It's nearly impossible to escape the news coverage as protests rage from Madison to Morocco. But there is another revolt that's been taking place for much longer. And happening much closer to home.
To be precise, it's been happening in my home. At first the protests were peaceful. If a kid tried a food he or she didn't like, the response was to merely spit it out. Now, their fists are up and my Swiffer is out. If I present something they don't like the looks of, it ends up on the floor. No taste required.
Since I can't respond with water cannons and it doesn’t matter yet if I shut down the internet, I've resorted to trickery. While I've had some success, I can't say that I've put down the insurrection. It's still a major challenge to get anything green past them. Or pasta that's not macaroni. Or rice.
Given these facts, I am not quite clear why I thought they would like barley risotto. Perhaps I was beginning to crack, as Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak did at the end, letting my pride and delusions of grandeur get in the way of reality. With one ear open to the television reporting one protest movement after another, I went to work in the kitchen.
While the trio happily ate French toast, I tried to sneak in a few bites of my creation. First, I put some in a bowl and tried to spoon-feed it to them. They wouldn't even open their mouths. So I casually put a bit on their trays.
Zeke, in typical fashion, shrieked and covered his eyes, refusing to eat anything until the risotto was removed from his tray. The Dude touched it, recoiled, then tossed it on the floor. Bitty brought a grain or two to her mouth, then hastily threw it overboard.
The people have spoken. Pumping little fists in the air and persistently chanting "no." Another recipe toppled. The ruling regime has retreated, but is determined to one day retake control. Only two years into my term, I'm not ready to cede power yet.
Meyer Lemon Barley Risotto
Adapted from The Washington Post
3 large Meyer lemons
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 medium bulbs shallot
3 medium cloves garlic
½ tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 cups pearled barley
1 cup off-dry white wine, such as Riesling
1 tsp honey
½ cup crème fraiche (may substitute sour cream, but don't use nonfat)
3 handfuls (2 to 3 cups, loosely packed) greens, like chard, baby spinach, or arugula
Grate the zest from the lemons. Then juice all three lemons and strain into a small, non-reactive saucepan.
Heat the vegetable broth in a separate saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.
Meanwhile, mince the shallots. Mince the garlic and add the salt to the mince to coat and help break down the garlic. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and salted garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 2 to 4 minutes, until softened; be careful not to burn them. Add the barley and stir to coat evenly, then add the white wine and increase the heat to medium-high. When the mixture starts to bubble, add 1 cup of the hot broth to the barley. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the barley has absorbed more than half of the liquid. Add the remaining broth 1 cup at a time, over high or medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and waiting until much of that liquid has been absorbed before adding more. This will take about 20 minutes. (It may take 5 ½ cups instead of 6 to achieve a tender but slightly chewy risotto. That's OK. The barley can take the high heat as long as you stir to keep it from scorching on the bottom.)
While the barley risotto is cooking, heat the lemon juice in the small saucepan over medium heat. In 5 to 7 minutes, it will have reduced by half. Add the honey, mix well, and remove from the heat (there should be a few tablespoons of liquid).
When most, but not all, of the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is the desired consistency, remove the pot from the heat. Add the reduced lemon juice mixture to the pan and mix. Then add the crème fraiche and mix well. Add the greens, and stir until just wilted. Serve immediately.
There are many steps to this recipe, but it doesn't take long to prepare.
This recipe makes about 4 servings.