Fava Salad

Happy new year dear readers!

How was 2019 for you?

It wasn’t my favorite year. There were a lot of great things that happened, but there were also a lot of disappointing things. Those times weren’t too devastating, thankfully.

The major highlight of my 2019 life is that I did back to back plays all year for my friend’s theater company. This resulted in 2019 being a creative year for me, full of friendship and platonic love. I even acquired three new wifeys.

What is a wifey you may ask? It’s basically a term of endearment for a BFF who is female.

The not so great stuff is my usual feelings of malaise of not acquiring at least one of my two major dreams.  Romance and world domination…together at the same time. Where is the Brain to my Pinky folks? Where is he?

Sigh…

In the world of cooking, one thing we can celebrate is that I finally found Fava Beans and was able to make this Fava Bean Salad from The Scent of Orange Blossoms.

What you’ll need

  • 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shelled and peeled fava beans with 3-4 tender pods reserved
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 10 cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • cilantro leaves for garnish

The first step in the actual cookbook is to string the reserved bean pods. and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces.

I was unable to find fresh fava beans. I had to buy and use dried fava beans which do not include the actual pod.

So, if you had to do the same, just follow the directions on your handy dandy dried fava bean container.

Let’s move on to some sautéing. Get your skillet and on medium heat, cook the oil, paprika, cumin, and garlic. This mixture will begin to foam in about two minutes. When it does add the beans, pods if you’ve got em, and the water.

Cook this mixture by stirring for about 8 to 10 minutes and then add lemon juice, cilantro, and salt. Continue the cooking process for another minute or two.

This is our final cooking step and we are now ready to serve this dish with some garnished cilantro like below.

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As you can see I didn’t get too crazy with the garnish.

The final review I have for this simple dish is hard to conjure up, because I made it months ago. I remember I did bring it to a friend’s pot luck and people were eating it with enjoyment.

What I can recall is that it had a curry like flavor, most likely due to all that cumin in there. I guess you could say it was a dry version of chana masala with cumin in it.

I prefer chana masala myself, but this isn’t bad and I’d make it and eat it again for sure.

Isa’s Roasted Potato and Fennel Soup

I never gave fennel much thought until I moved to Los Angeles.

I think when I first saw a meal that asked for fennel, I was like “Fennel? Fennel… Isn’t that the seed usually on sausage?”

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How I looked when I learned about fennel 

In fairness to myself, the mid-west is surprisingly not big on vegetables, despite being a farming community.

Mid-west cuisine is like Texas’s square little brother. We don’t like spice and we aren’t as big, but we wanna deep fry everything. I do mean everything… Vegetable tempura is a big hit over there.

My world opened when I was introduced to fennel. That tangy licorice of a vegetable put a spark into my culinary experience.

It’s no surprise to me that Isa is a fan of fennel herself. So, Isa, from Isa Does It, take us on this vegan magic carpet ride and open us to a whole new world filled with fennel.

What you’ll need

  • 2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of unsweetened soy milk or almond milk

The first step involves roasting our potatoes. To do so, pre-heat the oven to 425.

While the oven is heating up, whip out two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. One sheet will be for the potatoes and the other for the fennel.

Drizzle olive oil on top of the potatoes in the potato pan and sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a little bit of pepper. Roast these puppies for 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, go ahead and prepare the fennel pan. To do so, slice the fennel bulbs into 1/2 inch slices and then toss it in the other pan along with the onions, olive oil, the remaining salt, and the pepper.

Once the 15 minutes are up for the potatoes, flip them like pancakes and put them back into the oven on the top rack along with the fennel. The fennel is the star of this two ring circus and should be placed in the middle rack.

Roast for 10 more minutes, then flip the fennel like pancakes and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes.

At this point, we should be ready to get the handy dandy food processor or immersion blender out to do some food dissection.

With either method you choose, before you start snipping away blindly, you’ll want to add the potatoes, fennel, milk and broth together. Once all these ingredients are together, that’s when we start processing. Don’t go too crazy, though, we want to keep a nice chunky texture, especially with the potatoes.

When you reach that perfect Goldilocks texture of just right, it’s time to ladle this baby into some bowls and garnish it up like the culinary artist you are!

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Apologies for my lack of photo skills by the way. I really should wait til the magic hour to photograph my handiwork.

Moving on, this is a nice hearty soup that I think would be ideal for winter time. Winter makes me want to carbo load and eat lots of potatoes. Has to be the Irish blood in me I guess.

Sadly, some time has passed since I made this and I can’t readily recall how it turned out. I do remember enjoying it and I think it reminded me of a soupy mashed potatoes. I recognize that sounds kind of gross, but I know it was in a good way, otherwise I’d recall not liking this dish.

So mediocre review aside, I do recommend you try this recipe out. Especially if you live somewhere where winter gets cold, icy, and bleak.

Turkey Meatloaf

My latest recipe comes from Taste of Home Cooking for Two or as I like to call it, The Cookbook for When You’re Single AF.

Cause let’s face it, this cookbook says it’s for couples, but low key it’s for single people who like to cook but don’t want to eat the same thing every day for a week when they do.

