Tuesday, June 29, 2010

simple salad

I've been thinking about this salad since this morning. JR is out of town, which means I can eat whatever I want. So I started thinking about what that would be while out running at the start of my day. It's a testament that I've been eating way too much restaurant food (and that the weather has finally turned to summer) that one thing sounded best: salad.

Still, I hesitate to write about it. It isn't exactly rocket science; it's a simple salad (you probably already figured that out from the title). But given recent travels, it's the only action my kitchen has seen in a while (a long while). Plus, it's a good excuse to introduce you to my 2010 garden, which is nearing full swing. My version of the salad below uses the Rouge D'Hiver lettuce from the garden.

Simple Salad
Serves 1 as main, or 2 side salads

2 slices rustic bread (I used olive pugliese), roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 handfuls lettuce, torn or chopped
2 handfuls grape tomatoes
10 kalamata olives, halved
4 oz. fresh mozzarella balls (mine were marinated, but they need not be)

Heat broiler on high. Put chopped bread on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Place under hot broiler for 2-5 minutes (watch closely to prevent burning), stirring a couple of times until you have crispy croutons. Allow to cool.

Combine lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and croutons in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over the top then toss. Transfer to bowl or plate. Top with mozzarella and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

european adventure

cole's kitch has been empty for awhile. In fact, I haven't been in a single kitchen for the past couple of weeks. I've been in Europe for work - a lovely trip that brought me to Dublin, Zürich, and London (all places I was visiting for the very first time!). So while I haven't spent any time in the kitchen lately, I've visited plenty of dining rooms. Here are some of the highlights:

After exploring the shopping district a bit, my first night in Dublin included my first traditional Irish pub experience. I ate fish & chips with mushy peas - the latter was like thick split pea soup (in a good way) - and washed it down with a pint of Harp while listening to live Irish folk music. The next day in Dublin, I found myself escaping from the rain for some more pub food. This time it was Guinness stew enjoyed along with a pint of (what else?) Guinness. The hot bowl contained more meat than I typically eat in a month, but it was very tasty.

Next up: Zürich. I could fall in love with this town (perhaps I already have?). One reason: the primary ingredients in most dishes seems to be cheese or chocolate (two things I hold dearly). I enjoyed a nice eggplant pasta dish in Alt Stadt with a colleague one night. It was a warm evening and we sat outside watching passersby on the cobblestone streets. On the chocolate front, I visited Sprüngli, a conficerie with storefronts in and around Zürich (none are farther than an hour from where the confections are made, to ensure freshness). In addition to Swiss chocolate souvenirs to bring back to the states with me, I purchased a couple of the most beautiful macarons I have ever seen (you may recall my personal attempts at perfecting the macaron here).

My time in London included a number of good meals. On my first night there, I enjoyed some tasty Indian food on Brick Lane with coworkers prior to watching the US tie England in the World Cup. I enjoyed afternoon tea at the Goring that included tea sandwiches with watercress and the crusts cutoff, my first encounter with lovely, melt-in-your-mouth English scones with strawberry jam and cream, and a variety of sweets. One amazing evening meal included the best artichoke I've ever eaten: roasted with herbs so that parts were a little crunchy while others were soft with a fantastic sweet flavor. The same meal included both a very (very) stinky cheese (like scraped the floor of the barn, I believe was the observation of my companion) as well as a creamy, wonderful roquefort that one wouldn't dare dilute with a cracker.

So while my European adventure has come to a close, my kitchen will likely remain unused for a bit. The next week includes more local travels: first to Lake Tahoe and then to the northwest for a few days in Seattle and Spokane. By the time I'm back, the garden should be in full swing, so stay tuned for tales of tomatoes, carrots, and strawberries. Until then - tschüß!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

garlicky lemony fava beans

There is a bag of fava beans in my fridge crying out to be eaten. They arrived in the CSA box last week and have felt pretty ignored since that point. It's not because I don't want to use them - my intentions have been good. I thought about making something with them last week, but opted for the more familiar broccoli that had been the favas' boxmates. I nearly made a salad with them for our Sunday BBQ, but again they were usurped by another veggie (green beans, in a blackened green bean citrus salad).

I've only cooked fava beans once before (fava bean bruschetta), so perhaps part of my hesitancy is because I'm not entirely sure what to do with them. Also, the one time I prepared the fresh beans before, I found them to be a bit of work: they are double encased, which means they are generally first be shelled, then blanched and the second skin removed. As I started poking around on the internet, however, I learned a shortcut.

I discovered a number of recipes that involved sautéing the fava beans (second skin intact). The one I basically followed (with one minor modification) was from the Mariquita Farm's website, where they have an entire subpage devoted to fava bean recipes. The one that caught my eye is called "Julia's Desparation Favas". The first step listed is "have children, guests, or domestic partners remove fava beans from pods," which I found amusing. My modification to the recipe was the addition of lemon juice and zest and chili flakes (we are overrun with lemons at the moment, as a neighbor JR ran into while walking the pug yesterday sent him home with a bagful). Here's what I did:

Garlicky Lemony Fava Beans
Serves 2

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pound fava beans, shelled
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. crushed chili flakes
sea salt

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add fava beans, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and chili flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans begin to brown and the skins are beginning to come off. The whole thing can be eaten. Serve hot as a side dish or cold for a lemony fava bean salad. Enjoy!

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