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The Farro and the Storm

Ω June 26th, 2013 Ω Tagged , , , , , , , , Ω 13 Comments

We’ve been having some wacky weather the past few days. Por ejemplo:



Besides looking like something out of The Day After Tomorrow, the sky split repeatedly as lightning hit the ground not far away.  I tried to capture a picture using a tripod and a long exposure, yet the clouds remained stubbornly blank during every picture. Instead, lightning would flash after every shutter click, as if to say,”Bwah ha ha, I am master of ALL!”

(Yes, of course I feel fine. Why do you ask?)

Being an East Coast girl, I’ve never seen the edge of a storm creep toward the horizon like in the picture below.


This storm took place Monday evening and was the first of several. Even as I type this post Tuesday evening, the sky crackles with electricity and the wind threatens to knock my poor sunflowers to their leaves. Again. They can’t catch a break.

But I did. Check out this craziness Tuesday night (f/3.5, 5 sec, no tripod):

midwest lightning

mid west lightning storm

midwest lightning storm

Nothin’ like livin’ in the Midwest. Yup.

But I wanted to discuss farro.


This whole grain is chock-full of fiber and B-vitamins, and has a nutty texture that provides body in any dish.  I’ve only eaten farro once, over three years ago – shameful, I know – and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to try it again.


I cooked this batch in the pressure cooker and was tempted to eat it plain because it was so darn tasty.  But I held back, just for you, dear reader.  How lame would it be to post a recipe that consisted of “1. Cook farro, 2. Eat.”?


Instead, I mixed up a warm farro salad that had me going back for more. Served with sous-vide local tenderloin over sauteed kale.

With a marjoram blossom garnish.

With a marjoram blossom garnish.

Mushroom Farro with Roasted Tomatoes and Marjoram

  Prep Time: 10 minutes

  Cook Time: 25-45 minutes

  Keywords: roast side farro

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, chopped
  • Parmesan, grated or shaved (optional garnish)


Combine farro and vegetable broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes (pearled farro) or 45 minutes (regular farro). Check toward end of cooking time to see if grains are tender and have absorbed all the liquid. Note: If using pressure cooker, cook farro for 15 minutes.

While farro cooks, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss tomato halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then lay on sheet pan. Roast for 15 minutes, or until tender.

Transfer farro to a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt. Mix in roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and marjoram. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold, with Parmesan cheese garnish if desired.

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Q: Have you ever tried farro?

P.S. Congratulations to Monet on the arrival of her little Lucy! :)

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Honey Lavender Pork Loin with Caramelized Bananas

Ω June 12th, 2013 Ω Tagged , , , , , , , , , , Ω 14 Comments


By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Honey Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I received a gift card to offset the expense of my ingredients.


Just the name invokes images of sweet desserts and savory dishes with a hint of something extra. This natural sweetener has been used for thousands of years (take that, HFCS) and can be substituted for other sweeteners in holiday and entertaining recipes. Like the honey lavender pork recipe below, of course. I served this dish last evening at a dinner party and was rewarded with thumbs-up all around. Isn’t it nice when recipes just work?


To develop this recipe, I dug into my trusty Flavor Bible (one of my five most influential cookbooks) for foods that pair well with honey.  I quickly discovered that honey is the chameleon of the culinary world: the list of compatible foods went on for two pages. Good luck narrowing down that list, Jessie!

‘Tis the season for fresh herbs, however, and with the knowledge that we had an abundance of lavender growing two steps from the kitchen, I put together the following recipe without too much trouble. I will admit it was rather brave foolish unusual of me to serve this dish at a dinner party without having made it before, but I needn’t have worried. It was a hit.

Crushing lavender leaves in our piggy molcajete, Watchpig (dicing the lavender leaves works just as well):


The recipe looks complicated, but fear not! The length is due to the two different ways you can prepare the recipe: roasted or sous-vide. Either cooking method will produce delicious results. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know which method we chose.

Honey Lavender Pork Loin with Caramelized Bananas

  Prep Time: 10 minutes

  Cook Time: 40 min (roast), 2 hours 15 min (sous vide)

  Keywords: roast sous-vide entree pork honey lavender

Ingredients (4 servings)


    • 1-1/4 lb. pork loin
    • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 tablespoon lavender leaves, mashed
    • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

    Honey-Lavender Sauce

    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 1 tablespoon lavender leaves, diced
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Caramelized Bananas

    • 3 large bananas, sliced
    • 1/2 tablespoon butter or coconut oil (optional)


    Roasted Pork Version: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil. Once butter or oil melts, sear pork loin on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side (8 to 12 minutes total). Removed loin and place into foil-lined baking pan. Add chicken stock to skillet and deglaze by scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Add 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon lavender and stir. Pour over pork loin and bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or internal temperature is 145 degrees F. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Proceed with sauce and caramelized bananas.

    Sous Vide Version: Vacuum seal pork loin in bag with butter/oil, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 tablespoon lavender. Cook sous vide for 2 hours at 135 degrees F. Remove pork from bag and reserve liquid. Heat skillet over medium-high heat and sear loin on all sides, 30 seconds a side, using additional 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil if necessary. Set aside. Proceed with sauce and caramelized bananas.

    Honey Lavender Sauce: Combine 3 tablespoons honey, 3/4 cup chicken broth (if sous vide version), 1 tablespoon lavender and salt. Add roasting pan juices (roasted pork version) or reserved sous vide liquid (sous vide version). Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

    Caramelized Bananas: While sauce simmers, add butter/coconut oil to medium skillet over medium heat (if using nonstick skillet, can skip oil). Add banana slices and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until slices soften and turn golden brown.

    Finish: Slice pork loin into 1/2-inch slices. Spoon banana slices on plate and arrange pork medallions over banana. Drizzle sauce over all. Garnish with additional lavender leaves and serve immediately.

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    Q: What’s your favorite way to use honey?

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