Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Farro with Roasted Mushroom, Fennel and Onion topped with an Egg

I love roasted vegetables and I am always on the lookout for different ways to serve them. I also love farro, a nice chewy whole grain. There are loads of recipes on the web that combine farro with mushrooms and onion, because it is a rather perfect pairing.  There was a nice fennel bulb in my fridge so I added that to the mix. It adds a sweet crunch. 

I wanted to roast the vegetables  to give a nice toasty flavor and firm texture with a bit of caramelization. For roasting, don't slice anything too thin and try to keep them consistent.

I use a quick cooking farro from Trader Joe’s. It cooks in 10 minutes. You could  substitute quick cooking barley or brown rice in this recipe,  just cook it according to package instructions.

 Farro with Roasted Mushroom, Fennel and Onion topped with an Egg 

On the Roasting sheet:

8 oz. white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed. Sliced vertically
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced vertically
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder

In the Sauce pan:
1 cup quick cooking farro,—(10 minute Farro from Trader Joe’s or other cooked according to package instructions
½ sweet onion chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
½ tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp thyme
 ¼ tsp red pepper flake
2 cups broth or water
¼ cup chopped parsley, optional

2-4 eggs, one per person, optional but recommended

Preheat oven to 375F

Place a bit of olive oil on a rectangle baking sheet. On one half of the baking sheet, place the sliced mushrooms and on the other half put the fennel and ½ of the onion. Don't over crowd.  By the way, vertically slice by cutting onion and fennel bulb in half and then slice it. Sprinkle with spice and salt and a light drizzle of olive oil. Several times during roasting, use a spatula to turn it over and mix, moving outside pieces to center.

In a sauce pan, heat a TBSP olive oil and begin sautéing onion and garlic. Cook until onion begins to caramelize. Add spice and  farro. Let it saute for another minute.  Stir in broth and bring to boil over med high heat, covered. Boil for two minutes and lower heat and cover. 

Let it simmer for 10 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid left, drain a bit off. Remove from heat and let it sit for five minutes while covered.

Remove roasted veggies when they are beginning to get caramelized and edges are crisping a bit.

Cook up eggs by poaching or fry/baste. Season with salt and pepper. You can skip eggs but adds a nice taste and texture and it makes this a satisfying meal in a bowl!

Add roasted mushrooms, onions and fennel to farro. 

Place in bowls, sprinkle with parsley and top with an egg.  

Sweet Potato Latkes with Crockpot Applesauce

I don’t often fry but since it was Hanukah so I decided to fry up a nice batch of Latkes.  I wanted to be a bit healthier than fried potatoes so I used sweet potatoes. I think sweet potatoes go wonderfully with a nice simple applesauce that is a breeze to make.

A key to good latkes is low moisture in the potato mix and a regulated medium high heat between 365 and 375. If it cooks too fast it will burn on the outside before it is done on the inside. If it is too cool, you get soggy, greasy latkes.

 I spiced them lightly with things like cinnamon and nutmeg but they could be made with more spice or you could go a different route with some mild curry spice. If you want to try it with curry spice, I would still add a bit of pumpkin pie spice and pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg along with a bit of curry spice.

This recipe is easy and delicious. I serve it with homemade apple sauce, recipe to follow. You can also serve with sour cream and garnish with green onion and parsley.

These make wonderful appetizers or as a part of a meal. We served them as an appetizer before garlic skirt steak with an arugula salad with pears and toasted pecans.

So here is my try at Sweet Potato Latkes. Happy Hanukah!   

Sweet Potato Latkes

Makes about 20 mini-latkes

1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and grated (around 2 mid-sized sweet potatoes)
½ cup minced onion
1 egg, 1 egg white, beaten (many recipes call for just 1 egg & that is okay too)
4 TBSP flour
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp .pumpkin pie spice (blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp .nutmeg
¼ tsp. cayenne
½ - 1 tsp. ground black pepper
About 1 tsp kosher salt

Small bottle of peanut or vegetable oil*

Apple sauce, optional
Sour Cream with  green onion and parsley

Note: If you have an electric skillet, it is a great way to keep the temperature even. Otherwise use a wide and deep pan, perhaps with a thermometer to keep it at medium high heat. I set my skillet to around 365F-370F.

*Peanut oil is a great oil for frying but if you cannot get it you can use vegetable oil. After you are done you can strain the oil through a coffee filter or cheese cloth lining a sieve and save it for the next fry.
Grate the sweet potatoes, place in colander and let them sit for a bit. Squeeze out extra moisture with a paper towel, or towel or cheesecloth. 

 Mix all ingredients except salt, oil in a large bowl. Early adding of salt will pull more moisture out of potato and into mix.

Begin to heat oil in skillet and then add the salt to the sweet potato mix and blend well.  Let oil heat up and once it is hot enough, carefully add sweet potato mix by using a scoop or spoon and placing around 1 ½ Tablespoons of mix on a spatula. Gently flatten slightly, and use another spatula and slide it off into hot oil. Turn after it is getting crispy around the edges; it just takes a minute or so.

Remove onto a paper towel to cool for a minute. Taste to see if they will need extra seasoning and then serve nice and hot.

I serve with applesauce but you could also dollop sour cream with green onions and parsley.

Applesauce:  You can make applesauce several days before or that day! It is easy in a crockpot. Just peel, core and roughly slice 8 -10 apples. I like a mix of granny smith and other flavorful apples like pink lady or honey crisp. Place them in a crock pot with a 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of white or brown sugar and cinnamon. You may skip the sugar and cinnamon if you want it plain and unsweetened.  Cook on low for around 8- 10 hours. Check to see if they are soft and mash them to the desire smoothness. If they are too thin, slightly uncover and cook on high for another hour or two. You can also make them in a sauce pan on stovetop in much less time but keep an eye on it!! I like the crock pot because I toss the apples in the night before and have applesauce in the morning!