Hello kitchen! So nice to spend some time with you!
Was invited to a pot luck dinner party on the weekend, and our hostess, who is my next door neighbor, gave me a bag of white cap mushrooms and asked me to make a vegetarian dish. I enjoyed spending the time in the kitchen. Cooking, for me, when there’s no pressure, is very self-nurturing and satisfying (way more than actually eating the food!) Live improvisation with the right musicians is also very calming and satisfying. As I like to listen to music while I cook, here’s a link to some live improvisation I listened to while inventing this dish. Yes, it’s my voice you can hear there. Enjoy the cooking! Enjoy the music! That’s how I keep my sanity. How do you keep yours?
What’s it gonna be?
I have this package of flaky filo pastry in the fridge, but if I use that, it’s not gonna be vegan because they list one of the ingredients as ‘fat’ (right after the vegetable oil) and neglect to disclose where exactly the fat comes from. But I’ve got this idea of making some filo-filled something or other, so I turn the oven on and wash the mushrooms.
Pot Barley Perfect for Adding Bulk
But it needs something else. Something to bulk it up a bit and stick it together. I rummage around the cupboard and find a bag of long grain brown rice, then shake my head ‘NO’. It’ll just fall apart. Need sticky short grain. So I keep rummaging and pull out a bag of Pot Barley. Perfect. Doesn’t need soaking and is kinda sticky. Has a nice texture and flavor, too. I dump the remains of the bag (about 1/2-2/3 of cup. sorry did not measure) into a saucepan, pour some boiling water over it and set it on a low burner to cook.
Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion basic ingredients
I chop the ‘shrooms and the pathetic remains of my garlic stash – which amounts to 3 tiny cloves – half a red onion (I’ve gone off using a lot of onion) and with a drizzle of oil, pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder, sauté everything together in a non-stick pan (which of late has been sticking lately and needs to be replaced, TY Santa).
The mushrooms, garlic and onion cook down nicely and taste fine just the way they are, and the pot barley cooks up a storm and boils over, but thank god, doesn’t boil dry!
Cabbage, Wakami and Basil blend to create unique flavor.
I also have most of a small head of curly cabbage in the fridge, left over from last week’s veggie box, and it needs to be used up. So I slice it into shreds, wash and drain, and add it, along with the pot barley, to the mushroom mixture. The cabbage needs to cook a bit, so I put the lid on and turn the heat down to the lowest temp.
I put a generous couple spoonfuls of dried Wakami to soak, and go outside to cut what’s left of the basil, which gets chopped up real fine and tossed into the pan. Then I drain the Wakami and add that, and mix everything together.
I taste it. It’s absolutely delicious. But what on earth do you serve it with?
Yuppers, gonna put it in the filo pastry, and I’m going to use an egg or two, and sort something else for the vegans.
Later (add some carrots!)
I thought it would be nice to add some color, so diced two, small fat carrots which I cooked in a little boiling water and drained. Then thought if I mashed them, and mixed them with the egg, it would help stick everything together. So I whizzed the carrots and an egg with the hand-held electric mixer, divided the filling mixture in half and added the carrot/egg mix to that. Reserving the non-egg mixture to take to the party with some pita for the vegans.
Making the filo roll-ups
- Cut the filo in half (down the middle to make 2 squarish-rectangles, rather than two skinny rectangles).
- Spread half the filling over each square. leaving about 3/4 inch border, and roll up, starting at the longer edge.
- Pinch the open ends together to seal, and pinch the seam along the top, making a small frill – so your rolled-up pastry looks like it has a very short mohawk!)
- Place on the wire rack of your broil pan and put in the oven at about 180C for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160C and bake another 15-20 minutes. The initial hotter temp is necessary to puff and brown the pastry, but as you’ve got some pastry inside the roll, you need to bake it a little slower so that the pastry in the middle will actually cook before the stuff on the outside burns! I took it out of the oven when its aroma filled the flat, and it was a rich, golden brown. Yes, cooking requires the use of all your senses!
As main course I think this needs a sauce, but as finger food at a party, it does just fine sliced, and served naked. Do you have any other ideas for this dish? A white wine sauce? A white sauce with dill? Or would the dill be too overpowering? Maybe sage? What do you think?