Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Don't Fear the Tender Fava- Cook the Book

The Tea Time Adventurers are on the ball! Yes, this month we strove not to wait until the last minute to dive into Tender by Nigel Slater, our Cook the Book for May. Angela acquired her copy from the library the last week of April and paged around a tiny bit. Tea Time exchanged texts comparing its size and heft to the Joy of Cooking and the Bible. However Angela isn't ready to trade in her paper for electric words yet, so she built some muscle and hauled it home. The reason this cookbook is a brick becomes apparent once you read a couple entries. Tender is an almanac of sorts, with its information feeding both cook and gardener. It's organized by vegetable (but not vegetarian, this man loves his pork!) with a section about the growing season, plant and its edible bits in addition to the recipes/pairing suggestions.

Angela once had a Bad Experience with Fava Beans. The first time she ever cooked them in a dish they rendered it compost! Their horrible bitter flavor made her wonder what the heck could ever make them edible. Enter Tender. She decided to focus on this challenge vegetable and started cooking with it asap May 1. Which in the end turned out to be a good thing, because by the date of their Tender lunch, it turns out Fava Bean season was Over at her local produce market! Holy Cow, that was fast. Reading the mini-chapter on FB in the cookbook (pages 231-250) had led her to believe they could be found year round (or at least the whole summer). So in the end while Angela did make and enjoy Fava Bean Hummus, Fava Bean soup (pureed with avacado), and just ended up cooking Fava Beans and taking them as a snack to work there aren't any pictures! She thought there would be time enough during the month to catch them in all their glory. So alas and alack, while our lunch was not as Favacentric as planned, the substitute veggies still made a it a happy green occasion!

For lunch, Angela made Creamed Leeks (leeks subbed for the Fava Beans), Avacado "hummus" (not quite a guacamole) and a combo of two recipes that made one delish Fava Bean Salad (yes, actual fava beans were eaten, they were still in the fridge, happily they didn't make it in the lunch bag). J.K. brought the dessert (but of course), a Chocolate Beet Cake (page 54). She spills the beans on this "Red Velvet" cake in another post. Helpful hint to bakers from Tea Time: If you want your red velvet cake to be RED, don't mess with nasty fake food coloring. Let nature help and Use Beets!

Waiting to sit and eat.
A Tender lunch. The first time I've made creamed veg with Cream.
Two into one Fava Bean Salad. Radishes, Feta, Parsley, Mint, Bacon, Fava, Scallions=YUM-O.
Avocado "hummus". The fava bean version Angela made earlier in the month was smooth and light.
Creamed Leeks (replaced favas in recipe). Very good.
Fava salad closeup, a bit of everything.
This cake was even better as cool leftovers from the fridge. Delicious!
Angela will be on the lookout for Fava Beans now that she knows their secrets. (For Mature Beans--Boil, then peel the second skin!) But ideally the world will catch onto the idea that Fava leaves are delish and baby favas are so easy to cook (no boiling, no bitter, no peeling!) and bring them to my local market/farmers market. Maybe since there is a week left of May we'll try another veg, maybe celery root? Even if we don't cook anything else from this book for this post, it will be a great reference to anyone who gets a challenge vegetable in their CSA Box.

I can't wait until next year, when fava leaves and baby fava beans are back at the Food Swap, ready to trade. Gimme!! *
 Happy Summer, and Happy Abundance! The gardeners are starting their harvesting, so now is the perfect time to branch out and eat fresh. What's your favorite seasonal summer dish?

*photo stolen from the FS facebook page. Thanks dudes. 


I stopped by the Heart of the City Farmer's Market on Weds and look what I found. The last of fresh picked asparagus and fava beans! I love the Market for several reasons, but this really made my day. I bought what I thought was a lot, but it turned out to be just right for a oversized dish of Creamed Fava Beans. This farmer also had dried fava beans, only $1 a bag, so I have some to make Fava Bean Hummus at a later date.

My pile of fava beans (fresh and dried) plus asparagus.

Big favas on the left, smaller favas to the right. They cook for a different amount of time.
The fava bean, upper left. The "parchment" shells from my pile. (That's what Nigel calls them.)

I should have let the cream cook down a little more, but I was too hungry to wait for dinner.

A bonus picture of my asparagus with onion and bacon.