Recipes for Good Living

This month we welcome cookbook author Lorna Sass to the LocalHarvest newsletter. Each month Lorna will be contributing a couple of recipes for our readers to try. Bon appetit!


Cooks tend to take eggs for granted, but ask any vegan and they will tell you about the challenges of preparing light-textured cakes, cookies, quiches, and pancakes without them. Eggs perform myriad tasks, from binding ingredients together - such as in a croquette or meatloaf - to leavening cakes and tenderizing their crumb.

For an excellent primer on preparing eggs, from hard-boiled to scrambled to making a souffle, I recommend Shirley Corriher's Cookwise (William Morrow, 1997). Says Shirley in her chapter "Eggs Unscrambled," "Knowing how to use eggs - not just whole eggs but also white and yolks separately - can mean the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary dish."

Here are two recipes from my own recent book, Whole Grains Every Way, Every Day (Clarkson Potter, 2006) using eggs in undemanding ways that don't require any special techniques. I must admit that I took the eggs much for granted when I created them.

Barley Chorizo Skillet Pie (Serves 6)

This recipe is a riff on the traditional Spanish skillet cake, which is made with thinly sliced potatoes and eggs. I've substituted barley for the potato and added chorizo and peppers to transform a tapa into an entree. The barley, with its mellow sweetness and pleasing chewiness, has a distinct presence in the mix.

The skillet pie is started on top of the stove and finished under the broiler. It's a good choice for brunch or a light supper with mixed greens tossed in a sherry vinaigrette. Or cut it into smaller wedges and serve them among other tapas for a grazing sort of meal.

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt (use lower amount if chorizo is quite salty)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 3 to 4 ounces cured (not fresh) chorizo, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked pearl or hulled barley
  • 1/2 cup grated manchego or romano cheese

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cilantro, and salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10- or 12-inch well seasoned cast iron or a nonstick skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper, and chorizo and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the pepper is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute more. Stir in the barley and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Pour the eggs evenly over the vegetable-grain mixture. Reduce the heat to medium. Use a spatula to push the cooked egg around the edges of the skillet towards the center, allowing the uncooked egg to seep to the bottom. Cook over medium-low heat uncovered until the edges are set and the bottom is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Sprinkle the cheese on top. Set the pan under the broiler until the top of the pie is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Let sit for five minutes. Serve from the pan, or run a knife along the edges and carefully ease the pie onto a large platter or cutting board. Slice into wedges. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Italian Farro Pie with Salami
Substitute parsley for the cilantro, salami for the chorizo, farro for the barley, and grated romano cheese for the manchego.

Grain Exchange
Use quinoa instead of barley. The result is lighter and more cake-like.

Spelt Ginger Snaps (Makes about 2 dozen two-inch cookies)

These delightful caramel-colored cookies call for crystallized ginger instead of ground. For best flavor and texture, chop the ginger coarsely enough to let its presence be felt in every bite.

Spelt is an ancient cousin of wheat. Wholegrain spelt flour works very much like all-purpose white flour in baked goods, but has all of the fiber and other nutritional advantages of the whole grain. It is available in most health food stores. Like any whole grain product, spelt flour should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent rancidity.

  • 1 2/3 cups spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

Place the rack in the middle and preheat the oven the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Place the spelt flour in a bowl. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a food processor or with an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add 1 egg and process for 20 seconds. Add the second egg and process an additional 20 seconds. Add the molasses and process until the mixture is smooth.

Add the flour mixture and process until completely incorporated. Add the ginger and pulse once or twice to distribute it evenly.

Drop tablespoons of dough on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between each mound for spreading. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes for soft cookies, and 19 to 21 minutes for crisp ones. Let the cookies cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 10 days.

Lorna Sass is a widely published food writer and an award-winning cookbook author. Visit her listing on our website.

Back to the April 2007 Newsletter