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Posts tagged ‘Guest post’

Guest Post- Beet and Gorgonzola Cheese Pearled Barley with Cream Sauce

The first guest post is from my good friend Mimi whose gorgeous blog Chef Mimi blog  has inspired and delighted me for a long time. She is an amazing cook, prolific writer and world traveller and her delicious recipes are beautifully executed, photographed and I know eagerly gobbled up by her family. I am a big fan of risotto and love her take on it using barley and beets and creamy gorgonzola. Without further ado here is Mimi’s wonderful recipe, thank you so much for writing this post for my blog. Please pay Mimi a visit and if you want to print out this recipe you can do so from her blog.

When I first read through Eataly, the cookbook, this recipe caught my attention. It’s risotto made with barley, flavored with beets, and topped with a Gorgonzola cream! Plus, it was really pretty.

The Eataly cookbook, featuring “300 landmark recipes highlighting the best of contemporary Italian home cooking,” is a hefty volume. I’ve already made one recipe for the blog, and although it was poorly written, which seems crazy these days, it turned out great.

Maybe the Italians don’t follow the same recipe protocol as we do here in the United States? I assumed it was a universal thing, but who knows?

In any case, I knew I just had to try this recipe. Full disclosure, however, I substituted feta for the Gorgonzola.

Beet and Gorgonzola Cheese Pearled Barley with Cream Sauce
(that’s the actual name of the recipe in the book)

9 ounces pearled barley
2 cooked beets, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Generous 2 cups vegetable broth
7 ounces white wine
5 ounces Gorgonzola, cut into cubes
1 3/4 ounces whipping cream
2 ounces butter, cut into cubes
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
A few thyme sprigs to garnish (optional)

Soak the barley in a large bowl of cold water for 2 hours. Rinse and drain well.

Put the beets, 2 tablespoons of the oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the broth into a food processor and blend to a purée.

Pour the remaining broth into a pan and bring to a simmer. Keep over a low heat while you make the risotto.

Put the drained barley into a pan, add the remaining oil and a pinch of salt, and toast the barley over medium heat for 6 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until the wine has evaporated, then add a ladleful of the broth.

Cook the barley over medium heat for about 30 minutes, gradually adding in more broth, a ladleful at a time, until all of the liquid is absorbed by the barley, adding the beet puree 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.


Meanwhile, put half the Gorgonzola and the cream into a food processor and blend to make a light, creamy sauce.

Once the barley is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, the remaining Gorgonzola, and the butter.

Divide among individual serving dishes, flattening the surface with the back of a spoon. Drizzle a spiral of Gorgonzola cream sauce over the top of each dish and garnish with a drizzle of oil and some thyme leaves. (I obviously didn’t use thyme leaves.)

I served the barley and beet risotto with some rosé to make the meal even more festive. Or, at least, pink!

This risotto, although really not a risotto, is absolutely fabulous. I was surprised there was no onion or garlic, but it’s more about the taste of the grain, plus the broth and cheeses.

I know this would also be really good with Gorgonzola, but the feta cream was outstanding with the beet-flavored risotto.

 

Beet and Gorgonzola Cheese Pearled Barley with Cream Sauce

9 ounces pearled barley
2 cooked beets, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Generous 2 cups vegetable broth
7 ounces white wine
5 ounces Gorgonzola, cut into cubes
1 3/4 ounces whipping cream
2 ounces butter, cut into cubes
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
A few thyme sprigs to garnish (optional)

Soak the barley in a large bowl of cold water for 2 hours. Rinse and drain well.

Put the beets, 2 tablespoons of the oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the broth into a food processor and blend to a purée.

Pour the remaining broth into a pan and bring to a simmer. Keep over a low heat while you make the risotto.

Put the drained barley into a pan, add the remaining oil and a pinch of salt, and toast the barley over medium heat for 6 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until the wine has evaporated, then add a ladleful of the broth.

Cook the barley over medium heat for about 30 minutes, gradually adding in more broth, a ladleful at a time, until all of the liquid is absorbed by the barley, adding the beet puree 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Meanwhile, put half the Gorgonzola and the cream into a food processor and blend to make a light, creamy sauce.

