Wild Mushroom-Barley Risotto

Serves 4

14 oz. wild mushrooms (such as cepes or porcini, trompettes de la mort, and chantrelles) (We used portobellos – so, maybe not that wild…)
3 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 c pearl barley
slash of dry white wine
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan
2 tbs. mascarpone
handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves minced

Clean the mushrooms and thickly slice the large ones. Set aside while you start the risotto.

Brink the stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, heat the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan or sauté pan and add the onion and a little seasoning. Gently fry the onion, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften 4-6 minutes. Tip in the barley and stir well to coat. Toast the barley for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the splash of wine and let it bubble until reduced by half. Stir in two-thirds of the hot stock and simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the barley has absorbed almost all the liquid. Add more stock, a ladleful at a time, and simmer until the barley is just tender (you may not need all the stock). Stir in the Parmesan and mascarpone and season well to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Fry the mushrooms with some seasoning until they are lightly browned and any moisture released has evaporated, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the risotto and stir well to mix.

Divide the risotto among warm plates and sprinkle with the minced parsley. Serve immediately.

David: I thought it was great! It came together pretty easily and I feel like it could go on the side with a lot of different things. A.

Carla: I also really enjoyed this risotto. It went together nicely. And who doesn’t love cheese? A.

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Roast Loin of Pork with Apple Sauce

Another Gordon Ramsay recipe. I have wanted to make something with “pork medallions” for so long and I had a feeling that Ramsay would be a good place to start.

Serves 6-8

3-pound boneless pork loin roast, skin on if possible (we went with no skin).
few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion sliced
olive oil for drizzling.

Apple Sauce:
1 pound tart cooking apples (we used Granny Smith)
1 1/2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. lemon juice
4-5 Tbs. sugar

Preheat the over to its highest setting, about 500F. Remove the butcher’s stings if the loin is tied. Pat the skin of the pork dry with paper towels, then score in a crisscross pattern, spacing the cuts 3/4-in apart (we skipped this, be cause we didn’t have skin). Cut a slit along the thick sides of the loin, without cutting all the way through, to open out like a book.

Mix the chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir well, then spread the mixture over the pork loin. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Roll up the loin and secure tightly with kitchen string at 1 1/2-in intervals. Rube the scored skin with a large pinch of salt.

Scatter the onion over the bottom of the roasting pan. Set the pork on top, skin side up. Drizzle olive oil generously over the skin and sprinkle with another large pinch of salt. Place in the oven and roast until the skin is golden and starting to crisp, about 20 minutes.

Turn down the oven to 350F and roast the pork until it is just cooked through, 30-40 minutes longer (we did 35 minutes). To test, insert a metal skewer into the thickest part of the loin and press gently; the juices that run out should be clear. (Ramsay prefers to serve pork just slightly pink to retain the succulence and moisture). Let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Make the apple sauce while the pork is roasting: Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Roughly chop the quarters. Put them in a medium sauce pan with the butter, lemon juice, 4 tbs. of sugar and a splash of water. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes. Lift the lid and give the apples a stir every not and then, adding a little more water if the pan looks too dry. When the apples have broken down into a purée, taste for sweetness and add a little more sugar to taste. Adjust the consistency with a little more hot water, as necessary. Serve warm with the roast pork.

David: I though it turned out really well. It was a touch overcooked (maybe less time, in the future). Overall a big success. A-

Carla: I really like it. I really liked having the pork medallions and the apple sauce was great. It was surprisingly easy to put together. A

Carrot Miso Soup.

this is a really nice soup from the people at smitten kitchen. it goes like this:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger (i totally use more than this)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste (i used a touch more)
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, very thinly sliced (didn’t use these)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth and ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso an a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of sesame oil and small mound of scallions.

Miso is still pretty new to me, but I’ve really wanted to try something with it, and this worked great. It adds a depth and richness to the carrot soup that makes the whole thing very satisfying. And I’ll be honest, the touch of sesame oil at the very end is pretty special. A relatively straightforward, but satisfying, soup.