Tag Archives: wild

Farro “Risotto” with Broad Beans, Wild Asparagus and Poached Egg

18 Jan

Farro Risotto with Poached Egg

Farro is barley from spelt rather than wheat. This is whole Farro (or spelt).  You can also buy it pearled or semi-pearled apparently but I haven’t found it here yet. Pearling removes some of the outer husks, this means it cooks more quickly but you will also be missing out on some of the fibrey wholeness.

Farro

I bought half a kilo of broad beans at the market this weekend because they screamed “Spring” at me from behind a pile of cabbages and cauliflowers. I love cabbage and cauliflower but it’s nice when new things start to appear.

Broad Beans

I also bought a bunch of wild asparagus, trigueros in Spanish. It is a very fine type of asparagus that grows wild in fields and at the side of the road underneath spiky bushes (very clever). There are sometimes rather scruffy looking men selling big bunches of it at roundabouts at this time of year.  They are probably so scruffy because they have been scrabbling around underneath spiky bushes looking for the asparagus. They are the epitome of “being dragged through a hedge backwards.”

Farro Asparagus Risotto

Revueltos de Esparragos Trigurerosis a classic Spanish dish where the wild asparagus is sautéed in pan until just tender then you add some beaten eggs and cook it all together. Scrambled eggs with asparagus basically. This is what inspired me to top this risotto with a poached egg. It’s lovely because if your egg is perfectly runny when you stick your knife in it the yolk runs into the risotto giving it a rich creaminess that works really well in this dish.

 The flavour or the trigueros is slightly more bitter than the thicker asparagus and you still have to trim off quite a lot of the woody ends or the twiggy bits get stuck in your teeth I found, not attractive.

Broad Bean Farro Risotto

I cooked the farro using the risotto method, adding a ladleful of warm stock, waiting for it to be absorbed, then adding another ladleful and so on. It took a long time to cook, about 40 minutes in total I think. If you are using whole spelt/farro like me then I would probably suggest that you cook it according to the instructions on the packet (mine didn’t have any). Cooking it normally, in water or stock, will probably shorten the cooking time, you still want it to be nutty and have some bite so don’t overdo it.

You can then add your broad beans, asparagus etc at the end of cooking and heat it all up together. If you are using normal asparagus you will need to blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes before adding it to the risotto at the end.

Farro Risotto with Asparagus

Farro Risotto with Broad Beans, Asparagus & Poached Egg

Serves 3, vegetarian

  • 300 g Farro (spelt barley) I used whole but pearled or semi-pearled cook quicker
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 30 g ( a handful) of grated manchego/parmesan, plus shaved to garnish
  • 500 g broad beans still in their pod chambers (as in the picture above)
  • 1 bunch of wild (or not) asparagus, woody ends trimmed off, cut into 1- 2 inch pieces
  • 100 g frozen peas, left to defrost
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • about 15 basil leaves
  • toasted pine nuts
  • 1 egg per person
  • white vinegar

Remove the broad beans from their chambers, then put them in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, rinse under the cold tap, then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale jade cases. Discard the cases. If using normal asparagus cook this in boiling, salted  water for about 3 minutes until just tender, drain and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking, set aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and chilli flakes and cook for another 2 minutes.

At this point you can either:

1) Add in the uncooked farro, stirring to coat for a minute. Heat the veg stock in a small pan until hot but not boiling. Add two ladles of the hot stock to the farro and cook until absorbed then add another two ladles of stock, repeating until the farro is tender but still with a nutty bite. If you need more liquid add some boiling water from the kettle. Season with salt & black pepper.

Or…

2) Add the uncooked farro and the veg stock, bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered until the farro is cooked, tender but still with a nutty bite. Season with salt & black pepper.

Then, when ready to serve stir the peas, broad beans and chopped asparagus into the farro stirring to heat through for a few minutes until cooked. Then stir in the cheese and most of the fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning

For the poached eggs:

Meanwhile, using a pan big enough to hold all the eggs, fill it 2/3 full with water and bring to the boil. Crack the eggs into separate teacups or ramekins.

When the water is boiling, squeeze in about a teaspoon of vinegar and some salt. Remove the pan from the heat, stir it with a wooden spoon very fast to create a little whirlpool then, quickly but gently, slide the eggs into the water, one at a time. Put on a lid and leave for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes.

When the white is cooked, carefully lift the eggs out, one at a time with a slotted spoon onto a double sheet of kitchen paper to drain, cover the tops with another sheet of kitchen paper.

Serve the farro “risotto” in warmed bowls and carefully use the paper and spoon to move the poached egg on top of the farro. Season the egg with a little salt & black pepper and garnish the dish with some shaved manchego/parmesan, the rest of the herbs and the toasted pine nuts.

Farro Risotto with a Poached Egg

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!!

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“Wild” Mushroom, Shallot and Goat’s Cheese Tarts

13 Jan

The inspiration for this dish came from the amazing variety of wild mushrooms we saw growing in the forest where we walk the dog.

Some of them look like leather………

There’s curly ones….

And purple ones…!

I still have absolutely no idea which ones you can eat and which ones are poisonous but I’d say the purple ones are off limits. They seem to like it on damp, dark, mulchy bark and rotting leaves. So does Rufus…

I was too scared to pick any but it got me craving earthy garlic mushrooms and melting cheese. Nigel Slater is always good for earthy, delicious comfort food and he didn’t let me down. This recipe is a mixture of a couple of his recipes. He makes a big rectangular tart from a sheet of puff pastry. I made individual ones because I had some offcuts of pastry left I had to use up, and I don’t like sharing!

