Well actually I've been back for a little while.... very sadly my grandma passed away on the day we got back from the US and so blogging hasn't quite managed to get to the top of my list until now. Its been a very sad time, she has left such a big hole, but time heals, and developing delicious recipes to share with you guys and tend to the soul certainly helps...
Our trip, on the other hand, was absolutely fantastic - what an adventure! In 3 weeks it felt like we had been on 10 holidays, not surprising as we packed in 6 different cities, four long flights, the most beautiful wedding, about a zillion miles in the car, and a whole lot of fun in-between! I've taken so many photographs I'm still trawling through them, but will most certainly have some snaps from our travels to share with you very soon, as well as our recommendations for the best places we ate at and visited whilst we were there...
In the meantime we've been making lots of healthy and healing California inspired dishes at home to remind us of our travels... these two grain bowls are most definitely up there as our favourites since we got back. It's like his'n'hers really... Toby made his from a base of buckwheat and his favourite roasted broccoli, mine was with barley (my favourite grain of the moment) and had lots of tangy preserved lemon (another current obsession if you can't tell)... both had asparagus as its just coming to the end of asparagus here in the UK and we've been lucky enough to have lots of home grown coming from friends and family as well as in our veg box.
So why not try one of these out this week, or maybe both... and let me know which one you prefer... not that I'm competitive or anything ;)
Barley bowl, with coriander and pistachio oil and asparagus two ways
You could always use extra virgin olive oil instead of pistachio oil if you don't have it, and maybe throw a few pistachio nuts in instead.
250g pearled barley
50g coriander - leaves and soft stalks (cilantro)
25g parsley leaves
Juice of half a lemon
2 bunches of asparagus
1 preserved lemon quarter - flesh removed and rind chopped finely
sprouts to garnish (I used radish sprouts)
Rinse the pearl barley in cold water, then cover with about an inch of fresh cold water, and bring to the boil, turn down and simmer for around 15-20 minutes until cooked through but still has a bit of bite/texture.
While the barley is cooking make the sauce. In a small blended add the coriander and parsley leaves with about a tbsp of pistachio oil and the lemon juice. Blitz until all the leaves are processed and you have a fine sauce, you might need to add more oil so it isn't too dry. Season with salt and pepper and add more lemon juice if needed to get a bit of tang. Set aside.
Break the ends of the asparagus and keep half of to one side. In a bowl the remaining asparagus with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan until very hot and griddle the aspargus for a couple of minutes each side - set aside. Cut the rest of the asparagus length wise on a mandolin so you have thin shavings of raw asparagus - keep to one side.
When the barley is cooked, drain and rinse, and leave to cool slightly. Whilst the barley is still warm mix in the coriander pistachio sauce through well and portion out into four bowls.
Top the barley with the two kinds of asparagus.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and add a splash of white wine vinegar. Drop each of the eggs into the water carefully and poach for 2 minutes. Drain the eggs on some kitchen paper, then pop one on top of each bowl.
Sprinkle over the preserved lemon and sprouts and enjoy!
Buckwheat bowl with roasted broccoli and tomato, poached egg and asparagus
1 head broccoli
punnet of cherry tomatoes
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 bunch asparagus
fresh mint leaves
sprouts (again we used radish here)
Heat the oven to 180˚C.
Rinse the buckwheat, then cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse the buckwheat and leave to cool a little.
Once the buckwheat is on the boil, chop the broccoli into florets and then mix with olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking tray and pop into the pre-heated oven to roast for about 15-20 minutes until charred and just turning soft - turn a couple of times throughout to cook evenly. Mix the tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper and spread out onto another baking tray. Once the broccoli has been in for 5 minutes add the tomatoes and roast for 15 minutes until blistered and just going soft.
Whilst the veggies are roasting make the sauce by processing the basil and parsley with a tablespoon or two of rapeseed oil, the lemon juice and some seasoning until you have a smooth sauce. Taste and add more lemon or seasoning if needed. Once the buckwheat has cooled a little mix the sauce through the grains and divide between 4 bowls.
Once the veggies are cooked remove from the oven. Spread the almonds on a baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. When the are toasted nicely chop them roughly and cheap to one side.
Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes and drain.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and add a splash of white wine vinegar. Slide the eggs in one by one and poach for 2 minutes. Drain the eggs on kitchen paper.
Top the bowls with the roasted brocolu and tomatoes, the blanched asparagus with a poached egg on each. Sprinkle over the chopped almonds, sprouts and some torn mint leaves - enjoy!