Mushroom and Barley Soup

bowl of vegetable soup with baguette on a cutting board

Perfect for a Fall day, this soup is warming and hearty, but not heavy. Served with a beautiful baguette from Beyond Bread, this made a delicious dinner for two with plenty of leftovers.

You can make this as a vegan soup, or use chicken or beef broth. The soup consists of some veggies, both dried and fresh mushrooms, a splash of sherry, tomato paste, and broth. A good quality broth is important here, so homemade or a better quality like Pacific would make a tasty soup.

The recipe comes from the Yvette van Boven’s ‘Home Made Winter’ cookbook. Her recipe calls for spelt, but gives the option of barley, which I used because that was what I had in my cupboard. I added a few extra carrots, less oil, and a dab of butter at the end. I used chicken broth because I had it on hand, but look forward to trying it with mushroom broth. I changed the order of when to add the salt and pepper, adding it at the end so it doesn’t get over-salted, and so the salt doesn’t make the veggies mushy. As well, adding pepper too soon can make it the soup taste bitter. My scale is broken right now, so I guessed that 25 grams of dried mushrooms is about 1/2 cup, and that tasted great. For the fresh mushrooms I used a combination of Button and Cremini, the white and brown ones you find easily in the grocery store. If you substitute for more interesting mushrooms, please let me know in the comments below what you used and how you enjoyed it!

What you need:

  • 25 grams dried mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 500 grams (about 1 lb) fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 100 grams (about 1/2 cup) barley or spelt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • a splash or two of dry sherry
  • 1 litre (4 cups) mushroom, vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon butter (optional)

What you do:

  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour hot or boiling water over them, just enough to cover. Let that sit for about 20 minutes while you get started with chopping.
  2. Once the onions, carrots and celery have been chopped, heat the olive oil on medium heat, in a large pot. Sauté the vegetables until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Stir in the garlic, then add the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they begin to release their juices, about 10 minutes.
  4. Raise the heat and stir in the barley or spelt, allowing it to absorb the mushroom juices.
  5. Add the mushroom soaking water and the tomato paste, cooking until you smell a sweet aroma, and then add the splash of sherry.
  6. Add the broth and the soaked mushrooms (I chopped mine first), then bring it to a simmer. Leave it simmering on low heat until the barley/spelt is cooked to an al dente texture. I checked mine after 30 minutes and it was almost done.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, and add a dab of butter if you wish.
  8. Serve with some gorgeous bread and enjoy!

Rhubarb Liqueur

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My community garden plot is bursting with rhubarb, so I’ve harvested it and am looking for new ways to use it. I came across this recipe for a rhubarb liqueur, so I thought I’d give it a try. Last year’s blackberry liqueur was a big hit at my 50th birthday party (what? in my soul I’m 34), so I thought maybe this could be the next big hit.

I halved the recipe to make just one jar of liqueur. The only other thing I changed was to make a slit down each rhubarb stalk, because I thought that would help the rhubarby-ness meld with the vodka-ness.

This is the first time I’ve posted a recipe before tasting the end result and getting a thumbs up from at least one other person. But . . .  it takes six weeks to taste the results of this one, so I thought I’d just go ahead and post it now during rhubarb season in case anyone wants to try it out alongside me. And in six weeks or so I’ll post the results, hopefully with a new cocktail recipe. Please let me know if you try it – I’d love to hear how it works out for you!

You might notice that the rhubarb in my picture isn’t particularly red – if you have rhubarb that is redder, is is preferable for this recipe. The liqueur will take on a pretty red colour that way. So mine might not look as pretty, but I’m sure it will be super tasty!

