Sunday, May 31, 2009

Parmesan-Crusted Fava Beans

We love fava beans, but the laborious shelling often deters us from actually dealing with them, especially on a weeknight. Enter this ingenious idea passed along to us from several of our friends at the Riverdog farm stand: blanch the pods and broil them with garlic and parmesan, rendering the entire vegetable edible! So if you love fava beans but have a mortal dread of shelling, try this (or get some therapy).

1 lb fava beans, tough strings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese

Blanch the fava beans for 5 minutes in plenty of boiling water, then drain and transfer to a large pan (or cast-iron skillet). Toss with the oil, garlic, pepper and salt, transfer to the oven and broil for 5 minutes, or until burnt spots appear. Flip, top with the cheese, return to oven, and remove when cheese is bubbly and browning. Eat pods and all, keeping an eye out for any tough strings that you may have missed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Denise's Croatian Goat Cheese Spread

Our friend Denise (she of the tomato bounty and zucchini prowess) returned last summer from a Croatian bike riding adventure and brought this dip to a party, where it was promptly devoured by hungry guests unable to believe that it contained nothing but goat cheese and olive oil. Indeed, the Croatians appear to be masters at more-than-sum-of-parts cuisine: this is an unbelievably simple appetizer that involves nothing other than a quick stir. You can fancy it up with chopped fresh herbs or a little citrus zest, but it's totally addictive in its unadorned state, too. If you're the kind of person who has goat cheese lying around, you can whip it up for unexpected guests--thus guaranteeing a flood of future unexpected guests, so you'd better be consistent about stocking goat cheese!

8 ounces chevre
1/2 cup olive oil

Stir chevre and olive oil together with a fork until well combined. Break out the crackers and instantly become the most popular person on your block. (We've got a few gluten-free neighbors, hence the Mary's Gone Crackers in the photo above).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cauliflower Paneer Masala

Another recipe we learned at cooking school in India. Our instructor battered his cauliflower before frying it, but we're lazy and generally not inclined to batter anything, so we tried throwing the cauliflower right into the hot oil. The result -- still fatty and delicious! Also, we can hardly be blamed for giving in to the temptation to throw a little non-traditional paneer in the oil, since it was already nice and hot. Everything is better with cheese.

1 head of cauliflower, floretted and dried
1 cup of paneer, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
1/3 cup oil (high-heat friendly, like coconut, peanut or canola)
2 large shallots, sliced into half-moons
2 sprigs curry leaves (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 inch ginger, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups pureed tomatoes (canned okay)
salt to taste

Optional batter:
8 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
sprinkle of water
black pepper

Optional: If you want to make a batter, mix the batter ingredients in a large bowl and toss in the cauliflower, stirring to coat.

Heat the oil in a wok until it's hot enough to sizzle on contact with cauliflower, but not smoking. Add the cauliflower in small batches, frying until it's tipped with brown, then remove to a paper-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the paneer, frying until it's golden brown on all six sides.

Pour off the extra oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan. Set the heat to medium-high and add the curry leaves, allowing them to sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the sliced shallots. Stir continuously until the shallots are soft and brown, then add the garlic and ginger. Once they are browned and the raw smell is gone, add the tumeric, chile powder, coriander and garam masala. Stir until the onions are well coated, then pour in the pureed tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes are reduced, then stir in the cauliflower, paneer and salt and allow to simmer a few more minutes to meld the flavors. We served ours on a bed of upma with red cabbage.