Archive for November, 2015

farro

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Aviva

Farro is a small, brown, ancient grain with a distinctive nutty flavor and chewy texture.  It can be cooked and added to soups and salads or used instead of pasta or rice in classic dishes like macaroni and cheese or risotto.  Flour made from ground farro can be used to make bread or pasta; however this preparation is less popular than eating the cooked grain.  Farro is high in protein and a good source of complex carbohydrates.  Unlike other grains, farro does not lose nutritional value through processing.  It is also the lowest calorie grain.  Farro is self-propagating and grows well in dry climates.  Most of the farro eaten today is exported from Italy.

Farro originated in the Middle East, where it was one of the first plants to be cultivated.  It was a staple food of the Roman Army, who carried it throughout the Roman Empire.  However, as different types of grain were cultivated, farro became less popular as a staple food due to its low yield.

Farro is often confused with spelt, but they are not interchangeable and must be cooked differently.  This confusion stems from the Italian language, where the word “farro” is translated as spelt.  Spelt is an unshelled kernel commonly ground into flour, whereas farro is a shelled kernel that is usually cooked.  Because spelt is unshelled, it requires a much longer cooking time.  Unfortunately, some retailers of farro and spelt use the names interchangeably, so it is important to follow the cooking directions written on the package.

A highly nutritious and delicious grain, farro can usually be bought in bulk at health food stores.  As an ancient grain, farro has not been altered genetically to improve yield or ease of production which leads   it to have a higher price than other grains due to its low-yield and higher processing requirements.  Farro is sold in three grades.  The longer the farro grain, the better the grade.  It can be stored in a sealed glass container to keep it from absorbing any moisture from the air, but the best way to keep farro fresh is to store it in the freezer, either raw or cooked.

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ingredients

1 cup farro
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/3 cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1/3 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

instructions
In a medium bowl, mix together the farro and 4 cups of water. Soak for 30 minutes and drain well.
Heat the broth in a small saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.
Add the shallots and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add the drained farro and cook, stirring constantly until toasted, about 3 minutes.
Add the wine and stir constantly until evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth and stir constantly until completely absorbed. Continue adding the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in roasted vegetables.
Transfer to a bowl and serve.

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broccoli balls

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The cauliflower balls were so good that I decided to do the same with broccoli. This weekend I bought both the cauliflower and the broccoli from one of the farmers at the Jean Talon Market in Montreal. This is a really great market where you can buy your fruits and vegetables. It’s opened year-round and there are over 300 vendors, most of them farmers from around the Montreal area. To make these broccoli balls follow the same recipe as the cauliflower balls.

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cauliflower balls

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To make these delicious balls follow your favorite meatball recipe. Leave out the meat and add the cauliflower. It’s that simple. For those who can never have too much cheese, you can add a small cube of mozzarella cheese in the middle of each ball while you are shaping them.

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ingredients
1 large head cauliflower, about 4 cups
3 eggs
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
handful of chopped basil
handful of chopped parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons flour (depending on how moist the cauliflower is)


instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.

Cut most of the stem off the cauliflower floret. Use the florets and the smaller stems for the dough. Reserve the larger stems for a separate use.

Place the florets into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cauliflower looks like rice, don’t process into a mush.

Whisk the eggs, ½ teaspoon sea salt and other spices, and parmesan cheese in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the cauliflower to the egg mixture. Mix to combine.

Add the flour one tablespoon at a time. Add more depending on the wetness of the dough. The dough should stick together easily.

Scoop up about a tablespoon of mixture and roll it into a ball.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the balls have turned a light brown and they are dry to the touch and slightly crust-like. The balls should remove easily from the parchment paper.

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brown sugar carrot cake

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I found this recipe on Jovina’s blog  jovinacooksitalian. Very interesting blog, with many recipes that are simple and easy to follow.  I used shredded carrots instead of zucchini, only because I had some left over from another recipe. I also cut the sugar by 1/2 cup and added 1/2 cup raisins. In the end I found the mixture a little dry, so I added 1/2 cup of milk. Please keep in mind that this recipe is for 2 loaves of bread.


ingredients
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins


instructions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Line baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Stir until thoroughly mixed.
In a smaller bowl combine eggs, oil and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix well.
Fold in the zucchini, walnuts & raisins.
Combine milk to mixture.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two baking pans.
Bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 60 minutes.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes; then remove bread from the pans and continue cooling on wire racks.
This bread freezes well.


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