Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Put a little spring in your step!

Today, it feels like spring has sprung.
my beautiful tulips
OK, OK, I am being a little over enthusiastic! After all, it is only Feb 16th and it is still bloody cold here in Blighty (roll on Easter in Florida) but the wind-flowers and snow drops are poking their beautiful little heads up in my Mum's Teletubbiesque front garden and I haven't worn gloves all week so far and as I sit here writing this at 4:30pm I see blue sky out the window, not darkness, so in my mind, something is definitely up! I think the real reason I am saying this is because after an absolute bastard of a seven days, where everything that could possibly go wrong did, I have to cast off the misery of the crappy week and the long winter. I bought some beautiful tulips, some amazing organic goodies and to welcome in the spring, I am about to make the most delicious tasty goodness you have ever had.
Well, excluding Dairy Milk and Dom Perignon and my Mum's roast potatoes!
My sister found this fanatstic recipe in a magazine she was reading in the hospital waiting room, ripped it out, got the ingredients on the way home and whipped it up. Now if you know my sister, this is quite funny because her and her husband must own about forty cookery books between them, they are total foodies and concoct incredible gastronomic delights on a daily basis, but never once from a recipe book I don't think! Their boys may grow up to be food critics...scratch that, they already are; "Dad you over did it on the lemon grass I think" and "Is there any need to add birds eye chillies to every meal?" and "Mum! If you ever try and stuff a marrow again I shall be packing my bags"!
Anyway, I went to Sainsbury's to shop for ingredients. I know I should have gone to the farm shop and the butchers but I had to get petrol for my car, even though it looks like it should be a clockwork vehicle, and it is so much simpler to do it all in one place: petrol then food then home, no parking fifteen different times! By the way, why do people get petrol, then go into the BP shop and do their weeks shop for forty minutes then wander out slowly, tart around for five minutes trying to find their keys, then another ten putting on their seat belts and checking their text messages before realising that there is a whole queue of irate drivers with empty petrol tanks waiting for them to bloody move?
Or is it just me?
I feel better about going to one of the big five by buying everything organic and free range and fair trade and all those things that make you feel very smug about your place in the world. This then also allows you to look at the person in front of you at the check out with slight disdain (which I love!) for having in their trolley, shock horror, a white loaf, or the very devil itself, a six pack of diet coke! Damn you aspartame!
Now you are thinking, "Shut up Sophie and get on with the bloody recipe!"

look at all the yummy goodness!
So here we go with...
Chicken and Barley Broth
For the broth you need:
around a 2.5lb chicken (please buy free range, poor things!)
4 bay leaves
a carrot roughly chopped
an onion roughly chopped
10 peppercorns (if you put in 11 I don't think you will ruin it!!!!)

It gets better!
You shove all these ingredients into a large pan, cover it over with water, bring it to the boil and let it simmer gently for 2 and a half hours with the lid on.
At this point you have time to crack open a bottle, get on the phone to your friends, write a blog...the options are endless!!
Then after your 2 and a half hours are up, you are going to have to grab some tongs and negotiate your way round a very overcooked chicken, trying to wrestle it out of the pan before it falls apart and you are left with nothing but one tiny bone in your tongs and the rest back in the pan but this time in pieces!
I suggest you put it through a colander. You then want to get as much chicken off the bone as possible in big chunks, then discard the carcass and other stuff.
Next, put the meat back into the broth along with 5oz pearl barley, season well then bring it to the boil and let it simmer for 45 minutes (You need to start this project in the morning!) After 20 minutes, add a head of fennel, chopped, 4 carrots, sliced, one onion, chopped and 3 leeks, sliced.
Now pretty much it is done. You can add a stock cube if you think it needs it (or some bouillon concentrate) and ten minutes before serving, add 5oz tiny pasta shapes (I like stars) and a good handful of chopped fresh parsley.
This is so delicious served with, you guessed it, crusty bread covered in think curls of cold butter!
Enjoy Freedom lovers!

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