Strawberry and Goat Cheese Pizza

Discovery of the week: dessert pizza is actually good.  At least when it is covered in fresh fruit, goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey.  Apricots, slivered almonds, and honey is also a winning combination, as is strawberries, basil, and honey.  Seriously, we’ve been whipping up pizzas just to have an excuse to make this.  I’m looking forward to a version with fresh cherries (the plan for this coming weekend), peaches, and grapes.  The inspiration for a fruit pizza came from fruit focaccia recipes, like this one or this one.

Also, we enjoyed the recent solar eclipse.  Especially how all the shadows turned into the images of many tiny pinhole cameras.  Science is so cool.

Fresh Fava Bean Spread

After being encouraged to pounce on the nearest fresh favas for the nth time I finally gave in last year and bought some.  They are rather ugly over-sized beans that require two sets of peeling, and if they didn’t taste so good I’m afraid it would be rather easy to ignore them.  Unfortunately they have one of the most pleasant bean tastes I could have imagined, rather buttery and light, so this year I joined the fava cult and bought some more.  After first shelling all the oversized bean pods, boiling the beans for five minutes, and then peeling off the weird white coat each bean wears, I was in no mood for doing anything fancy with them.  Perhaps this is why people keep buying them though, because a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper is really all you need.  We ate them on toast in under 10 minutes.  I wish they’d lasted a little longer.

Fresh Fava Bean Spread
Fresh fava beans (1-2 pounds, unshelled)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Put a pot of water on to boil and salt it generously.  Shell the fava beans by peeling open the long pod and taking out the fava beans.  Boil the fava beans in the salted water for 5 minutes.  Drain the favas and immediately immerse them in cold water (this apparently helps them hold their bright green color).  Now comes the even more tedious part: peeling the white case off each fava bean.  The bright green fava meat is what you’re after.  The favas often fall apart in the process, so be careful.  Once the fava beans are all peeled, mix them up with a spoon and try to crush many of them to make a spread (fingers work well for fava crushing too).  You could probably use a food-processor, but I honestly wouldn’t want to waste the fava bean paste left on the inside of the food-processor bowl.  Mix the fava bean spread with a drizzle of olive oil and season with a dash of salt and pepper, to taste.

Pasta with Leeks and Parmesan

Yet another shamefully easy recipe from In Late Winter We Ate Pears, but what can I say, I seem to be addicted.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to cook leeks until they’re sweet, soft, and melty and then to top them with cheese and pasta, because who are we kidding, the pasta is just an excuse to eat the rest of the dish.  But it didn’t occur to me, and now I can’t help but think of all the leek-eating I’ve missed out on, and I’m more than a little crazed to catch up.  The hard part of this dish is getting parmesan that tastes good.  I have two answers, neither of which is very sustainable (and please let me know if you have any suggestions here): Whole Foods expensive parmesan from Italy that tastes amazing OR send your boyfriend to Italy “for work” and have him import it for you.  Unfortunately the second method relies on your significant other (or even a distant acquaintance) finding a conference in Italy to attend, which problem I’ve solved for the immediate future by being sent to a conference in Italy myself this summer.  This is only a temporary fix, however, and come September I have no doubt we will be out of parmesan again.  Cheese-god help us.

Pasta with Leeks and Parmesan
4 leeks (1 inch in diameter)
2 tablespoons butter or less if you’re careful not to let the leeks burn
1/2 pound of pasta
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Put some water on to boil for the pasta.  Then wash the leeks well.  My favorite method of leek-washing is to cut off the bottom and green leaves of a leek and then to slice half-way through it length-wise to open up “sheets” of leek-flesh.  You can now rinse between the leek sheets to get out that tricksy dirt.  Keeping the leek-sheets as together as possible, cut the leeks into coin-shaped pieces or whatever is easiest.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan and let the leeks cook, covered and with a bit of salt and pepper, for about 8 minutes or until extremely soft and delicious-smelling.  Once done, let the leeks sit in their pot with the lid on to keep them warm while you cook the pasta.  When the pasta water is at a rolling boil, add a good amount of salt to the water (maybe a teaspoon or two for a medium-sized pot) and then add the pasta and cook for the amount of time indicated on the pasta bag/box.  When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the leeks, mixing carefully to coat.  If the pasta seems too dry, add a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the parmesan and stir again.  Serve with perhaps a bit more parmesan on top and add salt and pepper to taste.

We eat other things, too.  Sometimes they involve Thai curry, which I adore eating as a soup with lots of vegetables–especially a couple months ago when I was so tired of root vegetables that I could have shot all the ones in my fridge if I weren’t so darn hungry.  I finally tried something else with Thai curry, which was to make a sauce for left-over baked fish.  I’ve tried a few times to write a post on making something to this effect, but since I never measure anything, it never goes well; the end result is a list of ingredients to be added in some order in arbitrary amounts: that is, the worst kind of recipe for someone who’s never made Thai curry before.

We’ve also been enjoying sugar toppings on muffins based loosely on these and these.