Ingredient of the Week: Sriracha

Sriracha (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This week at la domestique is devoted to sriracha, the spicy Asian condiment that’s good on just about everything. Sriracha is a chile sauce that most of us know as “rooster sauce”, the ubiquitous red bottle with an electric green top found in diners, Asian restaurants, and trendy upscale joints across the U.S. It’s every man’s condiment. At $3 a bottle, sriracha sauce is affordable. Gourmands love this fiery chile sauce for its complex and balanced flavor. To call sriracha a hot sauce would be an understatement. It’s sweet, hot, pungent, and bright. Don’t be intimidated by the heat. Sriracha is addictive because the heat is intense without overwhelming the palate. In The New York Times, Chef Bryan Caswell from Reef Restaurant in Houston is quoted saying, “It burns your body, not your tongue.”

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This Past Week at La Domestique: Barley

This past week at La Domestique we cooked with barley in all its forms: the grain, flour, flakes, and grits. This versatile grain is full of nutty, malty flavor. It brings an earthy character to comforting fall soups and stews. Barley is higher in fiber than any other grain, and adds variety to our diet. Use barley in baking for its rich flavor and ability to hold onto moisture, prolonging shelf-life. Looking for inspiration on cooking with barley? The last week is full of ideas from cuisines around the world: Italy, France, India, America, Africa and the Middle East.

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap:

 

Monday:  Announcing barley as ingredient of the week.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with barley inspired by cuisines around the world.

Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a recipe for Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Barley, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Rosemary served over a bed of sautéed kale.

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Barley-Sesame Flatbreads

Barley-Sesame Flatbreads (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This week at la domestique we’ve explored barley, an ancient wheat-free grain. Today I’m baking with barley flour. For thousands of years the people of Africa and the Middle East have used barley ground into flour for their flatbreads. Barley flour is slightly sweet with a bit of a malty flavor. It enriches bread dough, resulting in a more moist loaf. However, barley flour is low in gluten, so it must be used in combination with higher gluten flours to maintain the structure of the bread. I was excited to discover an Afghani recipe for Barley-Sesame Flatbreads in the book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison.

In the recipe, Deborah combines active dry yeast with several types of flour. Why use yeast in a FLATbread? I know it seems odd, but yeast adds flavor and creates air bubbles. The air bubbles give the bread structure in the form of pockets which makes for a lighter (not dense) texture. Barley flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, and bread flour come together for a flavorful dough that bakes up like a soft pillow. Toasting the barley flour in a dry pan is key to releasing its nutty flavor. Use your intuition when making this recipe, as I found the dough to be very wet and ended up tossing in about 1/4 cup more bread flour. The humidity and your measuring technique can affect how much flour you will need. Maybe you feel that your dough is way too dry? Carefully add more water a little at a time.

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Storyboard: Barley

Barley Storyboard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

The earthy, nutty flavor and hearty texture of barley lends a comforting character to soups and stews. Is it the history of this ancient grain packed into a little brown kernel that makes us feel nourished? For thousands of years our ancestors have cultivated barley. It’s high in fiber and has a low glycemic index. A meal that includes barley is sure to be a satisfying one.

Growing

According to the book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, barley is a highly adaptable grain that grows well in climates and soils across the globe. Though intensive farming corporations grow genetically engineered grains, heirloom varieties of barley can be found growing in the U.S. Diversity is important to the health of nature, so look for different types of barley like black, bronze, and gold versions.

The various forms of barley

  • Barley Flour

Barley flour adds a nutty, sweet and slightly malty flavor to baked goods. It also makes baked goods more moist.  However, it’s low in gluten, and must be combined with higher-gluten flours. In the cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, Maria Speck advises that if you are substituting barley flour into a recipe, replace no more than a third of the flour with barley flour so the bread will maintain it’s structure when baked. Purchase barley flour or grind your own. The Splendid Grain is a great resource for directions on making your own barley flour.

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Cook in Moment: Barley Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Barley Stuffed Portobello Mushroom (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Each week I contribute a column to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” expanding on one of my 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I shared a recipe for Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Barley, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Rosemary served over a bed of sautéed kale. Stuffed vegetables like mushrooms, squash, or pumpkins are a delicious vegetarian simple supper for fall. For my recipe, plus information on the different types of barley, click on the icon below.