Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Battle Stations

Pearl barley is a great favourite of mine. Perhaps one of the cheapest grains, it can be added to chunky veggie soups to make them extra satisfying, used to make barley water, and as an alternative to rice. It can also be mixed with rice to make a version of risotto, but as it takes longer to cook than rice, either start off with that first, add rice later, OR soak the barley overnight before cooking.
This next recipe is very adaptable. If to be served to vegetarians, make the mixture then wrap this around fingers of cheese - this will melt as the rissoles are fried.
Barley Rissoles:
2 oz (50g) pearl barley, soaked overnight
half pint (300ml) stock or water
salt and pepper
1 onion, finely diced or grated
1 oz (25g) butter
1 oz (25g) ham or bacon, finely chopped (opt)
1 oz (25g) flour
chopped fresh parsley
egg and breadcrumbs
Drain the soaked barley then put into a pan with the stock or water and season to taste. Cover and simmer until the barley is quite soft (add more water if necessary). Drain well, reserving any liquid. Fry the onion in the butter until softened, then add the ham or bacon. Stir in the flour, and when this has been taken up, add the reserved liquid. Aim for a good thick sauce (if necessary add a little more water). Fold in the barley and parsley adding more seasoning as required.
Leave to cool, then chill for an hour. Shape the mixture into rissoles, dip each into beaten egg and then breadcrumbs (repeat the dipping if you want a really crisp crust), then fry in hot shallow oil until brown all over. They will be crispy on the outside and soft in the centre.
Serve hot with tomato or cheese sauce.

Although when making vegetable soup I just sling in a handful of dry pearl barley and let the soup simmer until the barley is done (about an hour), this recipe is based on the traditional minestrone soup, but made slightly differently. Again a recipe that can be experimented with. Use different vegetables, different herbs, Worcestershire instead of soy sauce, ketchup instead of tomato puree. More depth of flavour would come from using stock instead of water, also a little lean minced beef could also be added when sauteeing the vegetables and cooked on in the liquid for the remaining time.
Barley Soup:
2 onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 rib celery
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
cold water
1 oz (25g) butter
salt and pepper
sprig thyme
2 oz (50g) pearl barley, preferably pre-soaked
1 dessp tomato puree
1 tsp soy sauce
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the prepared vegetables, saute for a few minutes to soften slightly then cover with water (to an inch above). Add the herbs, soaked and drained barley, tomato puree, soy sauce, and seasoning to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are soft - this can take anything from half to tone and a half hours depending on the size of the vegetables and whether the barley has been soaked. Check every so often and add more boiling water as necessary.

Simple Linzertorte:
7 oz (200g) butter or margarine
7 oz (200g) caster sugar
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
pinch each salt and ground cloves
half tsp ground cinnamon
grated zest of 1 lemon
4 oz (100g) sweet biscuit crumbs
5 oz (150g) ground almonds
8 oz (225g) flour
8 oz (225g) raspberry jam
1 egg yolk, beaten
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. One at a time beat in the eggs and egg yolk with the salt, cloves, cinnamon and lemon zest. Mix together the biscuit crumbs and ground almonds and stir this into the mixture with the flour. Chill for half an hour.
Roll out two-thirds of the pastry and place in the base of a greased 10" springform tin, shaping it so that it comes up to nearly 1" at the sides. Spread the jam over the base and roll out the remaining pastry. Cut this into strips and arrange in lattice pattern over the jam. Brush with beaten egg yolk and bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 190C, 375F, gas 5. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.