It’s Autumn!

For a spectacular 20+ years, fall has always summoned the return of school, an eagerly anticipated event (for the most part). Now I send my sweetheart off to school and get to stay home and dream up ways to make our haven a little more cozy when he arrives home after long hours spent preparing for comprehensive exams. As a child, when we lived in California; there the Autumn also summoned the return of rain. Mama would pull out the play dough toys and make a fresh batch of play dough to celebrate the first day of rain. There’s nothing like rolling and molding fresh warm play dough. Then we moved to Oregon; Fall became synonymous in my mind with warm spices and baked goods, having grown past the glee of play dough I traded it for real baked goods, the ones that make your house smell fresh and homey, that beg to be enjoyed with good company and steaming coffees and teas. I began in earnest to develop my tea party expertise and, when Autumn finally arrives, I can’t help but put it to use. Little Lu will be a tea party expert (as will his daddy) in no time at all. When I find myself wondering if tea parties are a bit girly for boys, I remember all the tea parties shared with my Mama’s best friend and her rollicking flock of five handsome lads who had as much fun at a finely set tea table as they did exploring the backyard. dsc03354

This autumn I get to explore the amazing fall bounty through the fabulous recipes of Yossy Arefi (thanks to Allison) who sent “Sweeter off the Vine” my way in August. I am mid-adventure with an apple tart but my inaugural recipe was a wonderful Pear Cake. It is the perfect autumn dessert, studded with juicy pears and boasting the warm flavors of toasted nuts, it belongs on any tea table. My version swaps out hazelnuts for the chestnuts (not a chestnut to be found in my market). This necessitates a couple of extra steps, you must toast your nuts, and then grind them finely in a food processor/blender. But, on a positive note, it also means that you could make it in a bowl rather than a stand mixer, making it an accessible recipe to the mixerless provided they have a blender or food processor (the stand mixer paddle does the work of crumbling the chestnuts in Arefi’s recipe) Also, the hazelnuts have such a strong flavor that the walnuts (which add a nice texture to the cake) don’t add much additional flavor and could easily be omitted should you prefer the cake without nuts.

Love from CO,

Bethany

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Pear and Hazelnut Cake (1 9-inch cake, 8 generous slices)

    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, they do add a nice crunch though)
    • 3 medium sized pears
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used cake flour, but it is absolutely unnecessary)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 5 oz. hazelnuts (I actually used 4 oz plus 1 ounce of walnuts, I was short a few hazelnuts)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Position a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan (I used a spring form pan but any round pan will do).

Arrange walnuts and hazelnuts in a single layer on separate baking sheets. Toast walnuts and hazelnuts for about 10 minutes, until walnuts are light brown and fragrant. Remove walnuts from the oven and continue to toast hazelnuts for 5-8 more minutes (you want them toasted all the way to their core but not burnt). Let walnuts cool to room temperature, stick hazelnuts in the freezer to speed up cooling (the must be completely cool before grinding).

When hazelnuts are cool, grind them in a food processor or blender until they are finely ground, but stop short before they turn into nut butter.

Peel, core, and chop the pears into 1/2-inch pieces. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl and using a hand mixer cream together butter, sugar, and ground hazelnuts on low until light and fluffy, this takes about 5 minutes (be patient). Add the eggs one at a time beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.

Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture until just combined, then fold in pears and walnuts (if using). The batter will be quite thick. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and spread it out evenly with an offset spatula. Tap the pan gently on the counter to help the batter settle in the pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the edges are golden brown, 40-50 minutes (err on the longer side, my cake fell and the center was gummy at 40 minutes). Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for two days (This is no joke, our final pieces on day 3 may have been developing some additional fermented flavors, you may have better luck storing extras well wrapped in the fridge).

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Making the most of the blackberries

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Yesterday morning, Gavin had laser focus: playing on his tractor, snacking on blackberries and meandering down to the pile of felled pines (his favorite, most exciting play place) were all on the list. But I got stuck on the blackberries. And since I only have a few weeks each year to obsess over them (plus that wonderful time in winter when we pull a few bags out of the freezer) I figure I can get away with that. So when we came in from our playing and berrying expedition, it was time to put the harvest to use.

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I think it took less than an hour to piece together these little wonders (including crust-making time) so don’t be put off by their daintiness and tininess!

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Blackberry Hand Pies (makes about 28)

Crust:

2 C. Flour (I used whole wheat and it was fine, but I’m sure regular flour would be excellent as well)

3/4 tsp. Salt

3/4 tsp. Baking Powder

3/4 C. Butter, cut into 1″ cubes

1 Egg

1 Tbs. Apple cider vinegar

4 Tbs. Ice-cold water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, then cut in the butter till the mixture is fine and crumby. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vinegar and water. Add half of this liquid combination to the flour and stir it in. Continue adding in small amounts till the dough is easily formed into a ball, but not gooey. Shape into two balls, wrap each in cling wrap and refrigerate while you mix up the filling.

Blackberry Filling:

2 1/2 C. Fresh blackberries

1/4 C. White Sugar

1/4 C. Brown Sugar

1/8 C. Flour

1-2 tsp. Ground nutmeg

Gently stir together blackberries, sugars, flour and nutmeg until everything is dissolved into the blackberry juices.

Assemble Hand Pies:

On a lightly floured pastry cloth, roll out one of the balls of pie dough into a fairly thin sheet. Using a 4-5″ bowl, cup or biscuit cutter, cut out circles of dough. Place a few Tablespoons of filling onto each circle of dough, fold one half over the filling and crimp the edges together (the result should be a pretty half-moon shape, probably with a few ragged holes in some of them, like mine!).  Place on baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling till both are used up. Cover hand pies with aluminum foil and bake 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until they are golden and bubbling with blackberry juice. Enjoy (preferably after a few minutes of cooling)!

Love from Oregon,

Faerynn M.

P.S. There are a lot of blackberries out there: prepare yourself for more recipes!d

A trio of tasty things

Towards the end of June we went on a retreat to a place in northeastern Connecticut. We were a gaggle of ancient philosophers in an enormous lodge with an enormous porch and a bucolic view of rolling green hills (and fireflies at night!)  And it was wonderful: philosophy by day, all fun in the evening (of the bonfire and mixed drink variety). Since it was our university’s turn to organize the retreat, we were responsible for all the groceries. One of the excellent results of this state of affairs was that there was a lot of left-over food: trail mix, granola, yogurt, nuts, and so, so many bananas.

Now. I do not like bananas. But I do like banana bread, and I believe that I have found the holy grail of banana bread recipes (from–you guessed it!–SK!) The secret to Smitten Kitchen’s “Jacked-Up Banana Bread” is supposed to be a little bourbon. But I used a honeyed Jack Daniels, since it was all I had on hand. I also threw in a handful of dessicated, plain coconut, because it was calling to me from the pantry shelf, and swapped half the all-purpose flour for whole-wheat. The bread was dark, dense, moist, and just the right amount of sweet. We ate it for breakfast and again for an afternoon snack. And when it ran out two days later, I promptly made another loaf with the rest of the languishing bananas.

***

July has seen two other SK recipes, both desserts. The first was her deep dish apple pie (from the book; but it’s probably on her site somewhere as well), which I made with left-over retreat apples for the Fourth of July. What a dream. Layers of apples, sliced small, drowning in their own juices and just a touch of sugar; a crunchy struedel topping; and that delectable all-butter pastry crust. Plus, you get the fun of filling an entire skillet with pie dough and putting it, handle and all, into the oven. I would not change a thing about it.

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Last, but certainly not least, the Sticky Toffee Pudding. When I let drop that it had dates in it, people were skeptical. I know: dates sound like a health food. But are they really? Probably not when you chop them fine, bake them into a cake, and then slather the results with homemade whipped cream and toffee sauce, and just a sprinkle or two of crushed sea salt (I hand-crushed mine with a mortar and pestle).

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My normally sweet-shy philosopher took an intense liking to this one. After we wowed our dinner guests with it, he took to eating the remainder in tiny slices (with all the fixings!) with his morning coffee. I tried this once, but the sugar (and there is a lot of sugar in it) went straight to my head. I’d recommend it as an afternoon pick-me-up instead of breakfast accompaniment.

(A quick kitchen note: one thing I was a bit surprised by was how difficult it was to evenly mix the cake batter with the pureed date sauce. I felt like my cake turned out a little more clumpy than I would have expected or liked. I think I would add the date sauce more slowly next time and stir more thoroughly between additions.)

That’s it for now! I have a busy few days ahead: more writing to do, a meeting in New York next week, and after that the move to our first apartment. It’s only a few blocks away, but it feels like the start of something new. I can’t wait.

