Saturday, 22 May 2010

Emptying the Pantry: Part Four - Beef and Barley Soup

By rights, this one should be about carrot cake buuuuuut I got so carried away cooking (and eating) it that I forgot to take photos.

That happens to me a lot.

I don't know if it helps, but it actually looked quite a lot like it did in the CWA Country Classics cookbook. It's quite unusual for things to come out looking like the pictures, so it was proud moment for me! The cream cheese icing was actually a little bit sweet for my liking, but the hint of honey in it was divine. Next time I think I'll up the cream cheese content and lower the level of icing sugar.

Oh yes, there WILL be a next time!

This recipe is pretty unexciting (but tasty!), as healthy savoury things often are, and I must say I'm a little disappointed by the fact that it contained but three ingredients from my cupboard. The exciting part, however, is that I was FINALLY able to get some use out of my latest AWW cookbook - The Complete Cook. Like the write-up says, it has a lot of useful information about the fresh ingredients, but I find the layout a little frustrating. I think perhaps that you need a chef's imagination to truly appreciate it, as a chef would be able to decide on what ingredient he or she wanted to dominate a course, and then complement it with another ingredient in the following course, and so on. I think the layout is a little advanced for your average punter, but still has heaps of yummy recipes and looks pretty next to "Cook", "Kitchen" and "Bake". I'm a little surprised they went with a blue cover again, though, but pleased that they wrapped it in plastic this time! (And yet annoyed that they didn't think of it for the previous three books). And, as it turns out, it comes in handy when you're trying to clean out your cupboards and use up specific ingredients!

1 tbsp olive oil
500g gravy beef, trimmed, diced (2cm cubes) <-- I used ready-diced steak and it worked fine
2 medium brown onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4c pearl barley
3c beef stock
1.5L water
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 medium potaoes, diced (1cm pieces)
2 medium carrots, diced (1cm pieces)
2 medium zucchini, diced (1cm pieces)
2 medium yellow patty-pan squash, diced (1cm pieces) <-- nowhere to be found; ommitted
100g swiss brown mushrooms, chopped coarsely
1/2c finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
That's a lot of ingredients, huh?
Here's what I had...
... and here's what I didn't have.
Oh! OH!!! I haven't introduced you to The Piranha yet!!!
Look at its teeth.
I see beauty in their viscous glinting!
Well, okay, not really, but it peels like a mofo!
As it turns out, my life was incomplete without it. Get it here (dangerous, dangerous online kitchenwares store that allows you to make a wishlist... be afraid... be VERY afraid...)
Actually, that's not true. My life was pretty well complete without it, but it sure makes life easier. AND, you can cut your carrots into nice fat ribbons for sandwiches and salads and stuff. These things are important to me. I have yet to test it on cucumber but the Force is strong in this one so I'm sure it will be fine.
1. Heat half oil in large saucepan; cook beef, in batches, until brown. Remove
2. Heat remaining oil in same saucepan; cook onion and garlic until onion softens. Return beef to pan with barley, stock, water, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme, bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmmer, covered, about 1 hour or until beef and barley tender, skimming the fat occasionally
3. Add remaining vegetables to soup; simmer, covered, about 25 mins or until vegetables softened. Remove and discard bay leaf, rosemary and thyme
4. Serve bowls of soup sprinkled with parsley
The nutritional information at the bottom of the page says this has 8.8g total fat (2.6g saturated) which is pretty good. I only mention this because it took a bloody eternity to reheat in the microwave!!! (In case you hadn't figured it out for yourself, fatty stuff heats up much faster. For example, you can melt cheese in under 30 seconds, but it took at least 5 minutes for me to heat a bowl of this soup up) So here it is - reheated and messy on my desk at work. Sooooo goooood! If only I'd had some nice fresh crusty bread to go with it...

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