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.

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!

 

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

Vegetali Arrostiti: Italian for Roasted Vegetables

“This dish is simple, it’s all about using the best ingredients” – Always Be My Maybe

I couldn’t help but think of Always Be My Maybe while cooking this recipe from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen. The quote above is exactly how I would prepare someone for making this dish. I’ve said it many a time, simplicity is best when it comes to cooking and I’m happy that movie supports me in that thought.

What you’ll need

  • Various vegetables cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 fresh sage leaves
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil

You may be scratching your head at that first ingredient list. This recipe is more a guideline of how to roast your veggies all year round and whatever is seasonal which is why it’s left un-specific.

Thankfully, the cookbook also gave us suggestions and I went with the popular veggie combo. That combo is potato, sweet potato, onion and zucchini. Feel free to use whatever is seasonal, but whatever you choose, make it colorful.

Once you’ve selected your vegetables the next step is to preheat the oven to 375.

While the oven is heating up, go ahead and cut your vegetable and place them in an oven safe pan.

Then cut up the rosemary, sage, and garlic into the tiniest pieces you are able to muster and mix that tiny spice menagerie together. Once mixed, sprinkle it over your vegetables, drizzle with oil, and toss.

Your final step is to bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The goal is for the vegetables to be lightly browned like in the photo below.

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As I mentioned earlier, simplicity is the key here and if you follow this rule you will be satisfied.

The potatoes and onion were my favorite bits in this dish. They were lightly browned and softened which made them melt in my mouth.

The sage and rosemary compliment the earthy flavor of the potatoes and the garlic balances out that earthy taste with a little kick. You can’t go wrong with garlic, veggies, and oil.

I enjoyed this recipe immensely and I think one could make some yummy breakfast potatoes if you added some bell peppers into this mix. I can also imagine it going well with other veggies like carrots.

Well, that concludes my take on this Italian suggestion for roasting vegetables. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ciao!

 

 

Frita de Tita

Frita de Tita is a tomato and bell pepper salad from The Scent of Orange Blossoms. If you’re wondering where the term Tita comes from well that just means auntie and I’m pretty sure frita means salad but I couldn’t get a fact check on that one.

I love that the authors of this book include family recipes. Who doesn’t love a revered dish from a relative? Personally I have many loved dishes from my aunties and uncles, but my all time favorite dish comes from an uncle who makes a chicken and noodle dish from scratch.

I loved those noodles so much that during Thanksgiving, as a child, when it was time for round 2 I’d come back with a giant plate of just noodles. I was fine with one round of everything else you see. My family thought this was funny and teases me about it to this day.  That side of the family never forgets…

What you’ll need

  • 4 bell peppers, roasted and seeded (Feel free to use a variety of bell peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika

The first step is to roast your peppers. Do so by pre-heating your oven to broil and lining a baking pan with foil. Place each pepper in the pan and boil for 10-12 minutes. turn them over about half way to make sure they blister evenly.

Once the boiling process is over, place the peppers in a bowl and wrap with plastic wrap. Let this cool for 15-20 minutes and then peel the skin and remove the core and seeds.

Once this is done you can cut the pepper into 1/2 inch strips. There will be a lot of juice as you cut so store them in a colander to drain until further notice.

This next step can be done while the peppers cool and/or broil and that step is peeling and seeding your tomatoes.

The first step in this process is to cut each tomato lightly with an x on the base. Then place the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Once time is up, drain the water and allow the tomatoes to cool. Once they have cooled done enough to touch, peel off the skin and cut the tomatoes in half. Once halved, you can gently squeeze out the seeds and dice them up.

Once those tomatoes are ready we can combine them in our skillet along with olive oil, garlic, sugar, and tomato paste. Cook this mixture until the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates. This should take 12-15 minutes.

By now the peppers should be ready to also be added. If not wait, waiting until they are is advised. Add them along with salt and paprika. Then cover this mixture and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes. We want this mixture to thicken and once that goal has been attained remove the lid and cook until most of the liquid evaporates.

This should also take around 10 minutes.

Once everything looks good remove from the heat and allow the salad to cool to room temperature for serving!

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As you can see this pepper salad is quite the colorful beauty and the looks match up to the taste.

It is intended to be eaten as a side dish but the cookbook mentions it can be enjoyed with poached eggs as a light meal. I opted for light dinner with that in mind and it was quite good. I’d describe it as a bell pepper version of Huevos Rancheros without beans and tortillas.

Speaking of Latin American food fare, this would make an excellent fajita topping.

I’m getting ideas here folks. I’ve seen Indian and Mexican fusion as well as Korean and Mexican, but what about Jewish Moroccan and Mexican? Seems legit right?

Whether you decide to fusion it up or not, I recommend you try out this dish. Aunties everywhere will be pleased that you did.

Farm Fresh Sweet and Sour Beans

The actual name of this dish from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen is Sweet and Sour Green Beans or in Italian Fagiolini all’Agro.

Early in the recipe for this it was mentioned to use French beans. That got me thinking, are these French-Italian beans and if so, who is the sweet and who is the sour? Cultural stereotyping tells me that both can be such, but just like a Japanese eggplant and Chinese eggplant are both eggplants, they are also not the same.

So, I did a quick investigation and what did I find? Agro in Italian means sour, but it also means countryside. Given that Agro was capitalized in the naming of this dish, it would appear to be going for the countryside term, but this is also a truly sweet and sour dish.

I’d like to think the Italians were being clever when they named this since the naming means both. If we were to do a direct translation to Californian we’d call this Farm Fresh Sweet and Sour Beans, but’s that’s long right? So Italians were like, it’s from the farm, it’s sweet and sour. Let’s just called it all’Argo so people get that it’s both!

Still doesn’t explain the whole French bean thing, but maybe that’s just a side note anyway.

What you’ll need

  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 10 1/2 ounces of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • pepper
  • Lemon wedges

The first step is to fill a saucepan with salted water and bring it to a boil. Once boiled add the beans and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until tender. Drain the water and set the beans aside.

We are now going to mix our sweet and sour dressing. Do so by mixing in a small bowl the lemon juice, olive oil, and vinegar with your to taste addons of salt and pepper. Once everything has been properly mixed pour it over your beans and toss.

The beans should have a nice glossy coat and you should be ready to serve and eat with lemon wedges on the side.

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Lemon wedges not included

This is another dish that turned out well! It’s amazing how a simple dressing can transform a vegetable into something delectable.

This is exactly what’s happening here. The olive oil gives the beans a smooth silky texture and the lemon juice and vinegar give it a slight kick that dances around your tastebuds.

If you need a simple side dish for dinner then I highly recommend you give these beans a try!