What you need:

  • 1 lb rhubarb
  • 5cm long chunk of fresh ginger
  • the peels of two oranges
  • 750mL vodka (I used Stolichnaya)
  • (to be added in in 6 weeks) – simple syrup: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water

What you do:

  1. Cut the rhubarb stalks into lengths that will fit in a 1 litre canning jar. Place the rhubarb in the jar.
  2. Cut the ginger into smaller pieces and add them to the jar.
  3. Use a vegetable peeler to cut the peels off the oranges, using only the outer orange part. Add these to the jar.
  4. Add as much vodka as you can fit in the jar, completely covering the rhubarb. My recipe used pretty much the whole bottle.
  5. Screw the lid onto the jar, then store it in a cool dark place for about six weeks. Every few days give the jar a shake, turning it upside down.
  6. After the six weeks are up, make a simple syrup. Just heat the water and sugar to boiling, and let it cool before using.
  7. Strain the contents of the jar through cheesecloth, returning the liquid to the jar. 
  8. Add simple syrup to taste. Remember, you can always add more simple syrup later on if you find it is not sweet enough.
  9. Bottle the liqueur into smaller decorative bottles, or just use some canning jars for this.
  10. Use in cocktails, or just add it to some sparkling water.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

This flame-roasted tomato salsa is excellent any time of year, even in the cooler seasons when it is challenging to access super tasty tomatoes. It’s really easy to whip up, but you do need to plan ahead so that you will have some roasted garlic on hand. I’ve started roasting a bunch of garlic bulbs and freezing them so I can make this awesome salsa anytime I want. I have served it with tortilla chips, but my favourite way to eat it is on beans and rice.

Recently I’ve been buying a lot of the Las Margaritas fresh salsa – it is just so good! But I can only find it in one store, and it is often sold out. So the difficulty finding it, combined with the nearly $8.00 price tag, made me start looking for a way to make it at home.

And . . . I found it! In the Thug Kitchen Cookbook! Yay!

I only made one change to the recipe, and it was a tiny one. I used sweet onions, and typically use them in all my recipes that call for onion because they don’t make me cry as much, plus I think they taste better. The most recent time I made this salsa I didn’t have any green onions, and it was still really good without them.

If you are looking for a fresh tomato salsa you can find one here, and this is a link to a creamy avocado salsa called gaucamolata. This roasted tomatillo salsa is also really flavourful.

What you need:

  • 1 can (398mL / 14.5 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-3 Serrano peppers, minced (depending on how much heat you like)
  • a whole head of roasted garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste

What you do:

  1. Chop the onion, green onions, cilantro and Serrano pepper.
  2. Put all the ingredients (except for the salt) in a blender, or use an immersion blender to whiz everything up. Leave it a little bit chunky.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

 

Avocado and Salsa Toast

Friends have been encouraging me to share some of my simple, go-to recipes. I often don’t think of them as a recipe, because it’s something I throw together based on what I happen to find in the fridge.

Today I had some leftover avocado, leftovers of a gorgeous fire-roasted tomato salsa (recipe to come soon!), and some sourdough bread. Although the rest of the continent seems to have eaten a lot of avocado toast, I had not until today!

The hardest part of this recipe is buying the perfectly ripe avocado.

I also made a sunny-side-up egg so I could dip the toast in the egg yolks – mmm good!

What you need:

  • a slice of bread – I used sourdough
  • half an avocado
  • your favourite salsa
  • hot sauce (optional)

What you do:

  1. Mash the avocado up with a fork. Add a bit of salsa and mix it in.
  2. Toast the bread. Top it with the avocado and hot sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

Mushroom Pâté (Instant Pot Version)

This week I bought an Instant Pot, so I’m now busy trying recipes to get a sense of how it works. I’ve tried out a few recipes, and I’m learning how to tweak them in ways that I enjoy. You can totally make this in a pot on your stove too!

This one is a delicious winner! It has a nice creamy texture and lovely flavours of mushroom, white wine, butter and olive oil. So nice on a piece of toasted bread or crostini! It satisfies those umami cravings. For me this was a part of a picnic spread of cheese, mushroom pate, bean salad, and some veggies.

I made a few changes to the original recipe: In my instructions I have clarified a few details that were not well-described in the Instant Pot Recipe Booklet, and some that were omitted. I used a combination of dried mushrooms instead of just porcini. I also cooked off some of the moisture after pressure cooking because it seemed to liquidy. I added pepper at the end instead of before cooking (I think cooked pepper tastes more butter), and I topped up the liquid in the dried mushrooms with white wine instead of water – yum! I transferred my mushroom mixture to a food processor instead of using an immersion blender because I wanted to make sure I had a really creamy paté; I’m sure the immersion blender does a nice job too – and who doesn’t love fewer dishes!!! I also used a high quality olive oil to add in the last stage. I might also drizzle some on the top in the future!

