Sunday, October 21, 2012

farro with mushrooms and greens

I was feeling a bit fragile yesterday and not for the usual reasons. It's been a crazy week, busy at work and lots of running around at home and I'm still not used to the dark mornings and evenings. So I wanted comfort food. But not my usual cheesy pasta. I did flirt with the idea of mushrooms and polenta prompted by this post over at danatreat but in the end I was wooed by a picture and recipe from this month's issue of Whole Living. I had farro in my cupboard, a bag I bought at an Italian grocery store a while back, and mushrooms and greens in the fridge. I sauted the mushrooms in butter rather than in the oil called for in the recipe. Here is how I made it.

Farro with mushrooms and Greens (adapted from Whole Living Magazine)
1 cup farro
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp oil
1/4 c dry white wine
3 c vegetable stock
1 tsp dried sage
12 oz sliced mushrooms (I used cremini and button)
2 tbsp butter
2 rashers bacon, cooked and diced
1 bunch greens (I used arugula)
grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, over medium high heat. When hot, add the shallot and saute for a few minutes until tender. Add the farro and stir, until coated with the oil and toasted, for about a minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine is reduced by half. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is tender.

Meanwhile in another pan, heat the butter until melted and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and are brown. Stir in the cooked bacon

and the greens. Stir until the greens are wilted. Add in the cheese. Stir in the farro and serve. Serves 3 as a main dish.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I can no longer avoid it - fall has arrived. Our long stretch of sunny days has come to an end and as I type this, rain is pattering against the roof and windows. The boy is wearing his wet weather layers for soccer this morning. I am wearing these

on my feet so I don't freeze (a gift from my sister-in-law a few Christmas's ago - they are lovely and toasty and slouchy and I love them, despite them making my feet look like they belong on Oscar the grouch or a very large smurf). I've said a tearful adieu to my sandals and am back to wearing closed toe shoes and today will hunt out the wellies. In the evenings, I huddle under a blanket while knitting if I get a few minutes to perch on the sofa.

I keep waiting for the September craziness to settle down, as as the weeks (gah) go by, I realize my schedule is just busy. I've been waiting 6 years for my husband to give up his second job so I could commit to a few things I felt unable to when I was primary carer for our child on the nights and weekend days when he was working his second job. My husband retired from that job at the end of the summer. But as I've been racing around, I discovered that I'd already moved on from what I'd been hoping to do and already filled those "empty" spots with other things that are a priority now - running and volunteering at my son's before and after school club. And realizing that what everyone had said about having school age children, was coming to pass in my own life. That as your children grow up, you become busier with their stuff and their friends (whose parents become great friends of yours) and their school.

So here it is, almost mid-October with Hallowe'en looming with trick or treating and pumpkins to sort out and then before I can catch my breath, it will be the ramp up to Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love these things but sometimes, I wish I could dial it back and not expect so much of myself. I have a growing pile of projects that confront me as I walk around our house - the chair cover that is waiting to be sewn, fabric for 2 dresses I want to make myself, a Hallowe'en costume for the boy that I want to sew, wool for Christmas presents I want to knit, and piles of cookbooks

 full of recipes I want to make. And then this week, I took a cheese making class and now I want to make cream cheese and mozarella and creme fraiche and camenbert and blue cheese.

So this morning, I made myself a cup of tea and hunkered down with this lovely

 - My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. A lovely, lovely book which speaks to me on so many levels that someday I will talk about. But now I need to get on with my day, soccer in the rain, grocery shopping and making a pot of turkey chili with the beans that are currently simmering away on the stove. Happy Fall!

Monday, October 8, 2012

baked rice casserole

The inspiration for this dish came from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day Cookbook. I love the picture of the dish but didn't have all the ingredients listed so made it my own way. It was perfect for a Saturday night, as the nights get darker and colder but the days are still bright and sunny. It was also a great dish for my new kitchen addition

 - a lovely blue Le Crueset dutch oven that I just love (a lovely present!).

Baked Rice Casserole (inspired by Super Natural Every Day)

3 c cooked brown rice/wild rice blend (I used Lunenburg)
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, sliced
6-8 buttons mushrooms. sliced
1 cooked chicken pesto sausage, diced
1 bunch spinach, washed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp flour
1 c milk
1/2 c sour cream
1 c smoked gouda, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Cook the rice.

