Barley risotto with pistachios and raisins

Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!

This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)Barley_pistachio&raisin_risotto
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 200g pot barley
  • 1000ml vegi stock
  • Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • Black pepper to taste

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
  • 60g yogurt
  • A pinch of sumac
  • ½ tsp harissa

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).

Tartare sauce

Tartare_Sauce

I made smoked Smoked haddock fish cakes again, but this time with tartare sauce – enough for 2:

  • 2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp low fat yogurt (this ‘extends’ the mayonnaise)
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 6 cornichons (drained and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp capers (drained and chopped)
  • Black pepper to taste

Whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice. Stir in the cornichons and capers, and add black pepper to taste.

 

 

Berry Bircher muesli

Berry_Bircher

This makes a refreshing start to the day. Serves 2 – 3:

  • 100g rolled (‘porridge’) oats
  • 100ml milk
  • 60ml cherry juice (or apple juice)
  • 2 apples (peeled and grated – I used Granny Smiths, but you could use one Bramley, with possibly, some more honey)
  • 100g yogurt
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • Juice from 1/3rd of a lime (or lemon)
  • 8 walnut halves (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp mixed seeds (eg sunflower, pumpkin, linseeds and sesame seeds)
  • Mixed berries (I had a mixture if strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, left over from the previous day), or any other fruit (according to season)

Mix the oats together with the milk and the juice. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, add all the remaining ingredients (other than the mixed berries, or equivalent).

Divide between two or three bowls and top with the fruit.

Harissa baked shallots with feta yogurt dressing

Harissa_shallots_tile

Enough for 2:

  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 echalion shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 100g low-fat natural yogurt
  • Leaves from 6 sprigs of mint (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • Black pepper
  • 50g wild rocket
  • 4 wholemeal flour tortillas

Mix the harissa and the olive oil in a large bowl. Add the shallots so they are completely coated with the olive oil mix. Arrange in a baking dish and place in the oven 160C (Gas Mark 3) for about 50 minutes, or until soft but still holding their shape.

Meanwhile, mash together the feta and the yogurt in a bowl. Stir in the mint and sumac, and season with black pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Warm the tortillas in the oven for about 2 minutes.

To eat, spread some of the feta dressing on a tortilla with rocket and some of the shallots. Then roll up the tortilla.

Enjoy!

In praise of fat again!

Why is it, that people attempt to create ridiculous ‘healthy’ versions of things which are only delicious because of a generous helping of fat, sugar, or anything else deemed to be harmful?

I decided to make Vegetable Rosti Pie (it should really be called Vegetable Rosti Sludge) which featured in the Waitrose ‘Winter Harvest 2014’ recipe booklet (and – another whinge – why doesn’t Waitrose put these things on line?). This recipe has NO oil/fat in it apart from some in the low fat yogurt. I Googled ‘Rosti‘ and the first link I got was How to cook the perfect rösti (clearly authentic as ‘rösti‘ was spelt properly (with an umlaut)!), which suggests using goose fat.

Why are we bombarded with inferior versions of things that are excellent in their original form? For example, this recipe for millionaire’s shortbread from a raw food fanatic. It may look like millionaire’s shortbread if you have bad eyesight and the light is really dim, but it will taste (and feel) like something completely different (and certainly not like the version Thornton’s do)!

Rosti1-tile

Anyway, back to this Waitrose recipe. Mine was adapted, because I didn’t have all the ingredients and I decided to substitute olive oil for some of the low fat yogurt (I’m not sure that this improved the result). For two people:

  • 1 slice (4cm wide) of a large sweet potato (peeled and coarsely grated)
  • Swede (peeled and coarsely grated), the same quantity as the sweet potato
  • Butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and coarsely grated), the same quantity as the sweet potato
  • 1 small shallot (finely sliced) or equivalent onion
  • 200g cannellini beans (drained – half a large can (you could store the rest in the fridge use the rest in minestrone))
  • 4-5 sprigs of parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbp olive oil
  • 3 tbp low fat yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Blanch all the vegetables in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain.

