Thursday, March 22, 2012

What She Cooked in her Rice Cooker and Elsewhere

I've come (late) to the realization that I'm not good at multi-tasking.

Not at work, and much less so in the kitchen. So, if I can cook one part of a meal in the microwave oven, or even in a rice cooker, this is so much less stressful for me!

I'd purchased barley to make a hearty turkey-vegetable soup, but there was lots left. I wasn't in the mood to make something as decadent as a barley risotto (maybe next time!) So I decided to try and duplicate Chef Bob McGee's purslane salad from one of the dinners at his popup restaurant, Plancha. Here's what I did:

I rinsed 2 cups of pearled (dehulled) barley, sprayed my rice cooker pot with oil, and dumped in the barley with 4 cups of water and a splash more along with a generous pinch of salt. I let this soak for ten minutes, then hit the cook button on my very basic 8-cup rice cooker. This was cooked in about 45 minutes, and I let the barley sit for another ten minutes. I had the husband trim the stems from a bunch of purslane, then I made a dressing with 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and agave syrup to taste. (About 1 tsp. of the agave.) I took about 1-1/2 to to cups of the barley, added most of the purslane to this, and tossed with all of the dressing. (I put the leftover barley in zip-loc bags in the freezer.)

I had a bunch of beets with beautiful tops. I scrubbed them, then cut them into sections, placed them on a plate, covered tightly with Saran wrap, and microwaved them for about 5 minutes per side. Perfect! Not as tasty as roasted beets, but a LOT faster! The tops were washed well, sliced into pieces one inch wide, the stems trimmed into one inch pieces.

First, I sauteed the stems in a little olive oil, then I added the leaves and chopped garlic. After about 3 or 4 minutes, I added some white wine to the pan, salted to taste and added 2 Tbsp of pine nuts.

I microwaved thin stalks of asparagus and drained them. Then I put salt and pepper on both sides of some very thinly sliced pork cutlets. I rolled up 3 asparagus stalks in each of these pork pieces, then I floured the outsides of the rolls lightly. I browned the rolls in a pan, then added white wine to the pan along with some Worcestershire, water and a touch of agave syrup to make a sauce. Returned the cooked meat rolls into the sauce to warm through.

All of this made a feast for the two of us, and we had marvelous leftovers the next day!

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