Each year I look forward to fresh fava beans out of the garden. We have about a two-week time period in June when they are ripe. We remove them from the pod, blanch them for two minutes or so, then skin them. Years ago, when we visited my relatives in Sicily, they served us marinated fresh fava beans from their garden. It was so simple, yet delicious; just oil, garlic, a touch of vinegar and salt and pepper. I have cooked fava beans many different ways, including for pasta with tomatoes and sausage, but they seem to me somewhat starchy when cooked for any length of time. This method of marinating fava beans involves heating oil and garlic together and, when the garlic is fragrant, pouring the oil and garlic over blanched beans, then seasoning to taste with a bit of vinegar, salt, pepper, and some hot pepper flakes. They are just barely cooked, and so have a fresh texture. You can eat them as is or spooned on some bread. They can be part of an antipasto platter as well. If you keep the Fava beans warm and eliminate the vinegar, you can make a delicious pasta dish by just pouring the marinated favas over hot macaroni and topping with parsley and a few dollops of fresh homemade ricotta. It is a lovely, summer pasta dish.
Marinated Fava Beans
2 c. cooked and peeled fava beans
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
In a small saucepan combine oil and garlic. Turn the heat to medium low and let the garlic cook to become soft and fragrant, but not brown. It should only take 1-2 minutes. Pour over fava beans and toss. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, pepper and Aleppo pepper. Serve warm or refrigerate. Makes 2 cups.
Pasta with Fava Beans and Fresh Ricotta
2 c. marinated fava beans (without vinegar), warmed
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
salt to taste
fresh ricotta to taste
Cook elbow macaroni until al dente. Pour warm marinated Fava beans over hot macaroni. Toss. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve with dollops of fresh ricotta cheese. Serves 4.
This summer cake is light, sweet and moist. It’s perfect to take on a picnic. I make it dairy free using coconut oil and almond milk, but you can use butter and whole milk if you don’t need it to be dairy-free. The rhubarb from our yard and blackberries are a nice combination. The cake also works with other seasonal fruit. You can use strawberries, raspberries, peaches, blueberries, plums or pears or a combination of them. My family likes this cake served plain so they can enjoy the crunchy sugar topping, but feel free to top it with whipped cream or ice cream if your prefer.
Rhubarb Blackberry Cake
1 c. soft coconut oil (I like Spectrum brand)
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. orange juice
2-3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 c. almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 drop almond extract (optional)
1-1/2 c. chopped rhubarb
1 (6 oz.) pkg. fresh blackberries or more to taste
1 tsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Demerara or turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 metal baking pan then line with parchment. In a mixing bowl beat coconut oil and sugar until mixed well, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add orange zest and juice. Mix well. In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients and spices. Add to wet ingredients alternately with milk. Add extracts. Mix. Fold in rhubarb. Toss blackberries with 1 tsp. flour and fold into cake batter. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pan then sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar and bake another 12-15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack. Serves 10-12.
Grilled salmon with this lemon mustard sauce is an ideal summer meal because it does not heat up the kitchen and it only takes a few minutes prepare the sauce. You can use this delicious sauce on other fish as well. The recipe is adapted from Gourmet Magazine.
Grilled Salmon with Lemon Mustard Sauce
1 lb. salmon fillet
Preheat grill. Sprinkle fish with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt. Place on the grill skin side down and grill for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Turn the fish over, remove the skin, and grill for 5-7 minutes longer. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
Lemon Mustard Sauce
2 tsp. whole grain mustard
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
1 tsp. pink peppercorns, crushed slightly
1 drop soy sauce or more to taste
pinch of fine salt
In a saucepan on very low heat whisk together the mustard, lemon juice and water. As it warms, add diced butter and whisk until it becomes a smooth sauce. You don’t want to boil the butter, just lightly and gently melt. Take off the heat and whisk in peppercorns, 1 drop of soy sauce and a pinch of salt. Serve lemon mustard sauce drizzled over individual portions of salmon. Makes 3/4 cup.
