Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spicy Fava Bean Mash

I am a huge fava bean fan and eat them as often as possible during season. I fill bags and bags at the weekly farmers' market and collect numerous recipes to prepare but, here is my confession, I NEVER follow through with the recipes. I prepare them exactly the same three ways every time: as an easy appetizer served fresh with pecorino cheese and terrific wine, or a light lunch/dinner first course mashed into a garlicky delicious puree spread on bruschetta, or tossed in a quick pasta. All three are good, but my favorite is the mash spread on bruschetta. 

Of course I will provide a recipe, but first I want to discuss the preparation. Favas seem to scare off many people. The process sounds complicated and labor intensive and, to be honest, it does take a while, but I make the preparation part of the fava bean eating experience. Trust me on this, you will enjoy everything from purchase to prep to consuming.

If you have never seen a raw fava bean you should know that they come in pods, kind of like a giant peapod, and you split the pod to remove the beans the same way you do with peas. The difference is the "interior" of the shell. O.K, you are all going to know just how odd I am when I finish this description, but I can't help it....I love this, the interior is made up of spongy, protective "stuff" (have no idea of the technical term) that cradles and protects the beans. It makes me happy just to shell them. You can't help but feel really close to the farm, even if you live in a major city, and having friends and family participate in the shelling really does become a party.

So the process is as follows:
*split each pod down the center seam (just use a fingernail to get started) and open like a book.
* pop out each bean

a fava popping out of the skin
At this point the prep depends on the season...mid season, you need to peel each bean...very early in the season you do not and you can eat them raw, straight from the shell. My mother-in-law, who was 100% Italian, shared the tradition of inviting friends over and serving early season favas this way. Everyone would shell their own beans and eat with sea salt, pecorino cheese and wine. The shelling, eating, drinking, talking and laughing makes a terrific party.
After the first couple of weeks of fava season you need to peel the beans because the skin gets tough and a bit bitter. So the next step after removing the beans from their pods is to:

*Add the favas to a pot of rapidly boiling water for just a minute (do not overcook)
*Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
favas with skin, out of skin and one popping out to show the difference
*When the favas are completely cool, drain and remove the outer skin. This is pretty easy as they will have started to pop out themselves...you just need to give a very light squeeze and they will do the work for you. This is easy,but time consuming,so either plan ahead or solicit help :)
You are now ready to use your favas in your favorite recipes. They need just a quick saute and they are good to go.

I told you my favorite way to eat favas is mashed into a garlicky spread. Easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Spicy Fava Bean Mash
3 pounds favas (peeled and skinned following the techniques listed above)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 peeled garlic cloves, smashed
additional extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Add prepared favas, 3 tbsp olive oil and garlic cloves to saute pan. Cook until the favas are tender and can be mashed easily when pressed with a spoon (10-15 minutes). Stir occasionally during this step and add a bit more olive oil if necessary. When favas are cooked, put the entire contents of saute pan...favas, garlic and the olive oil...into a food processor or blender. Pulse until you have a chunky paste. I like some texture but keep going until it is as smooth as you like. Add additional olive oil and pulse again. The amount of oil depends on your preference. Start with 2 tbsp, add the red pepper flakes, pulse again and season to taste with salt and pepper

Serve the fava bean mash with slices of bruschetta and pecorino or parmigiano-reggiano. I spread some puree on a slice of bruschetta, top with a bit of cheese, drizzle additional extra virgin olive oil (best quality is important with this) and sprinkle a bit of grey salt....amazingly good!!

It is "Something Mashed" week at Food Network's Sensational Sides roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite mashed recipe? Feel free to share in the comments section or link to your blog if you have one. 

best,
Diane
California Girl in Taos

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I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Feta & Peppers

I surprised my parents this morning by telling them I was coming home for Easter. My dog, Mose, was diagnosed with cancer early in December and we cancelled our plans to visit family for Christmas. I have been focusing a lot of time on oncology appointments, radiation therapy and just being with him. He is doing as well as can be expected...happy, no pain, good appetite...so I have decided I need to go to California to see everyone...it has been way too long. My sisters and I are calling the day "Christer" since we will be celebrating Christmas and Easter since we have all the gifts from both holidays.

Once my mom got over the initial excitement of hearing I was coming we immediately started discussing the menu. We always have a ham on Easter but this year, since it is projected to be 85 degrees, we settled on a cold buffet. Coleslaw, fruit salad, green salad and my spicy green bean & potato salad along with baked beans and warm dinner rolls. Oh..and coconut cake for dessert. This menu makes me very happy.



The green bean & potato salad is light and fresh. Crunchy sweet red bell peppers, white onion, crisp fresh organic green beans, steamed red potatoes married with an olive oil and cider vinegar vinaigrette (instead of mayo) and salty feta is perfect with the ham. The dried red pepper flakes add a bit of heat which is perfect with the rest of the dishes. Enjoy and Happy Easter (or Christer if you are a member of  my family!)




