Monday, January 27, 2014


 No matter if you read the temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit, baby it is cold outside. Ok, maybe not the Southern Californians but I try not to be too hateful. Intellectually I know we will catch-up and warm-up though until then my feet are snuggled in my sheepskin sleepers and my shoulders are swathed with a large wool jersey throw. It is a cozy sight I make sitting at my desk, or cooking up dinner – but I am toasty and that is priority.

This chill definitely has sent me into the kitchen as early as possible to start a daily simmer, stew or braise – warming the house, and eventually helping thaw the deep set chill in our bones. My dear husband has the sexiest job in spring and autumn but come the extreme of certain seasons 8 plus hours a day on horseback leaves its marks. So, in an effort to make the day’s finish melt away I am delivering most dinners in a bowl with a spoon. These long cooking pots of relief are a perfect place to utilize my summer stores. Tarragon and loveage salts, frozen tomatoes, sun-dried peppers are being called upon to add further dimension to the season of comfort foods.  

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup - yields 6 to 8 servings
2-tablespoons butter
1 large leek - white portion only, washed and diced
1-large onion
3 celery stalks - chopped
4 clove garlic – diced
1/2-pund boneless beef short rib
1-/2 pounds mushrooms - such as cremini, chantrelles, or morel, roughly chopped
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms - roughly crushed
1-tablespoon thyme - leaves only, roughly chopped
2-tablespoons dill – roughly chopped
3/4-cup pearl barley
5-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a six-quart pot melt the butter over a medium flame and add the leek and onion. Cook for a few minutes stirring constantly until they lose their raw look and become translucent. Add in the celery, garlic, short ribs, mushrooms, dried porcini, thyme and dill cooking for a few minutes longer. Mix in the barley and, pour over the stock and bring the soup to a boil.  Season the soup with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the soup for an hour to 2 hours with a lid slightly askew.