New Tastes, A New Restaurant, A Thousand Recipes

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Favas and Green Garlic

Weather here in Southern California is so crazy that sometimes it's hard to tell one season from another, but one big hint that it's Spring is the appearance of both green garlic and fava beans in the Farmers Markets.

Fava beans are delicious straight out of the pod if they are small; and green garlic can basically take the place of either mature garlic cloves or green onions, but why not use them both together to create a dish that is a real signature of spring.

To prepare the favas, remove them from the pod, then if they are larger than a thumbnail blanch them in boiling water for one minute then pinch them out of their clinging bitter skins. You will now have a very tender bright green bean to cook with. To prepare green garlic simply strip away any wilted layers, like you would for a green onion, then mince or slice from the bottom of the immature cloves until you reach the stem.

I like to toss the two over medium high heat in a little olive oil with a some thin asparagus cut into small pieces on the diagonal, Add a little salt and pepper and maybe some minced dill. You can serve this simple springtime dish as a veggie side, use it to make a risotto or pasta dish or, drizzle with some good yogurt and serve with some great bread. Enjoy!

2 pounds fresh favas in the pod
1-2 stems green garlic, trimmed
1 bunch thin asparagus, bottoms trimmed
2 1/4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced dill
Salt and freshly ground black or red pepper to taste
Yogurt for drizzling (optional)

Russ Parsons is a food writer for the LA Times- Food Section and author of How to Read a French Fry, published by Houghton Mifflin.

The award-winning crab cakes came from Mendo Bistro in Mendocino, CA. This is their recipe.

Crab Cakes

1 1/2 pounds Dungeness crab meat
3/4 cup Panko (Japanese) bread crumbs, plus additional for outer coating
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup tarragon aioli (recipe follows)
Oil for sauteeing
Combine crab, bread crumbs and green onions. Add 1/2 cup aioli and test mixture to see how well it holds together. If needed add additional aioli. Do not overwork ingredients. Cakes should be loose and just barely hold together.
Form into cakes about 3" in diameter, and place one side in bread crumbs.
Heat oil in medium saute pan over medium high heat until just smoking and place cakes, bread crumb side down in pan. Saute until golden and carefully turn over.
Lower heat to medium and saute until heated through. Serve on cabbage salad (recipe follows) and top with additional aioli.

Tarragon Aioli

2 egg yolks
3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup very hot water
2 cups olive oil
1/2 bunch tarragon, finely chopped
In food processor, or blender, place all ingredients up to Tabasco and run machine. Pour in hot water and process for 15 seconds. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil until a mayonnaise consistency is reached. Stir in chopped tarragon.

Swedish Pancakes
Serves 4

This recipe comes from the Little River Inn just south of the town of Mendocino. The pancakes can be served with maple syrup or a big spoonful of strawberry sauce in the center. To really gild the lily, you can top that with a spoonful of whipped cream.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
Grated zest of 1 orange
3 eggs, separated
1. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half and zest. The mixture will be very liquid; don't worry.

3. Whisk in the egg yolks (this will thicken the batter slightly). In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and stir them gently into the batter. (You don't need to fold them; the batter is not that delicate.) This will thicken it to about the consistency of a good homemade eggnog. Whisk in the melted butter. (The recipe can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated, tightly covered, overnight.)

4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until drops of water skitter across the surface. Slowly pour one-half cup of the batter in the center, forming as much of a circle as you can (using a ladle or measuring cup with a lip makes this easier).

5. Cook until the bottom of the pancake has lightly browned and the top begins to look slightly dry, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until it feels somewhat firm when pressed lightly in the center, 2 more minutes.

6. Remove from the pan and keep warm in the oven. Serve 2 pancakes per person.

Jet Tila is a chef and cooking instructor at the New School of Cooking in Culver City.

Bittermelon with Fresh Ginger
Active Work time is 15 minutes. Total preparation time is 30 minutes.

2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
1 to 3 red chili peppers, chopped (Optional)
1 lbs beef, sliced thin (optional)
2 to 3 lbs Bittermelon
2" piece young ginger, julienned
? cup coconut milk
? tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper
Cut bittermelons in half lengthwise and then use a spoon to remove the seeds. Cut the halves into slices on a Bias.

Heat a medium skillet on high for about one minute. Add oil cook garlic, lemongrass, and chilis for about 20 seconds. Stir in beef (optional), bittermelon and ginger cook for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the coconut milk, salt, fish sauce and sugar, and toss to combine. Cook for about a minute. The mixture should boil and thicken slightly. Adjust seasonings as necessary. When the bitter melon is tender but still slightly crisp, add pepper then serve immediately.

Crispy Shredded catfish with Mango Sauce


3-4 Lbs. Catfish Fillets
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Oil for frying
Green leaf lettuce, to garnish
Dressing Ingredients:
2-5 Thai chiles, very finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup green mango, julliened
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp palm sugar
4 Tbsp fish sauce
4 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup roasted peanuts or cashews
Heat about 1 quart of oil in a medium heavy skillet to 350.

Make sauce by combining all sauce ingredients except green mango. Place sauce in the fridge and chill until ready use.

Season fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a medium pan on high and add about 2 Tbsp of oil. Saut- for about 3 minutes on each side until just cooked through. Remove from heat and shred into a fine shreds with a fork. Set aside to let dry.

