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Archive for May, 2010

Chocolate sorbet.  Yes, chocolate sorbet.  Indeed it is, chocolate sorbet.  And it is divine.

For your information, Scott is a crafty gift- giver.  He knows what he’s doin’.  He’s thought it through.  And he knows that giving me things like this for my birthday will prove to be fruitful for all parties involved.  Yes, he is a wise one indeed.  But back to the sorbet…

Dare I call it healthy?  It’s only ingredients are chocolate, cocoa powder,  sugar, water, vanilla, and salt.  It really couldn’t be easier to throw together.  I do believe I even mumbled something about it’s being tastier than chocolate ice cream- if you’re a chocolate-lover, that is.  Because in this sorbet, the chocolate is, well, intense!.  There’s no cream or egg yolk to mask the flavor of that delicious chocolate!

Chocolate Sorbet from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
yields about 1 quart

The recipe calls for Dutch-process cocoa powder, which is different than regular cocoa powder because it contains an alkali which neutralizes the acidity.  It should say “dutch-process” or “cocoa rouge” on the label, and can be found at most well-stocked high-end groceries or here.

Be sure to use a large saucepan for this recipe, as the mixture bubbles up significantly as it’s heated.

  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large sauce pan set over medium heat, whisk together 1-1/2 cups water, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  Bring to a boil and whisk constantly for 45 seconds.

Remove from the heat.  Pour in the chocolate and stir constantly until it is completely melted.  Then add the remaining 3/4 cup water and vanilla extract.  Allow the mixture to cool so that it is warm, not hot.  Transfer to a blender and blend on high for 15 seconds.  Chill the mixture completely (4 hours, or overnight).  You may need to give the mixture a little whisking to thin it out slightly before freezing it. Freeze in an ice cream maker.

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I’ve tried growing fava beans before.  Rather unsuccessfully.  I don’t know what the problem was.  I just didn’t get many beans and the ones I did get weren’t very happy.  But this year…this year… I didn’t even really try.

Beans are an excellent cover crop.  They fix nitrogen into the soil, replenishing nutrients that have been sucked out during the growing season.  So last November, we threw a few seeds in the soil.  And then I didn’t pay them any attention at all! And holy, moly, did I get a fava bean harvest this year!  I harvested at least 10 pounds of beans the first day, and there are easily another 10 pounds waiting to be picked.

So, with this rare excess of fava beans, I made a pesto-of-sorts, that couldn’t be simpler to put together.  (And let me remind you that shucking fava beans is a perfect sit-with-your-feet-up activity!)

Pasta with fava bean pesto
yields 3-4 servings

I used a mortar and pestle to make my pesto, but I imagine you could also do a couple quick “whizzes” in a food processor for a similar, though less creamy result.

The fava beans used in this dish must be tender and young, as they don’t really get cooked but rather warmed while being tossed with the hot pasta.  If you can only find mature, starchy fava beans, add the beans to the pot with the cooked onions and cook slowly over low heat until the beans fall into a puree.  The flavor will be different, but still tasty!

  • 3/4 pound dry pasta
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 small clove garlic, mortared
  • 1 cup shucked fava beans (maybe 5 pounds whole favas?)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese (puh-lease don’t use that nasty stuff in the green can!!)
  • about 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint (puh-lease don’t use the dried stuff!)
  • kosher salt to taste

In a small pot set over medium heat, warm about 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and stir to coat.  Cover and slowly cook until the onion becomes soft and translucent.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mortar, pound the garlic with a pinch of salt until it forms a smooth paste.  Add about 2 Tablespoons of fava beans to the mortar and begin to pound them so that most of the beans fall into a puree.  Continue adding beans and pounding until you end up with a “puree” that contains about 60% bean puree and 40% broken bean pieces.

Remove the bean puree to a large bowl and stir in lots of freshly cracked black pepper, the cooked onion, mint, a few Tablespoons of olive oil, the Pecorino, and salt to taste.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water according to the package’s instructions.  Pour the hot, drained pasta into the bowl containing the pesto and toss well to coat.

Serve along with another grating of Pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil.  This is the epitome of spring!

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Simple but delicious: sauteed chard with garlic and toasted almonds.  This particular red chard came from my garden, but you could easily use any variety that you find at the farmer’s market.  I particularly love the chard with vibrantly colored stems because they’re just so darn beautiful!  And who can resist beautiful?

Chard with garlic and toasted almonds

Since greens wilt down so drastically as they cook, I typically use a pot that seems just a little too small.  That way, by the time they’ve wilted, they remain somewhat crowded and don’t dry out before they’re done cooking.

  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons raw, whole almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon pure olive oil
  • kosher salt, to taste

Toast the almonds on a small tray or small oven-proof saute pan at 400ºF for about 10 minutes.  They should be barely golden in the center.  Cool completely and roughly chop.

Wash the chard and trim off the stems.  Slice the stems into 1/4-inch pieces and set aside.  Stack the leaves on top of each other and cut them into 1-inch pieces.  Set aside.

Place a pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the stems and a sprinkle of salt.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  Then add the chard leaves, a sprinkling of water (maybe a couple teaspoons), and another pinch of salt. Cover  and allow the greens to wilt for 1-2 minutes.  Lift the lid and stir, then replace the lid and continue to wilt.  Depending upon the time of year, chard can take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes to cook.  If the chard is really hardy, you may need a little extra water to help it tenderize.  If the chard is tender, you may leave the lid off, allowing the water to evaporate on it’s own.  When the chard is nearly ready, push it to one side of the pot and add a few drops of olive oil to the bare spot.  Place the minced garlic on the oil and allow it to sit for about 15 seconds, until it becomes aromatic.  Stir the garlic into the greens.  Taste for salt and add a bit more if necessary.

Remove the chard to a serving platter and top with toasted almonds.  Simple and delicious!

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