17 June 2011

Fava & Ricotta Toasts

So I recently went to Greece.  It was a long time coming -- I've wanted to be on a Greek island for at least 15 years.  I started teaching myself Greek about 7 years ago.  I was a woman obsessed.

Why was I so obsessed with Greece?  Maybe it had something to do with something I saw on General Hospital when I was about 14.  Ok, it definitely had a lot to do with that (anyone else remember the Luke/Laura/Stefanos drama??).  Whatever.  I grew up and got over soap operas... but I never got over Greece.  The water, the sun.... the food.

Fast forward to three years ago when I became a vegetarian.  Greek food became even more precious.  I love hummus, halloumi is amazing, and dolmades might be my favourite thing in the world.  Greek food rocks.  And don't even get me started on the desserts.  If I could only eat one cuisine for the rest of my life, this might be it.

Fortunately, I can still read (some) Greek, and at a restaurant in Kefalos, I encountered something on the menu called simply, 'fava'.  I was intrigued.  I knew that fava was a bean, and I knew that I liked it... and that's where my knowledge on the topic ended.  For all my experience with Greek food, I've never heard of fava (the dish).  So, with an adventurous heart, I ordered it.  I'll skip to the end: it was everything I love about food.  It was, in my best estimation, simply smashed fava beans with a little salt, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Simple, delicious, and easy... kinda hard to beat that, right?

Here's what it looked like on holiday -- mine is much greener, which I find very appealing... I have no idea why this one is more yellowy, but it was paradise on a plate, and was awesome when paired with grilled tomatoes and halloumi:

So I came home with a mission: make this mysterious 'fava' happen. It really isn't difficult at all - go to the shop, buy some frozen broad beans (aka fava beans), boil them for a few minutes, drain, shell, smash, and viola! Fava.

I spread this on a homemade spelt and honey loaf with some ricotta cheese, then sprinkled with sea salt, cracked pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Two small slices made a perfect, delicious, and filling lunch.

Greek Fava
original recipe by me!

broad beans
garlic paste, just a little depending on your taste/future-kissing-options
splash olive oil
splash cold water - to thin out the smashed paste-like consistency
lemon juice (just a little)
sea salt to taste

Boil broad beans (aka fava beans) for a few minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.  Pop each bean out of it's tough grey-ish shell - just nip a little corner off the end with your fingernails and the bean will pop right out.  Then smash beans in mortar and pestle with the remaining ingredients.  Easy!

Serve atop warm crusty bread or toast with a little ricotta cheese, or greek yogurt, or on some pitta bread... delicious.

The end.

02 June 2011

Morning Glory Muffins

Ok. I know. I KNOW! I've been quiet lately.

I often see those bloggers who are all like "omg I'm so sorry I haven't posted in a while, so here's a picture of my dog." I hate those posts. I will never do that to you, because I like you.

I turned 30. That was very cool. My friend Katie (love her so much) demanded we go on a Grecian holiday. And while no one (!!) tells me what to do, I had a hard time fighting her. Since then, I've been working like an insane person. Insane. So, I've been quiet here in blogland.

In the middle of all my chaos, I had a friend coming to visit from Holland. She's a good girl and I like her a lot - so I decided to bake us a big batch of healthy goodness in the form of a breakfast muffin. After all, we'd need a little bit of detox, since the general plan for her visit was: drink/work/party/workworkwork/partydrinkparty.

Then Iceland exploded, again, and her trip was cancelled. So here I was, without my friend but with all these muffins! It wasn't difficult to unload them. Did you know that boys are useful for eating things? It's true!

This is a very good, healthy muffin. It's filling and hearty, gently sweet, earthy, wholesome, moist, and full of good things. And it's endlessly adaptable, really, so toss in whatever healthy thing you like. Or, possibly an un-healthy thing, like some chocolate chips. Yeah. Do that.

Morning Glory Muffins
generously adapted from this blogger.
**I'm sorry this recipe is in cups - it's an American recipe, and while I'm usually good at conversions for scales, this one was beyond my mental capacity.  I used my set of metric cups to wild success.**

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
½ cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking soda (bicarb)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed 
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup sunflower oil
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup single cream
2 carrots, shredded on box grater
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
handful unsweetened flaked coconut
handful porridge oats, and a little extra for topping

Preheat oven to 170C/350F.  This is where I should tell you to grease or line your 12-cup muffin tin.... but I didn't grease or line mine at all, and guess what?  Everything was fine.  So, greasing is optional here.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, bran, bicarb, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, dark brown sugar, honey, oil, vanilla, and cream. 

Using a spoon (not a mixer!), mix together wet ingredients and dry ingredients until just combined.  Add shredded carrots, chopped walnuts, coconut, and porridge oats.  Mix gently until just incorporated.

Spoon batter into muffin cups.  Fill them up more than you think you should and you'll get those glorious muffin tops.  Sprinkle a little porridge oats atop each muffin for a pretty effect.

Bake 30- 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.