Mix the beans, parsley, olive oil, yogurt, coriander and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the vegetables.

Mix well, and press into a lightly greased ovenproof dish.

Cook at 190C (gas mark 5) for 40 minutes (or until the surface begins to brown).

Serve with poached eggs.

I will make this recipe again, but I shall be ditching the yogurt and olive oil for a generous helping of goose fat, and I will also omit the cannellini beans which seem to add nothing (except protein), and have a rather unpleasant texture when they start to brown.

Avocado pears

Most supermarkets now sell certain fruit as ‘perfectly ripe’. I’m not sure that the title is particularly truthful, although it’s probably fair to say that there is more chance of ‘perfectly ripe’ fruit ripening properly than the alternative (often labelled ‘for ripening at home’).

I’ve considered carrying out some kind of guerilla action involving sticky labels saying “you must be joking”, but I don’t really want to be banned from all the local supermarkets.

I do have specific complaints about avocados. The ones that aren’t ‘perfectly ripe’ are often as hard as bullets, and if put in fruit bowl with some bananas (that well recommended way of ripening fruit) they often go from being rock hard to brown and stringy, without ever passing through that ‘perfectly ripe’ phase somewhere in between.

My other issue is, that if you buy ‘perfectly ripe’ avocados, you always have to buy two. I did this the other day because I wanted to make guacamole (using one avocado) to go with chilli con carne. I decided to use the other avocado to make a rather 1960s salad: Prawn with (the pretentiously named) marie-rose sauce, avocado and rocket.

Not a great deal of effort went into this (for 2):Prawn_Salad

  • 150g frozen cooked prawns (defrosted)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 2 large squirts of tomato ketchup
  • A good squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 ripe avocado (cut in half, stone removed, and the flesh removed from the skin and sliced)
  • Rocket
  • 2 tbsp oil and vinegar dressing
  • Cayenne pepper

Combine the mayonnaise with the yogurt, and mix in the tomato ketchup and lemon juice (the sauce should be a light pink colour). Mix in the prawns.

Toss the rocket and avocado slices in the salad dressing. Arrange the rocket and avocado on two plates. Spoon over the prawn mixture, and light dust with cayenne pepper.

Tesco says almost 30,000 tonnes of food ‘wasted’

foodwaste-horz

Images from: Joonggul Ro’s PG02

This BBC article is based on food waste figures published by Tesco for the first six months of this year.

The figures include food wasted before it arrives at Tesco, and food bought by its customers which is never consumed. Tesco estimates that “families are wasting an estimated £700 a year and we want to help them keep that money in their pockets, rather than throwing it in the bin”.

£700 represents about 50% of the average annual dual-fuel bill (gas and electricity) of £1,315 per household, so wasting less food could help a lot.

Tesco claims that 1 in 10 bananas purchased is thrown away, and also high in the customer wastage stakes is packaged salad (most likely because the bags are too big) and bread.

There are many ways to use up (or to avoid creating these left-overs in the first place):

  • overripe bananas can be made into muffins (or banana bread) and can be frozen so you don’t need to eat them all at once; also, if you have a robust liquidiser or food processor you can create some fruity ‘ice cream’ by combining ripe bananas, frozen fruit (use it straight from the freezer) and yogurt;
  • left-over bread ccould be made into croutons, breadcrumbs (dried in the oven, bread pudding or bread and butter pudding;
  • maybe bagged salad should be avoided – you can always shred a white cabbage (a section of white cabbage will last a long time in the fridge) and grate root vegetables. If you do want some green leaves then Lidl does small bags of (unwashed) wild rocket (I think it was 79p last week).

Of course, another way to reduce customer wastage is to stop doing multi-buy deals on perishable food (at Tesco these deals on large bags of salad have ceased) and to reduce the size of perishable food displays which Tesco is also doing.

I can’t help thinking there’s a conflict of interest here. If lowering customer food wastage leads to customers spending less at Tesco, and Tesco sales fall, this won’t be good (for Tesco).