Posts Tagged ‘Fava Bean’

This crafter sure has been hungry! My poor computer is overflowing with photos of food, so I thought that I ought to just share some en masse. So, here goes: my summer, in food pictures:

First we have the ever delicious rice & chickpea salad from Sofra (available at the Siena Farms market stand). Must get more for lunch today as soon as I finish this post. Edit: only made it halfway through the post before running down to the farmer’s market to get some. The best part of this salad is that they play around with it a bit week to week. This week — no basil, yes broccoli!

Ah, memories… Fava bean season is long gone, of course, but at least I can reminisce about these beautiful beans sauteed in butter over toast with Ombra cheese on top. Sigh.

This here (Well, yes, it’s chocolate. Obviously.) is a base for a chocolate peanut butter ice cream I made for fourth of July. It turned out to be a disaster, actually, but tasted good nonetheless. It had the consistency of frozen fudge. Yes, I ate it anyway. With my fingers. Wouldn’t you?

On the far more successful side was this vanilla bean ice cream, midway through churning in the photo. Very very yummy. Recipe from David Lebovitz (the guru of all things ice cream). Topped it off with the salted caramel from Formaggio — amazing!

On another indulgent evening, I was craving some good old fashioned meat and potatoes, summer style. Enter steak tips, roasted red bliss potatoes with fresh herbs, and of course, some fresh corn on the cob.

And that’s just scratching the surface of my summer in food! My computer needs a break now, though. And so do I. Because I’m suddenly very hungry. Again.

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Oh, happy days:  the Copley Sq. Farmer’s Market is open once again! I love the farmer’s market. Being early in the season, the produce is still somewhat light, BUT…guess what I found over at the Siena Farms stand?  No, not fava beans…but fava bean greens.

Needless to say, being a somewhat new convert to the fava bean, greens were a new concept to me.  They were piled up in a basket with a little sign that instructed you to try wilting them in olive oil and serving with lemon juice and sea salt.

Did I try it?  Well, of course…  How could I not?

And how did it go?  Let’s take a peek:

Ta dah!  Success.  And how did it taste?  Well, yummy, yes, but I don’t suppose that tells you much.  Supposedly they were to taste like fava beans themselves, but really, well, they tasted like fava bean greens.  Not like spinach, as I might have suspected, but closer to perhaps fiddleheads or maybe dandelion greens, with a subtle nutty/buttery infusion of fava. I would make them again.

Back at the farmer’s market, I made my way over to the Fiore di Nonno stand.  I actually discovered their handmade mozzarella cheese over a year ago.  Based in Somerville, MA, it’s about as fresh a cheese as you can find in these parts.  Today, however, it was time for something special:  their fig burrata!  Burrata, if you are unfamiliar with it, is basically a mozzarella cheese ball with a soft, creamy filled center.  This particular one was filled with mascarpone and fig jam, making a very sweet burrata.

And of course, you have to see the inside!

The mozzarella was wonderful, as you would expect: fresh, creamy, nicely textured. The burrata overall was a bit too sweet for my liking, however.  It actually reminded me quite a bit of the inside of a good cannoli. I should mention that, while truthfully I’m a good old-fashioned American mutt when it comes to ethnicity, there are Italians on both sides of my family. Add a childhood filled with homemade pasta, tomato sauce, sausages and pizzelles, and I generally consider myself Italian, particularly when I’m speaking about food (which I often do, clearly). That being said, I have a confession to make, which I will say very quietly: I don’t like cannolis. Now, I’m not saying I won’t eat them — there’s a big difference between not liking something and not eating something.  Unless you are my boyfriend.  But I digress. Bottom line, if you’re not crazy about the filling of cannolis, pass on the fig burrata and save it for someone who will appreciate it. They’re rare enough that they deserve to be savored appropriately. Should I happen upon the Fiore di Nonna stand again when they’ve got their roasted garlic and onion burrata, though, all bets are off.

It’s going to be a good summer. Have I mentioned I love the farmer’s market?

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So much going on in my world recently!  In a rare change of events, I found myself somewhat happy to wake up this morning and realize it was Monday.  Not, mind you, that I’ve had a bad weekend by any stretch of the imagination; quite the opposite in fact.  I pretty much did nothing but eat and drink for 2½ days straight, and quite frankly, my stomach simply needs to get back to routine so it has a moment to recover.

But on to the exciting news:  I’ve started my cooking class!  It’s the 6-week “Back to Basics” recreational course at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (see link at right).  So far two classes have gone by — knife skills and eggs.  Up next week: soups and stocks. After that, we move on to moist heat cooking (braising, stewing, blanquettes & fricasees), followed by dry heat cooking (roasting, grilling, and sautéing), and end the series with sauces. So far the class has exceeded my expectations.  Too much fun.

What I would like to share with you today, my friends, is the epiphany I had last Sunday at the knife skills class. There is another way to cut a green pepper.

Now, I imagine that many of you, like myself, have traditionally attacked a green pepper in a manner something like this:

1). Take pepper and cut whole around top to pop out center

2). Cut into segments, using paring knife to cut out white inner yucky stuff (technical term) as you go.

3). Cut into misshapen curly-ended sticks

Now, presenting a NEW way to chop a pepper!  (Well, new to me, at least):

1). Start with beautiful pepper

2). Chop off both ends — enough so that you can see the insides

3). Make a vertical cut just to the left of one of the yucky white thingies inside.  Say hello to a fascinated Zoe.

4).  Turning the pepper on it’s side, run your knife along the inside of the pepper, turning the pepper as you go.  Preferably do this with a knife that is longer than the pepper, unlike the short paring knife I have in this picture. Otherwise, your teacher will correct you the following Sunday, and you will have to either retake pictures of yourself cutting the pepper with the appropriate knife, or decide to suck it up and post the picture to your blog as is so that you don’t have to go to the store and buy another green paper and therefore delay your blog entry for another week.