Fry catfish shreds until golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain excess oil and reserve.

To assemble the dish. Prepare a platter by lining the bottom with lettuce leaves. In a medium bowl, toss together fired catfish and mango julienne. Add dressing to the bowl as needed and combine. Plate the catfish salad on the platter and serve immediately.

Green Curry with Thai Eggplant

Thai curry is very different from its Indian counterpart. Some Thai curries do not contain curry power at all. Thai curry is a combination of many ingredients that have been processed into a paste. All curry bases begin with lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and onion. The additional ingredients added to the base will determine the type of curry made. For instance, adding ripe red chilies will make red curry paste. The addition of green chilies will make green curry paste.

Apply this recipe to any type of curry you like. If you like your food really spicy, try adding dried chili or whole fresh chilies. Get as creative as you want! Curry is a simple hearty dish; get as simple or complex with it as you want. As always, practice makes perfect.

Green Curry with Thai Eggplant
Active Work time is 15 minutes.
Total preparation time is 1 hour.

4-6 Tbsp green curry paste
6-8 Kaffir lime leaves
6 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 - 2 lbs chicken breast, thin sliced.
1/2 cup Thai sweet basil (whole with stems)
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp tamarind paste
1 15 oz can baby corn
3 to 4 Thai eggplant, quartered
1/2 small brown onion (thin sliced)
1/2 red bell pepper, to garnish
In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tbsp of coconut milk to medium and stir in curry paste and lime leaves. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds until paste starts to brown.

Stir in remaining coconut milk into curry paste. Increase heat to high until boiling, and add basil leaves. Allow to boil for about 5 to 10 minutes or until reduces about 1/4.

Reduce to simmer. Add chicken, eggplant, corn, onion, fish sauce, tamarind, and sugar. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Garnish with chopped bell peppers, Thai basil, and Kaffir lime leaves.

Garnish with bell peppers.

Suzanne Goin is the owner of Lucques restaurant on Melrose in West Hollywood and the new A.O.C. 8022 W 3rd St, West Hollywood (323) 653-6359.

Neelam Batra's new book is 1,000 Indian Recipes, published by Wiley.

Yogurt with Pumpkin and Tamarind
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tsp fenugreek seeds, coarsely ground
1/8 tsp ground asafoetida
1 pound pumpkin or any other orange squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 fresh green chile pepper, such as serrano, minced with seeds
1 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp dried tamarind powder
1 tsp dried coconut powder
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, including soft stems
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 tsp melted ghee
3 whole dried red chile peppers, such as chile de arbol
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat then add the fenugreek, black peppercorns, and asafoetida; stir 30 seconds. Mix in the pumpkin, green chile pepper, and salt and cook, stirring over medium-high heat until heated through, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is soft, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Add the tamarind and coconut during the last 5 minutes of cooking. When completely cooked, mix in the cilantro and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl and fold in the yogurt until just incorporated.

3. Heat the ghee in a small nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat and add the red chile peppers and mustard seeds; they should splutter upon contact with the hot oil, so cover the pan and lower the heat until the spluttering subsides. Quickly transfer to the yogurt bowl, mix lightly and serve.

Flattened Lamb Kabaab Skewers with Nuts and Poppy Seeds
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 Tablespoons Basic Gnger-Garlic Paste (store bought or below)
1 1/2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, all visible fat trimmed
1 tablespoon chickpea flour (besan), dry-roasted
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cashews
2 tablespoons blanched raw almonds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1. Prepare the ginger-garlic paste. Cut the lamb into thin 1 x 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place the pieces on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap, and with the flat side of a meat mallet, pound them until they are at least 2 inches long and about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Dry-roast the chickpea flour. Then, in a food processor, process together the cashews, almonds, poppy seeds, chickpea flour, garam masala, and cayenne powder until finely ground. Add the onion, yogurt and lime juice, and process again to make a smooth paste.

3. Place the flattened lamb in a large non-reactive bowl, add the marinade and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap or the lid of the bowl, and marinate in the frig at least 4 hours an up to 24 hours.

4. To skewer, fold each lamb piece in half and poke the skewer through the center. Then pull both the sides away from one another to make a small curve.

5. Preheat a grill to a high heat (400 to 425F) and grill, turning the skewered lamb pieces until they are seared on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes. Then move the skewers to the sides where the heat is slightly lower and continue to grill, turning, until the lamb is golden brown and very tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with chopped cilantro, lemon wedges and scallion whites and serve.

Chickpea flour (Besan)

Sift 1/2 cup flour and place it in a nonstick skillet or saucepan. Roast over medium-low heat until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Stir constantly and shake the pan often to prevent lumping and burning. Let cool, then store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, about 1 week at room temp or about 1 month in the frig.

Basic Ginger-Garlic Paste

1 cup quarter-size slices, peeled fresh ginger (Cut crosswise across the grain to avoid fibers)
1 cup fresh garlic cloves, peeled
1 to 3 tablespoons water
In a food processor or a blender, process together the ginger and garlic to make a smooth paste, adding the water as needed for blending. Transfer to an airtight container, mix in some oil (vegetable, peanut, or olive) until it forms a 1/8-inch layer on top of teh paste, and refrigerate up to 15 days or freeze for up to 6 months.