Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lidia's Italy In America


It's here! The latest cookbook written by everyone's favorite Italian chef is out in bookstores and it's wonderful. Lidia Mattichio Bastianich, along with her daughter Tanya, has done it again. Lidia has criss-crossed the country to talk to and write about Italian-Americans who have left their mark on their communities and cuisine - recipes that include crab cakes from Baltimore to prickly pear granita from California.  They may sound like American foods, but as Lidia explains, the recipes have their origins in Italy and pay homage to their homeland in a delicious new way.
Gracious and generous as always, Lidia agreed to an interview to talk about her latest book. 



Ciao Chow Linda: Why did you write this particular book? What is there to say about Italian-American cuisine that you haven't already said or written about in prior cookbooks?
Lidia: "I have dedicated my career to transporting the real Italian culture, its history and its products to Americans. I came here as an Italian, but I also feel very American and I wanted to bring the two cultures together. I'm a good conduit. It was all about bringing the real Italy to the real America. I said I want to find out about the Italians in America. How is this Italian culture part of America? Yes, there is Italy in the memories, but this is about America. This book does just that. It traces the immigrants' contributions, the happenings and the flavors that are important to them.
     There are still all kinds of hubs of 'Italianissimo' in the U.S., if you will, three or four generations later - neighborhoods where the original immigrants settled, and the roots are still there. Not only did they settle, they brought their cousins, their brothers, and other relatives to places like Napa Valley, for instance. The Swiss Colony was one of the first wine businesses in Napa Valley and it was started by Italians from Northern Italy. One could say the Italians were the great initiators of wine in California.
     Vegetables like artichokes and broccoli rape are easily available to Americans now, but it took four generations for this to happen. The California company 'Andy Boy' was founded by Italians who brought seeds of broccoli rape from Italy. The need to have the food they know from home – that quest to have those ingredients, to grow, to manufacture - was strong."



Ciao Chow Linda: "Speaking of broccoli rape, (pronounced RAH-pay) is that the right way to say it, rather than rabe (RAHB)?"
Lidia: "Yes, that is the correct way to spell it and say it. But as cuisine changes, language changes too. It's constantly in evolution."

Ciao Chow Linda: "What is the biggest misconception people have about Italian food?"
Lidia: "I think the most common misconception I see is that when you serve pasta as the big center of a meal with lots of sauce. The pasta is smothered in the sauce – the heaviness of it – that's not really Italian. Italian cuisine delivers a lot of flavor but it's not heavy.

Ciao Chow Linda: How do you feel about the cooking that's presented in Italian-American chain restaurants?
Lidia:  They really don't get it.  That kind of cooking doesn't represent the Italian cuisine. Nowadays, everybody can really cook true Italian cuisine. The products are there. Chains are doing an injustice to the Italian cuisine. There's a lot of economics and costs involved and many times they use the cheaper products – putting a lot of fat into it and all of that. It doesn't represent Italian cuisine – it's a shame they're missing the boat, because they could really do justice to the Italian food and their customers and still make a profit.

Ciao Chow Linda: What do you eat when you don't feel like cooking? Do you ever get take-out food?
Lidia: It's almost always antipasto foods that deliver a lot of flavor - a slice of prosciutto, a little anchovies, if I'm not very hungry. If I'm more hungry, I'll cook some spaghetti with garlic, oil, and peperoncino.
     I do take out, but usually it's from a different culture. I like Asian food - sushi, Korean and Chinese.

Ciao Chow Linda: What's in your refrigerator that people would be surprised to see?
Lidia: Very prominent in front is peanut butter and jelly – and I love it. I'm trying to stay a little off of starches, so I use it on those rice cakes. That's not part of my heritage but it's part of me coming to America and it was an introductory food. But I eat it on rice cakes, not on Wonder Bread.

