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What's Cookin: Spring has sprung ­­- but warm weather still in gestation stage

By Linda Smith / For the Enterprise - I think the cold and snow is beginning to addle my brain. As I kept chanting to myself, “Be positive; be positive,” all while wondering what the subject of this week’s recipe column would be, I decided it’s going to be foods that begin with the letter B. The Nevis bus drivers have requested more soup recipes to chase away the winter’s chills, so the first recipe is for them, those fantastic guys and gals who brave the elements to get our children safely to school each day. Call me silly, but I’m having fun with this.

Beef and Barley Soup

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. rib steak or other stewing beef on the bone

2 large onions

1/4 c. pearl barley

1/4 c. green split peas

3 large carrots, chopped

2 white turnips, peeled and diced

3 celery sticks, chopped

1 large or 2 medium leeks, thinly sliced

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Bone the meat and put the bones and half an onion, roughly sliced, into a large pan. Cover with cold water, season and bring to a boil. Skim if necessary, and then simmer until needed. Meanwhile, trim any fat or gristle from the meat and cut into small pieces. Chop the remaining onions finely. Drain the stock from the bones and add enough water to equal 9 cups. Return liquid to the rinsed pan with the meat, onions, barley and split peas. Season; bring to a boil and skim, if necessary. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Check the seasoning to your tastes. Serve in large warmed bowls, generously sprinkled with parsley. Serves 6-8.


3 T. olive oil, plus extra for oiling and brushing

Generous 2 1/8 c. white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

1 1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 t. active dry yeast

Scant 1 c. tepid water

Sesame seeds, for coating

Lightly oil 2 cookie sheets. Sift the flour and salt together into a warmed bowl. Stir in the yeast. Make a well in the center. Add the water and oil to the well and mix to form a soft dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Turn out the dough again and knead lightly. Roll out into a rectangle of 9 x 8 inches. Cut the dough into 3 strips, each 8 inches long, and then cut each strip across into 10 equal pieces. Gently roll and stretch each piece of dough into a stick about 12 inches long. Spread the sesame seeds out on a large, shallow plate or tray. Roll each breadstick in the sesame seeds to coat, then space well apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Brush with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let prove in a warm place for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the breadsticks in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn over and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool. Makes 30 breadsticks. Note: For added flavor, try adding some Parmesan cheese and fresh or dried rosemary to your breadstick mix before making the dough. These will be excellent when served with your beef and barley soup or your favorite pasta dish.

Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 lbs. top round steak, 1/2-inch thick

5 T. all-purpose flour

3 T. oil or shortening

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 c. sliced mushrooms

1 c. bouillon or consommé

1 t. lemon juice or white wine

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. black pepper

1/8 t. dry mustard

1 c. sour cream

Hot noodles or rice

Cut the meat into 1- x 2-inch strips and dredge in 3 T. of the flour. In a large skillet brown the meat in the oil. Push the meat to one side of the pan and add the onion; cook until soft. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 c. of the bouillon, the lemon juice, salt, pepper and mustard to the meat. Cover the pan; cook over low heat for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Blend the remaining flour with the remaining bouillon and add this to the hot mixture; cook over low heat until the sauce is smooth and thick, stirring constantly. Blend in the sour cream and heat. Do not allow the sauce to boil. Serve over hot noodles or rice. Makes 6 servings. (If you haven’t tried them before, brown whole wheat noodles or brown rice are healthful and add a wonderful flavor.)

Baked Brown Bread

1/2 c. cornmeal

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 t. salt

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. molasses

1 egg, beaten

1 T. shortening, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the milk and molasses to the beaten egg. Blend the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the shortening. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until firm. Makes 1 loaf.

Butterscotch Pie

4 1/2 T. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 t. salt

1 1/2 c. milk

4 1/2 t. water

4 T. butter or margarine

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

2 egg yolks, beaten

1 (9-inch) baked pie shell (homemade or store-bought)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the flour, sugar, salt, milk, water, butter or margarine and vanilla. Add the egg yolks while the mixture is cool. Stir constantly over the heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Pour the filling into the pie shell, cool slightly and top with meringue.

Best-Ever Meringue

1 T. cornstarch

2 T. cold water

1/2 c. boiling water

1 t. vanilla extract

3 egg whites

6 T. white sugar

1 pinch salt

Blend cornstarch and cold water in a saucepan. Add boiling water and cook until thick and clear. Cool completely. Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually beat in sugar, beating until stiff and glossy. Add salt and vanilla and slowly beat in cold cornstarch mixture. Beat quickly for several minutes. Spread meringue on filled, cooled 9-inch pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.