These biscuits are an occasional, special treat. They are loaded with cream but very light, fluffy, and delicious–perfect for strawberry, peach, or mixed-berry shortcakes. The biscuits can also be used as a topping for cobblers. You can reduce a bit of the flour and add in some cornmeal for a sweet, textural change as well. You can sprinkle the top with white, cinnamon, or turbinado sugar. On their own they make a fine breakfast, spread with a bit of your favorite jelly or jam. The recipe is adapted from the Gourmet Magazine Cookbook.
4 c. flour
2-1/4 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 c. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2-2/3 c. heavy cream, plus extra for brushing biscuits
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/2 cup sugar and stir to mix. Make a well in the center and, using a fork, slowly pour in the cream. Stir until you have a crumbly dough. Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and roll dough with a rolling pin to 3/4 inch thickness. You don’t want the dough thin. Cut out into circles with a cookie cutter. You should have about 14 biscuits after the first rolling-out of the dough. Gather the scraps and piece them together with your hands. Don’t use a rolling pin this time. Cut out 10 more biscuits. Place biscuits 12 per cookie sheet. Brush each biscuit with cream, then sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until biscuits are puffed and very light golden on top. Cool on rack. Makes 24 biscuits.
I crave salads most during the spring and summer months. Now that strawberries are in season, use them to make this fruity, light, and refreshing salad dressing that enlivens any combination of greens. This recipe makes quite a bit, so it is a nice option if you are feeding a crowd. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.
Strawberry Honey Salad Dressing
2-3/4 c. sliced strawberries
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. water (or more if too thick)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
In a blender combine strawberries, honey, vinegar, water, lemon juice, and mustard. Blend well. Add salt and pepper. Blend again. With the motor running, slowly add the oils and blend until smooth. Makes 3 cups.
I took a walk around the yard this afternoon. It is so beautiful, since we have had a lot of rain and things look lush and green at the moment. The peas and fava beans are doing well, the figs are growing, and it appears there will be a good harvest of raspberries. The herbs are also thriving in the cool, wet weather. May is when our chives are in full bloom, with lovely purple flowers, so it is time to make chive vinegar, with its pleasant onion flavor. The addition of fresh thyme contributes sweet herbal overtones. The recipe is adapted from Leite’s Culinaria.
Chive Blossom and Thyme Vinegar
35 purple chive blossoms
1/4 c. packed thyme sprigs
1-1/2 c. white wine vinegar
Rinse chive blossoms and thyme sprigs well. Let drain on paper towels and pat dry. Place them in a pint canning jar. Top with vinegar. Place a small piece of parchment over the mouth of the jar, then screw on the lid. This keeps the vinegar from rusting the lid. Shake the jar, then place in a dark, cool spot for two weeks. Strain vinegar through a cheesecloth. Keeps several months in the refrigerator. Makes 1 pint.
Looking for a new and interesting dessert for Memorial Day weekend? Try this roasted strawberry mango ice cream. Strawberries and mangoes are a wonderful combination and, to give this ice cream a greater depth of flavor, I roast the strawberries and add a bit of freshly ground cardamom. I use canned Alphonso mango pulp, but you can purée ripe mangoes, adjusting the sweetness to your liking.
Roasted Strawberry Mango Ice Cream
2 c. sliced strawberries
2-3 Tbsp. sugar
1 large egg
pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. freshly ground cardamom or more to taste
1/2 c. mango purée
2/3 c. sugar
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. whole milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place strawberries on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with 2-3 Tbsp. sugar. Stir. Roast for 15 minutes or until berries are soft and syrupy. Cool 5 minutes. In a blender combine egg, salt, and vanilla. Blend for 1-2 minutes until frothy. Add lemon juice, cardamom, and mango purée. Blend until smooth. Add 1 c. roasted strawberries and blend until smooth. Add cream and milk. Blend again. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 quart.