Ciao Chow Linda: Everyone loves seeing your family and especially your grandchildren and your mother on your tv show. Was your mother your greatest influence in the kitchen and does she ever take over the cooking at home?
Lidia: She was a good cook, but not a great cook. She worked as an elementary school teacher. It was her mother – my grandmom - who influenced me more in the kitchen.  There are certain things my mother does cook for me. If I'm traveling you can bet she has some soup waiting for me when I get home. I get organic chickens for her, and split them for her, and separate them. She'll take all the bones and all of that and makes soups – she adds all the veggies. She's still digging carrots out of the garden and celery still in the garden. Most likely when I come back I'll find a little soup. She also loves to make palacinka. She makes the crepes and fills them with jam and the children love that.



     Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother because my mother was at work. She had chickens, ducks, rabbits, and goats, and pigs that we slaughtered It was a seasonal cycle of products. I was exposed to that and I appreciate that. They would send me out to get the bay leaves, to pick basil, to pluck the chickens, to clean the potatoes. All of that is recorded in my mind and that's the reference library for my cooking.
     We would dip the chicken in hot water first, then pluck the feathers. Then my grandmother would burn off the little hairs on an open fire. Then she took the chicken and opened it up. I remember the feet – she would chop off the nails because they were dirty, but the rest she kept - even the intestines. I would take the intestines and press everything out of them. Then I would take scissors and cut them open, washing them two or three times in vinegar and water. The liver was used in a frittata as a snack, a merenda. Nothing was wasted. That was ingrained in me when I was very little -  a respect for food. From one chicken we had a merenda and then a full meal that was enough for eight to ten people.
     I have so many more memories –  the slaughter of the pig for example. Butchers went around from one home to another. It would take about two days to slaughter and cure everything and divide it so it would last a long time.  Neighbors would all come and everybody would go to each other's house and help. It was like a festivity and we all brought pot luck.

Ciao Chow Linda: Is there one more recipe that you would like to have included in the book that you couldn't?
Lidia: A few of rabbit – I saw it in the stores when I was in Philadelphia, but it's fallen from favor. It yields a lot for the investment, especially in today's time when we want perfectly marbled steak and you have to put in 200 percent value above what we get. It doesn't make sense. We use a lot of resources to feed the animals to produce a special steak. Rabbit doesn't use a lot of resources to get there. 

Ciao Chow Linda: Were your children picky eaters? What advice do you have for parents whose kids are picky eaters?
Lidia: With vegetables, we never had a problem because we used so many different vegetables. If they didn't eat broccoli we used swiss chard. Soups are another great way of introducing veggies to children. Diversity of foods in the home is important.  It's a progression, like wine, like music – you need to develop this growth but you need to develop it in the home.
     Children need to grow in a setting and need to be familiar with a food to eat it. If you cook broccoli at home when you have a newborn, the newborn will be accustomed to the smell, so when he's a year old he will begin to investigate it. Children need to evolve into their smell, sight and ultimately they'll eat it. You can't never have cooked a certain vegetable and go someplace and say 'Now you're going to eat it' to a four -year old.  Even a mother when she's carrying a baby or nursing is familiarizing the child with these flavors.



Ciao Chow Linda: Many people see your family on TV and how they are in and out of your home because they live so close. What's it really like to have them in close proximity?
Lidia: Overwhelming. Having a family is work, but there's also a lot of gratification. As a grandmother, I know that the children will be so much more stable, more connected, will know who they are, and have a sense of belonging. They know that there's a part of the world that belongs to them and their family – it's kind of like a tribal effect.

Ciao Chow Linda: It seems like you've done it all - from cookbooks, to restaurants, to cooking shows, to wineries, to a line of food products and cookware. What's left that you haven't tackled?
Lidia: There's been a natural crescendo for me from the stoves into the dining room into the books and into TV. I  would like to remain to be a mentor and guide and have the time to give back a lot more of all the information I've accumulated over the years. I'd like to share it with the next generations. 
I think they're will be more restaurants, but not with me on the front page - with my children. I'm sure there will be new restaurants on the horizon but they have to be led by son, by Mario (Batali), my daughter, or somebody else.


