This is a super simple salad to celebrate spring, with a perfect combination of flavors: sweet beets, fresh young favas, salty cheese and mint. It makes great use of beets, these beautifully colored red, golden or pink roots that are a CSA box staple frequently just too sweet to be much good in many other dishes.
I am certain that the super-powered seeds Jack’s mother threw out her kitchen window were favas. While some might question the wisdom of trading an entire cow for a handful of beans, there is real truth to this tale beyond the giants, gold, magic hens and beanstalks of unusual size: legumes can be a delicious source of protein and some varieties are really easy to grow, in the right location.
This year I made my desires for Mother's Day known well in advance: no gifts, just a day at home in the garden and a big dinner, cooked as a family. It was delicious, and I got gifts anyway - three of Andy Goldsworthy's books, much loved by my kids after we watched his Rivers and Tides together a week or two back.
I've been struggling with pan frying cakes and patties of all varieties for a long time now. They never turn out right - sometimes they stick, sometimes they fall apart, sometimes they burn to a crisp. But tonight I asked my husband for advice, knowing that he has a tendency to remember everything he reads (but nothing I say) and that he read Russ Parson's How to Read a French Fry a thousand years ago when it first came out. Parson's book is all about kitchen science, and I seem to remember it deals with sticky patties.
In the past couple of weeks we have eaten at least five cabbages. Winter, or spring in some places, is cabbage season. They are beautiful in the garden, gathering dew with dusty hues of plum, pale and bright green. And they are great in salads of all sorts, stir fried and steamed. But sometimes I'm just not sure what to do with them all.
My daughter turned five years old yesterday, and what a celebration it was. She had presents from her Grandparents in the morning , singing and candle blowing with a fake cake at school in the afternoon, then dinner with real cake and more presents in the evening. Tomorrow she has another birthday bash (to which we seem to have invited over seventy guests) and still more presents arriving in the mail from her other Grandmother.
Orecchiette is fast becoming my first stop lazy dinner, one step short of pesto with Trader Joe's dried tortellini, which is the one my kids will always eat under any circumstance. Pesto pasta is what we leave for the babysitter to cook, the one I am teaching my daughter to prepare for her little brother, or perhaps vice versa, as soon as he or she is old enough to operate the stove without needing to call the fire department. I recently taught my four year old how to turn the stove off - so she can quiet the tea kettle while I am indisposed - and consider that a major step toward dinner independence.
Harissa is a fabulous thing. I recently had some with couscous, when I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday at Chez Panisse. I love harissa because I can make it myself, put it in a little clip-top jar with a quarter inch of oil covering the top and keep it in the fridge for a thousand years. Its been so long since I made harissa that I don't even remember what is in it. You don't have to make it from scratch, though, its easy enough to buy at a middle eastern grocery or probably at Andronicos or Rainbow. But if you happen to have a food processor and access to Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, you can make it pretty easily too.