Monday, February 22, 2010

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushrooms are my very favorite vegetable. They're versatile, earthy and add a notable dimension to any dish they're worked into. Pair them with root veggies and barley and you've got an inexpensive hearty meal. Also, this recipe is ridiculously easy to make.
I had never cooked barley before and was a bit apprehensive, but it's a forgiving grain and although most recipes I referenced said to cook the barley for 30-40 minutes, I found an hour and 15 minutes brought the barley to the exact texture I was looking for (wasn't mushy, but added creamy starch to the broth).

4 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 cups water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp butter
2 cups mixed chopped mushrooms (I used shitake, white button and crimini)
3 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 heart celery, roughly chopped
2 smashed whole garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups of barley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Warm butter to medium low and add onions. Sweat the onions for 3-6 minutes, until translucent. Add remaining vegetables and garlic and cover with broth, water and soy sauce. Season with rosemary, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes and add barley. Cook for another hour and a 15 minutes. Season to taste. It takes a while to make, so I make this large pot of soup and freeze portions.

Friday, February 19, 2010

First Hot Dog in 14 Years...

Literally, I haven't eaten a hot dog since 1996 when I was in 5th grade. My friend Darcey convinced me they were made of dogs, and although I had a hunch that was BS, the mystery meat still made me nervous. The just looked so far from the meat the package claimed that they contained, which turned me off the dogs for years and years. Friends and family have been accommodating, but still always thought I was a bit nuts for my aversion.
About a month ago after a long day in the emergency room (Kyler was dehydrated from food poisoning) I was starving and headed to Hyvee. I was ravenous, so went for every sample I could find. Including a hot dog from Missouri Legacy Beef . Meeting the farmer and knowing that the cows were raised within 25 miles of my home made me less weary (not eating for 7 hours, also helped). It was so, so delicious that I bought a package. I broiled my hot dog until it was slightly charred (I remember that being my preference when I was little), nestled it in a buttery bun, topped it with French's mustard and sauerkraut. At this point, I'm slightly obsessed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

NYC Visit

I haven't blogged in a bit, because I was on a little NYC vacay. It was amazing to see my friends, hang out at some of my old haunts and snack on some of my favorite food. Here are some highlights:
Uncle George's Diner in Astoria.
Lamb kebabs skewered with onions, green peppers and tomatoes, grilled to medium rare (the best for lamb, in my opinion), with tangy lemony potatoes.

Eggplant Parm Hero at Salumeria Biellese. The best, in the world, ever! They heap layers of eggplant Parmesan on a crusty portion of a loaf (the bread is magical, I can't help but get a large), sprinkled with more parm cheese and a dousing of marinara. Ask for extra marinara and many, many extra napkins.
Like I said, extra napkins.

My friend Marion's Sausage and Pepper Hero at Salumeria Biellese.

Yum Duck Salad (spicy fried crispy duck tossed in lime juice with tomato, chili pepper, pineapple chunks, red onion and ground peanuts at Yum Yum Bangkok.
I love this place because it's down the block from my first New York apartment (ah, nostalgia). My friend Dani and I hit up Yum Yum as often as we can.

Heaven on rye - Pastrami at Katz's Deli. I'm a purest when it comes to pastrami, so yellow mustard is all I'll add. This is by far the best 2 am drunk snack in NYC.
Complimentary pickle plate.
Beauty of a sammie, with potato pancakes in the background.

Harissa Falafel at Taim Falafel & Smoothie Bar. One of the more popular falafel shacks in the city, after a bite, it's easy to see why this Israeli owned spot often has lines overflowing out the door. A rather perfect version of a falafel sandwich, it has a contrast of flavors and textures - the harissa falafel spicy and slightly sweet, airy and crisp, covered in smooth tahini, crunchy tangy white cabbage salad and a tart cucumber, tomato Israeli salad. I drizzled mine with their skhug Temani, a piquant blend of coriander, peppers, garlic and vinegar.
We went to an all-you-can-drink brunch at the newly opened Sunburnt Calf, part of the Sunburnt Cow chain. I indulged in far too many greyhounds, as well as the Queen Adelaide, Poached eggs, smoked salmon, slice of avocado on an English muffin topped with a heafty drizzle hollandaise.
On my last night, I went to my favorite pizzerias in the city, Arturo's. Despite being in the heart of the village, it feels warm, friendly and makes me feel like I'm at home. Also, the live jazz sure doesn't hurt. My friend Jill insists that they have the only coal oven in the city, which makes the airy, slightly charred crust magically memorable. Our pie was topped with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and basil.