Ciao Chow Linda: You have a lot of book signings and personal appearances in the next few months. What's it like being on the road so much?
Lidia: You can be as idealistic as you want but unless you have a platform – and here in America – the platform is being economically sound and savvy. Part of my success is doing those things together. If these people who come to see me will follow the recipes, buy the books, come to my restaurants, it is an exchange. I appreciate all of them out there. I want to go out there and touch people. I get energy from that as well.

To see the schedule of Lidia's upcoming appearances and book signings, click here.
To view other Ciao Chow Linda interviews with Lidia as well as a few more of her recipes, click here and here.
Boston Cream Cake
Dolcino di Boston alla Crema Pasticcera


From "Lidia's Italy In America"

printable recipe here

Boston cream cakes do not sound Italian, but this recipe was given to me by Italians. At Scialo Brothers Bakery in Rhode Island, we found trays upon trays of little chocolate- covered spheres. I thought they were some version of a cassata (a Sicilian domelike cake stuffed with ricotta cream—see page 318), but instead they were individual Boston cream pies. The French chef Sanzian, who worked at the Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House) in Boston is credited with having invented the Boston cream pie. Italian or not, these were delicious.

Make the pastry cream: Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium pot. While whisking, pour in the milk. Set the pot over medium- low heat, and heat the mixture to just below boiling. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Remove the pot from heat, and pour the milk slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and stir constantly over medium- low heat until the mixture thickens and just begins to simmer. Immediately scrape the mixture into a clean bowl. Let it cool slightly, then cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, until chilled and thickened.

Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a twelve-unit cupcake pan with paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a piece of parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Stir in the olive oil, vanilla, and zest. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes, to lighten and smooth the batter. Mix in the flour in three additions on low speed, alternating with the orange juice, beginning and ending with the flour. Once everything has been added, beat the batter on high speed for about 20 seconds.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.


Makes 12

For The Pastry Cream

1⁄2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt
2 cups milk
2 large eggs

For The Cakes

1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3⁄4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
3⁄4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For The Glaze

2⁄3 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons dark rum
Pinch kosher salt
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Make the glaze: Combine the corn syrup, rum, salt, and 2 tablespoons water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Put the chopped chocolate in a heat- proof bowl, and pour the syrup over the chocolate. Stir until the glaze is smooth and shiny and all of the chocolate is melted. Let cool until thickened and just warm to the touch.

To assemble the cakes: Remove the cupcake liners from the cakes.
Split the cakes at the base of the cap with a serrated knife.

To finish: Invert one cake, and place the cake cap on a plate, cut side up. Spoon the pastry cream onto the cake top, then top with inverted cake bottom, like an upside-down mushroom. Spoon the hot chocolate glaze onto the base facing you, letting the glaze run down the sides of the cake, spooning on more if necessary. Repeat with the remaining filled cakes.

Excerpted from Lidia's Italy in America by Lidia Bastianich. Copyright © 2011 by Lidia Bastianich. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.



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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apple Tart, Miracle Crust and Mother Nature too

 OK, so it's just another apple tart, you're thinking. Well think again, because this tart dough is nothing short of miraculous. It's made in a jiffy using melted butter - you read that right - no blending rock hard butter, ice water, flour and sugar together as all traditional doughs call for. This tart dough not only is a snap to make, it tastes buttery, flaky and even held up two days later without getting soggy. I owe this marvel to David Lebovitz, who wrote about it on his blog here. I changed the recipe slightly to allow for a larger tart shell, and I melted the butter on top of the stove, rather than in the oven. I may never use another tart recipe again. It's that good and that easy.

Serve it with ice cream for a real treat. Eat it overlooking these almost primordial waterfalls in the Catskills as I did and you'll think you're dreaming. This is the phenomenal view I had for three days last week, when my kids and I gathered to commemorate a very special day.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the view, enjoyed before dinner on our first evening there with a couple of bottles of wine, some guacamole and salsa. 
We had gorgeous views from all our hikes too, including this one at the top of the mountain, overlooking the Hudson Valley.

We had fun exploring other towns nearby, including Woodstock and Saugerties.

And there were plenty of other waterfalls to discover on our hikes too, including Kaaterskill Falls, the longest one in the Catskills.