Once the barley is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, the remaining Gorgonzola, and the butter.

Divide among individual serving dishes, flattening the surface with the back of a spoon. Drizzle a spiral of Gorgonzola cream sauce over the top of each dish and garnish with a drizzle of oil and some thyme leaves.

A Guest Post- Ten Times Tea

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A few months back I was thrilled when Laurie whose gorgeous blog Ten Times Tea agreed to do a guest post. Her timing is impeccable because this loaf just screams holidays. She is uber talented with such creativity,  I love her photographs and her no nonsense writing style. Thank you so much Laurie for doing this post for me and wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday. I love the way Laurie experiments and even though she may not admit it I think her results are outstanding, she loves to use whole grains  giving her baked goods a healthy twist. Can’t wait to try this, thank you for your kind words and take it away Laurie…..

Suzanne’s experience, attention to flavour, and warm style comes through in everything she makes and blogs about. And, unlike some food bloggers that I tend to admire from afar, Suzanne’s blog demands a pause, taking time to comment and marvel and laugh and sometimes even commiserate.
I was so happy to be to have the opportunity to put together a guest post. Though I was also a bit conflicted: what makes us quite different is that Suzanne’s recipes simply ooze with experience and certainty, exactly what my recipes typically lack. My blog is all about the baking (unfortunately or otherwise), and frankly, leans more towards a “log” of what disasters and otherwise I’ve been baking, rather than a reliable source of recipes. But despite this, Suzanne has been so supportive of my experiments and even the most dismal failures.

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I wasn’t sure I would be able to make anything worthy of a guest post…but then, enter this cake. This cake is fabulous. I’m still in awe. It’s based on the brown butter and vanilla weekend cake in one of Dorie Greenspan’s books, Baking Chez Moi. Would you expect anything else from Dorie?

The cake is unabashedly rich, the crumb possessing a buttery sheen, and is incredibly fragrant due to an incredible quantity of vanilla extract and browned butter. I’ve made merely superficial changes, but I highly advocate them. The prunes and chestnuts, which are two of my favourite things, are homely and warm, while still somehow glamorous in my vague imagination of 20th century whiskey glasses and pâté and feather boas. (Ah, this imagination sometimes.) They simply fit perfectly into the backdrop of a dense and vanilla-heady cake, such that even a friend who does not at all subscribe to my obsession with prunes admitted that really, they did seem to work quite well.

I also made a couple more characteristic changes, reducing the sugar and using part whole spelt flour. I wanted to use these changes to transition into writing about some general themes in baking and my approach. As Suzanne recently wrote about, lately she’s switched her eating focus. It made me think a bit about this whole baking thing—what choices I make, what I minimize and maximize, and why. But after writing it, I looked back and felt so pretentious, with these meanderings on sugar and whole grains.

The thing is, I find there are many valid perspectives when it comes to baking. And thus many valid styles of baking, which result in many, many delicious baked goods. I enjoy them all. There is nothing superior about any approach over others. Some days call for Smarties-dotted blondies just as much as other days call for raw vegan coconut oil and date squares. So I hope everything here can be taken with several grains of salt—it’s one vague approach to baking. I guess I like it so I seem to advocate for my view, but it doesn’t mean I always stick to it.

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Sugar

Sugar is something I do not try to eliminate, but I find I can typically reduce the sugar content of baked goods with little consequence. This isn’t to validate desserts or bolster excuses for eating more (well, at least I try not to do that…). But I do occasionally bake for some diabetics, and in general, if I can reduce the sugar, I think I may as well.

In fact, I do think that most desserts don’t require too much sweetness for it to still taste like dessert. I’m a bit of a cake-person as opposed to a candy-person (a very important dichotomy), where I like more moderate sweetness padded with plenty of substance and textures and other flavours. Better yet, baking can quite often fit into that ambiguous breakfast/tea sort of category as well, which entails the same richness and decadence with noticeably less sweetness. Another trick is to use sweet-associated flavours like warm spices, or plenty of fresh fruit.