Green Bean and Potato Salad with Feta & Peppers
(serve 6)
1 1/2 lbs tiny new potatoes cut in half or qtrs depending on size
1/2 lb fresh green beans ends trimmed and cut in half
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 sweet white onion, diced

1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper


Steam new potatoes until tender. Remove from heat, drain and place in large bowl. Steam the green beans until tender (about 4 minutes) and plunge in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking any further. Drain and add to potatoes. Add the bell pepper, onion, red pepper flakes and feta to the bowl and stir gently to combine. Fold in a small pinch each salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a mason jar, combine the olive oil, vinegar and 1 tbsp parsley and shake. Add a pinch each salt and pepper and shake again. Pour dressing over salad and stir to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve at room temperature sprinkling remaining parsley over top.



It is "Easy Easter Sides" week at Food Network's Sensational Sides roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite Easter recipe? Feel free to share in the comments section or link to your blog if you have one. 

best,
Diane
California Girl in Taos

Follow Me on Pinterest
I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Busy Mom's Chicken Tacos

It took me longer to settle on the name for this post than to actually make the tacos! I started with Working Mom's Chicken Tacos and then realized I needed to include the very busy stay-at-home moms. Then I worried a bit that I was leaving out the Dad's. I don't have children living at home so I realized I was leaving myself out of the equation. But this is Kid Friendly week at Food Network's Spring Sensational Sides blog fest so Busy Mom's won.

These tacos are so incredibly easy I am almost embarrassed to list this as a recipe. When I want chicken tacos on a weekend I roast a whole chicken, make homemade salsa, homemade guacamole and fry the corn tortillas to make the shells. But weeknights are a different matter. My local organic market always has freshly roasted whole chickens and excellent store made guacamole. Garden of Eatin' and/or Bearitos make ready made organic taco shells...you just heat them up. All you need to do is prepare  the toppings and you are set.
I simmer the cooked and shredded chicken with store bought salsa and add sliced pickled peppadew peppers. The smoky/sweet taste of the peppers with just a bit of a bite is usually not too spicy for kid's palates. If you have a very sensitive child just leave out the peppers and use mild salsa.
the chicken taco filling
I serve both soft and hard shells and allow everyone to customize their tacos to their liking. I find if children are given the option...and your toppings are fresh, beautiful and full of colors...children will pile on the vegetables along with the meat and cheese. If necessary, give them a bit of a nudge...the tacos really taste better with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions and radishes. Serve with refried beans and dinner is served. What is your favorite kid friendly dish? Why?


Busy Mom's Chicken Tacos
(makes 10 tacos)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 roasted chicken, meat pulled from carcass and shredded
5 pickled  peppadew peppers(from a jar or deli case) sliced into thin slivers
1 1/2 cups prepared salsa
5 prepared hard taco shells
5 corn tortillas
shredded cheese
baby lettuce leaves and baby spinach
chopped white or red onions
sliced radishes
chopped tomatoes (in season)
taco sauce 
guacamole (this recipe or purchased)

Heat oil in large skillet. Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add peppers and 1 1/2 cups salsa. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until hot.

Follow package instructions to heat hard taco shells. Place corn tortillas in a clean tea towel, Microwave for 20 seconds or until hot, soft and pliable.  Divide chicken mixture between the shells. Serve with accompaniments so everyone can create their own taco fillings.

Other kid friendly recipes to try...just reduce or eliminate the chiles if you need it less spicy:

It is "Kid Friendly" week at Food Network's Sensational Sides roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite kid friendly recipe? Feel free to share in the comments section or link to your blog if you have one. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Mushy Pea Toasts with Mint
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Crust
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Chocolate Milk with Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Bacon and Souffle: Kid-Friendly No-Boil Quick and Easy Mac and Cheese
Weelicious: Italian Asparagus Sticks
Devour: 5 Kid-Friendly Cupcakes
Cooking With Elise: 6 Kid-Friendly Sensational Sides
Dishin & Dishes: Mini Carrot Cake Cookie Cups 
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cream of Mushroom Soup (for Zola)
Red or Green: Busy Mom's Chicken Tacos
Domesticate Me: Cheesy Baked Penne with Chicken and Broccoli
The Sensitive Epicure: PB&J and Apples Rice Paper Roll-Up (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Side Dishes Your Kids Will Love


best,
Diane
California Girl in Taos

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I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sea Bass with Spicy Asian Ginger Sauce

This week starts Food Network's Sensational Sides weekly blogging event. For the next 7 weeks we will be transitioning into Spring and Summer produce dishes. But first, we need to account for the fact that, in most parts of the country, we are still dealing with cold weather and a lack of fresh, local, in season ingredients. So this week is "Clean Out the Pantry Night", a way for bloggers from around the country to share a common theme.

I love making Asian Style dishes so my pantry always includes soy sauce, and rice vinegar, and sherry, and Sriracha (lots and lots of Sriracha...I love spicy condiments.)  This recipe combines all of these ingredients plus shallots, garlic, fresh ginger and chiles to first glaze sea bass and then top with a delicious sauce. Easy, Spicy and so, so Good.