Not to mention brilliant fall foliage.
And wonderful food too, including this duck confit at Tamayo's in the town of Saugerties. Thanks kids.
I can't leave out these luscious macarons that my daughter brought to the feast from the new Laduree store in Manhattan. Merci beaucoup.
In the end, the waterfalls outside our door - Niobe Falls - kept luring us back like Ulysses to the sirens. We were just mesmerized all weekend by their beauty and proximity. It was like having a natural sound machine to lull you.
As hard as it was to leave the waterfall house and the wonderful hospitality of its owners, we softened the blow on the way home by stopping at our favorite New York State winery - Prospero Winery. We squeezed some space out of an already crammed car for some wine and prosecco to take home.
Back home - via Manhattan and Jersey City to drop off the kids at their own places - after a memorable weekend. Time to finish off that last slice of apple tart.


Tart Dough Recipe
fits a large tart pan, about 10 1/2 inches in diameter

Printable recipe here

5 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Melt butter in a saucepan until bubbly. Add all the rest of the ingredients with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball and comes away from the side of the pan. Add more flour if necessary. Pat into a tart pan and fill with apples or other fruit.

Filling:

4 or 5 sliced apples,  depending of size - I used Granny Smith
sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon on top
2 T. butter
apricot preserves

Layer apple slices over uncooked dough in tart pan. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and dab with bits of butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on thickness of slices. Remove from oven  and heat apricot preserves until warm enough to spread. Brush a thin layer over the apples.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stuffed Squash and Pumpkin

While I lament saying goodbye to the juicy tomatoes, sweet corn and other wonderful summer New Jersey produce, a chill in the air offers an opportunity to welcome back enticing fall produce, including winter squashes and pumpkins. Small squashes, like this carnival squash, are not just pretty to look at,  but they're delicious too - kind of like an acorn squash that's variegated. For me, squashes and pumpkins provide the perfect receptacle for stuffing, and hopefully you'll try one of these three recipes. This first one can be vegetarian if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth - and features a risotto with kale, mushrooms and chunks of squash.








This second one is just a plain old pumpkin - the kind you use for carving jack o'lanterns - only smaller. It's stuffed with acini di pepe, or pastina, an idea I found on Proud Italian Cook, a terrific Italian food blog written by my friend Marie. Pastina is my all-time favorite comfort food and takes me back to my childhood, when my mom served this to me anytime I wasn't feeling up to snuff. This version is kicked up a notch with the addition of the squash and the presentation is a lot different from when I was a child.
This third version features a versatile stuffing that would taste great as a stuffing for chicken or turkey. With sausage, apples and bread as the main ingredients, you could throw this in a casserole, serve it with a salad and your dinner would be complete. Actually any of these stuffings would work equally as well in a bowl rather than in a squash or pumpkin, but you have to agree that they look much more inviting like this. If you're so inclined, just cut the tops off the squash/pumpkins, scoop out the insides, then rub with some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the lids back on, and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until they're softened a bit, but not so soft that they lose their structure.
For the bread and sausage stuffing, you'll need to bake it again for about 30 minutes, at about 400 degrees. For the pastina and the risotto stuffing, no further cooking is needed. Just slice into it and enjoy.


Stuffed Squash and Pumpkins


Printable Recipe Here


Choose small pumpkins or squash. Cut a circle on the top and extricate the stringy parts and seeds. I find a grapefruit spoon helps a lot here. Oil the interior, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put the lids back on (it helps to steam the interior) and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. If you're serving it with the pastina or the risotto, you might want to bake it the full hour (or until tender enough to eat). For the bread/sausage stuffing, you'll be placing it in the oven again, so 45 minutes should suffice.

Bread/Sausage Stuffing

This makes enough to fill 2 to 3 small pumpkins or squash

1/4 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery, minced
3 T. olive oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage
about 4 cups bread, cubed (use a sturdy Italian bread)
1 apple, chopped into small pieces
minced parsley
salt, pepper
1 egg, beaten

Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil until limp. Take the casing off the sausage and cook with the vegetables until barely cooked through. Drain off some of the fat, but not all. Add the bread, parsley, salt, pepper, and apple and combine. Whisk the egg in a bowl, then add it to the stuffing ingredients and mix through. Place stuffing inside pumpkin and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Keep the lid off to get a nice browning on the top. If it looks like it's getting browned too quickly, lower temperature to 350 degrees.

Pastina Stuffing


squash
pastina or acini di pepe
chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
parmesan cheese
thyme

I don't give quantities for this because you can be free and loose with it, depending on how much squash you want to use, how liquidy you want the pastina, etc.
Roast some squash in the oven by rubbing with olive oil, salt and pepper and baking for about 1/2 hour at 375 degrees. Cut into small pieces. When I roast squash, I usually make enough to have leftovers the next day.
Simmer the pastina in some chicken broth until cooked through, and add the squash pieces to the pastina. Make it to the consistency you like by adding more or less chicken broth. To me, it tastes best and looks best when it's almost like a porridge, and not too liquidy. Sprinkle with a little fresh thyme, grated parmesan cheese and pour into individual pumpkins.

Risotto Stuffing


This makes enough to fill three or four small pumpkins or squash

1 cup arborio rice
3 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 leaves lacinato kale or any other type of kale
8 mushrooms
1 cup squash or pumpkin, cut into small pieces
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, hot
about 1 cup cheese (you could use parmesan, cheddar or fontina - any cheese that melts well. I used a cheese called Herdsman, freshly made from Cherry Grove Farms, not far from Princeton in Lawrenceville, N.J.)

Saute the onion in the oil and butter. Add the mushrooms and saute slightly. Add the rice and stir to coat. Pour in the wine and stir some more. Add the kale, cut into small pieces and the squash or pumpkin. Add the hot broth, a ladle-full at a time, and stir after each addition. Keep doing this for about 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Add the cheese, but reserve some for the top. Pour into the pumpkin or squash, sprinkle with a bit of the reserved cheese, and serve.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cook In Italy With Ciao Chow Linda and cookbook winner



Want to join me for one week in Italy at this beautiful villa next May, when you'll also visit lots of sights in the "Castelli Romani" - as the towns southeast of Rome are known? Here's your chance - not only to see places that are a little off the beaten tourist path, but to live like a real Italian - learning techniques and secrets of Italian cooking - in a real Italian home - from me, Ciao Chow Linda!

You can read all the details by clicking here. The group will be small, so don't wait too long to decide or you may be left out.

Life is short - don't delay something you've always dreamed of doing. You could be spending the day touring a castle, visiting a baroque church, shopping for and cooking fresh zucchini blossoms, and returning home to a view like this:
Hope to see you there!

On a different subject - "Imbottito" was the winner of the cookbook "Cucina Povera" on my last post, but left no email address for me to contact. If you're reading this, "Imbottito" please contact me via email at ciaochowlinda@gmail.com, or I will choose another winner.


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Monday, October 10, 2011

Involtini di Maiale and A Giveaway


I'm becoming obsessed with this cookbook - Cucina Povera. I already posted a recipe for sfratti from it that will now become part of my permanent cookie repertoire. Having read all the first-hand stories in this book about Tuscan people who struggled to make ends meet and used every scrap of food available, whether grown in their gardens or foraged in the wild, I am working my way through the recipes, some of which I grew up eating in my parents' home. I have childhood memories of hunting for wild asparagus and wild greens, of my mother canning tomatoes for the winter, of my parents making soppressata and of course home-made wine.  Maybe that's why these recipes and stories are so resonant with me. Because food was - is - sacred and should not be wasted. Because you can make a delicious and nutritious meal out of the simplest ingredients.
If you haven't already purchased this cookbook (or if you have and want to gift one), here's your chance to own a copy. Leave a comment at the bottom of the blog (Not in email) and you'll be entered to win a copy, selected by a random number generator. That's it. You don't have to "like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter - everybody gets the same odds. But if you did, I'd be grateful. 
But so you don't have to wait to make this recipe, here's the step-by-step. Start with a one-pound pork tenderloin and divide it into eight pieces, then pound each piece flat between parchment paper until it's pretty thin.
Spread the ricotta and spinach mixture on top. I added a sage leaf, not called for in the cookbook recipe.
Wrap with a slice of pancetta and secure with a toothpick.
Saute for a few minutes with some wine.
Sit down to a great meal.
Involtini di Maiale

