Just indulged in the Vosges Naga Bar in an attempt to finish tasting every one. This one is 41% cacao deep milk chocolate with sweet Indian curry powder and coconut flakes.

I have to say that after the bar with chile I wasn’t expecting much but this is wonderful. The curry is very strong but balanced really well with the sweetness of the coconut and the richness of the chocolate. The box doesn’t say but I also taste salt which where chocolate is concerned is always a good thing. This is one of my favorites… I would say the Barcelona bar, Mo’s Bacon and this one are so far the best. I think this is definitely one of the bars that is worth shelling out the dough for…

CSA and Semi-homemade

July 28, 2008

Time is still a major challenge for us even with the new nanny settling in and largely making all our lives easier. The weekend was all about relaxing but you can’t just throw your hands up and order in every meal. Here are two meals I made with a little help from two purchased pre-made or pre-prepared products. I’m not a lover of pre-made items but these two products are absolutely excellent purchases…good quality and they save you lots of time.

Perogi CSA style

I bought the perogi’s in the deli case that cost approximately $3.99 for 12. I normally will buy these and pan fry them with a tbsp. of olive oil and some diced onion and just serve them alongside a salad but I decided to step it up a bit. I first made my “signature” carrots with the CSA carrots from this week. I slice these and saute them with butter and a small amount of sugar and salt. I cooked them until they are soft and I served them along side the perogis. For the perogi prep, I cleaned, trimmed and cut up about 15 (or a handful) of green beans and I also sliced a small red onion (also from the CSA). I sauteed the onion, added the green beans a short time in and then finally added the perogis to the large non-stick sautee pan. At the very end of cooking, I tossed in some diced up radicchio we’d gotten this past week as well. This was a quick meal and very wholesome using lots of veggies and importantly veggies from the CSA. I had one lunch’s worth of leftovers from the meal, as well.

Duck Confit salad

I decided to make the carrots again and serve them on this plate as well but I cooked them until they looked like they had been roasted. They were like sweet carrot rounds of joy. Joy with cooked butter. I made a simplegreen leaf lettuce salad (with CSA lettuce) and a dressing made with sherry vinegar, a french mustard w/ figs, olive oil, a pinch of sugar and salt and pepper. I had bought one duck leg confit from Fresh Direct for approximately $3.50. I warmed this through in a saute pan (so the outside skin got a little crunchy!:). I then cut the meat off and split it between the plates. I served all of this with a warmed ten grain roll and a fine light red wine similar to a beaujolais. I had lightly chilled it (an experiment inspired by a recent NY Times article on chilling some reds). Everything turned out quite tasty and this was super easy and cheap…even the wine was pretty inexpensive and I have a little left over that I’ll freeze and add to braising liquid at some point in the future.

Purple’s a fruit

July 23, 2008

 CSA Share – July 22nd

7 pounds of stone fruit. 

(Uh-Huh. What am I??? eh. My son seems to think peaches are reaaaaally weird. And they are. Like…they are squishy and slimy, really. And they have fur on the outside…like…that seems very close to rabbit on the page, doesn’t it? It just. Yeah. Can’t blame him. Except for the part where they TASTE good and they smell SO Good!! So…yeah, what is wrong with my child? Husband doesn’t like them. Also doesn’t like plums. oh. That is what is wrong with my child. right. So…in the end I’m gonna end up making a peach pie that I serve, probably, to some set of girlfriends that come to visit sometime or at a dinner gathering. The plums will mostly be given away. But hey. )

– 1 head of lettuce (Green Crisp)
– 1 pd. of green beans
– 1 head of radichio (sp?)
– 1 small bag of snow peas
– 1 bunch of GORGEOUS carrots

yea. hurray.

The Fava Files

July 23, 2008

 The CSA last week had fava beans in them. I gotta tell ya I found all kinds of wonderful recipes but actual information on other very important aspects…well… Let’s have a look:

– Storing – I found not much to none. I put them in a perforated (sp?) plastic bag in the crisper of my fridge.

– how long they keep – nada (I kept mine for 5 days but feel strongly that 9 to 10 days would be ok)

– shelling – I mean….yeah…what do you need. Well…actually you do need a tip on them. You need to know that they work like snow peas or green beans in that you rip the little string and then split the pod open. You also need to know that spots inside and outside of the pod mean nothing. Are the beans green and relatively unbruised? Then you may eat them.

– What they should look like outside of the shell but PRIOR TO BLANCHING! This really was the big one for me. Everyone kept saying “membrane” and I was looking at a pale green lima-esque bean with a little line of dark brown on one end. What was that dark brown line? did it mean the beans were bad…??? so confusing. Since I have no picture of spoiled beans or what the beans should look like upon first shelling wellll. Ok. Long story short too late, they were fine.

– Blanching – heat some water (enough to be a 2 to 1 ratio for your beans, ok) to boiling. drop the shelled beans in. Set the timer for 3 minutes. drain the beans.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD BLANCHED

Ok…this is where things got a little squeemy for me. The beans have this weird wax covering that is breaking away. It is like…the X files where you have to break through a membrane for the flesh…it feels wrong. Am I commiting some sort of modern day veggie version of the Day the Earth Stood Still? 

It looks weird. It takes a little time. Just do it. You’ll thank me later. Peal the membrane (that removes that pesky dark brown thingy!!) off and throw it away. Save beans. Yea.

After all this, I made this. And it was good:

– two slices of pancetta
– 1/2 pd. of fava beans unshelled (will be less after shelling and blanching and all:)
– 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
– 1 small fine minced shallot
– 1 cup broth or water
– olive oil and sea salt

– high quality romano (not grated) and crusty Italian or French bread

chop pancetta finely and then saute until crisp. Add shallot , rosemary and a dash of olive oil. Then after a minute add the beans. cook over medium heat for two to four minutes (do not brown). Then add broth, turn down heat to medium heat simmer and cover. Cook for 9 to 10 minutes. Check and try to work with spatula the beans so that they break up. You then may need to add more liquid. You are cooking them into a paste. Once you have done that (the beans don’t have to be completely pureed but they need to break up considerably and everything should be a smooth thick spread), spread on bread and grate romano on top. Serve on the side of a fresh salad. 

This was my first experience even really SEEING raw Fava beans. But it was all good. I did some research. Prep. Thought about what tastes good. It all worked out.