Byssara: Dried Fava Bean Puree

 

 

Byssara with Pita ChipsIt started with a date night.  A couple of weeks ago, we ate dinner at a new restaurant in town called Stagioni and began our meal with crispy bread and a brilliant-green fava bean spread.   Bright with lemon and grounded with garlic, it was the perfect spring appetizer and the best way to start a meal.   I’ve had it on my mind ever since thinking how nice it would be on my front porch, on a warm night, with a perspiring glass of rosé in hand.

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Spring Salad of Mâche, Peas, and Radishes with a Lemon-Walnut Vinaigrette

Salad with Feta and Ingredients

This salad will be on my table this weekend.   Sweet and nutty mâche is the centerpiece with dainty microgreens and peppery watercress thrown in for visual and gustatory pleasure.   Radishes, crisp snow peas, and English peas peek out like Easter eggs on a spring morning and crumbled feta provides a salty finishing touch.    The walnut oil grounds the salad with its earthy flavor and lemon juice and zest balance the vinaigrette with brilliant zing.  And if all that weren’t enough to get this salad on your table, may I add that it is gorgeous.

Close-up with Radishes and Peas

 

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Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

It wasn’t always picture perfect.  One time my brother, 5 or 6 years old at the time, claimed that a bite of egg would make him throw up. Upon ingesting the offending egg, he proceeded to make his pronouncement come true right by his chair to the alarm and disgust of everyone else. Many a night, one (or two) of us would be left staring at a piece of broccoli or a pile of peas while twisting a napkin in bored defiance.  More than once, the theatrics of a family argument on such serious topics as who allowed the hamster to escape (again) or whose turn it was to feed the dog, upstaged the lovingly prepared food on our plates.

Dried Pasta Shells

Yet for all the nights it failed spectacularly, as I grew up my family always ate dinner together around the table.  I honestly can’t remember one night in the 18 years I lived at home where I ate dinner in front of a television.
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Curried Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs, whether topped with caviar, or in a nod to the past, simply sprinkled with a bit of paprika, are one of those dishes that always make folks happy when they appear on a table.  I particularly crave them this time of year when warmer days make me want to head to the nearest park with a blanket and a basket full of nibbles.

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Leek and Potato Soup

Leek and Potato Soup

The calendar announced its arrival, but spring is battling winter. Despite the daffodils, I’m not sure who is winning.  The temperature is plummeting below freezing tonight and today’s dreary weather, with a spattering of rain, has me seeking comfort indoors with a bowl of leek and potato soup.

Leeks, Carrot, Potatoes and Garlic

Yes, I know I’m posting on soup again, but it’s time to get your fill. Before we know it, we’ll be doing everything in our power not to turn on the oven and the thought of a pot of stew, simmering on the stove, will not be as appealing in July.

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Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup with Condiments

We welcomed a baby girl into our family at the end of January.  Since then, life has taken place during naps, sleeping more than 4 hours straight seems like heaven, and if I don’t have spit-up on my clothing I consider myself dressed for dinner.   Despite the chaos, I don’t think we have ever been happier and I’d gladly trade a crossed-off to do list for a baby smile any day of the week.

We’ve been blessed to have friends and family bring us meals during this busy time.  They’ve nourished and spoiled us with delicious dinners, yummy desserts, and treats for breakfast.  Having dinner crossed off the list before one even wakes up in the morning is a real gift and makes for much easier days.  Yet, I miss the kitchen and have been thrilled when I find myself with enough time to do something other than reheat a frozen meal.

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Tropical Banana Bread with Chocolate, Coconut, and Pecans

Tropical Banana Bread

It’s hard to beat banana bread.  It requires the use of an ingredient that is on its last legs (that brown and mushy banana in your fruit bowl is just perfect), demands minimal time to make, and a moist loaf, sitting on one’s counter, is a hit with anyone.  Yes, anyone.  I have never met someone who doesn’t like banana bread and frankly, would prefer not to meet the person who passes on a slice.

Vanilla Extract and Ingredients

I posted my favorite recipe for banana bread years ago on Minced.  My mother made it for my brothers and me growing up and so in addition to being ridiculously tasty, I also like it because it tastes like home and a mother’s love.  It’s a classic for sure, but that hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with other recipes.

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