In the Beginning: Mushroom Barley Risotto

Braley Rizotto Plated

Hello everyone,

Happy 50th post!

I did it! I made a milestone! Two actually – I started this blog just over a year ago on February 16, 2014. Unfortunately, I just got back from Thailand and was gone at the time of my one year anniversary, so we will be celebrating the 50th post milestone as opposed to the 1 year anniversary.  I thought it would be fun to look back at how “Julie’s Kitchen Adventures” started, and the very first recipe behind it all – mushroom barley risotto.

My mom discovered mushroom barley risotto a few years back in an ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen cookbook, and my whole family fell in love with it. This dish is cheesy, rich, flavourful comfort food at its best, and has been a family favourite since my mom made it that fateful night. I remember her telling me about this recipe and saying that she was planning on trying it. When she finally did, I got a very excited phone call from her, just delighting in how absolutely delicious this mushroom barley risotto was. Of course, I had to try it myself and after doing so, I agreed with my mom’s opinion whole heartedly.

We made it at the lake one day, and my friend Alie came over to try the mushroom barley risotto. Like all people who sample this dish, she adored it.  Naturally, she asked me to email her the recipe, which I of course did. I can’t remember what I wrote in the email, but in my mind I imagine the body of the message to have be full of helpful tips and insightful anecdotes.

Last February, my lake friends and I got together for a few drinks on Whyte Avenue. If I recall correctly, Alie brought up the mushroom barley risotto recipe, and how good it was. I think she asked me to send her more recipes, and then the idea struck me. “Why don’t I start a recipe of the week email?” Of course, I made everyone there sign up, and my new recipe of the week email was born.

Shortly thereafter, I sent out my very first email featuring Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa. It was much more bare bones then my current posts typically are, simply featuring the recipe and a few tips. As I sent out each new email, I slowly added more friends and family to my mailing list. Over time, the email evolved into something more the just a recipe with tips, but to a means that allowed me to share my cooking experiences and food-related stories with everyone.

In September, a few people pushed me to set up a blog. I diligently uploaded my thirty-some previous emails onto the blog, doing my best to edit and format each one. I also had to pick a name. Since “Recipe of the Week” was already taken, I had to find a new name. “Julie’s Kitchen Adventures” popped into my head, and the rest is history!

Barley Rizotto in PotMushroom Barley Risotto

Rich, delightful, soul-warming. Just of few of the many adjectives I could use to describe this dish.

This recipe takes a little time and patience, but isn’t difficult at all. Like any risotto, you have to continuously add liquid a bit at a time, while stirring somewhat consistently.

It makes a lovely side to nearly anything – chicken, fish, roasted pork tenderloin . But there are times where I have eaten this dish as the entrée all on its own. It’s good enough to carry itself as a full meal!


  • Use any melting cheese you want. I often use cheddar because it is easily available.
  • I like to make my own chicken broth (OXO, Better then Bouillon etc.) for this one as opposed to using the pre-packaged tetra-packs – I find the flavour of this to be to overpowering or too salty. I prefer to make a weaker broth.
  • You don’t have to stir non-stop by any means, but keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally and making sure to keep adding the liquid.
  • Get your barley right – be sure you use pearl barley and NOT pot barley!

To this day, mushroom barley risotto is still one of my favourite sides. It’s the perfect touch to make any meal extra special. So good, in fact, that it led to the creation of this enterprise.

Thank you mushroom barley risotto. And to all the people whose love for mushroom barley risotto led to “Julie’s Kitchen Adventures.”

Bon appetit,


Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
Mushroom Barley Risotto


Mushroom Barley Risotto
From ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Serves 68.


6 cups chicken broth

3 tbsp butter

2 cups thinly sliced assorted mushrooms, or regular mushrooms

2 tbsp olive oil

1 /4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot

1 cup pearl barley

1 / 2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese – or any melting cheese you like

1/2 cup light cream (10%) or whipping cream

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh parsley


In a pot, heat broth to simmering; keep warm. Meanwhile, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are light and liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Heat oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and sauté about 2 — 3 minutes. Add barley and sauté for 3 minutes. Add wine and stir, until wine is almost absorbed.

Add 2 cups (500 mL) hot broth to barley mixture; cook, stirring frequently until almost all of liquid is absorbed. Add remaining 4 cups (1 L) hot broth, adding about ½ a cup at a time, cooking and stirring constantly until barley is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 35 — 40 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add mushrooms and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Stir in cream salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

2 thoughts on “In the Beginning: Mushroom Barley Risotto

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