A number of years ago I was in a little town near my home and stopped into a small shop that looked more like a party store than a catering facility. I’d heard about this place for years, as my mom would always pick up their patented sandwiches for parties. Yes, that is not a typo, they make a special sandwich in a round loaf of rye bread that is patented. The bread is hallowed out and then it is cut amazingly thin Continue reading ‘Tropical Pecan Tortilla Sandies’
I’ve been racking my brain to find a recipe that felt like fall. The trouble with living in Northern California this time of year is that we are spoiled by our ‘Indian Summer’ weather. With temperatures ranging upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit it is difficult to look at all the amazing fall produce through the same eyes. I am dreaming of stews and lasagna in my mind’s eye and yet Continue reading ‘Cheesy Pumpkin Kale Lasagna (Lasagne Con Zucca e Cavolo)’
A nearly Wordless Wednesday post sharing some photo out-takes from my trip to North Carolina. For the full story of ‘Farm to Fork’ and my recipe please read: Swine and Wine Italian Pork Stew Continue reading ‘Wordless Wednesday – North Carolina’
I’ve never considered myself a pickle aficionado. I have liked them but not necessarily craved them. That was until I tasted my friend Maria’s bread and butter pickles. They were so fresh and crunchy; it was difficult for me to forget them. Continue reading ‘Shiver Me Pickles – The Story of A Pickle Un-Aficionado (Bread & Butter Pickles)’
This is a spin on my good ‘ole spider egg recipe. It is one of those recipes that hardly feels like a recipe as most of the real work is the time spent just cutting up the olives into the right decorative shapes. With All Hallows’ Eve quickly approaching, parties are bound to pop-up, and this just might be your stand-out dish to bring to share.
In our family, Spider Deviled Eggs have become a Halloween tradition. I would undoubtedly miss seeing these annual ‘spiders’ Continue reading ‘Spooky Green Spider Deviled Eggs’
I was recently offered the opportunity to join a group of bloggers as guests of the Animal Agricultural Alliance, to tour three pig farms (Sow Farm on Prestage P12B/McDaniels Complex, Nursery Farm L&W Ammons and Finishing Farm C&C Top Hog)* in North Carolina. At a glance it seemed like an amazing opportunity, they would pay our expenses and we would enjoy the chance to learn something new. But I also knew it was a trip that would come with emotional and psychological risks. Without much hesitation, this part-time vegetarian decided Continue reading ‘Swine & Wine Italian Pork Stew (Bourguignon)’
I have a love of figs. There is something romantic about this biblical fruit; it is sensual. Maybe it is its the shape or perhaps it is the texture. Whatever it is that draws me in, it is simply an amazing and delicate fruit.
They were said to be Cleopatra’s favorite food, there is no denying that these buxom purple and greenish yellow fruits are sexy in both appearance and texture. For obvious reasons, Continue reading ‘Dark Mission Fig Streusel Bars’
Living in Northern California, with a generally moderate climate, I do feel spoiled by the constant flurry of good fresh foods I have access to. While I am cognoscente of it, I have an indulginest attitude. Ergo- I am lucky, I am appreciative, and I enjoy every opportunity to partake in the available local bounty. This time of year the bounty is abundant with the most succulent tomatoes and fresh herbs.
Good produce makes for great food. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a great cook to prepare delicious food. What you need is Continue reading ‘Insalata Caprese’
The secret to enjoying the last of those long summer nights is a no-fuss do ahead meal with the added bonus of not having to wash any pots and pans. This is a great week night meal or fun dinner to do when entertaining. In keeping with my theme of the past few weeks, here is another easy summer meal to tuck into your “favorites” foodie file.
As I look towards Labor Day long holiday weekend, I want to keep the food aspect of entertaining my guests simple Continue reading ‘Campfire Prawns & Corn Wheels’
Fava Beans (or broad beans) although very common in Italy are not usual fare in the U.S. While they do continue to grow in popularity, they can be a chore to prepare. Fava beans, when in their pods, look like an overgrown sweet pea. Their taste is richer than most other beans; smoother and richer.
It never fails, I am suckered in each time. During the spring and summer I hunt fava beans out at the farmer’s market and I select a couple pounds of the plumpest, bright green pods I can find. Hand selecting each bean as I diligently run my hand along the exterior of the individual pods to ensure that there are nice fat beans inside. I remind myself that it is important not to go for pods that are bulging, as these are typically older and might have a slightly bitter taste. And while it always seems like a lot of beans when they are in their pods, one pound of un-peeled beans will garner roughly 1/3 cup of favas.
But I digress. Fast forward to that moment when I get home with my coveted glorious bag of fava beans and realize that I have now committed myself to peeling, boiling, shocking, peeling again and then finally cooking the scant ¼- ½ cup yield of beans. Typically I purchase them for my mom, as she loves to make a traditional Sicilian Fava Bean soup recipe that was handed down to her by my grandfather. It isn’t a recipe I would consider complex, but it is one that I always look forward to devouring. She covets them equally. Upon the arrival of the fava beans she guards these pods like gold.
Over the last few years in addition to buying her fava beans she has even managed to convince me to purchase and peel them for her before handing them over for her cookery. But this year I held out. I made a secret voyage to the Marin County Farmer’s Market and purchased a few pounds. I’ve been wanting to experiment with these beauties, so I didn’t divulge that I had purchased any. But like any mother, her antennas were up and without even trying she found out from a friend of mine that I purchased them! It was on. “Oh, I hear you bought some fava beans today,” she remarked. “Did you get some for me?” >my radio silence prevails< “Well not exactly. I was going to try out some new recipe ideas,” I explained. “Humm, so we not going to have any fava bean soup this summer? Or the pork and fava bean dish? Are you sure?” she questioned. “I’ll share my creations,” I say convincingly.
I am pleased to report that success was achieved. No need to go through the typical painstaking multistep preparation process. >drum roll PUH-leze< This is a super simple mind-blowing appetizer recipe. No shucking, boiling, shocking, peeling again and then cooking. Three steps, wash, season and roast! It’s a summer miracle- roasting the pods renders the second outermost skin edible!
The Un-Fava Bean Recipe
Toss clean whole fava bean pods in good quality olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss on the upper most level of the BBQ. Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes on each side. The exact cooking time will depend on the size of the pod. When the pods loose their crisp firm form and become slightly browned and wilted they are cooked. Place the roasted pods on a plate or in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt or sea salt. Encourage guests to eat them out of the pods similar to edamame. The skin is where all of the good flavors reside so it is I wouldn’t recommend pre-peeling them. However, if opting to go this skinner route then add a nice sprinkling of kosher or sea salt to the naked beans.
No BBQ? Well no problem-o. Spread the fava bean pods onto a baking sheet, in a single layer, and roast at 450 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, turning once half way through the total cooking time. Cook until wilted and tender.