Lamb and Pearl Barley soup

Hi guys, how is your foodie-life going on out there? It’s such a good weather now here – in Dubai, I’ve heard that this year March is one of the coldest months of the past 10 years! Believe me or not, but I’ve been living here approximately the same time and it really seems colder than usual, especially in the evening or those very windy days, that even with the jacket on I want to go in and hide somewhere with a cup of hot tea. 😄 

And this warm and nourishing soup exactly what I need these days. I’ve been enjoying it for the last couple of weeks, as I cooked it twice and both time in a large pot so it will be enough for at least two days. This soup combines Russian and Middle Eastern flavors and textures: pearl barley is a well-known grain in my home country, and lamb is a popular meat in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries.

The soup is good in its simplicity, even though it takes more time to prepare it comparing to other soups, but you will like the result – flavorful and delicious thick soup. Using all spices is a another little secret to get wonderful aroma!

“Lamb

  • Servings: “4-5”
  • Difficulty: “very
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Dear readers, sorry but the ingredients’ weight is approximately. Next time I will cook it – I will measure fore sure. 😉

What You’ll Need 

  • 800g lamb, with bone preferably 
  • 100g pearl barley (you need about 2-3 Tbsp uncooked barley per person)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 medium capsicum
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 2 tsp whole coriander, crushed a bit
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • S&P to taste
  • some fresh chopped coriander, optional
  • Arabic or any other bread to serve


How To Make It 

  • Night before or at least 3 hours before cooking, cover washed pearl barley with cold water.
  • In a large pot, add lamb and cover with cold water. Bring to boil, remove all foam, reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and boil for 1hour. Take the meat from the broth, and cut into medium pieces.
  • Drain pearl barley and then add to the pot, cook for 40 minutes.
  • Cut vegetables into small cubes, and add to soup along with bay leaf. Season the soup with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook the soup for 20 minutes more. 
  • Tip: Add some hot-boiling water if the soup is too thick for your taste.
  • Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat the oil and fry onion on a medium heat until it’s just transparent. Add coriander and cumin seeds, and garlic if using, and fry for 1 minutes more. Transfer to the soup.
  • Turn the heat off.
  • Serve hot with some bread. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander, if desired.

Enjoy!

Kulesh

Kulesh – simple thick soup/pottage, that was popular in old times among peasants and Cossacks. It was also called “field pottage or kasha”, as it was often cooked by farmers for their lunch during field works. This pottage consisted mainly of millet and any root vegetables that were available at the moment. Garnished with some onions and salo (salted or cured fat, usually pork one), kulesh was prepared on a fire, that added a nice smoked flavor to the whole dish.
It should be thick enough but if you prefer thinner consistency add more water. Mine was thick and nourishing because of smoked meat (cooked pork belly). Using smoked meat replaces the cooking on an open fire. But feel free to make completely vegetarian version and omit the meat.Kulesh - simple thick soup/pottage
Once I wrote that millet is a healthy grain or seed. And if you still think it’s just for the feeding birds, you’re completely wrong and miss lots of benefits of this lovely grain. It’s a good source of vitamins B, calcium and iron. Here another recipes that I do love and cook at home: sweet breakfast millet porridge and autumn recipe – millet cooked in a pumpkin pot.
So, have you ever cooked millet? What are your favorite recipes?Kulesh

Kulesh

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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You can add some cubes of celery root along with other vegetables.
Ingredients
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 large carrot, cubed
200g millet
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion
150g smoked pork belly
1 bay leaf
fresh chopped parsley and spring onion, optional
S&P to taste
Method
  1. Boil 2l water in a large pan. Add cubed vegetables and some salt. Bring to boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer about 15 minutes.
  2. Wash millet throughly under running water. You may also cover millet with some warm water, it helps to cook it faster.
  3. Add millet to the pot along with bay leaf and simmer for 10-15 minutes more or until it’s cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, slice or chop onion, and cut pork belly into thin slices or chop it as you like. Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute onion until it’s soft. Add pork belly and fry for few minutes.
  5. Stir the onion-pork mixture into the soup. Adjust the seasoning.
  6. Pour the soup into serving bowl. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, if desired. Serve with bread.

Enjoy!

Thick lentil soup with pork ribs

 One is dreaming about spring and warm days, another like me wants the weather staying cloudy and windy as longer as possible. This soup is not something extraordinary, but it is comforting and hearty. It nourishes and fills you up, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need after a long day at work. I love lentils because they are healthy – contain protein, fiber and vitamins, and easy to prepare – you do not need to soak them for hours.
 Aromatic bay leaf and hot chilli flakes make this thick soup brighter! So, wake up your taste buds and start cooking the soup, it’s  a great way to warm up your belly and bowl!Thick lentil soup with pork ribs
If you want this soup to be vegetarian, feel free to omit the meat or try this recipe of red lentil soup (meatless).
Lentil soup with pork ribs, chilli and bay leaf