5).  You are left with a nice neat rectangle of pepper.  Ignore the fact that it is now upside down in photo due to poor choice of knife.

5).  Slice…

6). …and dice!

7).  Note how nice and square your dice is, meaning your peppers will cook perfectly even.  Thank Nate for humoring you and leaning over your shoulder to take pictures of you chopping a pepper.

OK, so not my best work.  I will master the pepper yet, though.

In the meantime, as I mentioned previously, I’m so excited to have discovered fava beans!  Now, fava beans aren’t exactly easy to find fresh (or frozen, for that matter), as the season is short, supplies limited, and standard supermarkets may not carry them. Luckily for me, my sister spotted fresh ones at Russo’s in Watertown and was kind enough to get me some.  While there were many recipes I wanted to try, I finally settled on a recipe for Fava Bean Purée with Oil-Cured Olives, French Feta and Crostini. They were very yummy, and I would definitely make them again, although potentially not on a weeknight next time. Tasty and filling, they were all I needed for dinner.

And in case you were wondering, I enjoyed it with a nice Cabernet.

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There’s a long-standing theory that I was a cat in a past life. I have a penchant for snuggling up in soft blankets in a patch of sunshine, I do (somewhat embarrassingly) enjoy my boyfriend’s lap and a good rub of the head, and I like to take “time outs,” where I simply curl up and rest with my eyes closed, half awake and half asleep. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I don’t have nine lives.  I do, however, think I may have nine stomachs. One for each course of the meal I ate Friday night.

Yes, you heard right. I had a NINE course meal. The adventure began when my friend Marcy befriended a chef down in Providence, RI, and was invited to come down to check out his restaurant.  Knowing that I would probably throw a tantrum if this event occured without me, she wisely invited me to come along. We arrived at Zooma around 7:30 after a mildly fear-inducing ride through the center of a heavy rainstorm. I figure fear is good for the appetite, though — by the time we got out of the car, I was thankful to be alive and ready to indulge in some carnal pleasures. And indulge we did.

We were shown to the “Chef’s Table,” which was something akin to pulling up a bar stool to the edge of a kitchen island. Sitting side by side, we had a clear view into the kitchen and were able to meet the chefs preparing our food, as well as catch up with Chef Jeff Burgess, who was expediting orders to our left.

We started with a bottle of Crios Malbec from Argentina, and that was the last decision we made for the evening, aside from answering “Would you like another course?” with a resounding YES. And another. And another. Jeff put together a tasting menu that walked us slowly through their menu of regional Italian food. As a general rule, all of the food at Zooma is based on principles of simplicity, quality, and fresh, local ingredients. The exception that proves the rule being the buffalo mozzarella and pasta flour, which are imported from Italy, and San Marzano tomatoes during the off-season (otherwise, the tomatoes are actually grown on Zooma’s roof!)

So without further ado, our menu:

1st course:  tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella with olive oil, sea salt and vin cotto

2nd course:  grilled asparagus topped with an egg, shaved pecorino romano, sea salt, and olive oil

3rd course:  bucatini served al dente with ramps and garlic in olive oil

4th course:  handmade tagliatelle with fava beans in a light butter sauce

5th course:  artichoke raviolis with braised lamb sauteed with a hint of olive oil, marinara and a mirepoix medley

6th course:  pan-fried trout over an asian-inspired slaw of carrots, sauteed ramp bulbs and diced ramp tops, topped with a citrus-cilantro salad

7th course:  seared sea scallops with romesco and warm spinach

8th course:  rib eye steak with mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini

9th course:  passion fruit and peach gelatos from Ciao Bella

Really, it was all insanely good. The mozzarella was to die for — softer, creamier and more subtle than your standard supermarket fare. The asparagus, egg and pecorino dish was one of my absolute favorites. Simplicity at its best, the asparagus was young and fresh, no doubt first of the season, and grilled to perfection, keeping its verdant color intact.  It’s pretty much an ideal lunch for me, and I plan to mimic this one at home frequently.  The tagliatelle and fava beans was another favorite.  The butter sauce was incredibly light, especially considering that, well, it’s made of butter; a purposefully light hand when saucing the pasta helped. Handmade tagliatelle — enough said. But the FAVA BEANS. Oh my. I’m a convert. I need to learn more about them and start looking up recipes, because they are now my new favorite bean. They were like a more buttery, meaty version of edamame. Just delicious.

I do enjoy a good braise, and this one was appropriately tender to the point of falling apart. It reminded me that I do in fact like lamb, which I somehow had managed to forget in the years between now and my childhood, when a good rosemary leg of lamb was a staple at Easter dinners. Speaking of childhood, I had to start clapping my hands with glee when the trout came out, as that’s another beloved food that brings me back to the early 80s. Summers in Newfoundland during that time involved my frequently being woken by the smell of fresh trout, dredged in flour, crackling away in a cast iron pan on the stove, the tasty outcome of that morning’s fishing expedition.

I hit the wall about the time the sea scallops came out, but pushed on through to the rib eye course, which was where I first reluctantly had to have the plate taken away without eating everything on it. The lip-puckering passion fruit gelato was the perfect end to the evening, even if it did upstage the more delicate peach gelato.

A nice side note about Zooma is that, with the exception of Chef Jeff, most of the cooks are students at Johnson & Wales, the well-respected culinary school also in Providence. Maybe it’s the old Northeastern student in me, but I definitely like the whole work/study concept, and admire Zooma for supporting the school and Chef Jeff for helping them get a hands-on education. They all did themselves proud.

Now excuse me while I go resew the button that popped off the top of my pants on the ride home.

Trattoria Zooma on Urbanspoon

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