Love from CT,

Allison

 

 

In which we eat nothing but zucchini

I grew a garden this year! It is beautiful and has been balm to my soul. I love the dirt under my finger nails and the tan lines on my little boys feet from mornings spent caring for our little plants. Back in May I sadly bemoaned my plight when it appeared that only one struggling zucchini plant had germinated in my garden, though I couldn’t complain since my seeds were 5 years old. And then I cheerfully reminded myself zucchini plants are always over producers, one will be just fine for my family of three. Not 24 hours later (I kid not) five eager zucchini plants popped up in their assigned hills. In the last seven days I have used 7 zucchinis (just from the first plant) and still have one in the fridge and one ready to be picked. Good thing we all love zucchini around here! Also, good thing Smitten Kitchen has recipes by vegetable, I plan to cook my way through zucchini top to bottom. Tonight we enjoyed her amazing zucchini and ricotta galette. The crust for this really is no less than amazing and (if you are comfortable with pie crust rolling) makes for a great quick supper since you can make the crust early and then roll out and top it later in the day. I also sliced my zucchini and laid it out 3 hours ahead of time (not the recommended 30 minutes) and it worked out just fine. So feel free to prep as early as you need to keep dinner time simple.

Now, I realize that if you are adding a quarter pound of butter to something, it might be hard to call it healthy and leads to a question, why try to make it healthier by adding say whole wheat? But, I only had whole wheat flour on hand this afternoon so made 100% whole wheat pie crust using SK’s recipe from the zucchini galette and it turned out Amaaazing! So, while I don’t always substitute whole wheat, and I am not sure there are significant health claims to be made, if you only have it on hand I would absolutely use it here without worrying that it will lend to a disappointing crust. . .the butter and sour cream certainly mitigate the density of the whole grain leaving a flaky and tender handle for all of your summer zucchini.

Love from CO,
Bethany

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette (Serves 6)

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat pastry flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes*
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again*
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (SK calls for lemon juice which I didn’t have on hand)
1/4 cup ice water

*I cut my butter into the flour and then stuck the whole thing in the freezer for 15 minutes and it worked out just fine.

Filling:
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella (muenster also works)
1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

Glaze:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and (here, since I hadn’t pre chilled my ingredients I stuck everything in the freezer for 15 minutes) use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas (I purposefully left visible beads of butter). In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (I refrigerated mine for 3 hours with great results).

Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes (up to 3 hours); gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella (I used muenster cause I failed at purchasing mozzarella  2 days in a row), and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare galette: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later). Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

S is for Summer and Salad

DSC03141Not living in a air conditioned space during the summer changes my attitude towards cooking. As in, I do everything in my power to avoid turning on the oven (unless it is Monday afternoon and I know that after my mega piano practice session I are going to need some cake to make it through the rest of the day, but that didn’t happen this afternoon. . . nope, definitely not). The summer that I was pregnant I discovered that salad was summer’s saving grace, in particular a lightly sauced, wonderfully tart, potato, green bean, and arugula salad topped with toasted walnuts that I have fallen head over heels for. I make it every summer; it is seriously just as wonderful post pregnancy as it was mid-term. It satisfies the “I want potato salad” craving but turns it into a meal of its own. And, if your two year old has a thing about not mixing different foods together, don’t worry, each individual part can be put in its own section of the divider plate (minus the greens which Lu has an aversion to)!

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It can even be deconstructed into its constituent parts and become 2.5 year old friendly!

Thanks SK for adding something so wonderful to my life! My only alterations were to use smallish red potatoes and quarter them. Also, I swap out olive oil in the dressing for the walnut oil called for (even though I know walnut oil would be amazing) because I never seem to have it in my cupboard, and I use balsamic vinegar because I like it here (SK suggests white or other mild vinegar).

Hope you enjoy!
Bethany

Arugula, potato and green bean salad (4 dinner sized salads for light eaters)

1 ounce walnuts (about 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes quartered
6 ounces haricots, verts, or other green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments (I have also used asparagus cut into similar sizes)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces baby arugula

Preheat oven to 375°. Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop and set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a colander to drain and cool. Set aside.

Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Return pan of water to a boil. Add green beans, and cook until tender and bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Drain.

Whisk together vinegar, yogurt, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; season with pepper. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Set dressing aside.

Arrange arugula, potatoes, and green beans on a platter. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts; toss to coat.