Thick lentil soup with pork ribs

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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IngredientsThick lentil soup
200g pork ribs, cut into segments
200g beef, but into medium cubes
4-5 black peppercorns, optional
100g brown or green lentils, washed
1 small leek and 1 small red onion, sliced
2 small potatoes, peeled, cubed or sliced
1/2-1 tsp chilli flakes
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 medium tomato, chopped
1+1 tbsp olive or other veg oil, for frying
salt, black pepper to taste
small bunch fresh parsley or coriander, chopped, for garnish
Method
  1. In a frying pan, heat oil and fry pork ribs and beef cubes from all sides on high heat until just browned. Transfer the meat to a soup pan along with peppercorns, cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not season with salt, it will increase the lentils cooking time.
  2. Add lentils to the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the same frying pan (you use another one if you wish), add more oil if needed, and fry leek and onion on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and fry for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in chilli and garlic, saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Stir vegetable mixture into soup, season to taste and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are cooked.
  5. Serve hot, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Enjoy!
Adapted from Rus magazine “Collection of recipes”, 2010

Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

 Beef Stroganoff is a definitely a classic dish, which can be make rustic and simple at home and more elegant in a restaurant. I do hope you have already cooked this dish by following the classic recipe, that I posted, and liked it. 😀 This time I deviated from the traditional recipe: firstly, I thinly sliced the meat (originally it’s cubed); secondly, used the thick cream along with sour cream; and finally, the main twist is the addition of small pickled cucumbers. Salty and crunchy, thinly sliced cucumbers give an amazing and unbelievably tasty note to the whole dish! I bet you will love it even more!Russian Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

Beef stroganoff is a staple and cooked very often in my house, so I just whip it up without a recipe in little time. The outcome is always the same – a satisfying meal with authentic taste! Of your course you need to follow few simple rules and you can be able to make the best Stroganoff like Russian cooks! You may use large pickled cucumbers, small gherkins or cornichons; crunchy dill and garlic are the best, soft or sweet are the worst. The best accompaniment is mushed potatoes or buckwheat. I hear you rice-lovers: use plain fluffy rice, but please do not use pasta or other noodles, it destroys the dish!

Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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You may sprinkle beef with a teaspoon of powdered paprika, if desired (add it along with flour).
Ingredients
Mashed potatoes
1 tsp fine salt (for water)
5-6 medium  potatoes, peeled, cut unto chunks
1 bay leaf
50g butter
50ml warm full-fat milk (or a bit more, if needed)
sea salt, white&black pepper to taste
Beef Stroganoff
500g beef fillet (sirloin is good),  thinly sliced
some flour, to coat meat
2 tbsp oil (olive or sunflower are good)
15g butter
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
100g mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried thyme or 2-3 tsp fresh
6-7 small gerkins or 2-2 large pickled cucumbers, sliced
sauce
sea salt, white&black pepper to taste
Sauce
150g sour cream
100ml 30% cream
2-3 tsp Englsih mustard
100ml warm water, if needed
some chopped parsley, for garnish
 
Method
For mashed potatoes, in a large pan, bring slightly salted water to boil. Add potatoes and bay leaf, bring to boil again, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft and ready. Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, milk and season to taste. Mash it. Add a bit more milk, if the mixture is too thick.
  1. Lightly flour the beef from all sides, shake off any flour excess. Heat the heavy frying pan, when it’s hot, add oil and meat. Sear the beef from all sides. Divide into few batches if needed, so you don’t overcrowd the pan and steam the meat. Cook for 2-3 muntes or just until browned. Transfer to the plate.
  2. In the same frying pan, add butter along with onions, mushrooms and thyme. Fry on a high-medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly golden. Then add fried meat and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: in a small bowl, combine the sour cream and cream with mustard.
  4. Add cucumbers and sauce. Give a good stir, season with salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes longer. If the creamy gravy is too thick, add hot water and stir.
  5. Serve with mashed potatoes, sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!
Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

Fish with spiced lentil ragout

 Happy Valentines Day!!! 
I’d like to represent a very delicious main course, that looks elegant and suits perfectly to this special day. A healthy and tasty fish is complemented here by aromatic lentil ragout and fresh fennel shavings. Another secret weapon in this sensational dish is aromatic spices: turmeric and ginger, that really burst the lentils with lots of flavour. And of course don’t forget the final touch – a drizzle of lime juice.
 Simple! Healthy! Sensational!Fish with spiced lentil ragout

Fish with spiced lentil ragout

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
Fish
2 x 150-200g white fish fillet (I used sea bass)
2 tbsp lime juice
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
some homemade breadcrumbs and flour, for coating
1 tbsp olive oil or other veg oil, for frying
Lentil ragout
100g dried green/brown or Puy lentils
1 rosemary sprig
water
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, cut into fine cubes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 medium tomato, chopped (without liquid and seeds)
1.5 tbsp tomato puree
zest from 1/2 lime
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
Garnish
lime juice
lime wedges
fennel shavings
fennel or parsley
Preparation method
  1. Rinse and drain lentils. Put in a saucepan with rosemary, cover with water (do not season) and bring to boil on a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add extra water if all absorbed, or drain some if there is any left.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small frying pan, add onion and carrot and saute for 6-7 minutes until soft and golden. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric and saute for a minute more. Stir in chopped tomato and puree. Turn off the heat.
  3. Discard rosemary form lentils. While lentils are still warm season with salt and pepper, then mix in lemon zest and vegetable mixture; give it a good stir.
  4. Drizzle fish with lime juice, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle skin side with breadcrumbs and flour. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry skin-side down for 2 minutes, then turn and fry for 1-3 minutes more (depends on fish thickness), until golden and cooked.
  5. Arrange lentil ragout on a serving plate, top with fennel and fish fillet, drizzle with lime juice. Garnish with fennel (or parsley) and lime wedges.
Enjoy!