Wholesome Delights

by | in Recipes

Winter, in my mind, always invokes hearty soups, meats, chilies and other delicious dishes that permeate the house with their wonderful aromas.

Barley Soup with Miso
10 servings

This soup differs from the traditional mushroom barley soup with the addition of miso as a flavoring.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 cup medium pearl barley
8 cups vegetable stock
1 pound cultivated white mushrooms
1 bunch dill
2 tablespoons miso (mellow white or barley), approximately
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, and sauté onions, carrots and celery for a minute. Add barley and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, and cook the soup, covered, for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, trim the mushroom stems. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel, and chop coarsely. Add to the soup along with most of the dill, leaving some for garnish.
Cook for another 15 minutes, or until barley is tender. Stir in miso, and adjust seasoning. Remove the dill from the soup, and discard. Serve the soup garnished with snipped dill.

Note:
You can chop all the vegetables in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Quarter the vegetables before placing them in the food processor, and chop each separately. Pulse to coarse consistency. Put the vegetables in the food processor in batches.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms*
4 servings

A great source of minerals and vitamins, mushrooms make this recipe a lovely luncheon dish. The mushrooms can be stuffed in advance and served hot or at room temperature.

1/3 cup brown rice
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounces raw spinach
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 poblano chiles
4 jumbo portobello mushrooms, stemmed (about 6 ounces each)
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, very coarsely chopped
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook rice with 1/2 cup water until tender (about 30 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil, and sauté spinach until just wilted. Finely chop, and add to rice. In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil, and sauté onion until softened; add to rice.
Preheat broiler. Halve chile peppers, core and seed. Line a broiler pan with foil. Place peppers skin side up on it, and broil close to the heat source, turning until blackened, 3-4 minutes. Wrap in foil and let cool. Peel, chop finely, and add to rice.
Place mushrooms on another piece of foil, brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Broil close to the heat source, stem side down, for 4 minutes. Turn over, and set aside.
Stir in cilantro and cheese to rice mixture, and season well with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350°. Spoon the rice mixture on top of the mushrooms, mounding it slightly. Place the mushrooms on a baking dish, and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

*Please note that unlike the other recipes presented here, this dish is dairy.

Pot Roast
12 servings
A convenient dish for large groups or for buffets, this dish should be made one day in advance so that it can be neatly sliced.

5 pounds first cut brisket of beef, trimmed of all fat
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup brandy
4 leeks
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 ounce beef flavored stock cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons coarse grained mustard
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
6 quarters sun-dried tomatoes, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325°. In a heavy saucepan (with a lid) that can hold the meat, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Add the meat to the oil and brown on both sides. Pour the brandy over the meat, and season with salt and pepper. Remove and set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan.
Cut off the bottoms and all but 1 inch of the green parts of the leeks, and discard. Thinly slice the trimmed leeks, place in a sieve, and rinse well under cold running water.
Add the leeks to the saucepan along with the garlic, and sauté for a minute. Add the stock, 2 1/2 tablespoons of both types of mustard, sun-dried tomatoes and the meat. Bring to a boil, cover the pan with a sheet of heavy foil and the lid. Place in the oven, and braise for 1 hour. Turn over, and continue cooking for another hour or until the meat is tender. Cool, and refrigerate the meat overnight.
Place the meat on a carving board, and slice into 1/4-inch slices, or thinner if you like, against the grain. You may have to rotate the meat in order not to lose the grain, or cut it in half. Season the sauce to taste, and return the meat to the sauce to heat it gently.

Note:
The meat will shrink considerably during the cooking process.

Red Cabbage with Capers
6 servings

Cabbage is a colorful and tasty vegetable, and it is available all year round. During the summer, I like to serve this dish as a salad; during the winter as a side dish to poultry or meat.

1 small red cabbage, about 1 1/2 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers
2 teaspoons lemon juice, approximately
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Quarter the cabbage, and discard tough, outer leaves. Shred the quarters finely, discarding the core.
Heat olive oil in a wok or skillet with a cover. Add the cabbage and shallots. Cook over medium heat, covered, until the cabbage is al dente, firm to the bite. Add the capers, and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes
6 cupcakes

Attractive, tasty and easy to prepare, this dessert can be prepared earlier in the day and warmed at serving time. These cupcakes can also be frozen and popped into the oven without defrosting. I prefer to serve this dessert with fruit (such as raspberries, mangos or kiwis) or with chocolate or coconut sorbet.

3 ounces imported semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted, cooled

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease and flour (Wondra flour works very well) six 4-ounce ramekins (small dishes used for baking or cooking), either oval or round. Invert the ramekins, and tap to shake out excess flour.
Place the chocolate and margarine in the top part of a double boiler, cover, and set over simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Remove the top part of the double boiler, and whisk in the sugar gradually. Whisk in 1 egg at a time, than add the remaining ingredients, whisking all the time.
Spoon the batter evenly among the ramekins, and place the ramekins on a cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 12-13 minutes, or until the top feels lightly set to the touch. The inside will still be moist.
Let rest for 1-2 minutes only, then unmold onto plates, and serve warm. If you are not serving the dessert right away, unmold the cupcakes, and warm them in a preheated 200°-oven for 15-30 minutes before serving.

Note:
I toast the coconut in a toaster oven for about a minute, but watch it closely as it burns easily.

Correction:
In the summer 2006 issue, the servings for the Chickpea and Feta Salad should have read: 6 servings as an appetizer; 4 servings as a luncheon course. The servings for the Cannellini Bean Salad should have read: 6 servings as an appetizer; 4 servings as a luncheon course.

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