Sunday, April 6, 2008

Due Bruschette

When I'm on my own for dinner (Jason's out of town for a few days), I either cave and make myself a big bowl of pasta or I want something snacky...and tonight I was feeling snacky.

Ever since I had the yummy pea bruschetta at 'Ino in NYC last summer, I've wanted to make it myself. I had some leftover peas in the freezer from that delicious asparagus and pea dish last week (seriously, you must make it), so I thought a nice, springy pea bruschetta would be yummy.

I also had recently read about a ceci (chickpea) bruschetta amuse bouche at Babbo, one of Mario Batali's places in NYC, and wanted to try that, as well. It's apparently made from chickpeas, tapenade, and balsamic vinegar. I had no tapenade, so I subbed some green olives and a few anchovy filets. Trust me--anchovies are NOT fishy. They are nutty and salty and delish. Don't leave them out! snacky dinner became a duo of bruschettas...or, more appropriately, due bruschette. [Say it DOO-ay broo-SKET-eh if you want to sound really authentic... ;)]

Spring Pea Bruschetta
I have to admit I didn't write a thing down when I made this, so this really isn't a recipe. It is a very rough outline of what I when you make it (and you should!), just taste as you go and use your best judgement.

1/2 bag frozen peas
1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, divided
A glug of extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch Kosher salt
Few grinds black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 French baguette, sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices and toasted

In a small pot of boiling, salted water, blanch peas for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain peas and dunk in ice bath or run under cold water to stop the cooking and cool.

In a food processor (or even a blender), combine the cooked peas, garlic, half of lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Puree until completely smooth, adding olive oil if things look dry. Taste and adjust seasoning, then stir in Parmesan.

Brush toasted bread with a touch of olive oil. Spread pea puree onto toasts, evenly top each with remaining zest, and serve.

Ceci Bruschetta
This mix would be delicious served over a salad, or even tossed with pasta. Put the whole mix into a food processor with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil for a really yummy hummus-like dip. Oh, and I used plain old salad olives and they worked just fine. And one more note...I wouldn't serve this to guests standing up. The little beans love to roll away, and it's an eensy bit messy!

1 can chickpeas, well drained
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 anchovy filets, finely minced
6 to 8 olives, green, black, or a mix, pitted (if necessary) and roughly chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Light splash balsamic vinegar
1 French baguette, sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices and toasted

Preheat oven to 450˚. Spread the chickpeas onto a medium sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Roast in oven 20 minutes or until beans are golden-brown and lightly crisp on the outside. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the minced anchovies and olives. With a fork, mix thoroughly, breaking up any clumps. Place warm chickpeas in the bowl and toss. Add remaining olive oil, pepper flakes, basil, and balsamic, and toss to coat.

Lightly brush warm toasts with a bit of olive oil. Carefully spoon some of the chickpea mixture on top, and serve.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Little Crumb

This blog has mostly been about recipes, but my original plan was to write about food of all kinds...and not just focus on recipes. And since I've been kind of lazy in the kitchen this week, relying on old favorites and "splash of this, dash of that" kind of cooking, I don't have any recipes to share.

However, I do have the most delightful little place for any of you who love to look at pretty and yummy things. Behold, Miette.

Caitlin Williams and Meg Ray own two absolutely darling little shops in San is a bakery, Miette Patisserie, where they make delicious and perfect-looking cakes with fun names. (Debutante, Tomboy, Bumblebee...)

The girls' other shop, Miette Confiserie, is a candy shop modeled after the stunning candy-coated pastel shops in Paris. Miette (little crumb, in French) is one of those dreamy places that brings out the sugar-loving kid in all of us. Lovely.

Right from the Garden

Okay, not really...I only wish I grew asparagus and peas and basil in my backyard. I can't wait until I own my own place so I can go nuts with an organic garden. Until then, I'm working with a few pots and the chilly not-quite-spring weather here in Birmingham. So my green stuff comes from Publix. Either way, this dish I saw in the April issue of Gourmet looked fabulous, so I made it...and it really was superb. (The whole issue, dedicated to Italy, is the most gorgeous I've seen Gourmet look in a while. Definitely pick it up--you'll swoon over the photos and food.) The caption under the recipe says "what grows together, goes together" and that just couldn't be more right. Springy, fresh, light, but so flavorful, this is something I'll be making again and again this spring!