I adapted the original recipe from Bon Appetit magazine back in 1996 and have been tweaking it ever since. The original was not spicy...but I think the heat really wakes up the fish. The perfect thing to help transition into warm, sunny springlike weather. I cannot wait.


Sea Bass with Spicy Asian Ginger Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit December 1996
(serves 4)

Sauce
1 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup shallots, minced
1/2 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut in small pieces


Fish
6 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp Sriracha
1 1/2 tbsp cold water
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

4 6- to 7 oz sea bass fillets

For sauce:
Combine wine, shallots, 
ginger and red pepper in heavy small saucepan over high heat. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Add cream and a pinch each salt and pepper and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
For fish:
Mix soy sauce, syrup, rice vinegar and sriracha in another heavy small saucepan. Mix water and cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Add to soy sauce mixture. Stir mixture over medium heat until glaze boils and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool glaze to room temperature. (Sauce and glaze can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange fish on small rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with some of glaze. Bake until opaque in center, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Bring remaining glaze to boil. Spoon glaze over fish.
Meanwhile, bring sauce to simmer. Remove from heat. Gradually add butter to sauce, whisking just until melted. Strain. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon sauce onto 4 plates, dividing equally. Top with fish and serve.

It is "Clean Out the Pantry Night" week at Food Network's Sensational Sides roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite pantry recipe? Feel free to share in the comments section or link to your blog if you have one. 

Here is the full schedule for #SensationalSides:
April
3: Clean out the pantry night
10: Kid-Friendly
17: Easy Easter Side
24: Something mashed

May
1: Salad (Lettuces)
8: Cheesy
15: No-cook

Feed Me Phoebe: Artichoke Hummus
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Red or Green: Sea Bass with Spicy Asian Ginger Sauce
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Quinoa Citrus Mango Avocado Black Bean Salad
The Heritage Cook: Chile Tortilla Soup
Cooking With Elise: Glorious Greek Salad Dressing
Devour: Clean Out the Pantry Night
Weelicious: Greek Nachos
Virtually Homemade: Garlic Rosemary Pizza Crust Bites
Domesticate Me: Fiesta Baked Eggs with Farro and Black Beans
Taste With The Eyes: Mom's Vintage Potato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Rice and Beans Casserole
The Sensitive Epicure: Salmon and Brown Rice Casserole (Gluten-Free)
Daily*Dishin: Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta with Crunchy Roasted Black Beans
FN Dish: Pantry Clean-Out Sides

best,
Diane
California Girl in Taos

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I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Peanut Butter & Ginger Cookies

When I was growing up peanut butter were my favorite cookies...they still are.  Every time I make them  I am reminded of my grandmother. We went to my grandparents house every Wednesday after school for family dinner. She almost always had a freshly baked batch of peanut butter cookies waiting for us. What a perfect afternoon treat.  My grandmother has passed, but I often picture her in my mind, wearing her apron, cooking for her family, defining what family is all about and sharing her love in everything she did. I miss her so very much.

Now..for those peanut butter cookies. My grandmother's version called for vegetable shortening. I have substituted butter and amped up the healthy factor by swapping half the white flour for white whole wheat, eliminating the refined white sugar and using coconut sugar instead. And, just because I like some heat, I often add candied ginger and ginger spice. For a special treat, spread a layer of peanut butter on the bottom of one cookie. Top with the bottom of a second cookie for delicious pb cookie sandwiches. Enjoy!


Peanut Butter & Ginger Cookies
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter, organic if possible
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 egg, room temperature
2 tbsp candied ginger, finely chopped
3/4 cup unrefined white flour
3/4 cup white, whole wheat flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
additional coconut sugar for sprinkling

additional peanut butter for cookie sandwiches if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter/flour 2 cookie sheets. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and peanut butter together until well mixed. Add sugars and vanilla and mix well. Add egg, beat until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in candied ginger.

Sift together dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients. Stir until just combined, do not overwork dough. Form dough into balls 2 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheets and flatten with tines of a fork. Sprinkle cookies lightly with additional coconut sugar. Bake for approx 12 minutes. Cookies will be very soft. Remove from oven and let cool on sheets on rack for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from sheets and place on racks. Allow to cool.


It is "Comforting peanut butter recipes" week at Comfort Food Feast roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite peanut butter recipe? Feel free to share in the comments section or link to your blog if you have one.

Domesticate Me: Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
The Heritage Cook: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Virtually Homemade: Mini Nutter Butter Baked Donuts with Chocolate Ganache
Weelicious: World's Greatest Peanut Butter and Jelly 
In Jennie's Kitchen: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cinnamon Buns
Red or Green: Peanut Butter and Ginger Cookies
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Thai Red Curry and Peanut Vegetable Slaw
Devour: Most-Comforting Peanut Butter Desserts
Taste With The Eyes: Korean Buckwheat Noodles, Peanut Sauce and Banana
Sensitive Epicure: Peanut Butter Oat Bars (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: 10 Peanut Butter Pairings

Feed Me Phoebe: Thia Peanut Chia Pudding

best,
Diane
California Girl in Taos

Follow Me on Pinterest
I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.