Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Farmer’s Market Find: Fava Beans



I have always been interested in learning more about the fava bean.  Ok, I know you guys are all rolling your eye.  Stop it.  Beans can be exciting!  Especially after you eat them.  No really, I love me a good bean or legume.  Garbanzo, kidney, cannellini, green, yellow, canned, French-style and the list goes on and on.  Did you just say bean are boring?  I think you might have a change of heart my friend after I tell you about the ways of the fava.


When I go to the farmer’s market, I always look for new things.  Sure, I buy my tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots, but I also look for fruits and vegetables that are out of the ordinary.  Living in a smaller community there isn’t a lot of new or exotic produce available, so when something new happens to show up, I pounce on it.  Fava beans are rare find for two reasons.  One, they have a very short growing season and two, is the smaller community thing.   So, the last time I went to the farmer’s market, I snagged some.  Let me tell you, I must of looked particularly kitchen savvy that day, because the gentleman in the stall gave me way more than what I paid for.  Fava beans are a little on the more expensive side, so they are a treat.


We (the children and I) finished our shopping and headed home.  I immediately set to work peeling the beans from their large, soft homes.  Gabe and I made short work of a big job and in no time, we were on to step two.  The fava bean has a thick, white membrane around it.  In order to remove the membrane, the beans have be to boiled for just a few minutes to soften them.  Once the beans have boiled a few minutes, remove them from the heat and drain.  Let the beans cool until you can handle them.  Remove the white pod by pinching the end of the bean and squeezing.  What started as a great big bag of beans has now been reduced to a small bowl of green beans.



Now you that you have tackled all of the hard work, your possibilities are endless.  Eat them with butter, put them into a soup, make a topping to spoon over toasted baguettes (super delish) or make a spread.  If you would like to do the latter, by all means, continue reading! I hope you guys give these beans a try.  I know they look like a lot of work, but they are totally worth it.  Just remember they are harvested in late spring and if you don’t see them at your farmer’s market, just ask!!!!!!  The more the farmers hear about what’s becoming popular the more they will experiment with their crops.

Please read more for my fava bean spread………….


Monday, July 22, 2013

A Refreshing Palate Cleanser: Strawberry Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet



I thought you guys might need to cleanse your palate after all of the cake I have been dishing up.  Yes it is technically ice cream, but it isn’t as thick and rich as some of them (wait until you read the next post) and it won’t leave you full.  Just refreshed, kind of like a summer breeze.  A really tasty summer breeze.


Martha Stewart has done it again.  This cooling sherbet will knock your socks off.  What drew me to the recipe was the use of buttermilk.  It gave it a tang that cut through the tartness of the berries.  The buttermilk also lent itself to the color of the sherbet.  I found the recipe on the Martha Stewart website.  Her recipe called for all blueberries, but alas, I only had a cup of them.  I substituted the strawberries for the other half and it the flavor is very similar to raspberries. 

The sherbet would be great served just on its own or with a small cookie.  It really isn’t a frozen treat that works well with cake, but if you are desperate…………………

Oh! The recipe was so easy, I didn’t take pictures of the process.  Let me know if you guys have questions!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Isabelle’s Pink-alicious Cake



So Isabelle is 12, and like it or not, I have to let her grow up.  The days will be dwindling when she loves everything pink and girly and pretty.  I know that attitudes have been at an all time high and unfortunately there is no weather man to tell me when I can expect some relief from this heat.  So for her birthday, the last one before she becomes a "TEENAGER”, ( if we don’t talk about it, maybe it won’t happen), I want to give her the prettiest pink cake ever. 


I was looking for something fluffy, something almost ethereal.  A pink billowy cloud of a cake.  I was searching through Pinteres,( I know, it wasn’t a cookbook), and I found a beautiful Strawberry Whopper Marshmallow Milkshake cake! Just saying it, brings my blood sugar up a few notches. It was just what I was looking for.  One minor problem.  I couldn’t find Strawberry Whoppers anywhere!  No problem!  Strawberries are always a good answer!  In place of the Whoppers in the middle of the cake and all around the sides, I used sliced strawberries.  The link to the original cake is listed below and it comes from a really cute blog!  Check it out! 


This was also the first time I have ever made marshmallow frosting.  It was a little intimidating (and super sticky), but it was absolutely delicious and surprisingly not too sweet.  It went really well with the strawberries on the cake.  Just a side note.  The strawberries were really too moist for the frosting.  They kept sliding down the sides of the cake.  It did look like I purposefully decorated it like that!


The next time you ever need a pink, fluffy princess cake, this is the one to do!  Have fun and eat cake!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Two Birthdays and a Lot of Cake



I was blessed to have two of children in the same week.  Ok, the same week two years apart.  July 1st and July 2nd.  So it’s a really busy and a really expensive week.  We decided from the beginning that we would take our vacation week this week so the kids could have their birthday to themselves and then have a combined birthday on the weekend.  So far it has worked pretty well.  This year they both decided that they wanted a cake on their birthday and then again for the party.  I know I am crazy, but who can say no to cake? 


Alex the oldest, decided he wanted an chocolate cake with orange frosting.  Not orange flavored frosting, just the color orange.  Basically a Halloween cake.  In the middle of the summer.  So I set about making the Halloween cake.  I found the recipe for Devil’s Food Cake in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook “Nigella Kitchen”.  In this cookbook she centers her thoughts around the idea of “kitchen” and what it means to her and her family.  She lives in her kitchen.  I aspire to.  The recipes are her families favorites and like her other cookbooks, each come with a story of how it came they came to be.  I love her writing, her descriptions of flavor and the colorful language she uses.  She makes you believe with her words that this is truly the greatest chocolate cake you will ever have and then she does it again with the next recipe and you believe her, because it is true. 

IMG_0050 Birthday Breakfast.

The frosting for the chocolate cake comes from the cookbook “Joy the Baker” written by Joy Wilson. I have made quite a few recipes from this cookbook.  All of recipes can be found in the links below.  I needed a neutral frosting that just needed to be tinted the gregarious orange that Alex wanted for his cake.  I found Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting and it all came together.  I even like saying that.  Instead of using an actual vanilla bean, I used pure vanilla extract.  I am sure using the vanilla bean would have taken this recipe to a whole other level, but in the recipe she did suggest the extract as an alternative.


It was a cake fit for a 14 year old boy.  It was just what he wanted.  Isabelle’s birthday cake will be tomorrow. I just want to make sure your system can handle all this sugar I am going to unleash on you.  Links to other Joy the Baker recipes listed below.

Nigella Lawson recipes are linked below: