in Mushroom-Miso Broth, Red Onion and Green Chilli Bhaji, Onion Jam, and Grilled Mushroom and Red Onion Salad.

Browse all of our Onion dishes and all of our Mushroom recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

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Asian Kale with Sesame and Crispy Shallots

The curly kale in the shops right now is magnificent. Here it is cooked simply but with strong flavours – kecap manis, garlic and sesame oil – to counteract its intense greenness. For texture, sesame seeds are stirred through and crispy onions are layered on top.

It is an Ottolenghi recipe. He has several kale recipes in his books, promoting it a decade or so ago when it wasn’t as popular as it is today.

In fact it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Curly Kale with Ginger and Garlic, Burnt Spring Onion Dip with Garlic Chilli Kale, and Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips.

Browse all of our Kale recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Braised Broad Beans, Peas and Lettuce with Parmesan Rice

A couple of years ago we made a lovely French dish with our home grown broad beans – they are briefly simmered in stock and wine with peas and lettuce. It is such a gorgeously gentle, green and fresh dish.

Ottolenghi, in his book Plenty More, has a similar recipe, sans the wine, and where the ingredients are cooked for substantially longer than our dish. He serves it with gorgeous, buttery, parmesan rice, a delicious accompaniment.

I feel that the cooking times in Ottolenghi’s recipe are far too long, and have reduced them accordingly. I have also added a little verjuice to the dish, as I miss the tang of the wine in the French recipe. But the play of the vegetables against the buttery parmesan rice is quite amazing. Usually I recommend reducing the quantities of Ottolenghi’s recipes, they are always ample, but this one makes enough for 4 people – however, if you think you might want seconds (and you will), make a larger quantity.

It is Ottolenghi Cook the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Pea Croquettes with Mint Sauce, French Braised Lettuce, Broad Beans and Peas, Leeks and Carrots a la Grecque, and Green Beans Braised in Tomatoes and Olive Oil.

Browse all of our Broad Bean recipes and all of our Pea dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

Continue reading “Braised Broad Beans, Peas and Lettuce with Parmesan Rice”