Small Time Cooks – May 10, 2005

Maria was a little under the weather, so I decided to take her something to raise her spirits—not my usual spirits, which I keep in my flask, but a hearty stew and a fruit dessert.

Vegetable and Barley Stew

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek (white and light green parts), sliced

6 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/3 cup merlot (or red cooking wine)

1 14.5 oz. can corn, drained

1 14.5 oz. can white beans, drained and


1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

2 bay leaves

2 Tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley,


4 cups water

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

1/4 teaspoon paprika (more, if desired)

1/2 cup pearled barley

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, and cook until tender. Add garlic and leeks and cook two minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, and tomatoes, and cook until mushrooms are tender. Stir in merlot, corn, beans, tomato sauce, bay leaves, parsley, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and—once boiling—add bouillon cubes, paprika, salt and pepper to taste, and barley. Lower the boil to a simmer and cover. Allow stew to simmer for 40 minutes or until barley is tender, stirring occasionally. Serves 4.

Strawberry Crumble with Oreos

2 sweet, ripe apples (such as Gala)

1 pound strawberries

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

3 Tablespoons white sugar

10 Oreos

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup quick cooking oats

1/4 cup water

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice apples, removing the core. Slice the strawberries and combine with the apples, cornstarch, and sugar in a casserole or baking dish. Level the mixture out. Remove the cream from the Oreos and crumble the cookies. Mix with the sugar, water, and oats and spread over the fruit mixture. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, and let cool for five to ten minutes before serving.