Loving Barley……And Always Lemons!

Isabel, I boiled up two cups of barley in loads of water, drained it, and put it aside. I wanted that chewy texture in some upcoming meals (don’t ask me why!). So good in a salad; it gives everything a bit of weight in an otherwise non- substantial dish of greens which is sometimes CALLED FOR! Don’t you agree? Just because we want to eat healthy doesn’t mean we all want to be half-starved.

So….. just letting you know, use a handful or a small cupful in a green salad, or for something full on in hearty, try this yummy combination as a side ( we ate it with excellent pork sausages) :

Potato and Barley Fry Up

  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 large cooked potatoes
  • half a cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large fry pan.
  2. Toss in the onions and garlic and cook till softened. Cook on high heat but watch carefully so the ingredients don’t burn.
  3. As these start to brown, add the potatoes.
  4. When the potatoes become golden ( you may need to add a little more oil), add the barley and stir well. Reduce heat.
  5. Sprinkle with flat leaf parsley, season, stir well.
  6. Add a tablespoon or two of water so that the potatoes and onion don’t stick.

Barley and potato fry

So that was one yummy hearty side to serve with a simple salad of butter lettuce and shaved pear and parmesan. YUM.

Now these preserved lemons which I bought a couple of weeks ago when you were here have been taunting me, sitting on the windowsill, with their gorgeous bright colour. Remember I bought them from the butcher in the Double Bay Cosmopolitan arcade? I had some organic chicken thighs so these had to convert into a lemony Moroccan tagine! Since you have a beautiful red tagine to cook in at Grouse, there is no excuse- this is one super easy dish to make, Izzy. It is so delish-serve with a cous cous salad and you are in for a FEAST.

Chicken tagine with cous cous salad side

Preserved lemons!

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

  • 2 kg chicken thighs (preferably with the bone on for more flavour)
  • 2 large preserved lemons, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup green pitted green olives
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon cummin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • salt to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock


  1. Trim the chicken pieces of any fat, sprinkle over with the cumin, coriander, chilli powder, pepper and salt. Coat evenly, and leave aside in a bowl.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy based pan and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until soft.
  3. Remove the onion mixture from the heat and set aside.
  4. Heat the rest of the oil, and brown the chicken in the same pan, in a few small batches.
  5. When each batch of four or five pieces are brown on each side, set them aside with the onion mix.
  6. Once all the chicken pieces have been browned, put all the cooked ingredients back in the pan (or tagine if you have one).
  7. Add the olives, preserved lemons, and chopped coriander. Stir well. Add the cup of water or stock.
  8. On a low simmer, cook for about thirty to forty minutes, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  9. Serve warm with cous cous or rice.

Your little pal Paisley is home from her ACL surgery and being an absolute trooper in her special temporary cage. Poor little thing with her cone collar to prevent scratching, and those awful big sutures, it is all a bit overwhelming.  But dear old Alice is close at hand playing nursemaid. They are so sweet to each other!

I hope the last of your essays are going well. Just think, as soon as its all over, you’ll be on your way to LA! How fun will it be, to catch up with all your Brentwood school friends at Thanksgiving. I wish I was going too.

Moroccan Lamb

When Claudia and I arrived in Melbourne this past winter ahead of dad, we had some of your girl friends over to Eildon Road.  With a big lamb tagine, we sat around the dining table and I loved hearing all the stories about life at Ormond College. It was fun getting to know the girls you had become friends with. We were thrilled to discover that Claire and we had an old family friend we shared in common. This was apart from the other amazing discovery that Mim and you were born just days apart in the same hospital.

Anyway, that tagine has sparked some interest and I am so glad you girls are ready to spend a bit of time over a satisfying, slow cooked dish like this. What I mean is, this is not a quick, last minute meal to whip up at the spur of the moment- its something you should be prepared to leave on the stove to simmer gently until it is meltingly tender. If you can go as far as to cook it the day before you eat it, you will be rewarded by flavours that have deepened and mellowed.

This recipe I got from one of my American copies of Bon Apetit. 

It was a wonderful occasion we shared together in St. Kilda, all girls around our table. Tonight I have cooked it to share with the Barrs family who are here to watch the Super Bowl with us. We are eating it with a cous cous salad and a cucumber and pomegranate, grape and fetta  salad.  Paisley of course watched from a safe distance – you know how she hates the stove!  We’ve just seen Madonna strut her stuff in her gladiator costume- no malfunctions, thank goodness. So who will it be- the Giants or the Patriots?

Moroccan Slow Cooked Lamb

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 21/2 lbs trimmed boned lamb
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 1 table spoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander
  1. Mix first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Add lamb and toss to coat.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Working in batches, fry the lamb and cook till browned on all sides.
  4. Transfer to another bowl and keep aside.
  5. Add onion to the skillet and the tomato paste.  Reduce heat to med., saute onions till soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add broth, chick peas, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger and lemon peel, and bring to a boil.
  7. Return lamb to the pan and bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about an hour.
  9. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 20 minutes.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.