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Posts Tagged ‘mint’

These little snackies made it well worth the trouble to have made my own garbanzo bean dip! It’s up to you how many of these you make…just for yourself or for a crowd.  So I’ll give you the general ingredients and the method and leave the specific quantities up to you.

Open-faced sandwiches with garbanzo bean spread and herbed cherry tomatoes

  • sliced rustic-style bread (I used pugliese)
  • garbanzo bean dip
  • cherry tomatoes
  • chopped garden herbs (I used basil, oregano, and mint)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt

Slice the cherry tomatoes into small wedges.  I suggest sixths or eighths, depending up on their size.  Place the tomatoes in a small bowl and sprinkle them with salt.  Set them aside for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

After the tomatoes have released some of their juice, toss them with the chopped herbs and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.  This will create a vinaigrette of sorts (tomato juice and olive oil).

Toast the sliced bread until it’s crisp on the outside yet chewy in the center.  Spread the garbanzo bean dip liberally on each slice.  Divide the herbed tomatoes among the slices of bread, spooning the extra juice all around.

Delight in the yumminess!


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This is the kind of thing that’s yummy to eat on a hot summer day when you just can’t bear to turn on the stove.  In fact, a few nights ago we had it along side a baguette and 1/2 a wheel of Sir Francis Drake cheese from Cowgirl Creamery.  And while we’re at it, The Sir Francis Drake is similar to their Mt. Tam, but is a little stronger. The rind is washed with sweet white wine-soaked currents…it’s so yummy!

Gilbert, one of the owners of the restaurant calls this a “carpaccio” when he puts it on the menu, and it sells like crazy!  It’s easy to vary, depending upon what you have on hand.  For this version, I used toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, mint, and olive oil.  But you could also use shallots, chives, basil, cheese, …the possibilities are endless!  Just be sure to use young, tender summer squash.  With all the funny-shaped varieties that are out there, you could make a fun and colorful plate.

Summer Squash Salad

Rather than supply you with a recipe, I’ll supply you with a method.

  • Gather a variety of young, tender summer squash (and please don’t attempt to do this in the winter!!)
  • Use a sharp mandolin to slice the squash into planks about 1/8-inch thick
  • Spread the slices on individual plates and sprinkle with salt (use fleur de sel if you have it)
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the whole thing
  • Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the whole thing
  • Sprinkle a minced herb (like basil, mint, chives, tarragon…) over the whole thing
  • Add a few toasted nuts if you’d like
  • Add a few shavings of cheese if you’d like (Scott and I love to use hard cheeses like Parmesan, pecorino, or Piave)
  • Enjoy on a warm summer’s-eve with a glass of white wine…  Ahh, bliss!

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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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P9070001

I’m not really big on rules.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  I’m not really big on rules when it comes to cooking.  There are some rules that I follow steadfastly, like stopping at red lights, not BBQing on smog days, and putting the toilet seat up when I’m done (ha! pshaw!).  But when it comes to cooking, breaking the rules usually turns out well.

Take caponata for instance.  A traditional caponata is a sort of condiment or salad that contains eggplant, onion, tomato, olives, capers, pine nuts, and a few other things.  But I didn’t have all those ingredients at home, so I made caponata with what I did have at home.  I used a similar cooking method and just substituted some other things that I wanted to use up.  And it was delicious!  And who cares that it’s not traditional!

We ate our “caponata” with potatoes that I chunked up, tossed in oil and salt, and roasted til crispy.  Then we topped it with Ventresca tuna (tuna belly).  But you could also eat it along side a steak or on crackers, or stirred into pasta…

“Caponata”

  • olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • a pinch of chili flake
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed, mortared
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups diced eggplant, about 1/2″ cubes
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons packed mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, warm about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion, celery, chili flake, and a pinch of salt, and cook slowly until they are partially translucent.  Add the garlic, bell pepper, coriander, and another pinch of salt, and continue cooking until the pepper softens.

Scoot the veggies over to one side of the pan, add a little more olive oil to the empty side, and pour in the tomatoes and another pinch of salt.  Now move the pan on the stove so that the flame is directly under the tomatoes and the other veggies are somewhat off the heat.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the tomatoes to begin to soften before stirring them into the other vegetables.  Pour the whole vegetable mixture onto a plate, scraping the pan well with a rubber spatula, and set aside.

