Monday, April 22, 2013

Pine mushrooms, pasta and not much else

This is less a recipe and more a brag about where I've just been. After a slow and sumptuous long weekend in Victoria's North East Alpine/gourmet/Twin Peaks country, we arrived home with a few little morsels of local produce. And the pick of the litter? Pine mushrooms. Big, orange and beefy. I get very excited when I can get these. It means we're on the wintery side of Autumn. It means I'm shopping somewhere far more rewarding than the local shithouse supermarkets. It means dinner is going to be delicious.

When I can get pine mushrooms, I prefer to do very little to them. In this case we also had beautiful handmade spinach pasta, and stunning Myrtleford butter with French herbs. And half a bottle of incredible Nebbiolo. Don't add that to the dish. Just drink it while you're cooking...

If you don't have handmade pasta and herbed butter you could add one or two of: garlic, blue cheese, truffle oil, parmesan, hazlenuts or just salt and pepper. But remember, less is more.

  • Pine mushrooms
  • Pasta
  • Herbed butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan
  • A dash of olive oil

Boil and salt your pasta water and add your pasta. Wash and slice the mushrooms. Then heat a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and throw in the mushrooms. 

Scoop a small spoonful of the butter and ogle it a little. Then add it to the mushrooms. Season with a little salt and a liberal amount of pepper. 

Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the frying pan and plop in a second spoon of butter. Toss through and serve with a small garnish of parmesan. Drink wine throughout.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Farro, Barley, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

This salad has several features that are likely to recur in the next little while: it can be fed to a seven month old baby (more or less) and it can be prepared in advance (eg while said baby has his afternoon nap). It is also crammed full of nutritious ingredients and is surprisingly more-ish. You could use any grains you have to hand to make it. The star ingredient is the pomegranate molasses. Without this, it would be pretty dull. With it, it's sour and tangy and sensational.

  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • pearl barley (I used half a cup)
  • farro (I used a cup and a half)
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • pomegranate molasses (a big long pour - about half a cup)
  • 1 pomegranate
  • about 1 cup almonds (you could use any nut or pepitas)
  • 4 1/2 cups boiling water

Finely chop the onion and garlic and sautee in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the fennel and cumin seeds and fry in the oil until fragrant. Add the barley and toss through the oil, then add boiling water (3:1 water to barley)*. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Then add the farro and more hot water (2:1 water to farro). Simmer for about 30 minutes or until almost all the liquid is absorped, stirring regularly to prevent burning. 

Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds and toast them in a dry pan.

Shred the spinach, rinse and stir through the grains**. Then add the pomegranate molasses and stir until the moisture is absorbed. Stir the nuts through, reserving a few for garnish. Cut the pomegranate in half and bang the seeds into the pot through your fingers, catching the white pith, again reserving some. 

Serve with the remaining almonds and pomegranate on top. Eat it with lemon baked chicken, or spicy fish, or simply on its own. 

*Here is an incredibly useful chart I stumbled upon for cooking times for various grains.

** If feeding to a baby, stop here. I took some out, then kept right on going.

So this happened...

Oh yeah, and I wrote a thesis (albeit just a little one).

And there has been much cooking - almost all of it harried and utilitarian and much of it done by my partner while I've sat on a couch with a hungry baby attached. So here we are, eight months since my last post. 

I went for a run this morning. I am so so close to being able to do up my skinny jeans.

I think my hiatus is just about over...