I find it’s worthwhile to experiment! A 25-50% reduction in the sugar is a good place to start, at least in cases where the sugar is not a structural necessity (I’ve tried to push it unsuccessfully with meringues and buttercreams). However, in the end you may just find that sugar reductions compromise golden crusts or perfect textures. It always depends on what you’re looking for, and reductions may not be worth it.

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Whole grains

Recently I made a cake that used only white flour, and I was surprised—it tasted bland all of a sudden. I suppose it’s because in recent years, whole wheat and spelt flour have become my go-to, some somehow now taste rather “neutral.”

I refrain from using this idea of whole grains as a gateway to a certified healthy label. It’s a bit of a false rhetoric because 1) we are still talking dessert and 2) I don’t push the envelope very far. The whole grains are primarily for flavour, and I like to prioritize structure as well. (On this note, I admire the ingenuity, innovation and persistence of gluten-free bakers!) Thus, something may be only a quarter whole spelt flour, but it will taste nutty and warm and complement spices or dried fruit. Whole wheat flour is very suitable for crumbles and oatmeal cookies. I find buttery and salted whole wheat pastry perfect for tarts, and while scones have been a perpetual struggle for me, I recently made some fluffy scones with half whole wheat pastry flour.

As far as pastry-type experimentation goes (bread is a bit iffier), I think whole wheat flour can be successfully subbed for 50-100%. Spelt flour, I would normally not go above 50% due to the lower gluten content. Buckwheat and rye I usually try at 25-20% due to their low gluten content and stronger flavours. In the end, though, it does depend on what you’re making. Sometimes white flour is the best.

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This cake is a rich and buttery and sugary glory, and in no way do my changes make it at all healthy…but I like the cake even more for the changes I did make. It is only moderately sweet, with spelt flour to complement the prunes and pick up on the warm notes of the roasted chestnuts and browned butter.

So happy baking! With the approaching holidays, I’m sure there will be plenty of baking going on.

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prune and chestnut vanilla loaf cake
Based on Dorie Greenspan’s brown butter and vanilla bean weekend cake in Baking Chez Moi. Instead of part vanilla bean and part vanilla extract, you can use either: 1 whole vanilla bean or 4 tsp vanilla extract as detailed by the original recipe. I would also consider increasing the quantity of prunes and chestnuts to 150 g each.
1 stick butter
100 g whole spelt flour
138 g all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
175 g granulated sugar
3-cm length of vanilla bean
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c (80 mL) heavy cream
1 capful dark rum
100 g dried prunes
100 g roasted and peeled chestnuts, whole and broken into rough pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a loaf pan and line with a sling of parchment paper.
Brown the butter in a small saucepan, cooking until deep golden and nutty, and then set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.
Place the sugar in a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out into the sugar and rub in. Add the split vanilla bean and rub in the sugar as well to remove any excess seeds (this can then be placed in the sugar bowl for vanilla sugar and the like). Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined. Follow with vanilla extract, the heavy cream and rum, whisking until combined.
Add the dry ingredients in two additions, folding in with a rubber spatula. Next, fold in the butter in three additions. Lastly, mix in the chestnuts and prunes. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean.
Let cool on a wire rack.

 

Guest Post- Falafel By Elaine From Foodbod

Beautiful Elaine and her sweet Bob

I love this photo of beautiful Elaine and her sweet Bob

I feel so very lucky to know so many lovely and talented people. When I think about some of the exceptional cooks/bloggers that have agreed to do guest posts here I am honored and so very happy to present them to all of you that stop by for a read. This blogger/cook and amazingly talented woman is one of my favorite people, she can make a die hard vegetable hater a veggie lover. Elaine’s gorgeous blog Foodbod is one that I have followed for a few years now, I love her recipes like this Middle Eastern Aubergine or her wonderful sourdough bread.  She inspires with her creativty, amazes with her talent and I like to call her the vegetable whisperer, she can coax incredible flavor from the most humble of vegetables by adding a little of this and that and when she pulls that tray out of the oven you know the master has done her magic I know most of you know her and if you don’t please visit her blog and read about Elaine and how her mission to eat healthful and delicious food came about, you will love it as much as I do, I guarantee it. Take it away Elaine…..