 

 

June is for pies

Phew! That was quite the three months. Since my last post at the end of March, I have finished teaching, written a first chapter of my dissertation, finished planning a wedding, gotten married, moved house, and honeymooned. Now things are slowly returning to normal. My first official domestic act as a married woman was to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie.

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I bought native berries and long, thick stems of rhubarb from the Italian grocery store down the street, and invested a ridiculous amount of butter in what turned out to be my Very Best Pie Crust Ever. (My advice: When Deb says to not blend the butter all the way into the dough, obey her! My butter was frozen when I started which made it impossible for me to *not* follow her instructions. The result was largish pats of butter scattered through the dough which melted away in the oven, leaving delectable golden pockets and layers of crust in their wake.)

Nobody was dissapointed. Not me. Not my philosopher. And not the housemates and unexpected guests who picked the perfect moment to stop by.

The crust was flaky and buttery and melted in our mouths. The filling was the perfect tangle of tart and sweet. If I could only pick one pie to eat for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

p.s. The crust was more golden than the photo lets on, but I think I could have baked the pie even longer than I did. I noticed on the second day that some of the bottom crust seemed par-baked still, though it was nothing a little oven-warming couldn’t remedy.

Pain aux Chocolat

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Success! Kind of. These pain aux chocolat tasted great: the croissant had a rich flavor from the dough’s long, cool rise (plus all that butter) and paired beautifully with dark chocolate. But I mourned when I beheld the texture of the croissants as I pulled them out of the oven. They were somewhere between a scone and an ultra-buttery pie crust. Nothing like the “puffs of air” quality I was going for. But I still consider it a success. After all, they were really enjoyed. I froze half to be baked tomorrow–they will make a great plane ride treat on they way to Connecticut, to celebrate Allison’s wedding!!!

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Happy Monday!

Faerynn M.

Mother’s Day Shish Kabobs and Lemon Sour-Cream Pie

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I’m posting two “recipes” to make up for last month’s zero (sorry!) and maybe I’ll get around to it once more this week for extra compensation. I better, because next weekend I’m going to experiment with pain aux chocolate again. There, now I’m committed.

Last Sunday, to celebrate my lovely Mama, I made two large trays of chicken and steak shish kabobs and a pot of buttery purple rice, served with cubes of watermelon. No recipe for the shish kabobs: just marinated chunks of meat (I used water, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, white wine vinegar and oil for the marinade) alternated with fresh fruits and vegetables (in this case pineapple, yellow and green  zucchini and cherry tomatoes) and grilled.

For dessert we had a beautiful lemon sour-cream pie. At least, it was beautiful until I sliced it and attempted to transfer the slices from pie dish to plates. I think it would have done better with some freezer time just before serving, or maybe refrigerated overnight. Anyhow, it ended up in delicious puddles of tangy pudding and pecan-crunch on our plates.

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Happy late Mother’s Day! And also, just one more week of school! After that: a hopefully-successful recipe for pain aux chocolate.

Love from Oregon,

Faerynn M.

rocambole (caramel cake roll!)

I am all about vegetables and legumes but we eat our fair share of sugar too, so it’s time I pass on some of that sweetness to you. Just when we thought spring was here for real, a snow storm swept in and ruined my dreams of spending the weekend in my newly acquired community garden. But it also provided cool enough weather that I was willing to leave a pot of water containing a can of sweetened condensed milk simmering on my stove ALL DAY. A couple of months ago I tried to make doce de leite, per C’s request. Unfortunately 2 hours just wasn’t long enough for the milk to caramelize. However, a second very lonely can of condensed milk was still sitting in the pantry last week and bravely I decided to give milk caramel a second chance. Turns out you can make caramel that way it just takes about 4 and a half hours with 20 minute water refills. Also, it simultaneously turns your house into a sauna so. . . maybe not something you want to do mid summer.

Of course, caramel is tasty all on its own, but I couldn’t stop there. It needed to make its way into something. And that is how this lovely cake found its way onto my table at 10 p.m. last Thursday, just as the flurries of snow started to sift down in earnest. I’ve tried to make cake rolls before with varying degrees of success. This recipe doesn’t require you to pre-roll the cake while cooling, a step which has usually caused me some grief. It does, however, require parchment paper: a kitchen item that has become a staple in my home since moving to  CO and sporting a normal sized oven.

