Fava beans are my favorite beans, hands down. They have a short spring season and take a few minutes of extra work to make ready, but there is nothing better than their nutty, sweet, earthy flavor. I’ve always enjoyed them simply handled: quickly boiled for a minute or two, skinned, with a touch of butter and salt, but then I came across a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for Fava Bean Burgers…Fava beans pods are roughly six inches long and once you snap them open, you will find three to five fava beans in a soft, furry lining. Apparently you can boil the beans and eat as is, but each bean does have an additional protective sheath, and I prefer skinning them after boiling (as is also called for in this particular recipe).
Recipe calls for mashing these bright green beauties with cumin, coriander, fennel, spinach, jalapeño, boiled potatoes, garlic, cilantro, breadcrumbs, egg (are you excited yet?).
Shape into burgers and refrigerate briefly…
Finally, a quick sear in a hot pan with safflower oil, and you’ve got a powerhouse lunch, smooth and nutty from the beans, a little crunchy with the seared potatoes, and bursting with spice from the cumin, coriander and fennel.
My, oh my, oh lavender. I love the fragrance of this dried flower, but could never dream of how intoxicating its undertones could be nestled in a butter cookie with a lime glaze. When I recently sampled a friend’s mother-in-law’s cookies with this combination, I knew I would have to beg for the family recipe, which was so kindly shared. If you do decide to bake with lavender, be sure you purchase culinary lavender (vs ornamental).
A quick bake, with the cookies perfuming the kitchen, a full cool down, and a zesty, sweet lime glaze, we arrive at cookie bliss.
How about salmon! There are of course a few questions to consider: is it wild salmon season (generally late summer)? Which salmon season is it (coho, sockeye, chum, pink)? If it isn’t salmon season, how about wild frozen? Or if not frozen, what about fresh farmed (atlantic vs pacific)? Which state or country farmed it? I do taste testing experiments on a topic like this for my own knowledge and taste, and on my clients’ behalf. Defrosting deep frozen wild salmon and buying fresh farmed salmon, and cooking them with the same treatments yields interesting differences: colors (dark coral for wild vs. light pink for farmed), taste (firm bite for wild vs. softer and slightly fattier for the farmed), and the cost (roughly $12/lb for frozen vs. $15/lb for the farmed, give or take). Even if your friendly neighborhood fishmonger offers fresh wild salmon out of season, he/she also received it frozen and defrosted it that morning for you (the majority of salmon species have their peak season during June, July, August; it gets fished and a good portion frozen immediately). Either way, salmon takes very little preparation: Preheat oven to 425F, add one tablespoon of butter or olive oil in roasting dish and place dishes in oven; in a food processor puree a mix of herbs (I like parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano) with some olive oil, add salt & pepper; spoon herb mixture onto salmon fillets; carefully remove dish from oven, slide fish into bubbling butter, return to oven and roast for 8-12min, per your oven and preferred doneness.
If you eat fish often, it’s good too to investigate if there is a local seafood CSA in your area, to keep your household menu in season and to support local industries. If not, just check the labels on your frozen purchases for the source. The photo above happened to be Frozen Wild Alaskan Sockeye from Trader Joe’s which was a delicious off-season fix. Happy fishing!
Ginger root is a wily superhero. Knobby ends with smooth tan skin, it appears quite unassuming until you slice away a corner and are overcome with its impressive fragrance, sweet and strong and medicinal. Nearly every cuisine uses it in some form: fresh, powdered, pickled, candied, juiced or steeped. I often buy the root to freshly grate into stir-fry or noodles dishes, or to use in cookies and cakes, as done here.
This is a David Lebovitz recipe for Fresh Ginger Cake, made with molasses, cinnamon, cloves, and lots of freshly grated ginger and baked in a springform pan. It is a lovely, light dessert alternative to chocolate or lemon, and works year round. Accompaniments could be sweet whipped cream, or rhubarb compote, or in this case, pineapple coconut ice cream. Enjoy!