In a separate saucepan, add the butter and melt over medium high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and saute until the onion is soft and the mushrooms are a bit browned. Add the garlic, sausage, spinach and mustard and stir to blend. Once the spinach has wilted a bit, add the flour and then the milk and sour cream. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until blended. Add the rice and blend. Pour into a greased casserole, sprinkle a bit of cheese over the top and bake for 30-45 minutes or until the edges get a bit browned.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

market sunday

Another month, another market competition. This month it was best pumpkin or pecan pie. Two years ago I entered my pumpkin pie (I didn't win) - I was beaten by a traditional pie and a beautiful raw food, no sugar, no wheat, no dairy pumpkin mousse dessert. I hadn't made up my mind what to make for today's competition until I saw this recipe over at eatliverun. Last night I measured out the pecans, sugar, kahlua and butter that make up the crust and pressed the crumbs into a pie plate and put it in the freezer. While that was setting up, I melted the chocolate, added coffee and then kahlua and vanilla, beat up the whipped cream and then folded it all together. I did have a bit of a panic while folding the chocolate into the cream as my mixture didn't look nearly as dark as the pictures with the recipe. In the end I poured the chocolate mixture into the shell and put it all in the fridge.

my sleeve bears chocolate marks - I get into my baking!
There was quite a bit of mousse left over, which my husband sampled freely this morning. I crumbled some Cadbury flake over the top of the pie before taking it down for the competition. After all that it was slightly anticlimactic to be the only entry in the competition but people who tasted it seemed to enjoy it. I did. And for my efforts I won this lovely bunch of market goodies.

No Bake Chocolate Kahlua Pecan Pie (from eatliverun)

for crust
2 cups finely chopped, toasted pecans
5 tbsp brown sugar, packed
5 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp Kahlua
pinch of salt
for filling
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp instant coffee
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp kahlua
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
shaved dark chocolate and whipped cream for serving

To make the crust, combine the finely chopped pecans, brown sugar, salt, melted butter and kahlua in a bowl. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and then press down in a greased 9″ pie dish. Place in the freezer for 1 hour to harden.

To make the filling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Add the coffee once the chocolate has melted, stirring well to combine. Keep the chocolate pot over the double boiler, on low heat and add the eggs, one by one. Keep whisking the eggs and chocolate continuously over low heat in the double boiler for ten minutes. The mixture should thicken slightly.
After about ten minutes of mixing, take the pot off the heat completely and add the kahlua and vanilla extract. Stir well.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Slowly drizzle the chocolate mixture into the cream, while folding, gently with a rubber spatula.
Pour the mousse into the frozen crust and place in the fridge for four hours or overnight. Serve with chocolate shavings (peeled chocolate or flaked chocolate) and whipped cream.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

buttermilk waffles

For once it felt like I had a bit of breathing space this morning. September seems to have whizzed by in a flurry of forms, special events, meetings and stuff - new practises, therapy appointments, etc. I added running to the mix for me and this year, soccer for the boy means practise once a week as well as games so it's been a bit to settle into. Soccer was cancelled for the weekend, due to our holiday Monday, so after a brief spell of knitting and tea in the quiet morning (as the men were sleeping in), I took it into my head to make waffles.

Now, I've never really been a waffle fan. I've preferred pancakes to waffles and if given the choice I would always go with eggs rather than either pancakes or waffles. It is entirely down to Tara at tea and cookies that I even have a waffle iron, as she has been posting the most delicious and delectable waffle recipes all year until I finally broke down and bought one a few weeks ago. My husband always eats waffles when we are away in Oregon, every breakfast he eats his weight in waffles with berry sauce. So I made waffles. For the recipe, I went with a simple buttermilk waffle recipe from my American Test Kitchen Cookbook. Flour, salt, baking soda, butter, eggs and buttermilk (I made it using milk and 2 tbsp lemon juice) and waffle batter was ready. Ok - so you have to melt the butter, separate the eggs and beat up the egg whites until they are fluffy but it was really simple.

The recipe even said how long to cook the waffles, 3 1/2 minutes. And the waffles were lovely.

As we have a fall nip in the air in the mornings and evenings, I decided to serve the waffles with carmelized apples - 3 apples, butter, a dash of cinnamon and a spoon of brown sugar all heated together until soft and lovely.

And I have enough waffles left over to have them for breakfast tomorrow, with carmelized pears I think. Maybe I am a waffle person after all!