Beef barley soup is a classic old-world dish, and it’s been simmering away in pots for centuries, probably as long as people have been making soup. It just makes sense ~ the little white pearls of barley add lovely texture, as well as extra nutrition and satisfying bulk, all important things when you’re trying to make dinner out of a pot of soup. For an added bonus, barley’s natural starch thickens the soup as it cooks.
Beef Barley Soup is classic comfort food that you can make on the stove or in the crock pot. The soup has roots in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. Mushrooms were popular in these cold-weather countries because they could be harvested, dried, and stored for later use.
Barley was also plentiful and easy to grow in the Eastern European climate, making it a common addition to hearty winter dishes like soup. Barley’s history goes back even further; in fact, it is arguably the world’s first and most ancient, cultivated grain.
As far as the meatballs, texture can be an issue. If the meatball is too wet, it will disintegrate when cooking in soups. If it is too dry, it will lose its flavor and potentially break up into pieces. Using the right amount of liquid or eggs for the mix to keep them moist, but equally so, enough breadcrumbs or flour to bind them adequately. Remember, you can never get enough seasoning, so don’t be gentle with it, and use spices and herbs liberally.
One of Brion’s favorite soups has always been mushroom beef barley, so now seems a good time to make some.
Mushroom Barley Soup w/ Mini Meatballs
In a large saucepan, combine the broth, water, barley & thyme. Season with salt & pepper; bring to a boil. Cover & cook over low heat until the barley is nearly tender, about 18 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat oil. Add the mushrooms & shallot, season with salt & pepper; cook over high heat until tender and browned, about 8 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt & 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Knead the mixture until blended, then roll it into sixteen 1-inch balls.
Add the meatballs & mushrooms to the soup. Simmer over moderate heat until the meatballs are cooked through & the barley is tender, about 8 minutes. Discard the thyme. Stir the parsley into the soup & serve in bowls with sour cream.
If you haven’t had quiche lately, it is time to remedy that situation. I could eat quiche for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without ever growing tired of it. This recipe takes the classic chili con carne and turns it into a quiche which makes an ideal winter meal, right?
Cornmeal crust is the perfect foil for meaty and cheesy savory pies. Not only is the rustic texture and flavor of cornmeal pastry a nice change, but it also helps if you have something that is super juicy to avoid soggy bottom pies.
If you like quiche and cornbread, you’ll love this. The cornmeal crust gives a sort of cornbread feel while maintaining the flaky composure that any great crust should have. This is one of my favorite crusts to use for savory pies, tarts and galettes.
Chili Cheese Quiche
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it.
After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough. Press dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
In a large skillet, sauté beef, onion & garlic until meat is cooked & any liquid has evaporated. Stir in spices, corn, tomato sauce, beans. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly. Grate cheese.
Whisk together eggs, milk & seasoning.
Roll out pastry to fit a 9-inche quiche pan. Place filling mixture in crust; sprinkle with cheese then pour milk mixture over the cheese.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until set. Top with more grated cheese if you wish.
Today, November 24th, our neighbors to the south in the USA, are celebrating their Thanksgiving Day. It encompasses both religious and secular aspects … being both a harvest festival and a festival of family.
Here in Canada, we have already enjoyed our Thanksgiving in October but I thought it would be nice to acknowledge their holiday with posting a special meal.
While a classic beef wellington makes for a elegant dinner, it is easy to re-create a Wellington into a gourmet, hearty meal but on a more reasonable every day budget & time frame. Rather than using an expensive steak cut, this beef wellington recipe uses inexpensive ground beef and puff pastry sheets. The ground meat can be changed to ground pork, chicken, turkey or sausage. The list of additions to the meat is endless ranging from mushrooms to cheese. Some bacon mixed with the beef gives the dish that nice bacon impact that is very tasty.
This classic beef wellington-revisited is not only delicious but decadent. It is so good with a mushroom gravy.
Beef & Potato Wellington
Thaw puff pastry overnight in refrigerator. Cook potatoes & mash with grated cheese, salt & garlic powder. On a piece of parchment paper, roll potato/cheese mixture into a log shape. Set aside, keeping warm.
In a large saucepan, cook bacon until browned but not real crisp; drain on paper towel then chop & set aside.
Sauté onions, mushrooms & garlic in bacon drippings; set aside. Add beef to saucepan & scramble fry until browned, stirring to break up & moisture has evaporated. Remove from heat.
Add vegetables back to saucepan along with flour, beef broth powder, beaten egg, bacon & seasonings. Combine well.
