Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MENU: Easter Dinner 2007

This year's Easter spread was pretty by-the-book, as I followed recipes from chefs Suzanne Goin and Thomas Keller. The seasonal show-stopper was a fava bean hummus, which is by far my favorite fava bean recipe to date. Concentrating the fava beans in a puree and spiking it with complimentary flavors really makes the high-maintenance legume worthwhile -- as opposed to it going undetectable in a dish.

I improvised on a salad of asparagus, grated hard-boiled eggs and mache inspired by the bistro classic Asparagus Vinaigrette with Eggs Mimosa in Keller's Bouchon cookbook.

Here's the menu with select recipes to follow.

Fava Bean Purée with Oil-Cured Olives, Feta, and Garlic Toasts, SUZANNE GOIN

Curried English Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche, SUZANNE GOIN
Asparagus and Eggs Mimosa with Mache Salad in a Walnut Vinaigrette, inspired by THOMAS KELLER
Cauliflower Gratin, THOMAS KELLER
Sautéed Baby Artichokes with Tarragon (in a white wine, veggie stock reduction), overheard on NPR's "Good Food"
Glazed Ham with Apricot Mustard Sauce, EVERYDAY FOOD

Fava Bean Purée with Oil-Cured Olives, Feta, and Garlic Toasts
from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin

1 Baguette
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2-1/2 pounds fava beans in the pod (or 2-1/2 cups shucked)
1 small sprig rosemary
1 chile de arbol, crumbled
1/2 lemon, for juicing
1/2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives sliced in half
1/4 cup sliced flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 pound feta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat overn to 375 degrees F.

Cut baguette on the diagonal into twelve 1/4-inch-thick slices. (You may have leftover bread.) Brush both sides of each slice generously with olive oil (about 1/4 cup in all). Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the over 10 to 12 minutes, until golden crispy, but still tender in the center. While the toasts are warm, rub them with one of the garlic cloves.

Mince the remaining garlic clove.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, remove the beans from their pods.
Blanch the beans for about 2 minutes in the boiling water. Drain the beans in a colander, cool them in the ice water, and them slip them out of their pale green shells with your fingers.

Heat a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining 3/4 cup olive oil, the rosemary sprig, and the chile. Let them sizzle in the oil a minute or two, then stir in the minced garlic. Let them sizzle in the oil a minute or two, then stir in the minced garlic. Let it sizzle for a minute and stir in the fava beans, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Simmer the beans 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they're tender (the exact time will depend on the starchiness of the favas). Strain the beans, reserving the oil. Discard the rosemary and chile.

Transfer the beans into a food processor and purée them. With the motor running, pour in half the reserved oil to taste. Squeeze in some lemon juice, and taste for seasoning. (The amount of oil you will need depends on the starchiness of the beans.)

In a small bowl, toss the olives and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Crumble in the feta, tossing gently to combine.

Spoon the warm fava bean purée onto a platter. Place the grilled toasts off to one side, and scatter the feta-olive salad over the purée.