Blame Jill, Elisa, Lori, Sarah, and Gabrielle. I didn't know whether to post today about the horrifying ground beef expose that just appeared in Sunday's New York Times or something less sinister, so I put the question to the 500+ folks in the 5 Second Rule Facebook group, and they voted for pouffy fluff. (Newsflash: on my off days, I'm going to engage people with little tidbits on that page, so if you need a little hypercaffeinated pick-me-up but aren't enticed by Starbucks' new instant coffee, which I honestly have no idea why everyone is talking about -- oh WAIT, it's because they gave out free samples! -- you can join the fun with me on Facebook.)
You'll also see my thread there on the demise of Gourmet magazine. I didn't weigh in in an official capacity on the blog since so many other people posted about it yesterday, including my thoughtful colleagues on the following sites:
Stephanie at Wasabimon;
Dianne at Will Write for Food;
Sam at Chews Wise;
Julie at Magazine Know-It-All.
Now today, in which I try to convince you to buy farro.
Actually, I really don't care if you buy farro, or wheat berries, or brown rice, or woolly socks, since all of them will keep you warm if you begin to freeze off your extremities. The socks may present a choking hazard, however, so please eat them only if a friend or neighbor is within gagging distance.
Warning: farro is expensive and not terribly easy to find. It's an Italian wheat-related grain that's often sold semi-pearled, so it cooks more quickly than wheat berries while offering a similar texture and chew. If you're looking to save money and have gobs of time, go wheat berries. (My favorite wheat berry recipes are here and here.) If you're cash-rich but time-poor, go farro. F-A-R-R-O, goooooooooo Farro! (Flip, twirl.)
Either way, consider making this recipe in the evening and microwaving it with a little milk and brown sugar in the morning. The cayenne adds a kicky note of heat that wakes up the cashews and apples, forcing them to stand up and scream, Now what the hell just happened there? Just watch the cayenne if you're feeding this to kids, unless they've left their pajamas on the floor for more than three days, in which case you may want to double the suggested amount.
Next post: ground beef. Hold onto your Stetsons.
Recipe for Sweet and Spicy Farro, with apples and cashews
This recipe started out as a side dish but morphed into a breakfast, which is where it should remain. Please make it in advance, then add a bit of milk and brown sugar to taste in the morning and pop it in the microwave to heat thoroughly. Watch the cayenne, or you'll cry hot, fiery tears.
Makes 4 servings, or breakfast for one for four days
1 cup semi-pearled farro
2 teaspoons butter
2 medium apples, cored but peel left on, diced
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch black pepper and pinch cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Additional cinnamon, plus brown sugar and milk for serving
Place farro in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by about one inch (about 3 cups water). Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until grains are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander, and dry the pot.
In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, cashews, spices, salt, and lemon juice, and raise heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the apples soften and begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add to the farro.
If making in advance (as recommended), cool completely and store, covered, in the fridge. In the morning, dole out a portion and microwave with a healthy glug of milk. Sweeten with brown sugar and sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired.