For the current edition of Cook the Books, we are reading Outlaw Cook by John Thorne, with Matt Lewis Thorne (1992). I started reading the book from the beginning, but then decided to follow my interests and jump around, choosing chapters based on their subject.
I enjoyed the chapter on plowman's lunch, which includes various recipes, like those for Welsh rabbit (yes, rabbit, not rarebit), soused cheese, and bread and cheese pudding. Considering that various types of homemade cheese are always available in my kitchen, I could have chosen one of the recipes, but I discarded the idea, because I don't like beer (birra), my knowledge of alcoholic beverages is very limited, and my knowledge of ale or stout is nil, so choosing a pairing with my cheese would have been a wild guess.
I read the chapter Monet À Table, which is the review of a book about the cooking journals of Claude Monet, with a special perspective: by pure chance, we are watching the TV mini-series The Impressionists, where an old Claude Monet tells the story of his career and his relationship with Renoir, Bazille, Degas, Cézanne and Manet to a journalist, and at some point offers him some of his homemade plum brandy. From Thorne's piece I learned that Monet grew greengage plums for it in his two-and-a-half-acre walled kitchen garden.
I also read with interest the chapter on ful medames, "Egypt's national dish" (piatto nazionale egiziano). From reading this post by Kalinda of Wheat-Free Meat-Free, I knew that ful medames is prepared using a special kind of small fava beans, but I had other plans. The dish had been for a while on my to do list as a way of making use of the locally grown and dried fava beans (fave secche) that I get as part of my mostly-grain CSA and that I have mentioned in the post about macco di fave.
You can read the chapter and Thorne's recipe. I halved the quantity of fava beans, used the optional lentils (lenticchie) as a belated homage to the New Year, and then adjusted the other ingredients to my taste:
- 1 cup of dried fava beans, soaked for 16 hours (or as needed) in plenty of water, then skin removed
- 1/4 cup green lentils
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus to taste
- a pinch of dried lemon zest (this was my idea)
- a generous pinch of ground cumin (from freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds), plus to taste
- a garlic clove (spicchio d'aglio), peeled and chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- two small sprigs of fresh parsley (prezzemolo)
Bring to a boil 3 cups of cold water in a saucepan. Add the fava beans and cover. Bring back to a boil, cook for 10 minutes then lower the heath, add the lentils, cover again and simmer until the legumes are soft and can easily be mashed. (I cooked them for 50 minutes.) Note: I realized afterward that this 10 minutes are planned within the context of fava beans still in their skin. The next time I prepare this dish, I will add fava beans and lentils to the boiling water at the same time. This may well affect the cooking time. Mash the legumes roughly with a potato masher and let cool. The mash will absorb the water as it cools.
Pour the legumes into the food processor and add olive oil, lemon juice and zest, cumin, garlic, a bit of salt and pepper and parsley. Process until garlic and parsley are well distributed, then taste and adjust salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. Adjust lemon juice and cumin after the ful medames has rested for a while (I added more cumin). I think that the flavor matures and improves with time (at least one day).
The photo shows a plate I prepared for my husband's lunch, which included, besides the ful medames, drained homemade kefir (think of labneh made with kefir instead of yogurt), a hard-boiled egg (uovo sodo) and slices of my homemade challah.
This is my contribution to the current edition of Cook the Books, hosted by Rachel of The Crispy Cook. You can find the guidelines for participating in the event here, and here is the announcement.
This post contains the roundup of the event.
The fave secche make this post suitable for My Legume Love Affair 43, the current edition of the popular, legume-centered event created by Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook, and hosted this month by Claire of Chez Cayenne.
This post contains the roundup of the event.
I contribute my ful medames to the 9th installment of the Abbecedario culinario mondiale (World Culinary ABC), an event organized by Trattoria MuVarA that will bring us to visit 27 countries of the world using the alphabet as guide. I like Il Cairo (Egypt) is hosted by Terry of Crumpets & Co.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the ful medames audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]
I was intrigued with the ful medames chapter as well, and still want to make it. Your recipe sounds delicious. I noticed this morning that my little fava bean plant has a number of beans, each about 2 inches long.
Posted by: Claudia | January 19, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I love ful medames! I haven't had it pureed like this before though, so I must try it.
Posted by: Alicia (Foodycat) | January 20, 2012 at 02:05 AM
That looks like quite a nice repast. I'm glad you enjoyed the book.
Posted by: Rachel Jagareski | January 20, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Ciao Simona! sai che penso di non aver mai mangiato le fave? mi piace la loro forma, e insieme alle lenticchie penso ci stiano veramente bene! bella ricetta!! ho ancora delle lenticchie in dipsensa... Baci Francesca
Posted by: Francy | January 20, 2012 at 05:12 AM
An Egyptian friend made ful for me. I always loved it. Thanks for the recipe! I excited to be able to make it again.
Posted by: Paz | January 20, 2012 at 07:40 AM
I've never had ful medames before, but I'm inspired to try soon. Your recipe looks like a good one. Thanks for the Italian lesson, too, that was fun! Thanks for sending your recipe to My Legume Love Affair.
Posted by: Claire | January 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Ciao Claudia. That's great that you are getting pods on your fava bean plant! Fresh fava beans are lovely.
Ciao Alicia. I actually have not had ful medames elsewhere to make a comparison with what I prepared. Let me know if you make the experiment.
Ciao Rachel. It came back to the kitchen completely clean: it was certainly appreciated.
Ciao Francy: vuoi dire le fave secche? In realta' anche io in Italia non le ho mai mangiate, solo fave fresche (di cui mio padre e' molto ghiotto).
Ciao Paz: then you ate the real thing, which is nice.
You are more than welcome, Claire.
Posted by: Simona Carini | January 21, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I have constantly amazed at your talents! The ful medames looks delicious and the book sounds great-will have to read it. I certainly didn't know that Monet keep a cooking journal.
Posted by: Lynne | January 22, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I had to skip around too (but it was a matter of time managment--or lack thereof--for me). This recipe looks wonderful. I really enjoyed the Plowman's Lunch chapter too and I think that is what I am going to base my CTB post on.
Posted by: Eliot | January 22, 2012 at 08:52 AM
I've tried ful medames and although I love dried legumes this is one I don't cook very often. Thanks for reminding me of it.
Posted by: Ivy | January 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Thank you, Lynne, for your kind word. I didn't know it, either.
Hi Eliot. I may go back later to that chapter: I am still intrigued by the many possibilities.
You are welcome, Ivy.
Posted by: Simona Carini | January 26, 2012 at 09:16 PM
You always make such interesting dishes and this one does not disappoint! This is also a beautiful post about the book.
Posted by: Danielle | January 30, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Thank you so much, Danielle, for your kind words.
Posted by: Simona Carini | January 31, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I just saw your post in the MLLA roundup, and was like "hey, ful medames!" And what do you know, I got some awesome links too. :) After reading this I got a craving to make some. I had no fava beans whatsoever, so I made do with kidney beans. Tracking down any fava beans seems to be quite the undertaking where we live now. Anyway, beautiful photos, as always, and that homemade challah looks divine.
Posted by: Kalinda | February 07, 2012 at 08:19 AM
Thank you, Kalinda. I wonder why it is difficult to find fava beans. They are so good!
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 09, 2012 at 08:22 AM
Do you soak the beans before cooking them?
Posted by: Cindy Barg | February 12, 2013 at 07:01 AM
I'm answering myself...hahaha, just see now that you've stated so in the list of ingredients, thank you!!
Posted by: Cindy Barg | February 12, 2013 at 07:05 AM
Hi Cindy. The fava beans I use are large and so they require quite a bit of soaking time, more than just overnight. But they are worth the extra time and effort.
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 12, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Deve esser buonissimo! io spero di trovare le fave scure egiziane per farlo! ...c'hai messo anche le uova... grande Simo...sempre! ;)
Posted by: Terry | March 26, 2015 at 04:09 AM
E' buono, si' e ti consiglio di provare a farlo Terry. Fammi sapere se trovi le fave egiziane. Io ho appena saputo di un negozio dove forse le hanno e spero di andarci nei prossimi giorni.
Posted by: Simona Carini | March 26, 2015 at 08:21 PM