Monday, August 27, 2012

Peter Rudolf's Cranberry Bean, Artichoke, Early Girl Dry Farmed Tomato and Kale Salad

Peter Rudolf is the Executive Chef of Madera at Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. The restaurant's food is "well-crafted, market-driven cuisine with bold flavors centered on a wood-fire grill and hearth." During his tenure, Madera has been awarded a 1 Michelin star rating for two consecutive years. Peter shops at the Dirty Girl Produce stall at the SF Ferry Plaza on Saturdays and shared with us this recipe that uses our fresh Cranberry shelling beans, Early Girl dry-farmed tomatoes, kale, and parsley. This recipe serves 10 so make it for an end-of-summer party! 

Cranberry Bean, Artichoke, Dry Farmed Tomato and Kale Salad, Herb Vinaigrette

Serves 10ppl as an accompaniment to a protein like roast lamb shoulder.
For all mentions of Olive oil, use the best you have.

Cranberry Beans:
16oz Fresh shelled cranberry beans
1 carrot, peel and small dice
2 stalk celery, small dice
1 onion, small dice
1bay leaf
15-25 stems thyme
Bulb of garlic crushed, remove all garlic skins
Glug or two of Olive oil
2 gallons water
Salt and pepper
Place everything (except salt) together in an adequately sized stock pot, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, when the beans are ¾ cooked add salt until the water is well seasoned.  Remove from the heat when the beans are almost done, really close.  Let the beans cool to room temperature in the liquid, then remove them from the liquid, lightly dress them with olive oil and finish cooling in the refrigerator.  When they are completely cool, remove the bay and thyme, the vegetables should be a nice addition to the salad.

5 large artichokes or 8 small-medium size
4-5 lemons
Clean the artichokes with a paring knife so the green skin is removed from the heart and base of the stem.  Quarter them, trim the petals and remove the choke.  Store the trimmed hearts in acidulated water, I like using the juice of 1 lemon and a few parsley stems per quart of cool water.   Bring 3 gallons of water to a boil, season well and add the juice of 3 lemons.  Cook artichokes until tender, test by pushing a paring knife through the heart to feel firmness.  They should be soft when finished.  Cool by removing from the cooking liquid and placing in an ice bath, just till cool.

Early Girl Dry Farmed Tomatoes:
6-8 dry farmed tomatoes, wash and dry, cut each tomato into 8 pieces, cubes or triangles not sliced. 
10 stem Thyme
10 cloves garlic, peel and slice thin
Salt and pepper, a few pinches of sugar.
1/4 C Olive oil
Warm your oven to 250, mix all ingredients in a bowl, be careful not to break or smash the tomatoes, lay them out carefully with space in-between each on a sheet pan. Place the sheet pan of tomatoes in the oven. Remove in 4-5 hours.  Cool to room temp.  These can be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Make your own pot of fresh shelling beans

Does making a pot of beans seem a bit unimpressive to you? It shouldn't. Beans, cooked well, are delicious, healthy, economical and versatile. In our home we happily eat our way through at least one pot of beans a week - with rice and tortillas, in vegetable soups, or simply in a warm bowl topped with a bit of salt, pepper and Parmesan. The very best book I read this year, Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, devotes an entire chapter to beans. The chapter's title? How to Live Well. I couldn't agree more!

So easy a three-and-three-quarter-year-old can do it.
Charlie described shelling these beans as "really fun"

The loveliest time of year for bean-lovers is here. It's fresh shelling bean season, and the Dirty Girl Produce stall has baskets heaped full of Cranberry and Cannellini beans. The Cranberry beans come in freckled, magenta bean pods and have similarly colored beans inside. The Cannellini bean pods are a cream color with white beans inside. Fresh shelling beans do not need to be soaked before cooking, they cook quicker than dried beans, and they are especially flavorful and creamy in texture. 

Cranberry beans

Cannellini Beans

Here's what you do:

1) Shell the beans (holding each end of the bean shell, twist, then pop the beans out into a bowl). Some people are turned off by the need to shell the shelling beans but it really does not take long at all and can be a great job for kids in the kitchen.

2) Put beans in a pot and add cold water to cover by about two inches. Place on the stove top.

3) Bring to a boil then quickly lower to a simmer. If scum rises to the top of the pot skim it off and discard it.

4) While simmering add a good amount of salt (and add more when they're done cooking until they're seasoned to your liking). Add a big splash of olive oil. You can also add any other tasty flavor-adders that you may already have in your kitchen such as: fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, sage, a bay leaf, or parsley leaves or stems, an onion, leek, carrot, and/or celery stalk. If you don't have any of these things that's ok too.

5) Simmer beans for 20 minutes or so. But do not take my word for it. Taste the beans and see if they taste good to you. Here's a great description on "doneness" from An Everlasting Meal: "Beans are done when they are velvety to their absolute middles. You should feel as soon as you taste one, as though you want to eat another."

Serve warm and topped with any of the following: Parmesan or another cheese, breadcrumbs, chopped fresh herbs, pesto, or a drizzle of olive oil. Or use in a number of other dishes such as bean gratin, bean and pasta soup, ribollita, minestrone, or rice and bean burritos.

Cool beans in their liquid and refrigerate or freeze to use later.