From the cookbook "Cucina Povera" by Pamela Sheldon Johns


  • 8 ounces spinach, steamed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pound boneless pork loin, sliced into 8 pieces
  • 8 thin slices pancetta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  1. In a medium, bowl, combine the spinach and ricotta and stir to blend. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Set aside.
  2. Place a slice of pork between 2 pieces of parchment paper, and roll with a rolling pin until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/8 inch. Repeat to flatten the remaining slices.
  3. Spread a think layer of the spinach mixture on top of a slice of pork, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Roll it and wrap with a slice of pancetta, then fasten with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining pork, filling and pancetta.
  4. In a large, heavy saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and sear the rolls for about 2 minutes on each side. Add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer briskly for 7 to 8 minutes, turning the rolls once or twice to heat them through. Serve at once.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fava Bean Puree, Pat and "The Chew"

No, this isn't hummus. It's what you might call the Italian equivalent though - fava bean puree, made with dried fava beans. I found them in a store in Brooklyn a couple of days ago - more about that later. I'd never have found the store had it not been for Pat, a fellow blogger I've been following for years who writes "Mille Fiori Favoriti" - a wonderful blog primarily about New York City. Pat always informs and entertains her readers, and she never runs out of interesting places to visit and fun things to do. I was lucky enough to be invited on her most recent adventure, as a member of the studio audience on the new TV show on ABC called "The Chew."
I also got to meet Pat's husband Vinny and friend Rosemary (who was taking our picture) and we had a fun time watching the show, with its co-hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall, and Daphne Oz.    
Following the show, we ate a delicious meal at the Clinton Street Baking Company and Restaurant, where we had a hard time deciding on which of the tempting offerings to order. Everyone was so busy noshing that no one remembered to take photos until it was too late.
Vinny and Pat were terrific hosts, and wanted to show me a bit of Brooklyn, a borough I've visited half a half dozen times or so. We poked in and out of antique and second hand shops along Atlantic Avenue and ended up at a Middle Eastern food emporium called "Sahadi's." The shelves were brimming with everything from peas to pomegranate syrup. I came home with several items, including these dried fava beans.
They were already peeled, so all I needed to do was soak them overnight before cooking. Here's what they looked like the next morning.
I drained the water, put fresh water in the pot and simmered them for about an hour until they got soft. Don't add any salt until they're cooked, or it will take longer to soften the beans.
Drain the water, then use a potato masher to mash the beans. Season with salt and pepper and pour a warm mixture of olive oil, garlic and chopped parsley on top. 
It makes a great side dish when you want something other than the typical mashed potatoes. The same recipe also tastes wonderful with cannellini beans too.

I want to send a special thank you to Pat and Vinny for inviting me to "The Chew" and for spending the day with me in Brooklyn and also to their friend Rosemary, who was so nice to chat with too. They made me feel so welcome and at ease. You can read more detail about the day at Pat's blog here
Pat and Vinny just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary yesterday so a special "Congratulations" and "Cent'anni" goes out to them.


Fava Bean Puree


1 pound dried fava beans
salt, pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
a handful of parsley, minced

Soak fava beans overnight in water. Drain the water the following day, then place fresh water in the pot, covering the fava beans by one inch. Cook over heat for about an hour, skimming any "foam" from the surface. Warning, if you're not careful, the foam spills over to your stove and makes a mess. After the beans are soft, drain them and place them back in the pot. Mash with a potato masher. They should not be soupy. If they are too liquidy, turn on the flame and cook for a while until some of the water evaporates.  Season with salt and pepper. In another small saucepan, heat the olive oil, add the garlic, minced and cook for a minute. Then add the parsley, stir for a second or two, and pour over the mashed fava beans. This recipe works equally well with cannellini beans


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