eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: kumquats

Feta and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

My latest discovery of a barley recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s stunning Jerusalem cookbook was a life changing event in my kitchen. I finally like barley!

For years my mother has been trying to convince me of the little grain’s qualities – unsuccessfully. I’m not a huge fan of orzotto or risotto, I can enjoy both of them for lunch but I wouldn’t call them a great source of inspiration. But then, as I thumbed through the pages of Jerusalem, page number 81 caught my attention: Parsley & Barley Salad. The title doesn’t mention the ingredient that changed everything for me, feta. The two London chefs marinate the cheese in spiced oil before they finish off their composition with barley, lots and lots of parsley, and spring onions. They also add cashews but I skipped them, I’m not too fond of nuts in my cooking.

So what happens is that, when I really like a recipe, my mind starts spinning looking for variations. First I added much more barley than mentioned in the recipe to turn it into a richer meal befitting these cold winter evenings. Then I stirred in raw, thinly sliced fennel, blood orange juice, mint, and honey-caramelized kumquats (an inspiration from last year’s celeriac salad). Ottolenghi and Tamimi use za’tar for their spice oil, which I replaced with ground cardamom and fennel seeds. Crushed coriander seeds and allspice berries are taken from their recipe and add a warming touch to it.

You’ll end up with quite a vibrant dish that can be eaten cold, as a salad, or slightly warm, as a main or side dish. Although the spiced oil, salty cheese, and sour kumquats are quite prominent, the nutty barley and crunchy fennel aren’t shy here either. What’s great about it, is that you can play with it, add and change spices, fruits, and vegetables according to your mood and the season. Just stick to barley and marinated feta, that’s the secret.

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

Feta and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

Serves 3-4

pearl barley 100g / 1/2 cup
olive oil 5 tablespoons, plus a splash
coriander seeds, ground in a mortar, 3/4 teaspoon
allspice berries, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
fennel seeds, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon
ground cardamom 1/4 teaspoon
feta, cut into cubes, 150g / 5 ounces
medium fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced, 1
freshly squeezed blood orange juice 4 tablespoons
fine sea salt
ground pepper
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

For the caramelized kumquats

honey 2 tablespoons
kumquats, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, 12
(or 12 orange fillets, peeled)
freshly squeezed orange juice 4 tablespoons

Cook the barley in salted water until al dente, drain in a colander, and rinse briefly with water.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, coriander, allspice, fennel seeds, cumin, and cardamom. Add the feta and mix gently until the cheese is coated with oil and spices, set aside.

For the caramelized kumquats, in a small, heavy pan, heat the honey over high heat until liquid and bubbling. Add the kumquats and orange juice and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom, turn and cook for another 1 1/2 – 2 minutes or until soft and caramelized; mind that they don’t become too dark.

Transfer the barley, sliced fennel, orange juice, and feta with the spiced oil to a large bowl and stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in a little more olive oil if it’s too dry. Sprinkle with mint and arrange the kumquats on top. Enjoy warm or cold.

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kumquat, Fennel, Cardamom and Mint

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kumquat, Fennel and Mint

This is the most tender, aromatic and colourful braised dish you can possibly have on your plate at this time of year, at least in the Northern hemisphere. Cardamom, cumin, fennel and coriander seeds refine the deep red juices of summery (tinned) tomatoes cooked with succulent lamb shanks before tiny yellow kumquats add their bittersweet fruitiness. The fresh mint leaves on top are more than just pretty in this warming composition, their job is to freshen it up! A sheer explosions of aromas!

Over the years, I have become a big fan of shanks in my kitchen whenever I’m in the mood for a stew. Be it beef, veal or lamb, I prefer this cut over chuck steaks. The meat around the bone is packed in fat which keeps it juicy and tender while it braises in a fragrant broth of wine, fruit and vegetables. Shanks usually taste quite strong, they can easily deal with spices and herbs, perfect for Mediterranean comfort cooking with lots of rosemary, thyme, sage and garlic, or to find some inspiration in the Arabic cuisine. All those spices, those warming corns, pods and powders, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon and many more, this is the best moment to let their qualities shine. Spices are great on their own but even better in a team. Be experimental, combine your favourites and use a little bit more than you usually would, the meat and sauce can take it!

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kumquat, Fennel and Mint

 

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kumquat, Fennel and Mint

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kumquat, Fennel, Cardamom and Mint

You need an oven proof dish / casserole dish with a lid for this recipe.

For 3-4 people you need

lamb shanks 3-4
fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar, 2 teaspoons
coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
ground cardamom 1 teaspoon
ground cumin 1 teaspoon
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, cut in half, 4 cloves
white wine 400ml / 1 pint
tinned tomatoes of good quality (it’s worth going for a good brand!) 400g / 14 ounces
bay leaves 2
orange peel 4 long strips
kumquats, rinsed, 8
sea salt and pepper
olive oil
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

Set the oven to 160°C / 320°F.

In a casserole dish, heat a splash of olive oil and sear the shanks for a few minutes until golden brown on all sides. Take the meat out and set it aside but keep the casserole dish on the heat. Add a little more olive oil and the fennel seeds, coriander, cardamom and cumin, cook for about 20 seconds on medium heat or until you smell the spices, stir constantly. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix the lamb shanks with the spices and onion and pour the wine over the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the orange peel, bay leaves and tomatoes, chop them roughly, mix everything and bring to a simmer. Close the casserole dish with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Add the kumquats (whole, not cut) and cook for another 30 minutes or until the meat is tender and you can lift it with a fork off the bone.

If necessary, take out the meat when it’s done and cook down the sauce. Season to taste and serve with fresh mint leaves and thick slices of white bread or flatbread.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kumquat, Fennel and Mint

 

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kumquat, Fennel and Mint

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: