Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Counter Culture

My sister and her family are staying with us just now and so together we are having plenty of fun in the kitchen. Our cooking styles are very similar, except for the fact that my sister, Christina, must stay gluten-free. That's not hard to do when there is so much summer produce abounding just now. Meals are simple but bountiful, full of salads, fresh veggies, and sometimes even homemade ice-cream.



Have you ever wondered what's the big deal with fava beans? I have. And, when I saw they were available as an "extra" at our CSA this week I grabbed a few handfuls of the green-beans-on-steroids-looking-things. Later in the week my sister and I pulled them out and began shelling the beans. That's when I remembered that favas have to be "double-shelled". Once they are out of the bean husks, the favas must then be taken out of a further, tough-skin that surrounds the actual beans. That's big deal number one about favas -- they take a lot of work.

We dumped the handful of beans we accumulated into the steamer and let them be for a few minutes before placing them on a dish and dressing them with butter, salt, and pepper. Then we took our first bite. We knew instantly why favas are a big deal. Wow were they good! One by one we popped them into our mouths. The texture was amazing. I'm comparing it with the reason I like Macadamia nuts so much: that buttery, melt-in-your-mouth feel. Favas have that. What did they taste like? Something very mild, nutty, a bit like a buttery green bean. Now I'm hoping there will be more next week at the CSA.

I also came by some peaches in the last week. A friend is away for the summer and said I could have the harvest from her peach tree. The apricot-sized peaches arrived in between the July 3rd  parade and two afternoon celebrations. They were so ripe that they were going bad by the hour. That first night I salvaged what I could from the bad ones and the next day I blanched, peeled, and chopped the rest. Some of the peaches are destined for jam -- those I chopped fine and froze in batches of 2 cups for easy conversion later on. The rest of the peaches will probably end up in smoothies and homemade ice-cream.



I am so excited about grilled flatbread right now. A friend made it for us over the 4th of July weekend and I saw how easy it was to make and grill. The taste is amazing. We ate the flatbread with bruschetta and olive tapenade from Trader Joe's. But, it's easy to just turn it into a pizza by spreading foil on the grill after you've cooked the flatbread, placing the flatbread on top of the foil and then layering on your pizza toppings. Here's Bobby Flay's pizza dough recipe that was used.



As we all know, it's zucchini season. The recipe I always fall back on is the one I've been eating since I was a child. We saute zucchini (and sometimes onions too) in some olive oil. About half way through we throw in some fresh, chopped tomatoes and cook until all is tender. Sprinkle on some basil, oregano and garlic powder and then a good handful or two of shredded cheddar cheese. Good. Good. Good.



One of the delights of zucchini season is fresh fried squash blossoms. Oh yum! I'm eyeing my plants right now, checking to see how many blossoms I have and how many I can sacrifice. Any day now I'm going to make them....