Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wholesome Fun With Whole Grains

Admittedly, mistakes were made last Friday. So perhaps to atone for my sins, I spent the rest of the weekend as wholesome as can be, holding babies, lot’s of family time, and of course, cooking. The BF and I spent Saturday in Santa Cruz feeling far worse than we had intended. Needless to say, when we woke up on Sunday we knew we had some amends to make, the first to our disgruntled bods, who were still, yes still, angry about the gin and vodka and gummi bears. We needed something that would heal our weary souls.

Soup, we determined immediately. The BF was outvoted two to one (when I really want something I count as two). It just so happened that I had been wanting to try the Mushroom Barley soup from November’s Food & Wine.

We had a mission, and with all missions, there are obstacles, namely in our case, the grocery store. As much as The BF and I would like be those kind of food people who can whip up something from nothing or cook based on ingredients just “lying around,” it’s not our forte. Unless it’s a sandwich, but that’s a different story altogether. Instead, we must drag our day two hangovers to the grocery store on a Sunday evening , at just about the time when every other person in Marin County is doing the same (sans hangover, I assume). It was foiled from the beginning.

We hit Whole Foods first; we wanted quality meat and mushrooms. My bad mood immediately sets in from crowds and it’s only exaggerated by the types of people you find at Whole Foods in San Rafael (see previous post on snobbery). And then: no pearled barley. Can you imagine? All those effin bins filled with granola, nuts, rice, grains, basically everything you could ever think of, but no pearled barley. I got that panicked, glazed look in my eyes and rushed to find The BF at the butcher counter. The headache was pulsing

“There’s no pearled barley.” I was deranged; I know because my voice hit those high octaves.

“Calm down, just calm down.” I took deep breaths as he followed me back to the dry good aisle, so that he could confirm that there really was no pearled barley.

Forty-five minutes later, after considering using hulled barley for close to ten minutes, we were at grocery store numero dos, United Market, ready to purchase pearled barley and the extra beef broth we forgot (go figure). While The BF ran in—I just couldn’t bear it—I called my mom, who in her endless quest to make sure I know just how overly indulged I act, reminded me that they always have pearled barley at Safeway. Thanks mom, noted.

At home, finally, we began to cook, and though I thought I’d at least have a couple of hours to whine about how much I hate crowded grocery stores while the soup cooked, it turned out I had less than an hour. Hence, this post; I just gotta get it out somewhere, right?

Based on just how damn delish that soup turned out, it seemed that somehow, among the aisles and people and carts, we finally undid our wrongs. If you’re looking for a little redemption yourself, I highly recommend that you make this, especially with the suggested changes. It may be the only thing you won’t regret this weekend.

Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs adapted from Food & Wine
5 cups good beef stock
2 cup water
1/2 cup pearled barley
3 large thyme sprigs
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. mixed wild and cultivated mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (We used cremini, oyster, chanterelle, & porcini)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1.5 lbs. ground sirloin
1 large egg
2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt & pepper

1. In a medium pot combine the stock, water, barley, & thyme. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over at a simmer until the barley is almost tender, about 18 minutes.

2. In a large nonstick skillet heat the oil. Ad the mushrooms and the shallot, season with salt and perpper and cook over high heat until browned, about 10 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl combin the sirloin, egg, bread crumb, cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt, & 1/4 tsp. pepper. Mix until just blended. Roll into sixteen 1-inch balls, about bit-size.

4. Add the meatballs & mushroom mixture to the soup and simmer over medium heat until the meatballs are cook through and the barley is tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the thyme. Stir in the parsley and serve.


Mackey said...

How much sirloin? Did i miss that somewhere?

LP said...

Ummm, no, typo. It's in there now. Sorry!

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