Next time I will add a sprig of rosemary to the pot before it cooks – doesn’t that sound delicious?

The recipe serves 4-6 people. Or two. If you are self-isolating or just selfish.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup dried mushrooms, rinsed
  • boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (use olive oil for vegan recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 500 grams (1 lb) cremini or white button mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (plus a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons good quality Parmesan cheese, finely grated (use vegan Parmesan for vegan recipe)

What you do:

  1. Place the dry mushrooms in a measuring cup. Pour boiling water over them until it reaches just over 3/4 cup. Push the mushrooms down, then put a tight lid or plastic wrap over the measuring cup.
  2. Slice the shallots and mushrooms.
  3. Add the olive oil and butter to the Instant Pot, then sauté the shallots for a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until they are golden brown (mine didn’t get golden, and it was awesome anyways).
  4. Pour the 1/4 cup wine in and allow to evaporate.
  5. Add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid, along with an extra splash of wine. Add the salt and bay leaf.
  6. Close and lock the lid, and then set the Pressure Cooker to 12 minutes. When the time is up, use the Quick Pressure Release.
  7. At this point I sautéd off a bit of the liquid – you can decide if you think this is necessary. Discard the bay leaf.
  8. Once slightly cooled, add the cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend until smooth.
  9. Enjoy on crostini or whatever form you choose!

Chili Lime Pepitas

chili lime pepitas - trustinkim.com

Here’s a tasty and simple way to spice up some pepitas/pumpkin seeds. It’s a nice little appetizer, or a snack with your favourite beverage. Vegan, gluten-free and all that!

It’s super simple:

  1. Squeeze some lime onto a bunch of pepitas in a baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle on some salt and Ancho chili powder, or any chili powder that you have on hand.
  3. Throw them in the oven at about 250F for 10-15 minutes, until they get a bit crispy. If you hear them popping you know it’s time to take them out. Just make sure you move them around in their baking dish once or twice through the process.
  4. Yum! Once they are cooled you can store them in an airtight jar for a few days – if they don’t get gobbled up right away!

Turkey Barley Soup

turkey barley soup - trustinkim.com

This soup made the perfect meal on a cold winter evening, and paired well with Savoury Cheddar Muffins.

As with most soups, the broth you use is so important to bring a fullness of flavour. I had some homemade chicken broth in the freezer, but turkey broth would also be perfect here. If you don’t have a homemade broth it might be wise to splash out a bit on a better quality broth like the one made by Pacific.

I bought some raw turkey breasts for this recipe, but left-over roast turkey or chicken would also be great.

What you need:

  • olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and then sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • 1-2 turkey breasts (or leftover turkey or chicken meat)
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of sage
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup pot barley
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Chop the veggies.
  2. Heat a small glug of olive oil in a large pot. Add the veggies and cook, stirring from time to time, until they soften a bit.
  3. Push the veggies to the sides of the pot (or remove them from the pot if you want) and place the turkey breasts in the pot. (Unless you are using leftover meat which you will add with the broth). Cook the turkey breasts for a minute or two on each side; it doesn’t need to cook through yet, as it will continue to cook when you add the broth.
  4. Add the bay leaf, sage, thyme, broth and barley. Bring to a light boil and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is cooked but not too soft.
  5. Remove the turkey breasts from the soup and shred them, using two forks or your hands. Put the turkey meat back in the pot.
  6. I like to keep the salt and pepper until the very last moment, as the flavours of the soup develop as it cooks, and you may over-season if you add it sooner. Also I think the salt makes the veggies a bit mushier. So add salt and pepper to taste just before serving.

Bruschetta

bruschetta - trustinkim.comTomatoes, freshly picked from the vine – is there a better taste of summer? Bruschetta is a tasty way to serve up some of these treasures from the garden, or the garden of a friend, or a Farmer’s market. Best made only with fresh summer tomatoes, but in a pinch, cherry tomatoes are often a best bet in winter.