So anyway, you like meatloaf, but maybe you eat it a little too much and maybe for whatever reason you don’t want to eat beef. What do you do?

You make a turkey meatloaf and slather some marinara sauce doused in brown sugar and vinegar is what you do.

At least that’s what Dorothy from California recommends and I say, “Hey why not Dorothy? I’ll go to Oz with you and try some turkey meatloaf. I’m single af and have no one to answer to but my cat. Let’s go!”

What you’ll need besides ruby red slippers

  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed butter flavored crackers
  • 1 tablespoon of minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 pound of lean ground turkey

The first step is easy enough. You just combine the sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard in a bowl.

Side note, is it really necessary to call the mustard prepared mustard in the ingredients list? I wasn’t aware mustard was ever not prepared. If anyone has answers, feel free to comment.

Anyway, get another bowl out and in that bowl combine the egg, onion, crackers, parsley, salt, 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce mixture, and a dash of pepper. Once mixed, then add the turkey meat. Crumble up the meat and mix until everything is even. Then form a 4 by 3 loaf and place that loaf in a square baking pan.

Make sure that pan has been hosed down with cooking spray first though.

Once you’ve placed your meat in the pan, go ahead and pour the rest of your tomato mixture on top and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

Once baking time is up, let it cool for 10 and then you should be good to go!

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The final result was interesting. I don’t mean that in a negative way either. I’m just not a huge meatloaf fan so it’s not something I have a great desire to eat let alone experiment with.

That being said, I still thought this was an easy breezy recipe that turned out well and would definitely recommend meatloaf lovers to try it out.

Sorry, I should say a meatloaf lover, since you’re probably single af like me. It’s ok, I’m sure we will find someone to share our loaf with someday.

Tomato Salad French Style

There’s not a whole lot to this tomato salad from At Home with the French Classics. As I often say, sometimes simplicity is best with cooking so don’t snub your nose at this one.

All you need to make this is juicy plump tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and chives.

The first step is to slice your tomatoes. If you are serving more than one person, you’ll want to slice a whole tomato per person.

For the vinaigrette, use equal amounts of lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. I eye balled mine, but if I had to make a measurement guess, I’d say one tablespoon of lemon juice, oil, and chives should do the trick.

Whisk that mixture up and then drizzle it on your tomatoes and you are good to go!

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Ignore my poor slicing skills, this tomato was on it’s way to not being so fresh so it got a little mushy in the slicing process. It still tasted juicy and scrumptious and that’s what really matters.

What are my other opinions? Well, I’ve drizzled olive oil and basil on my tomatoes before, but I’ve never added lemon juice and chives to the mix.

I think my Italian heritage prefers basil, but the lemon juice is a nice touch and the chives aren’t bad either. It’s just my Italian blood’s preference of basil really.

What I like about the lemon juice add is that it gives the tomatoes a slight citrus taste that balances out the acidity which is odd cause lemons are acidic. I guess it’s like when you multiply two negatives and get a positive number or something.

Side note, that always baffled me as a kid. What kind of mysticism is this that two negatives make a positive? That’s not what we are taught growing up!

Anyway, I recommend you try this out on a hot summer day when you just need a healthy refreshing snack or as a side dish to a light summer meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

Asian Slaw

This Asian slaw recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks Sandra Lee Semi Homemade Meals aka Cooking for Dummies, aka The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Cooking,  and finally The Single, Busy Person’s Bible of Culinary Arts.

It has served me well.

There’s not much to this particular slaw and Sandra gives you so many shortcuts you’ll feel like you did absolutely nothing.

You’ll feel like a manager who knows the bare minimum of how to do their job and takes the credit of the minions who do.

It’s a great life if you have no pride.

What you’ll need

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 ounces three-color coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup canned bean sprouts
  • 1 cup chow mein noodles

Our first step is to mix the vinegar, sesame seeds, canola oil, sesame oil, and sugar together in a round cooking device of your choosing. Just make sure this device can also support that coleslaw mix, because that’s what’s going to go in next.

Go ahead and add the mix in along with the bean sprouts and chow mein noodles. Toss this mixture and then let it chill in your fridge for 15 minutes.

Once those minutes are up, you may garnish with more noodles and/or eat it up!

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Recipe is pretty self explanatory right?

So how is the taste?

It’s quite refreshing and much crunchier than mayo obsessed American coleslaw.

The cabbage is your standard cabbage and the chow mein is what fuels the crunch. My favorite ingredient in this slaw has to be the sesame oil. It gives the slaw a rich amber cream-like taste.

The only negative point I have is that it’s not a dish you want to keep as a leftover. The mein will get soggy and the sesame oil seems to dissipate which makes the slaw taste a bit bland.

It’s not inedible if you end up with leftovers. It’s just one of those cases where you find yourself disappointed because you know the potential of what this could be.

All in all, this is an easy side dish that you can whip up in no time and I recommend you give it a try!

 

Skewed Pork, Thai Style

I’m so happy to announce that I made another Thai dish that turned out well!

Rejoice!

