When I first heard Hannibal Lecter talk about “fava beans,” I always imagined them as some obscure, hard-to-find, European bean that pairs especially well with a census taker’s liver and a nice Chianti. Turns out, fava beans are a bright green explosion of a bean that you can find at most American farmer’s markets in the spring, and the fava bean toast that you see above — which comes from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons — is one of the most dazzling ways you can use them.
Seriously, Craig’s eyes bugged out of his head when he ate this and said: “Oh my God! Why is this so good?” He begged me to buy more fava beans this weekend so I could make it again next week.
Fava beans may not be obscure, but they are a lot of work. First step: take the beans out of the pods. Second step: boil the beans in salted water for 30 seconds. Third step: shock them in cold water. Fourth step: pop them out of their skins.
Once you get to this stage, it’s just a matter of mashing them up in a mortar and pestle with scallions, fresh mint, some Pecorino cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Do it all to taste. The mixture is so divine, you’ll want to spread it on your face as a beauty treatment. But I recommend eating it instead; spread it on thickly sliced broiled bread that you drizzle with olive oil.
As you’ve probably guessed from the recipes in this week’s newsletter, the theme today is SPRING. Because spring has sprung! At least here in L.A.
In addition to fava beans, our farmer’s market is overflowing with skinny, springy asparagus. Look for the bright green stalks sitting in pools of water; that’s how you know they’re fresh. (Don't get anything wrapped in plastic, please.) You can store your asparagus in a little water at home, just stand them upright.
To cook mine last week, I did a little asparagus breakfast number with green garlic. I just sliced the green garlic (the whole head; it’s all edible) and sautéed in olive oil until golden brown. Then I added the asparagus and a pinch of salt and tossed all around. At some point, the garlic was getting a little too dark, so I added a splash of water. That stopped the browning and allowed the asparagus to steam for a little bit.
Looks pretty good, right? Then I removed all of that to plates and fried two eggs right in the same skillet, in a generous amount of olive oil. Scooped those eggs on top and shaved on some Parmesan (shaved because my microplane was in the dishwasher).
A delightful spring breakfast!
Are you sick of spring recipes yet? Too bad!
Last night, I decided to do an Instagram Live even though Craig was visiting his sister in San Diego.
After flipping through an Ottolenghi book all afternoon, I decided to make a spring pasta with charred lemons (I stole the charred lemon idea from Ottolenghi).
To prep, I sliced a bunch of stringed sugar snap peas (my favorite spring ingredient) on the bias, and did the same thing with a bunch of asparagus. Cutting on the bias just makes everything look prettier.
I sliced a whole head of spring garlic (you can see it on the upper right), thinly sliced a Meyer lemon and removed the seeds, then grated a bunch of Parmesan.
To cook, I heated olive oil in a skillet and added the lemons. It’s a strange thing to do but frying the lemons in the oil gets them golden brown and a little charred all over (flip halfway through). You remove them and chopped them up and save for later.
Then, I wiped out the burnt bits in the pan, added fresh olive oil, and sautéed the green garlic. To that I added the asparagus and sugar snap peas, a pinch of salt, and dropped cavatappi (my all-time favorite pasta) in a big pot of salted water. Once the sugar snaps and asparagus took on color, I added a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.
To finish, I added the chopped charred lemons, then stirred in the cavatappi (still al dente) with a little more pasta water. Off the heat, I stirred in lots of Parmesan and black pepper. You can watch the whole thing come together here:
It was a triumphant spring dinner indeed!
So did I make any non-springy things this week?
I made Melissa Clark’s oatmeal raisin cookies again, because I love them so much. (I do a whole ice cream scoop at a time and cook them just a little longer.)
And speaking of sweets: on the way home from the farmer’s market yesterday, I saw this salted caramel sticky bun in the window of Hail Mary pizza and decided to adopt it. Here it is on one of my new plates…
Oh yeah: my new plates!
We got vaccinated two weeks ago at CVS (way to bury the lede, Adam) and one-Moderna dose in, we felt confident enough to dine outside at one of our favorite restaurants, Blair’s.
It felt soooo good to be back in the world, even if we were still wearing masks at the table, etc. Here’s the burger that Craig ranks as his favorite burger in L.A. (next to In-N-Out).
Also: now that we’re vaccinated, we’re seeing more vaccinated friends.
Our friends Harry and Cris had us to their house, where Cris made a beautiful bean dip with all kinds of crudités (sorry that I didn’t wait until his hand was out of the shot).
And Harry whipped up a beautiful kale Caesar salad that was as healthy as it was delicious.
Then, on Friday, our friends Ryan and Jonathan had us to their new backyard for S’mores in their fire pit.
Jonathan offered up Hershey’s or fancy chocolate. Shocking no one, I went for the fancy. So did Ryan.
Now for some recent links that I fancied:
An argument that chips are better than chunks in chocolate chip cookies (Taste);
I want to make Claire Saffitz’s Meyer Lemon Tart, but it seems like a lot of work (YouTube);
Rebekah Peppler’s Sablés seem très cool to me (LA Times);
EverCrisp for the crispiest fried chicken (Taste);
Heidi Swanson’s peanut stew caught my eye (The Splendid Table);
An all-powerful restaurant Facebook group in Santa Clarita (LA Eater).
Okay, folks, that’s it for this week!
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Until next time….
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