On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out puff pastry thin but not so it will break when filled. On one end (which becomes the center underneath the roll) spoon a layer of meat mixture. Next, lay the mashed potato 'log' on top. Spoon the rest of the meat mixture on top & around the sides, lightly patting it into the potato log.
Taking hold of the pastry (that is already tucked underneath), wrap it over top & tuck the edge in underneath to join up with the other pastry edge. Pinch together the open ends, leaving a bit of a gap to allow steam to escape.
Make egg wash & brush liberally over pastry. Lift the 'wellington', using the parchment paper to a baking sheet.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from oven, cover lightly with a sheet of foil for about 10 minutes. Slice & serve with a mushroom gravy if you wish.
Nestled on the border of France and Germany is a little area known as the Alsatian (All-Say-Shun) region. There, cultures have collided, blended, and meshed to create some of the most unique culinary experiences. One such specialty is the Flammekueche, also known as the Alsatian Pizza, or Tarte Flambée. A combination of baked flat dough topped with fresh cheese known as fromage blanc, bacon, and onions. All of this is baked to a crisp perfection.
The most underrated and underused topping in every pizzeria is the onion. The flavor potential of this glorious root can be either bold or a sublime succulent whisper, but it is usually taken for granted.
Known as flammekueche in Alsatian and flammkuchen in German, tarte flambée is pure and uncomplicated. Typically made on a piece of thin, rolled-out bread dough, it has only three or four other main ingredients: the sour cream, cheese, onion and the bacon.
But don’t let the few ingredients fool you because they’re wonderfully paired. The creamy, slightly sharp sour cream is tamed by the sweet onions and salty bacon.
Flammekueche - Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon
Cook potato, peel & mash. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat, sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Bacon / Cheese
In skillet, sauté bacon until it is halfway to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces. Grate cheese.
On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into 4 ovals. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
Add minced garlic to sour cream & spread over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over sour cream. Top all with grated cheese & a sprinkling of black pepper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & slice.
Israeli Couscous is an invention of the North American culinary mind, just like French and Italian dressing. In Israel, the dish is known as ‘petitim’, which means little crumbles in Hebrew. It was created by the Osem food company in the early 1950’s at the request of Ben Gurion, the prime minister of Israel at the time. Israel was in its early beginnings as a new state and resources were very scarce. At that time the government imposed a period of rationing known as ‘tzena‘. Osem was asked to develop a starch that was more affordable than rice which was very expensive at the time. The company’s response to this request was petitim or small rice shaped pieces of pasta that were toasted. Later, Osem expanded it’s product line to include the little round balls of pasta we know as Israeli couscous.
Couscous has a neutral taste, just like pasta, but infused with broths, stocks, meats, vegetables, and spices will become a satisfying meal. If you are a fan of butternut squash, this dish pairs the lovely sweetness of butternut squash and spicy beef with Israeli couscous.
Couscous & Beef Stuffed Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a sheet pan with foil & butter.
Cut butternut squash in half. Remove seeds & membrane. Rub oil on cut sides & place cut-side down on roasting pan, season with salt & pepper. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender but not soft.
Place couscous in a mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over couscous & set aside until the couscous has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork.
In a saucepan, scramble fry ground beef in olive oil; add onion, celery & garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until celery softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in seasonings & salt; cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, add to couscous mixture & pepita seeds; stir gently until mixed. Set aside.
Remove squash from the oven. Flip the squash so that the cut side is up. With a teaspoon, create a tunnel in the middle of the straight end of each squash, scooping out the flesh but leaving a border of flesh on each side. Remove the flesh, chop coarsely and gently mix into the couscous mixture. Divide the couscous between the two squash halves, filling the tunnel and the round hole that held the squash seeds.
Return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until heated through. Cut squash into four to six portions and serve.
- Adjust the amount of ground beef used according to the size of squash you have.
A sheet pan takes the concept of a one-pot meal and flips it onto a pan. It saves time, makes clean up easier and doesn’t require expensive equipment or fancy ingredients. Just start with your protein choice, then add vegetables, fat and flavorings and roast until everything is golden brown.
Although using a sheet pan seems relatively straightforward, timing and sizing are everything. The way in which you cut ingredients will greatly affect the outcome. Some ingredients that are roasted for longer than intended, like a potato, may be surprisingly delicious. Others, however, like overcooked shrimp, can ruin the meal.
Think of seasonal and natural flavor pairings when combining your sheet pan meal. Tomatoes and garlic are a classic combination, while squash, sweet potatoes and carrots make a wonderful base for proteins.
Sheet pan cooking requires shallow baking pans made of aluminum or steel. Make sure you’re actually using a sheet pan. The darkness of the metal makes the meal cook faster, so things will burn before they are cooked through.
I think sheet pan meals are such a great way to cook a whole meal and of course, adding some of my favorite everything bagel seasoning just makes even better.
'Everything Spice' Sheet Pan Salmon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place salmon in the center of the sheet pan. Blot the salmon with a paper towel (you want the top of the salmon to be dry enough for the cream cheese to spread). Evenly spread the cream cheese over the salmon.
Sprinkle the salmon with 'everything seasoning'. Arrange potatoes & green beans on your sheet pan. Drizzle potatoes & green beans with olive oil & a sprinkle of salt.
Bake for 20 minutes. If you think the salmon is cooked before the vegetables, place foil over the salmon or remove the salmon from the oven.
Remove from oven & serve.
Another zucchini recipe? Sure, why not. It’s such a versatile vegetable and it doesn’t hurt to add more veggies to our daily menu!
By replacing the lasagna noodles with zucchini slices, the tasty result has all the wonderful flavors we love about the Italian dish – it’s even very similar in its texture!
This lasagna is perfect in the summer with your garden-fresh veggies and herbs, or in the winter when you need a comforting meal. This updated version features zucchini slices with layers of cheese, bacon, leeks, mushrooms, swiss chard and a flavorful sun-dried tomato sauce.
Lasagna in any form must be up there on our list of comfort food favorites. What’s not to love about lasagna? They’re saucy, cheesy, and perfect to fill with our favorite ingredients. The possibilities are endless when we can really start to think outside the basic fillings.
The replacement of traditional pasta with zucchini adds great texture to the dish, plus a beautiful presentation. The longer you cook the lasagna, the softer the zucchini noodles will become.
Bacon Zucchini Lasagna
Bacon & Veggies
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté bacon until slightly crisp. Remove & blot on paper towel. Add leeks & mushrooms to the pan; sauté 4 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic; sauté 1 minute. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl.
Heat 1 tsp of oil in saucepan; add zucchini slices. Sauté 4 minutes or until tender & just beginning to brown. Remove from pan to a plate. Heat remaining 1 tsp of oil & add the Swiss chard; sauté 4 minutes or until wilted. Combine bacon & Swiss chard with vegetable mixture in bowl.
In a skillet, heat oil. Add onion & cook 2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add garlic, oregano, thyme, paprika & sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring with a spatula. Add veg broth & allow to bubble for 2 minutes then add salt & pepper (if using). Bring to a boil then reduce heat & simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream & parmesan cheese.
Grate mozzarella & parmesan cheeses. In a bowl, combine cottage cheese & 150 gm (1 1/2 cups) mozzarella; stir well.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with veg oil.
Spread a small amount of the sauce mixture in the bottom of prepared baking dish. Arrange 1/3 of zucchini slices over the sauce; top with half of the cottage cheese mixture, then half of the veg/bacon mixture & about a cup of sauce. Repeat layers, ending with zucchini slices. Spread the remaining sauce mixture on top of the zucchini slices; sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.
Cover & bake for 20 minutes. Uncover & bake an additional 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & beginning to brown, Allow to sit about 10 minutes before serving.
Pork tenderloin, also known as pork fillet, is the leanest, most tender part of the pork loin. It is often cut into medallions, which are oval shaped steaks, made even more tender by trimming away excess fat. Pork tenderloin medallions are a versatile cut of meat, suitable for a range of different occasions. Their tender texture makes them perfect for a special dinner, but because they require short cooking times, they are quick and easy to prepare, making them an excellent choice for weeknight dinners, too.
For these honey orange medallions I’m using an ingredient called hoisin sauce. This is a Cantonese sauce that is often used both as an ingredient in dishes and as a table condiment.
Hoisin is the English version of the sauce’s Chinese name: haixian, which means seafood or sea delicious. The word hoi translates to sea and the word sin translates to fresh or delicious. The name is somewhat misleading since hoisin sauce contains no seafood and is not typically used in or on seafood dishes though there is some evidence that the earliest versions actually did contain fermented fish. When Hoisin sauce still contained seafood, it was considered a luxury food because of this fact.
Hoisin sauce ingredients typically include soybeans, garlic, and sugar along with sesame oil and chilies. The number of ingredients and the ingredients themselves can vary from brand to brand; however, the flavor profile is generally the same. It has a similar appearance to American barbecue sauce but is much denser.
This is such a nice meal served over steamed rice or Chinese noodles.