I began experimenting in the kitchen when I was ten years old. As I matured I enjoyed reading cookbooks, but the people I turned to most often for cooking advice and recipes were my mom and my Aunt Fran. I have mentioned my aunt in several previous posts. She loved feeding people and gathering the family together, entertaining almost effortlessly because she was so well organized. She had a talent for cooking vegetables. They were simply prepared but always very fresh and delicious. Sadly, she passed away last month. I now find myself ready to pick up the phone to tell her about a dish I have cooked, or how the garden is progressing, but then stop and remind myself that those days are now past. We gathered for a family dinner on Mother’s Day and one of my food assignments was a vegetable side dish. It seemed appropriate to make this dish of green beans with carrots, one of Aunt Fran’s recipes.
Green Beans with Carrots and Thyme
7 medium organic carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1-1/4 lbs. green beans, trimmed
6 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Fill a 4-quart pot full of water. Add a bit of salt and bring to the boil. Add the carrots and boil 3-4 minutes until fork tender but not soft. Remove carrots from the pot, and save the water to cook the beans. Run carrots under cold water to stop the cooking. Return the water to the boil and add green beans. Cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes until tender. Drain and run under cool water to stop cooking. Let the vegetables sit on paper towels to absorb excess water. In a saucepan combine oil and garlic. Turn heat to medium low and let cook to soften the garlic. Let the garlic become fragrant and slightly golden but do not burn. It should take 3-4 minutes. Place beans and carrots in a serving bowl. Pour oil and garlic over the vegetables and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serves 6-8.
I love roasted asparagus and could eat it everyday. I like to roast it until there are brown crispy bits on the tips. This simple asparagus salad can pair nicely with other spring vegetables, eggs, and fish or seafood. I prefer to use crawfish (about 20 shelled crawfish make 2/3 cup of meat), but you can substitute shrimp or salmon if you don’t have access to crawfish.
Roasted Aparagus and Crawfish Salad
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
2/3 c. cooked and shelled crawfish, shrimp, or salmon
1 green onion, chopped
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
zest of half a medium lemon
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until browned on the bottom and fork tender. Remove from pan and chop into 1-inch pieces. Place asparagus in a serving bowl, then rough chop the crawfish or shrimp. Add to the asparagus, along with green onion and egg. Mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle lemon zest over it and toss. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil to taste. Stir gently. Chill 30 minutes. Serves 2-3 as a side salad.
Baked custard is a family favorite. At this time of year, when the weather can still sometimes be unpredictably cool, this creamy smooth, soft, and flavorful custard hits the spot. I think it tastes best and has the nicest texture after it is chilled, but you can eat it warm if you prefer. It can be served plain or topped with whipped cream or, better yet, a colorful spring strawberry rhubarb sauce. I love fruit pies drizzled with drinking custard rather than cream or ice cream. This dessert is just the opposite – custard with a fruit sauce on top. It is a lovely dessert. The strawberry rhubarb sauce is very versatile. In addition to using it for this custard, you can also spoon it on fresh ricotta cheese, thick Greek yogurt, or ice cream. It is a terrific topping for shortcake, white cake, cheesecake, or even French toast or pancakes.
Baked Custard with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
3 c. whole milk
3 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bring 5 cups water to a boil for a water bath. Pour milk into a saucepan and scald. In a large bowl whisk together eggs and sugar until thick and well mixed. Add salt and vanilla. Mix well. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the scalded milk and beat until smooth. Strain custard into a 7×11 or 8×8 glass baking pan. Sprinkle the top generously with freshly grated nutmeg. Place baking pan filled with custard into a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven, then carefully pour the boiled water into the roasting pan to create the water bath. Bake for 45 minutes until set at the edges but still trembling slightly in the center. Cool on rack for 30 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator uncovered for 4-6 hours until set. Prepare the strawberry rhubarb sauce and allow to cool before spooning over individual bowls of custard. Serves 4.
Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
2 c. chopped fresh rhubarb
1-1/2 c. sliced strawberries
3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice, strained
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
In a 3-quart saucepan combine fruit with sugar, orange juice, salt, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring often until rhubarb is soft (5-7 minutes). In a small cup combine cornstarch and water. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the fruit mixture, stirring constantly until it has thickened. It should take about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 15-20 minutes before spooning fruit over custard.