Rocambole (8 slices)

Ingredients:
for sheet cake:
4 eggs separated
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar (divided in 2)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour
for simple syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 tbsp liquor (I actually used marsala because that is the only alcohol I had around)
for filling:
1 can dolce de leche (you can usually find this in the Hispanic section of your super market, or you can buy a can of sweetened condensed milk and boil it for several hours).- enough for 1 cake sheet of 17 by 11-in.
to sprinkle on top:
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon – or to taste
utensils: 17 by 11-in. baking pan, parchment paper

Directions:
1- Preheat oven at 400F
2- Separate the egg whites from the yolks. In a mixer or by hand whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking. As soon as it looks like shaving cream add half of the sugar asked in the recipe and whisk it until glossy and very fluffy.
3- In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks with the other half of sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.
4- Add 1/3 of the meringue to the yolk mixture. Stir well and add the melted butter. Now start alternating between the meringue left and the flour making a total of 3 additions.
5- Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter. Spread your batter evenly to fill the pan (it will be quite thin)
6- Bake it for 7 minutes.
7- After baked, flip the cake over another piece of parchment paper and immediately remove the paper that is still on the cake.
8- In a small bowl add sugar and water. Microwave it for one minute. Add the rum and stir. Brush this simple syrup all over the cake. Don’t use all the syrup, just a thin layer is enough.
9- If you want clean edges, trim the uneven edges of the cake and let it cool completely (as you can see, aesthetics weren’t a high priority when I made this). Spread the dulce de leche all over it and roll it into a log starting from the short end. After rolling the first edge under I kept rolling by lifting up the parchment paper and peeling it back, yielding a fairly loose roll. The cake will be sticky from the simple syrup, this is normal and keeps the sponge cake from becoming dry. Sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon on top. Serve at room temperature, however if you have leftovers you might want to refrigerate them due to the milk in the caramel. We ate it cold the second day and still thought it was delicious.
Love from CO,

Bethany

lima bean purée

It’s the new hummus! I have been trying to switch up my regular rotation of chickpeas and black beans. In February, we ate our fair share of lentils and great northerns, and then as I perused the dried beans shelf I spotted lima beans and thought “why not? It turns out Anna Thomas, author of “The New Vegetarian Epicure,” has a spectacularly simple preparation for these gems that left my taste buds oh so happy. When you host your next wine tasting/tea party, or just need a quick spread to keep on hand for your veggie sandwich, or are feeling the need for a little something because dinner at 5 p.m. was too early for bed time at 12 a.m. or actually because this tasty dip/spread is too delicious to pass up, please enjoy some lima bean purée. With a hint of rosemary and the perfect balance of fried and raw garlic to liven the taste buds I don’t think you will miss your prepackaged hummus for a moment. My only addition to Anna’s recipe was to cook my beans with a bay leaf. However, I imagine a whole host of other herbs could be subbed in here and should you have some chopped sun dried tomatoes they wouldn’t be unwelcome.

For 5 cups of spread

1 lb. dry lima beans
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
fresh-ground black pepper to taste

garnishes: additional olive oil, chopped flat-leaf parsley

Soak the lima beans overnight in plenty of water. Drain them, rinse them, and put them in a large pot with water to cover by at least 2 inches and the bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the beans for at least an hour,and perhaps longer (mine took 2 hours), until they are perfectly tender.*

Add more water, if necessary, to keep the beans just covered. Toward the end of the cooking time, add about a teaspoon of salt, or more to taste.

In a small skillet, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, about a third of the garlic, the chopped rosemary, and the red pepper flakes. Warm the oil and herbs on medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.

Drain the cooked lima beans, reserving the liquid. Combine them in a food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid and the warm oil with herbs, and purée. Add the remaining minced garlic, the unheated olive oil, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to your taste, and process again until everything is thoroughly blended. Taste, and correct the seasoning with a touch more salt or lemon juice if you like. If the purée seems too thick, add a little more of the cooking liquid. It should be light, but hold a shape.

Allow the purée to cool. spread it in a pretty, shallow bowl, drizzle some fruity olive oil on top, and sprinkle with chopped parsley or a few red pepper flakes. Serve the purée with toasted or grilled bread.

*On cooking dried beans: I cook my beans on the stove top. With a good overnight soak, it usually takes mine about 2 hours. If you have a pressure cooker you could use it here to speed things up a bit, or buy canned beans and perhaps heat them a little extra to make sure they are very tender, or leave the beans in a slow cooker all day. Any way you choose to get 1 lb. of dried beans to a very tender state should be fine.

Love from CO,
Bethany