I haven’t given amounts for this recipe because it’s easy to make, and you can alter amounts according to your taste and how much you want to make. Each tomato tastes a bit different, so the seasonings will depend on how much flavour is in our tomatoes.

What you need:

  • baguette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • the freshest tomatoes you can get
  • fresh basil
  • sweet onion
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

What you do:

  1. Slice and lightly toast the bread. You can toast it in the oven, toaster, or on the BBQ. The BBQ is a good option if it’s really hot and you don’t want to turn on your oven.
  2. Slice the garlic in half and rub it on the toasted bread. Set the bread aside.
  3. Mince a little bit of the onion, then chop the tomatoes and toss them into a bowl. Tear up or chop the basil and add it to the tomatoes.
  4. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes, along with a pinch of salt – give it a toss. Taste and add more of each of these ingredients as you see fit.
  5. Just before serving, top each slice of bread with tomatoes. Alternatively, you can leave the tomatoes in a bowl and people can top their own.

Mini Frittata

mini frittata - trustinkim.com

These mini frittata, baked in muffin tins, make the perfect quick breakfast. They can be made ahead and then heated up as needed. If you’ve got any picky eaters in your household they can add whatever they like to theirs, or keep it really plain.

I’ve made frittata before, like this yummy potato one. For this version I altered the cooking method and time, and changed the filling to bacon, roasted red pepper and Parmesan. As I mentioned, feel free to use any fillers you like, just making sure they are not too watery. Tomatoes should be deseeded and drained if you are using them.

For this batch I made a half dozen frittata because I was still experimenting. You can double the amount so you have lots in the freezer – basically one egg per muffin section. Just wait for them to cool completely before putting them in the freezer. I wrapped them in a bit of parchment paper before putting them into a zip-lock bag. If you’ve got a lot of people to feed you probably won’t need to freeze anything, just keep the leftovers in the fridge for up to a few days.

To reheat, just pop one in the microwave until it is heated through – all microwaves work differently, so I can’t specify a time. I like to use the defrost setting. Alternately, you could take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it and let it come to room temperature, then pop it into a frying pan for a few minutes. The texture of the reheated frittata is a little bit different than when it made fresh, but still really good. I think these also taste really good at room temperature.

What you need:

  • 6 eggs, preferably free-range
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 2-3 slices bacon, cooked
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped herbs of your choice – I used basil and oregano
  • salt and pepper

What you do:

  1. Grease the muffin tins well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C
  3. Fry the onion in a bit of olive oil or bacon fat until it is soft and just beginning to brown. Remove the onions from the heat.
  4. Pat the red pepper dry on a piece of paper towel, then chop it up.
  5. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat them with a fork.
  6. Add the onion, bacon, pepper, cheese, herbs, and some salt and pepper. Mix these ingredients in with the fork.
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared muffin tins – I used a ladle for this.
  8. To be safe I put a baking tray underneath the muffin tin in case it spilled over; it did not. Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. The eggs should not be runny on the top, so cook them for a few minutes longer if they are not done
  9. Cool for a few minutes before tipping them out of the muffin tin. They are delicious to eat right away!

Hummus Sandwich

hummus sandwich - trustinkim.com

I don’t often make meals that are as easy as this one, and when I do I usually don’t think of it as a recipe worth sharing. But this one is! It’s tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. Feel free to alter the ingredients as you see fit.

I don’t recommend this one as a make and take, since it would probably get soggy. But then, I’m a bit of a sandwich snob and I never like sandwiches that have been made ahead of time. 

What you need:

What you do:

  1. The first step is optional, but I think it makes the sandwich extra tasty: slice the ciabatta in half, then heat a frying pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, then place the bread cut-side down to grill it a little. Less than a minute is probably good.
  2. Add hummus to the bottom slice of the bun, and add whatever else you are putting on it (you know how to make a sandwich.) Salt and pepper the tomatoes a little.
  3. Put the top on and eat right away!