Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes with Burrata and Speck

I was looking for inspiration to make use of the last fresh burrata I bought from Arthur Avenue and the $5-a-bunch asparagus that are populating grocery stores at the moment. I saw some pretty photos on foodiecrush that caught my eye so I went to work and created my own version with the ingredients I already had.

The original recipe calls for prosciutto but I already snacked on my half-pound bounty and only had speck left so I used that instead. I also had spicy soppressata so I tucked a few torn slices in to serve as the salt of the salad. foodiecrush also suggested some basil leaves but I skipped them, and used the mache leaves I had rather than arugula.

It was a very good salad. The umami of the tomatoes with the cured meats was unbelievable. The softness of the burrata tamed the saltiness down and balanced the overall flavor of the salad. I highly recommend to make this salad this summer to satisfy and impress.

Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus, chopped in 3 and thicker stalks discarded
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
oil
salt, pepper
chile flakes
mache leaves
fresh burrata cheese
a few slices of speck
a few slices of soppressata

1. Place asparagus spears and tomatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and chile flakes. Be a little light-handed with the salt, as the cured meats will lend their saltiness to the salad as whole. Transfer them on a baking sheet and broil for about 12 minutes or until asparagus becomes soft and tomatoes begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Assemble your salad. Make a bed of the mache leaves in a shallow bowl. Top with torn burrata and tuck in slices of meat here and there. Scoop in the asparagus and tomatoes. Drizzle in some more olive oil if necessary and sprinkle with pepper.

Related post/s:
foodiecrush has some pretty photos

Sugar Snap Pea and Shiitake Mushroom Burrata Salad

I adapted this from a New York Times recipe after a trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx here in New York City. I had the long weekend to welcome the summer season so my friend Dash and I met in the old Italian neighborhood to eat some meats and cheeses.

It had been years since my last trip there and I wanted to go back to Calandra Cheese to buy their homemade burrata cheese. Besides eating it in all its glory and with prosciutto and hot salami from Calabria Pork Store, I wanted to try it with a salad that used the season’s ingredients.

I’ve never fried shiitake mushrooms before but doing so here added some more meatiness to this salad to break the crunchiness of the sugar snap peas. The gooeyness of the burrata softened it overall and the red chile flakes gave it a nice kick. The original recipe required a bed of greens and pine nuts, but I ended up skipping those just because I didn’t have them.

Ingredients:
olive oil
fresh shiitake mushrooms, destemmed
salt and pepper
1 ball of burrata cheese
sugar snap peas, destringed, roughly chopped
lemon juice
red chile flakes

1. Fry the shiitake mushrooms. In a large skillet, heat the oil and add the shiitake mushrooms, pleats up. Sprinkle salt all over them. Fry until light brown and then turn to fry the other side. When done, remove to a strainer and set aside.
2. In a serving bowl, break the burrata cheese and toss with the sugar snap peas, lemon juice and red chile flakes. Slice the mushrooms and add them in. Drizzle with some olive oil if needed.

Fennel and Fava Bean Salad

Seattle has always been on my list of places to visit because I’ve heard so many good things about the fresh produce in Pike Place Market. Before starting my new job after 4 years at Fast Company, I flew to Seattle and met with my friend Lily, who flew in from San Diego. We ate for 4 days, checking most of the spots I research and culled from Facebook friends and Anthony Bourdain’s recommendations.

Because spring arrived in the west coast earlier than the east, we ate a lot of fiddlehead ferns, pea shoot leaves, and fava beans. I’m pretty sure that I balanced my sushi overload with all the greens I ate.

Starting anew in New York a week later, I wanted to eat healthier so I stopped by Fairway in the upper west side to fill my basket with a lot of fruits and vegetables. This recipe comes from a Food & Wine Magazine piece that uses some pricey ingredients like pumpkin seeds, shelled pistachios, and pine nuts. I didn’t want to spend any more than I needed to, so I ended up using the blanched almonds I already had and toasted them before crushing them with my mortar and pestle.

