Wild Mushroom Pasta

I'm a big fan of Good Eats and Alton Brown. I've learned a lot from him. So when he suggested that dried exotic mushrooms were an umani flavor bomb I took to amazon to procure some. 

When you only cook with and eat plants, sources of deep and real flavor are important. 

His advice was spot on. I got a dried exotic mushroom mix and used it in my pressure cooker to create a sauce/broth for pasta and even though I forgot to add olive oil, it still had tons of flavor. 
After the pressure cook was finished I added the oil I forgot and cooked it off for a  few minutes. I then stirred it into my precooked pasta. Let it rest 5 minutes to tighten up. It was a perfect sauce to enrobe my pasta. . 

Dried exotic mushrooms are not cheap. But if you don't eat/cook with animal products, they feel like a bargain. There's so much flavor to be had. It's worth it and then some. 

Ingredients
1/2 box pasta, cooked to al dente

2 ounces dried fancy mushroom mix, big pieces broken or diced
1 pint …

Carmelized Barley with Black Beans

Taking a page from the bibimbap and paella playbook, I have my own twist on that. It's a southwestern play on the concept.

If you're not familiar with these dishes, their hook is that the rice gets browned, crispy and caramelized.

Of course, you can do this to rice in any medley style dish or even just toast your rice straight up. It's great. Really great.

When you get cooked rice browned and crispy it's really delicious. So I figured I'd try it with barley.

I don't like to clean a lot of pans... so I made sure all the cooking occurs in a single skillet.

Ingredients
1 cup dry pearl barley
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 banana pepper, sliced
1 habernero pepper, minced
5 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
1 cup frozen yellow corn
2 tbls hot sauce
4 tbls oilive oil
3 tsps salt
2 tsps thyme
1 tsp dill
1 tsp black pepper
3 - 3 1/2 cups water

In a large skillet cook the barley in the water, 1 tbl olive oil and 2 tsps salt. Simmering over medium high heat. Add 2 cups water at first. Once that water has absorbed test for tenderness. Add another cup if barley is still hard. Add additional water in 1/2 cup increments until barley is just barely tender and a little water still remains in the mix. Remove from pan and set aside.

Rinse out skillet. Make sure you get any starch stuck to it out. Add 1 tbl oil and heat. Saute onion until lightly browned on medium heat. Brown the onion as evenly as you can on both sides.

Add all the peppers and the garlic. Saute 5 minutes. Add corn, hot sauce, remaining spices. Saute 2 more minutes. Add back the barley and the water mixed in with it and the last tbl of olive oil. Stir to combine. Try to get as much of the  barley as you can onto the bottom of the pan. Press down the mixture into the pan. Do not disturb for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it. There's a fine line between nicely browned and burnt.

Stir and you'll find nicely browned bits of barley. Try to get as much of the browned bits to the top and the unbrowned portions to the bottom. Press down into the pan again and let brown another 5 minutes.

Pair with black beans and harissa.