It’s a skewer recipe which is pretty difficult to fail at, but I don’t care. I haven’t had the best luck with this Thai cookbook and I’m taking this win no matter small of a win it is.

As you may have guessed this Skewered Thai Pork recipe comes from The Everything Thai Cookbook. Now, sit back, relax, and let me regale you with how to make this wonderful little pork snack.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • t tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 1 pound of pork, thinly sliced into long strips
  • 20-30 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 1 hour

First step is to get a mixing bowl and pour in the sugar, salt, garlic, fish sauce, and coconut milk. Mix all those guys together and then toss in the pork and mix it until it’s skin is glossy and shiny.

Then cover this mix, stick it in the fridge, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. If you are able to be more patient, it’s recommended to pull an overnighter. I do recommend this,  because when it comes to marinating good things truly come to those who wait.

Once your marinating time is over, you can thread that sweet, sweet meat onto your skewers.

The cookbook calls for bamboo skewers and advises that you should soak them in water for at least an hour to avoid a fire hazard. I do not own a grill and was too lazy and cheap to buy bamboo skewers. If this is also your reality, then ignore everything I wrote just now. Especially the part about me being lazy.

Whether you have metal skewers or bamboo, grill those puppies for about 3-5 minutes on each side and you should be good to go.

But Rachel, I don’t own a grill! What do I do?

Listen friends, neither does this girl but the internet is full of solved mysteries. If you don’t have a grill, you can get a similar effect when you set your oven to broil.

It’s that easy folks. The mystery is as complex as when you figured out your uncle wasn’t stealing your nose, but using his own thumb to fool you.

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Good things come to those who marinate let me tell you! I tried several sauces of mine with my skewers and honestly I preferred just eating it plain because the meat was so flavorful.

What is this flavor that is so enjoyable you ask! Well, fish sauce is an aggressive ingredient that is pungent and a little salty, but when you combine coconut with it, it tends to balance those flavors out.

You can’t taste the milkiness of the coconut either, it’s almost like multiplying two negative numbers and getting something positive. Although I personally love the taste of coconut. This is more of a comment on how both have distinctive and powerful tastes and I’m not saying anything negative about either ingredient!

Away with you internet trolls!

Anyway, what you’re left with when these flavors combine is a juicy tender meat that somehow reminded me of honey glazed ham. Why and how, I can’t explain. That just might be an unsolved mystery for the internet.

 

Panelle aka Sicilian Chickpea Biscuits

One might be surprised to find this chickpea recipe from Sicilian Cookery, but if one knew their history one should not be surprised.

Sicily, our favorite Italian island infamous for being the birthplace of the mafia has always been a bit wild. You could say it is Italy’s version of the wild, wild west.

If we scale back to the middle ages, back when Sicily was its own kingdom and ruled by the Normans, you’d find a kingdom “governed with considerable tolerance and flexibility.” (Hearder 66)

This was to accommodate the fact that Sicily was a Mediterranean melting pot. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Italians, and Greeks all called Sicily their home.

The Normans handled this by allowing each culture, specifically the religious cultures to govern and judge their own people. For example, the Normans led by Latin law and the Muslims and Jews had their own set of rules.

This country of tolerance, I imagine bled into the culinary arts as well. This high influence of Mediterranean culture would certainly make good use of chickpeas. Why not make little chickpea biscuits then?

See how it all makes sense now? Good, let’s get to cooking then!

What you’ll need

  • 500 g or 3 cups of chickpea flour
  • water
  • salt

This is another simple recipe as you can probably ascertain by the ingredient list. All you need to do is boil salted water in a sauce pan. Once it’s boiling, slowly mix in the flour and churn that mixture with a wooden spoon until it becomes a thick paste.

Once we find the right consistency, pour that mixture onto a pan and then flatten into the thinnest layer you can muster. The cookbook even recommends using a mallet which I say use it if you got it. Anytime you can pound something without causing pain, I say do so. Got to get out aggression when we can folks.

When you have pounded out your nice thin layer, grab a circular device, whether that be a cookie cutter, a circular ravioli cutter (this is what I used) or the rim of a glass and make little round biscuits.

These biscuits will then be thrown into a frying pan of hot oil. Fry them up until they are lightly browned and then enjoy!

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Rachel Speth (b. 1984) One Burned Biscuit Is Diversity, 2019 Oil in pan, on cat plate

I was excited to try this out, being part Sicilian and all. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I’d have to consult a nutritionist to fact check this, but I feel like this may be a healthier alternative to biscuits. The frying in oil is problematic and could be the factor that rules this theory out. Either way, there’s a reason I called this Sicilian Biscuits and that’s the best comparison I can give you for this recipe.

Garbanzo flour is a little flaky and is much earthier in taste then regular biscuits. It’s not as airy and fluffy, but the taste is very similar.

I brought this to a 4th of July party and had no leftovers to bring home. Everyone was shocked when I told them how tasty and simple this was to make. These two factors warrant an Italian like aka you should try this.

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The history lesson of Sicily came from the source below

Harry Hearder, Italy. A Short History (1990) Cambridge University Press