Ingredients:
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fava beans, shelled from about 15 pods
1 small fennel, sliced thinly
a handful of blanched almonds, toasted, crushed
cayenne pepper

1. Make the dressing. In a screw-top jar, shake some olive oil with the garlic and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Shell the fava beans. Open the pods and remove the beans. In a small pot of salted boiling water, blanch the beans for a minute and remove with a strainer to an ice water bath. Drain and shell the beans. The shells should come off easily and the bright green beans should pop out.
3. In a salad bowl, mix the fava beans with the fennel and the crushed toasted almonds. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and then toss with the dressing.

Black Pepper-Cardamom Banana Bread

I’ve never even been to Café Grumpy, but Noah brought a few slices of their breads and pastries to the office one day and I was blown away by this savory banana bread. I searched for the recipe and found it on Greenpoint Gazette but the measurements were in grams which is really annoying, Brooklyn! It’s easy enough to convert using a recipe calculator or use a digital scale, but the cook in me still needs to feel if everything is right after the conversion. I found myself rounding off the converted measurements, and in the end I realized I could have just used my usual banana bread recipe and added the yogurt, the black pepper and cardamom to the batter. So much for science.

I used a loaf pan for my version, but I had enough leftover batter to fill up a mini one. I lined the large pan with greased parchment paper to make it easy to separate the bread before serving. I always found that the larger loaves that I bake are more sticky. Sprinkle the top of your loaf with confectioner’s sugar if you want to be extra fancy.

Update: I baked this again using a muffin tray and the ingredients filled 18 regular-sized holes. I baked them in the same temperature for the first 30 minutes, but brought it down to 275º for the remaining 10 minutes.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour, sifted
2 tsps salt
1 tbsp baking soda
2 tsps black pepper, ground
2 tbsps cardamom, ground
4 very ripe bananas
1 4-oz plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick of butter, cut into smaller pieces
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs

1. Heat oven to 325º and grease a loaf pan. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, black pepper, and cardamom. Set aside.
3. In another medium bowl, mash ripe bananas with yogurt and vanilla until well-combined. Set aside.
4. Place butter along with both sugars into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream. Slowly add eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between pulses to ensure that all ingredients are well-incorporated.
5. Alternating between the dry ingredients and the banana and yogurt mix, add everything to the mixer using a medium setting so as not to over-mix.
6. Pour batter into the loaf pan and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Related post/s:
Greenpoint Gazette’s recipe
My very reliable banana bread recipe without the fixings

Golden Beets Salad with Figs and Ricotta

Spring can’t come fast enough outside but at least the produce I’m starting to see in the markets tell me it’s around the corner. I bought a pint of figs and thought about this great spring salad that’s usually matched with toasted kale. I used the mache I had in the fridge instead but feel free to use any mixed greens.

This is the first time I’ve ever peeled golden beets before roasting them. It was more work, but less messy later and it stops you from double-guessing if they are tender enough after 25 minutes in the oven. You can see they’re good to go since they’ve already been sliced.

When plating, act like you’re a chef on TV and smear the ricotta with the back of your spoon–it makes for a great presentation.

Ingredients:
4 small golden beets, peeled and cut into wedges
olive oil
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
mache, or any mixed greens
3 fresh figs, stemmed and sliced
a scoop of fresh ricotta
salt and pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 425º. Toss the beet wedges with some olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Spread them on a baking dish and roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and the maple syrup. When the beets come out of the oven, toss them with some of the dressing. There should be some olive oil coating the beets. If not, drizzle a little more olive oil.
3. Assemble your salad. On a plate, smear a spoonful of fresh ricotta using the back of a spoon. Create a bed of greens and then top with the dressed beets. Add the figs and drizzle some more of the maple syrup-balsamic vinegar dressing all over for a little sheen. Season with some pepper and serve.