Fava Bean Spread

On May 2, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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The past two weekends I bought some fresh fava beans.  They’re hard to miss. Giant peapods with a rich green color usually next to a box of beans, fava beans are sure to catch your attention. The next thing to wonder is what to make with these colorful bean monstrosities. For me, there was an obvious answer – fava bean spread.

Last year, we were dining out and enjoyed some fava bean spread on toast at a local restaurant. I immediately came home and started to search the Internet for some recipes to try my own take on this wonderful, buttery bean spread.  Some recipes called for mixing in some goat cheese or Crème fraîche. I wanted to try something without the addition and then build from there.

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The recipe below is just that. A basic fava bean spread that you can use as a base to experiment. Maybe add a 1/3 cup of goat cheese to it. Perhaps some tablespoons of Crème fraîche until you get the texture and flavor you want. You could also add grated cheese.

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For now, this basic recipe will get you started and really it needs nothing. The flavor is great as is, but if you do experiment please leave me some comments on what you did to enhance or try. I would love to hear it.

Fava Bean Spread
Serves 6-8 slices

1 1/2 lb whole fava beans with pod
1/2 lemon, juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the whole fava beans in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Remove and let them cool for 5 minutes.  Start chucking the pods by removing the pod. Put beans aside in a separate bowl.  When all finished removing the pods, now remove the skin from each bean.  You’ll see a dingy green skin that you can peal off to reveal bright green peas. Place the bright green beans in a saute pan.

Heat the saute pan on medium heat and toss the beans with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Add water to the pan.  Toss to coat everything and heat mixing the beans around for about 5 minutes to soften the beans.

Add the cooked beans, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to a food processor. Puree it until you have a thick paste.  Add more olive oil or lemon juice if you need to get it smoother or modify the flavor a bit.

Heat some bread slices brushing olive oil on top of each and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove the bread when done and spread on the paste. Shave some parmesan and drizzle a little olive oil to finish.

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Country Bread and Overcoming Fear of Failure

On September 21, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I’ve always had a fear of breadmaking.  Like most fears, it is irrational.  I can and do make some great homemade pasta and I have no problem creating some amazing homemade sauces and complete dishes; however, breadmaking always felt to challenging. Could I knead properly? How about a starter, don’t I need a starter? Did the bread rise enough? Is it too wet? Is it too dry?

All of these questions swirled around anytime I looked at a bread recipe.  Perfect photographic shots in a cookbook by someone who knows what they are doing made me feel inadequate. So I did what any normal person does when consumed by fear of failure. I avoided it.

Last year we were at a parent fundraiser party for our kids’ school and I noticed a bread class being put on by a local restaurant whose bread is amazing.  I decided to bid for the private class and won.  It wasn’t until last Spring that we finally did the class one weekday evening.

I learned how to make a basic white bread and you know what… it’s incredibly simple.  Though, the first one I made at home could’ve served as a NHL hockey puck thanks to some yeast that wasn’t active enough.  I bought some new yeast and have made this now three more times with improvements every time and only one inedible hockey puck.

So here it is and if you were like me, it’s time to conquer your fear of breadmaking and try this easy recipe.

Country Bread

Makes 1 loaf

3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
cornmeal for dusting

Combine bread flour, kosher salt, yeast and water in a larger mixing bowl.  You want it to combine it well and it should be a little sticky, so add a small amount of extra water if necessary. Add a tablespoon of water at a time until you get a ball of dough that sticks but releases.

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Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 16 hours in a dry, warm place.

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After 16 hours you should have a dough that has doubled.  On a cutting board, place a sheet of parchment paper down and lightly dust with cornmeal. Remove the plastic wrap and shape the dough back into a ball. Once shaped, place the dough on the parchment paper and cover with a thin, clean dish towel. Let it rise for 1 1/2 more hours.

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After rising on the parchment paper, it should look like the image above. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.  Keeping the parchment paper, place the dough and parchment paper inside a large pot that can go in the oven.  I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven that I wrap the rubber lid topper with aluminum foil so it doesn’t burn in the high heat oven. Any large 6 quart plus heavy oven ready pot will work.  Score the bread with a knife, I just cut a shallow “X” on top. Sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal over the top and a small amount of kosher salt. Cover the bread and parchment paper and cook for 35-38 minutes.

IMG_3375Remove the lid and cook for 5-7 minutes until brown but not burnt.  Remove the bread by lifting it out with the parchment paper and be careful as the pot and bread are very hot.  Set the finished bread on a cutting board and let it rest 20 minutes or longer before cutting.

Enjoy!

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Focaccia Bread (or Pizza Dough)

On October 16, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Pizza Dough or Focaccia
(makes 2 — 12” rounds)

2 packets “rapid-rise” active dry yeast 1 cup warm water (105 – 110 degrees)
2 teaspoons sugar
6 cups all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl, proof the yeast by mixing yeast, warm water and sugar. Let stand until it becomes foamy. This will take about 5 minutes.
In a mixer or large food processor, mix the flour and salt. Add the proofed yeast mixture and combine. Add olive oil and combine until the moisture is well-mixed into the flour. Add as much additional warm water to produce a dough which is smooth and not sticky. When dough is smooth and can be formed into a ball, it has been sufficiently kneaded.

After combining place into a greased bowl and cover

Place the ball of dough into an oiled bowl; turn to coat all over with oil; cover with a towel, or plastic-wrap, and set in a warm place. Allow it to double in size, which will take about 10-15 minutes, or 1 hour with regular yeast.

When ready to proceed, preheat oven to 450.

Punch dough down; cut into halves; form each half into a ball; roll-out each ball into about a 12” round. Oil pizza pans lightly, and place dough onto pans. Push the dough up slightly around edges to make a border to hold the fillings.

Place out on a pan and add toppings and dimple the bread. Sprinkle with olive oil

Top pizzas with desired fillings, and moisten top by drizzling on some olive oil. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until dough is golden-brown and fillings are slightly bubbling.

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