 

Mushroom, Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarts

serves 2, vegetarian, adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • about 300 gr mushrooms, try to get a mixture of different types
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 shallots, quartered & peeled 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  •  about 2o – 30 gr butter
  • 100 gr goat’s cheese, sliced into 1/2 cm coins you could use Brie or Tallegio
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary/ thyme leaves, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt & black pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium low heat and cook the shallots slowly for about 20 minutes until they are softened and caramelized. Meanwhile 1/2 or quarter the mushrooms if large and put them in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice,garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt & pepper and mix well.

When the onions are done remove them from the pan, add a bit more butter and throw in the mushrooms and garlic mix. Pre heat oven to 220 degrees. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until tender and slightly browned. Meanwhile roll out your pastry to about 2 mm thick. If you are keeping it as a rectangle score a border around the edge of the pastry about 2 cm wide and prick all over the centre inside the border with a fork. If not cut two circles (I used side plates) from your pastry and score a 2cm border round the edge & prick the base with a fork.

Put the pastry circles/rectangle on a lined baking sheet and scatter over the shallots and mushrooms, don’t go into the border. Break up the goat’s cheese and stick it in amongst the mushrooms & shallots, sprinkle with a bit more rosemary. Brush the borders with some of the butter from the mushroom pan drizzle over any remaining butter.

 Cook in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed & golden.

Eat with something green, like broccoli, if you think it needs something else. If not, just eat it on it’s own, in slices with your hands like a Mushroom “Puff” Pizza….

    Enjoy!!

Wild Fig and Mandarin Muffins

13 Nov

Tomorrow morning we are going to help pick olives at a friends finca and Margarita, the hostess, is making lunch for everyone, so I thought I would make something sweet to keep the sugar levels up mid morning. We picked some figs yesterday on our walk and the restaurant has orange and mandarin trees in the garden so that was the inspiration. I’ve made orange & cranberry muffins before so it was just a matter of replacing the cranberries with figs…

Wild Fig & Mandarin. Sounds like a Jo Malone fragrance doesn’t it, and if it isn’t it should be. They smell really good..

Wild Fig & Mandarin Muffins Recipe

Makes about 10 vegetarian

  • 200 gr self raising flour (I used wholemeal)
  • 125 gr caster sugar
  • 100 gr brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large mandarins
  • 200 gr fresh figs roughly chopped
  • 250 ml greek yoghurt
  • 50 gr butter, softened
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl then stir in the sugars and cinnamon. Grate the zest of the mandarins into another bowl then beat in the greek yoghurt, butter and egg until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and fold in gently. Peel the mandarins, remove as much of the white pith as you have the patience for, then cut the segments in half longways. Add the figs and mandarin segments to the mixture and fold in gently using as few strokes as possible. Do not over beat, the mix should be slightly streaky. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with 10 paper muffin cases and spoon the mixture into the cases to about 3/4 full. Bake for 35 minutes until golden and firm.

Eat warm, straight from the oven, or if you can wait for them to cool, make a mandarin icing glaze to drizzle over them. This increases the mandarin flavour and makes them even more moist and scrumptious….

Orange Icing Glaze Recipe

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • about 3 or 4 tsp freshly squeezed mandarin juice

Put the icing sugar in a bowl and slowly whisk in the mandarin juice a teaspoon at a time until you have a thick drizzling consistency. When the muffins have cooled completely take a teaspoon of the icing, hold it over the muffin and drizzle it artistically over the top. Leave it to soak in a bit if you can wait, if not just enjoy straight away with the icing all over your fingers..

Perfect for afternoon tea or a mid morning snack, to keep you going until lunch, maybe!………

While Walking in the Forest Today….

28 Oct

I decided to take Rufus on a different walk today. From our roof terrace you can see the pine forests on the mountain. The beautiful bright green trees seem to invite you in. So we went ….

The Washer Up on the roof. When he is not washing up he paints things. Last year we had so much rain that the whole house leaked so he is trying to seal & paint everyting so we don’t get any leaks or damp this year. Last year the damp got into our wardrobe and green mould started growing on my shoes! This year I’m not taking any chances I have taken a little tip from my mother and put all my shoes in see-through plastic shoe boxes. They won’t get damp again and also I can see all my shoes, some of which I have never worn, its fantastic!!

It it wrong that this makes me happy? That’s just the high heels by the way the flat shoes are still in their cardboard boxes. These get special treatment….

Anyway back to the walking, its a bit of a steep climb to get up there but the view and the smell of pine when you do, brings your breathing back to normal!

I just love the contrast of the trees. Seen from above they are green, alive, soft & duvet like, then from underneath they are silvery grey, dry and bare.

This is the view down one of the firebreaks between the trees, towards the town with beeehives in the middle. There is strange mixture of the noises of  bees buzzing and the electric pylon crackling…

I love this picture of Rufus looking very regal on a carpet of yellow flowers……..

It is really difficult to get your dog to stay still for a nice photo together. We both have scrunched faces..

He won’t look at the camera..

Usually when I am walking I get inspiration from what I see growing. Recipes suggest themselves to me. Today we saw lots of wild mushrooms growing in the forest. They really are amazing things to look at..

Don’t worry I’m not going to cook with these as I have absolutely no idea what they are, they look great though..

I Love Mushrooms…

A Heart Shaped Mushroom!

The idea for a Wild Mushroom & Goat’s Cheese Lasagne is forming in my brain. Must be the stinky goat shack….

I am thinking of homemade wholemeal lasgane layered with wild mushrooms cooked with onion, thyme & parsley and a goats cheese bechamel sauce. Its a shame I can’t work the honey from the beehives in there as well. Or maybe I can..

See tomorrow’s post for the finished recipe …

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