Jack is Cooking: Barley and Asparagus Risotto with Chantrelles

Well Hello Internet!

This week i have a delicious and simple risotto recipe.  Usually risotto is made with arborio rice, but i decided to see what it would be like with Barley.  The results were quite delicious, and its possible that i may like this version better than the original!  I went for some classic and simple risotto ingredients using fresh asparagus and dried chantrelle mushrooms.  Instead of presoaking the mushrooms i added them early on and let them soak up the wine and broth in tandem with the barley.  This not only infused the mushroom flavor more evenly throughout the dish, but also let the mushrooms soak up the flavor of the broth.




Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 lb asparagus (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup dried chantrelle mushrooms
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • olive oil

First you will want to make sure that your broth is hot, as it will work much better when it is added to the barley.  Heat your broth in a small saucepan and keep to the side.

In a saucepan heat up the olive oil, and sauté the onion until it is tender.  Add the garlic and sauté for just a couple of minutes.  Add in the barley and chantrelle mushrooms and cook for a few minutes with the onions and garlic.  

Add the wine to the pan and start stirring.  When all the wine has been absorbed begin adding the broth, a third of a cup at a time.  Stir constantly until the broth has been absorbed, before adding another third cup.  It will take about 30 minutes of stirring and adding broth over low heat for all the broth to finally be absorbed.  Test the barley every now and then to see how it is coming along.  you want the barley to be slightly Al dente, but not too hard.  

Add the asparagus at the very end with the last of the broth and then let it simmer to cook the asparagus.  

Mix in the cheese right before serving, and season with salt and pepper.



Jack is Cooking: Pancakes #5 (Jian Bing)

Well Hello Internet!

Since the Chinese new year celebration has been happening for the last week, and i absolutely love Chinese food, i decided to make a kind of Chinese pancake for my 5th pancake post.  There are many different kinds of “pancakes” in Chinese cuisine, each made out of very different ingredients and cooked in different ways.  I went for what might be the closest approximation to a traditional european pancake – a kind of Chinese crepe if you will.

Jian Bing are a traditional Chinese street food, they can be made very quickly, and can be filled with all sorts of different ingredients, and then folded up so they can be eaten on the go.  Most of the time they have some kind of egg mixture in them.  For my Jian Bing i put eggs, cilantro, chili sauce, sesame oil, and some sesame seeds.  The result was not only fantastic, but these might actually be the easiest and quickest pancakes i’ve ever made.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Pancakes:

  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 3 tbspn rice flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • a pinch of salt

For the Filling:

  • 2 Eggs (scrambled in a bowl)
  • a bunch of cilantro
  • chili garlic sauce
  • sesame oil
  • sesame seeds

Here’s what to do:

First mix all the ingredients for the batter together in a bowl.  Let sit for a few minutes.

Pour a thin layer of the mix into a hot pan, and spread around to make a very thin layer.  While the crepe is cooking, pour a little of the egg on top, and sprinkle a little of all the filling ingredients, continue cooking just until the egg is set.Image

When the egg has set, flip the pancake over, just for a few seconds to cook the egg the rest of the way.

Flip the crepe back over, and fold in half, and then in half again:


Sprinkle with some more cilantro, and serve with a little soy sauce!


Jack is Cooking Pancakes #4 (Sesame Flat Breads)

Well Hello Internet!

This past week i made a different kind of pancake.  It might even be a bit of a stretch to call it a pancake, more like a panbread…  The basics are the same, its flour based and is cooked in a skillet!  Image

But these are very delicious and are quite easy to make.  They could technically be eaten for breakfast with some eggs and bacon, you could even make a kind of breakfast pita sandwich with them if you wanted.  We ate these with some delicious soup, dipping them in the soup and soaking up the broth.  Later in the week i had some leftover with some vegetable curry.  However you eat them they are wonderfully light and fluffy, can be eaten hot or cold, and definitely work with sweet or salty foods.

Making these is very similar to making a standard loaf of bread, except after the rising, instead of making a nice loaf, you roll them out and then fry them.  

Here’s what you will need:

  • Approximately 3 cups of flour (the amount of flour needed will actually change depending on the weather outside!)
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil

Here’s what to do:

First mix the warm milk and honey together.  Add the dry yeast and let sit together for 10-15 minutes or until it gets nice and bubbly.

In a separate container mix the yogurt and the egg together.

In a mixer, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder together.  Pour in the yeast mixture, followed by the yogurt mixture, and the oil.

Mix on low until everything comes together.  If needed add more flour until the dough forms a nice ball that does not stick to your hands.   Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, and then turn the dough out of the mixing bowl and onto a floured surface.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.  While kneading sprinkle the sesame seeds on the dough, so that they get mixed in.  Continue dusting with flour if you need to.


Set the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise for around 4 hours, or until doubled in size. 

At that time, turn the dough out onto a floured board, and punch down.  Divide the dough into 5 or 6 equal sized balls.  Let these balls sit for 30 minutes so they rise a little again:



After they have risen, roll the balls out until you have nice little flat pancakes.  Poke all over them with a fork.  This will make sure that they stay flat while they are cooking and don’t puff up.



When you are ready, heat a pan with a little oil in it and pan fry the breads on both sidesuntil they are nice and golden.  I actually put a cover over the skillet so that it created a little oven situation.

When they are finished keep them in a kitchen towel all together to keep them warm until serving.



Jack is Cooking: Pancakes #3 (Millet Pancakes)

Well Hello Internet!

Pancake post number 3 is here, this week i switched it up a little and i made some pancakes out of some leftover millet that i had cooked previously in the week.  I had seen some recipes for Millet pancakes out there that are gluten free and use millet flour.  This is not one of those recipes, but is a very useful way to use up some leftover millet.  I wonder if the same method can be used for leftover barley or rice.


To get the millet ready to be used in a pancake batter, first i let the cooked millet soak in some milk and yogurt for a few hours.  You could even do this overnight, so that it soaks up lots of the milk.  Then i mixed in the other ingredients which would bind it all together.  Still however i was not satisfied that this would actually form pancakes, so i took a drastic step.  And this drastic step made all the difference.

I used my immersion blender to liquify everything.  It blended all the eggs and milk and yogurt and millet and made it into a beautiful, light, bubbly, smooth batter.  Things were certainly looking up.

It was still a bit more liquidy than the Master Pancake Recipe, but the pancakes are almost as good if not better.

The pancakes get very bubbly when they are ready to flip!

Millet Pancakes Ready for flipping

Millet Pancakes Ready for flipping

They are quite delicate even after they are cooked.  Which is quite nice, because you can eat a lot of them without feeling too full.  And eating more pancakes is always to be desired! 🙂


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups cooked millet
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

First soak the millet in the yogurt and milk for at least 2 hours.

After a couple of hours mix the eggs, honey, and oil into the milk and millet mixture

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour the liquid mixture into the flour while mixing.  Once everything is mixed together take an immersion blender (or put it all in a vitamix!) and blend until everything is silky smooth.

Heat a pan and cook as you would regular pancakes, the pancakes are quite delicate so you want to cook them until they begin to dry out on top, otherwise they will fall apart when you flip.  Keep a constant eye on the temperature of your pan too!  you want a very even medium heat.

I served mine with some wild blueberry preserves, butter, and some maple syrup!


Jack is Cooking: Purple Soup

Well Hello Internet!


Here’s a quick and easy soup to make that not only is extremely delicious, it’s also purple!  I made this soup last night in less than 30 minutes, out of just about everything i had left in my fridge.



Earlier in the week i have made some fresh chicken stock – i’ll probably make a post at some point detailing that, but chicken stock is a must for this soup!  Whether you make it yourself, or buy chicken stock that’s the stock to use, as opposed to vegetable stock.  I suppose if you really want to you could use veggie stock, but as there is no meat in this soup its nice to have all the goodness and flavor of a good stock.


Everything else in the soup is kind of optional.  Except the purple cabbage!  That is absolutely essential, otherwise your soup won’t be purple, and this is a recipe for purple soup!


Here’s what i used:

  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 Potato (small cubes)
  • 1 Carrot (sliced)
  • 1 Small Turnip (small cubes)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (diced)
  • 1 inch ginger (diced)
  • 1 handful of chopped Purple Cabbage (you don’t want a whole lot here, just enough to fill your hands when cupped together {if that makes any sense….})
  • 1 pinch of tarragon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Heat a good soup pot – i like to use my medium creuset pot – and melt the butter.  Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté until the onion is slightly transparent.  Add the rest of the veggies and the tarragon, and cook for a minute.  Add the stock so that everything is covered.  if you have too much veggies add a little more stock or some water.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potato is soft.  

At this point your soup will be very purple!  If you let it sit for a little while it will get even more purple!  I actually made this soup very quickly, then turned the stove off and went snowboarding for 3 or 4 hours.  when i came back i heated it back up and it was extra delicious and even more purple!


Seriously!  check out the color of this broth!Image