Pour another 2 Tablespoons olive oil into the saute pan and place it over medium-high heat.  Add the eggplant, and a sprinkling of salt.  Toss.  Then allow the eggplant to sit, without stirring for a minute or two, until it begins to color.  (Note that eggplant soaks up a lot of oil, but once it softens it releases some of that oil).  Give the eggplant a stir and again, allow it to sit without stirring for a minute or two.  Add a little more oil, judiciously, if it needs it.

When the eggplant has softened and is lightly golden, pour the vegetable mixture back into the saute pan and add the vinegar and mint.  Turn the heat to low.  Give it a good stir and cook slowly, with a lid, for 20-30 minutes, until all the veggies are completely tender.  (You may need to add up to a 1/2 cup of water to keep the veggies from sticking).

Taste for salt and vinegar.  It shouldn’t taste sour, but the vinegar should counteract the richness.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Yum!

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A lovely sip

Would you like to know what’s lovely?

P7040002This is lovely.  On a warm day.  Or on a hot day.  Or on a breezy day.  It’s always lovely.  Mint, cucumber, water.  Sip, sip, sip.  Refill, and repeat.  Ahhh.

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Sunburn Salad

Last Monday a big group of Zuni folk took a trip up to Tomales Bay to visit the Hog Island Oyster Company.  What a beautiful day it was.  The sun was out, the sky was blue and the breeze was cool.  So cool that no one even felt the imminent sunburns in the making.  But it was perfectly clear, the next day at work, just who had attended the event.  All the tomato-faced people, walking around trying to keep their shirts off of their sunburned shoulders.

We got to hear all about the in’s and out’s of the business from the effects of the Cosco oil spill, to the “extinction” and re-generation of kumamotos, and the alarming costs of running an oyster farm.  Then we were set loose in the picnic area for a Grand BBQ, Zuni style.  While the restaurant provided us with Niman ‘dogs and Acme buns, the rest of the impressive spread came from both cooks, and front-of-house folk alike.  And impressive it was!  We had quinoa tabouli, carnitas, steak tacos, ribs, chocolate chip cookie bars, nectarine tarts, and more chips than you could shake an oyster knife at!  (Oh, and tons of Hog Island’s Sweetwater and Kumamoto oysters!)

Well you know me, and the first thought I had was that someone had better bring some vegetables!  So I got up early and cooked up a yummy little carrot, fennel and golden beet salad.

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Roasted Carrot, Fennel, and Golden Beet Salad

For the Carrot component

As you may have read before, I love roasted carrots in salads.  To prepare them, I peel them and cut them in halves or quarters, lengthwise.  Then I put the carrots into a pot of cold, salted water and bring them to a simmer.  Simmer until they are mostly cooked.  As you’re simmering them, make a quick high-acid vinaigrette consisting of equal parts vinegar and olive oil.  Season it with salt, cumin, corriander, and chili flake.  Pour this vinaigrette into a flat-bottomed dish.  When the carrots are ready, lift them out of the water and bathe them in the vinaigrette for 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, turn on the broiler. Spread the bathed carrots on to a cookie sheet or metal roasting tray and place under the broiler for 10-ish minutes, until they start to color.  Stir them around, and broil 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until they are evenly caramelized and roasty-looking.  Place them back into the flat-bottomed dish that originally contained the vinaigrette.

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For the fennel component

Trim the stalks from the top of the fennel, and cut the bulb in half, through the root-end.  Use a paring knife to carve out the pithy root.  Slice the bulb into match-sticks.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat with olive oil and saute the fennel (don’t forget to salt it).  Give them one quick stir to coat them all with olive oil and salt, and then let them sit for a minute or two until they become slightly golden.  Give them a stir and them let them sit again.  Continue doing this until they’re cooked through, but still retain their structure, and are golden.  Place them, along with the carrots, into the flat bottomed dish.

For the Beets

I recommend using gold beets, or chioggia beets.  Red beets will stain your whole salad red!

Check out how to cook the beets here.  Cut them  into match-sticks and macerate them in a little vinegar and salt, leaving them in their own bowl to macerate for at least a half hour.  Then add them to the rest of the veggies in the flat-bottomed dish.

To assemble the salad

Once all the veggies are in the dish, add a few sprigs of chopped mint and a little chopped marjoram.  You may also need to add a little more vinegar, oil, and salt.  Allow the salad to sit for at least an hour so the flavors can marry, stirring every-so-often.  Serve at room temperature.  Yum!

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Oh Nelly

So, first there was…

p5060090…and then there was…

p5060093…and in went some… (buttermilk)

p5060094…vroom, vroom…

p5060096…add the mint and the ice…

p5060099…Oh Nelly.

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