Archive for October, 2009

Beef & Barley Soup

Posted on October 22, 2009. Filed under: one pot, recipe, simmer, soup |

Poor barley has somehow gotten the short shrift in the grain world. This is sad, because barley is totally terrific- chewy, nutty, and wholesome. It’s also really easy to prepare- you can simply boil one cup of barley in three cups of water for 25 minutes and you’re good to go. Better yet, you can make my amazing beef & barley soup, and see first hand how tasty this little grain is.

Begin by browning:
2 Lbs. Chuck or Top Round, cut into 2 inch squares

Remove from pan.
4 Carrots, quartered
3 Ribs Celery, halved
1 Large Onion, diced into large chunks
1 Parsnip, halved
4 Whole Cloves Garlic

Cook veggies for 5 minutes, and then return beef to pot.
2 Cups Beef Stock
1 Cup Purred Tomatoes
1 Cup Stout Beer
2 Tablespoons Dried Italian Seasoning

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low.
Cook 1.5 hours.

Remove as much of the celery, parsnip, and garlic as you can.
Wash and then add:
3/4 Cup Barley

Cook for one more hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

*To shorten final cooking time, you can start the barley in a separate pot. Cook it for the first 30 minutes in this pot, drain, and cook the final 30 minutes in the soup pot.

*You don’t have to remove the celery, parsnip, and garlic. I like to do so because I feel it helps the final texture of the soup.

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Roasting a Pepper

Posted on October 16, 2009. Filed under: hodgepodge, recipe, technique |

Roasted peppers are expensive to buy. And the quality is generally mediocre. Why spend money on something mediocre, when you can easily do it better at home?

All you need to roast a pepper are:
A Pepper
Fire or Heat
A Brown Bag

You have two options for roasting: oven & open flame.


Clearly, it’s much more fun to roast something over an open fire, so let’s start there. Turn your gas burner on high (sorry, electric range users, no fun for you- go to the back yard and build a campfire…). Grip the stem of the pepper with the tongs, and place over heat. Rotate when the sides begin to blacken. You’re going to need some courage here- there will be smoke and burning. Enjoy it.

When all sides are blackened, place pepper in a brown paper bag. Roll the top. Let the pepper cool in the bag for 15 minutes. This will allow the pepper to cook through, and the steam will help separate the skin from the flesh. To fully remove the skin, rub the sides of the bag. The friction will expose most of the flesh- use your fingers to do the rest.


A less fun, if more elegant, method for roasting a pepper is to use your oven. Brush the pepper with vegetable oil, and place on a baking sheet. (To avoid messy cleanups, you might want to line the sheet with aluminum foil.) Put that in a 400 degree oven. Every 10 minutes, use your tongs to turn the pepper. After about 45 minutes, you’ll have a wonderfully roasted pepper.

No need to for the brown bag here, as the pepper will be more evenly cooked. Simply allow the pepper to cool, and then peel off the skin.

After that, remove the stem and seeds- they will be very easy to get rid of. Serve warm or cold. Or mixed into something else. However you want to. They’re very good.

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Turkey Stew

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: one pot, poultry, recipe |

It gets “cold” and rainy in Los Angeles just a few times per year. Today is one of those days. So I decided to try something new, and make a turkey stew. Had some fun playing with flavors, especially the apple notes. It turned out pretty terrific.

Cut into good-sized chunks, and then brown:
2 Pounds Turkey, white, dark, or mixed

Remove turkey from pot.
Immediately add:
3 Carrots, quartered
3 Ribs Celery, quartered
1 Onion, quartered
2 Green Apples, quartered (remove core!)
3 Cloves Garlic, smashed
Pinch Salt

Roast veggies for 4-5 minutes, and then remove from pot.

2 Tablespoons Butter or Chicken Fat
2 Tablespoons Flour

Cook fat & flour for 3 minutes. Whisk constantly.

Whisk in:
1.5 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup White Wine
1/2 Cup Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Dried Sage

Allow the liquid to come to boil.
Return turkey and vegetables to the pot.

Cover, and transfer to a 300 degree oven.
Cook 1.5 hours.

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Nature’s Pride Meets Toasty Goodness

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: recipe, review |

My friends at Foodbuzz sent me a few loaves of Nature’s Pride bread. I am not a fan of commercial sliced bread, as it is usually filled with chemicals, filler, and air. So I was prepared to write a nasty “worst thing since sliced bread” review. Much to my surprise, I actually really enjoyed the bread- especially the 100% Whole Wheat.

Nature’s Pride bread manages to maintain decent shelf life stability (it kept fresh in my pantry for one week), without the addition of preservatives and stabilizers. There is a subtle sweetness to the bread, achieved with only 4g sugar (sugar, honey, brown sugar, molasses, and concentrated raisin juice form the sugar blend). A touch of vinegar balances the sweetness, and helps bring out the great malty flavor of the wheat.

Best of all, the slices are generously thick, without being too overwhelming. In fact, they are the perfect thickness for a toasty sandwich. So, Nature’s Pride 100% Whole Wheat…meet my favorite open faced sandwich:

To build the sandwich, layer:
One Slice Nature’s Pride 100% Whole Wheat
Spicy Apricot Dippin’ Sauce
2 Slices Rosemary Ham
1-2 Slices Swiss Cheese
Dijon Mustard
2 Slices Rosemary Ham
Grated Parmegiano Reggiano Chese

Toast until cheese begins to brown, about 6 minutes.

*I was also given a sample of the 12 Grain bread. The flavor was nice. However, I’m not a big fan of bits of seed and grain in my bread. If you like that sort of thing, go for it. I’ll stick with the smooth bread.

*Interstate Bakeries, the owners of Nature’s Pride, also make Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread, of course, is the bread that’s most symbolic of the collapse of good bread in America. Strange. But impressive. This represents a step in the right direction; A massive (often low quality) bread company introducing a line of bread with high quality ingredients will allow more people to have the choice to eat Good Food. That’s the key- the choice. You need to read the labels, and choose bread made with wholesome ingredients.

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Matzo Balls

Posted on October 2, 2009. Filed under: recipe |

If you’re making chicken soup, you might as well make some matzo balls, too. They’re a lot easier to make than you think, and you can use the flavor of the soup to enhance the flavor of the matzo balls.

Whisk together:
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Chicken Fat
1.5 Tablespoons Chicken Soup
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Small Pinch Salt

1/2 Cup plus 2 Teaspoons Matzo Meal
Stir matzo in until just combined- do not over mix, or your balls will be less fluffy.
Refrigerate for one hour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Roll matzo mix into one inch balls.
Boil, with pot covered, for 40 minutes.

*Chicken fat. Listen. You’re not going to have a heart attack if you use it. It adds immeasurably to the flavor and texture of the matzo balls. So just use it. The best thing to do is to skim it from the top of the soup.

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