This is one of my favorite, quick salads: crunchy endive and creamy avocado, stirred with tangy & peppery french vinaigrette. Endive is so super versatile, it’s terrific either fresh or braised, and avocado is such a super food, I love them together. My favorite french vinaigrette unites them beautifully, but I also use it on shredded carrots, steamed green beans, or adding a touch to egg salad.
2T dijon mustard
2T champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar is also fine)
6T extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze fresh lemon
Salt & freshly cracked Pepper to taste
So the official sign of Spring happens today in Boston: the Red Sox home opener! The sound of a baseball game on the TV prompts a pavlovian response where I see open doors to the deck and feel a soft, warm breeze blowing in. The reality though is that it’s still quite cool here and I’m not quite ready to risk a vest instead of jacket, and a fuzzy hat stuffed in the pocket remains wise insurance. But I must be yearning for a teensy taste of summer because before I knew it, I had flagged a Rick Bayless recipe for creamy corn soup with roasted poblano, sauteed onion & garlic, pressed through a sieve to make a silky smooth texture. I bought a few ears of corn at the store, and yes, I know they are coming all the way from Florida, a long road trip to Boston, but please forgive me. I try to make it a point to never wish time by, to cherish each day, but maybe just for a moment, we can let our thoughts drift to summertime and taste it…call it a soup of hope…a soup of warm nights and sun burned shoulders.
Yes, delicious. Thanks for the quick departure. Now, back to the present, to each brisk, bright morning, checking on the daffodil greens sprouting up through the soil and welcoming the littlest sparks of green on the branches. Spring is here. Let’s play ball!
When was the last time you nibbled on a jellyroll? Never? Me too, as far as I could recall, but I had a sneaking suspicion that this treat was a forgotten treasure. Sweet vanilla cake, rolled around tart raspberry jam? I was on a mission to create. The wonderful Cook’s Illustrated was my starting point and they were great leaders, as always. The batter was tasty and simple to bring together, and I poured it onto a large baking sheet lined with a silpat (you can use another non-stick mat) and baked to soft golden color. The silpat made it a breeze to peel away and invert flat on a clean kitchen towel, as instructed (though I made a side note to also sprinkle kitchen towel lightly with powdered sugar to avoid any possible stick on the other side).
You roll the cake up with the kitchen towel actually to cool briefly so the cake will ‘remember’ the space for the forthcoming filling. Then unroll and slather with fillings. While I love raspberry jam, I also experimented with chocolate ganache and nutella…
And indeed, my sneaking suspicion was confirmed: jellyroll is the new black! Or at least merits your consideration. Next up, perhaps a few new fillings for Spring & Summer, apricot and strawberry rhubarb?
Something about Mardi Gras – or the fact that I received an enormous ham steak in my meat CSA – and I had jambalaya on my brain this week. A little New Orleans trinity of onions, celery and green peppers sauteeing on the stove, and I was on my way to making a big batch. Add to the trinity: your favorite cajun seasoning (usually a concoction of paprika, salt, garlic, sugar, oregano, cayenne and thyme), some diced tomatoes, rice, stock and cook away for about 15 minutes (or until rice is tender); finish with a little chopped ham, spicy sausage, and shrimp, if you’ve got ’em, and you’re in business!
As we are perhaps nearing the final cold days of winter, it was actually quite exciting to stumble upon a recipe that could still make squash feel new & fresh. Leave it to Mr Ottolenghi again. So simple and yet so interesting: roasting the squash and onions until they are browned actually brings the sweetness to the table, and then adding tahini (sesame paste) mixed with lemon and garlic, and sprinkling with za’atar makes for a simply wonderful mix of textures and flavors. It’s warm and familiar, and yet also, spicy and fresh. An gentle awakening for the senses…just in time for Spring…which must eventually arrive, right?
I was recently introduced to Nitro Milk Stout by Left Hand Brewery and not only is it a lovely stout, it worked beautifully in a stout gingerbread recipe I posted in December. When I came across a Guiness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream recipe by David Lebovitz, I knew it would be another great experiment to swap with this heady, slightly sweet stout. Indeed, a mostly very milk chocolate ice cream with a stout-y layer, it’s a treat. Especially with our chilly February temperatures, because after all, doesn’t smooth and sweet ice cream taste best in winter?