Honey Orange Pork Medallions
In a small pot, heat oil & garlic over medium low heat for just a minute or so until the garlic has softened but not browned. Add all of the remaining ingredients for the sauce & simmer until the sauce reduces to the consistency of a glaze. Keep warm on minimum heat while the pork gets fried.
Sift together the flour, salt, pepper, ginger & five spice powder.
Beat together the eggs and water to make an egg wash.
Heat 1/2 inch oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet.
Season the pork medallions lightly with salt & pepper. Coat the pieces in the flour mixture before dipping them in the egg wash & then back into the flour mixture again. Drop into the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes, turning once, until golden brown & crispy.
Toss the cooked pork medallions in the sauce, along with the vegetables of your choice. Serve over steamed rice or Chinese noodles.
Don’t think for a moment that cabbage doesn’t belong on pizza — it definitely does. When the days grow shorter, we start to crave heartier meals. Cabbage is good … meatballs are good … cabbage/meatball pizza is double good! Here’s a new spin on the classic pizza – topping a pizza crust base with meatballs, cabbage, spices & cheese.
People have been piling ‘stuff’ on dough, and then heating it up, for thousands of years. That includes the Chinese, who some believe gave Marco Polo scallion pancakes, leading to the theory that he introduced pizza to Italy.
Others point to the ancient Greeks, who covered their flatbreads with herbs, oil, and cheese. But no matter who is responsible for pizza, there is no denying that it has serious global appeal.
Cabbage is an unsung kitchen hero. It’s actually one of the most versatile veggies in your arsenal. If you’re just reserving it for slaws and salads, it’s time to broaden your horizons and discover some of the amazingly delicious things a simple head of cabbage can do.
While the dough is pretty critical, the toppings are just as important to get right. Specific toppings will come down to personal preference.
The duo of sautéed cabbage & meatballs makes for a hearty, satisfying topping perfectly suited for crisp autumn weather.
Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs
Cook potato, peel & mash. In a bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water. Allow to stand for about 3 minutes until foamy; add butter, salt, sour cream & potato & mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
In a large pot, place thinly sliced cabbage, water, sugar & salt. Cover & simmer for a few minutes until cabbage is soft & has reduced in volume. Place cabbage in a dish. Melt butter & oil in pot then add flour & cumin to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring so that there are no lumps as it thickens. Add cabbage to roux & cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from stove & stir in fresh dill & chives; set aside.
In a bowl, combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Form into 28 balls & place on foil lined baking sheet that has been lightly greased. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until JUST cooked. do not OVERBAKE as they will bake some more when they are on the pizza.
Line a 9 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press out pizza dough over the bottom & up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle a bit of the smoked cheese on the crust, then place a layer of half the cabbage mixture & lightly drizzle with a small amount of tomato soup (sauce). Repeat again with cheese, cabbage & sauce. Roll cooked meatballs in remaining tomato sauce. Place meatballs, in rows on top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden. Garnish with fresh dill, slice & serve.
Squash is one of those quintessential autumn foods that we have come to recognize. Even though it is considered a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the same species as all summer squashes including zucchini and yellow crookneck squash. The main difference between the classifications is that summer squashes have soft skins and tender seeds and are fairly perishable, while the winter types have hard shells, fully formed seeds and are very suited to long storage.
For all their many splendored shapes and colors, squash is not something most of us crave, although they are an integral part of the cuisine in scattered points of the globe, such as South and Central America, the West Indies, India and Japan.
The acorn squash is similar in flavor to the butternut squash yet has a bit of a nutty taste to it as well. Resembling its name in shape, the acorn squash usually weigh between 1-2 pounds and generally grow between four and seven inches long.
Roasting them partially before stuffing makes the squash a lot more tender and easier to eat. I am always aware of the concept of ‘seasonal eating’. I was born in September, so I figure its totally natural to love fall food (& colors) such as squash, pumpkin, apples and cranberries.
The large cavity of acorn squash just begs to be filled. This recipe makes good use of all your thanksgiving ‘leftovers’, creating a whole new meal at the same time.
Turkey & Stuffing Stuffed Squash
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the squash in half & remove the seeds. Brush the flesh with olive oil & sprinkle with a little salt. Put the squash, cut side down onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes.
In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil, onion; sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Allow the onion soften for about 3 minutes then add the minced garlic. Stir in the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, & broth; mix well to combine.
Remove squash from oven & carefully fill each half with the filling. Lay a piece of foil over the squash and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.
Serve with extra cranberry sauce if desired.
- This is such a great way to use up that holiday turkey & stuffing in a whole new meal idea.