What can I say about the lovely Suzanne that hasn’t already been said by her previous guest posters?? Nothing really, they’ve said it all so beautifully, I’ll just be repeating things..but hey, who cares?!

Suzanne is such a constant, supportive and complimentary food blogger; she always has time to visit and comment on people’s posts, and is always positive and interested in what people have cooked, asking questions, giving suggestions and being a lovely friend. And Suzanne is such a gifted cook that I always feel honoured when she likes my food, so I was happily surprised, and honoured, when she asked me if I would like to put together a guest post for her…I hope she likes it, and that her readers do too 🙂

The fact that we share a love of dogs only makes me like her more xx

I wanted to push myself and create something new for Suzanne so I bring you:

the joy of a homemade falafel mix..

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Falafels are a middle eastern ‘pattie’, typically made with dried soaked chickpeas and they tend to be deep fried; they are very much middle eastern street food. I love falafels and, in particular, I love the flavours in the mix of ingredients and like applying it to other dishes. On this occasion I decided to experiment with fava beans, which are dried broad beans, in place of dried chickpeas – whichever you choose, do not use the cooked or canned versions; the success of falafels comes from using dried & soaked pulses, that all adds to their crunch. I have also oven baked my falafels which I think works well, but that’s not all, read on…

The mix:

Ingredients

250g dried split fava beans, placed in a large bowl of water and soaked overnight

1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 bunch flat leaf parsley

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cayenne pepper (optional)

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste

Flour of your choice as needed

Method

Wash and drain the fava beans

Put everything EXCEPT the flour in a blender and chop to a chunky crumb

At this point I stored the mixture in a wrapped bowl in the fridge and let the flavours develop, then started to make things with it over the next few days. You could use it immediately depending on your plans.

My first use of the mixture creates a lovely brunch, lunch or dinner..a falafel crunch with spinach and eggs..

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Put about a quarter of the falafel mixture in a pan with melted coconut oil, over a medium heat. As you cook it, turn it all over every so often, and it becomes lovely and crunchy and browned.

Once cooked, add a handful of baby spinach leaves, and once that is cooked without becoming mushy, make some spaces in the mix and cook eggs into the mix.

A sprinkle of grated cheese finishes it all off perfectly.. I ate mine directly from the pan – saves on washing up!!

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For a other idea, how about a falafel quinoa goodness bowl?

First, spoon about a quarter of the falafel mixture again into a pan with olive oil over a medium heat.

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Start to cook it through then add several spoons of cooked quinoa.

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Cook the mixture until the fava beans are cooked and the mixture starts to crisp slightly.

This creates a lovely dish of tasty goodness on its own, perfect for me for lunch with some homemade dips.. …

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or you could use it as a side dish or in place of something like rice. Or again add some eggs to the dish, or your choice of meat or fish.

And finally..the actual falafels..

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These falafels are oven baked; I’ve never deep fried my falafels so I can’t tell you how well it does or doesn’t work, but I can tell you that they are very good when baked..

A quarter of the mixture formed 6 falafels

Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour (I used spelt flour but any all purpose plain flour will do) and bring the mixture together with your hands, it will create a ‘dough’

I use a falafel press to create my patties but you could easily split the mixture into 6 and create balls then flatten them to discs

Brush olive oil on both sides and place on parchment paper on baking tray

Bake at 200C for 10 minutes then turn them all over and bake for another 10 minutes

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They come out lovely and crunchy 🙂

I enjoyed mine wrapped in lettuce leaves with tahini sauce and homous.

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In the Middle East falafels would typically be served in flat bread wraps with salad and tahini sauce so the lettuce formed my ‘bread’.

I hope you like my falafels and other ideas for the mix. I think it could also be utilised as a ‘crumble’ topping over a lovely dish, or as a crumb on a piece of fish or meat. The possibilities are endless!

Thank you again to Suzanne for inviting me to appear on her lovely blog, I hope you all enjoyed a bit of my world 🙂