Fava Bean Agnolotti with Curry Emulsion


2-3 lbs fava beans
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons mascarpone
kosher salt

1 3/4 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp milk

2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoonse chopped scallions
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup creme fraiche
8 tablespoons (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
eighteen 1-inch-long pieces ramps or scallions, blanched, drained and dried

This recipe comes from Thomas Keller's French Laundry cookbook. He has a different agnolotti for every season. After trying these, we can't wait for summer to come, and then fall and winter so we can try each one in season! They are truly delicious.

The first step is shelling the fava beans. Frankly, this is not a task for the impatient cook. I recommend putting in a good movie and settling down on the couch with the bag of fava beans and two bowls - one really big one for waste and a small one for the shelled beans. I shelled these while viewing Casablanca. "Here's looking at you, kid."

Lest you think you are done prepping the beans, not so fast... you must now remove the skins from each individual bean in order to prevent trapped gases from discoloring them while cooking. In addition you will remove the tiny germ from the side of each bean. If you think this is a little too much work, please, let me remind you. The finished product is really, really good.

Next, blanch the beans in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes.

Cool the beans in an ice bath to preserve color and to stop the cooking.

When the beans have cooled down, drain them on a towel.

Next, slice some good bread to make 3/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs.
Process the bread in a food processor to obtain fine crumbs. Measure out 3/4 cup for your filling and save any extra in the fridge for another use.

Add the beans to the bread crumbs and process until they blend together. Add 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp mascarpone cheese. Season to taste with salt.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cool, up to 2 days.

Next, make the pasta dough. The following recipe makes twice as much as you will need, but if you double your filling then that is a problem solved :) Keep in mind that you can freeze these agnolotti for a future use, and trust me, you'll want them again.

Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to mix together 1 3/4 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour, 6 large egg yolks, 1 large egg, 1 1/2 tsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp milk. You should mix it for about 10 minutes. The recipe actually asks you to do all of this by hand, but after all that fava bean shelling I'm trying to cut you a break. Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Using a pasta machine, roll the dough into sheets thin enough that you can see your fingers through it, but not thin enough to be translucent. You'll roll about 1/4 - 1/6 of the amount of total dough at a time. I took my dough to the second to last setting to achieve the desired thickness.

Trim the edges of the pasta sheet so that they are straight. Place the agnolotti filling in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip, then pipe the filling across the sheet leaving a 3/4 inch border on all sides. After you complete this step I recommend refrigerating the bag in between batches, as the filling does not hold its shape well at room temperature.

Pull the top edge of the pasta up and over the filling.

Next seal the edges by pressing down gently with your fingers along the length and sides of the dough.

Well done!

Next, shape the agnolotti by pinching seams in 1-inch increments along the length of the filled and folded dough. Leave enough "pinched" area between each pocket of filling to avoid unsealed agnolotti later on. The recipe recommends 3/4 inch but apparently I didn't read that part (see photo below). Indeed, some of mine did split, so be careful.

Cut along the length of the dough with a crimped pastry wheel, but do not cut too close to the filling.

Separate the individual agnolotti by cutting through the center of each pinched area, rolling the pastry wheel away from yourself. (Again, you can see I didn't allow quite enough space in between...learn from my mistakes!)

Place the agnolotti on a baking sheet dusted with flour or cornmeal. At this point you can boil them fresh in water, or freeze them for up to several weeks before cooking. Whether fresh or frozen they will cook for about 5 minutes. Before cooking them, prepare the sauce below.

In a pan over medium heat, toast 2 teaspoons of curry powder until fragrant.

Stir in the scallions and heat for another minute.

Pour in the 3/4 cup vegetable stock, the cream, and creme fraiche. Simmer and reduce to 1/2 cup.

Gradually whisk in the butter, about a tablespoon at a time.

Transfer the sauce to a blender. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of stock and blend for 30 seconds to emulsify the mixture. Strain through a chinois into a wide pan.

Now, boil the agnolotti for 5 minutes. Drain.

Add to the curry emulsion and toss over low heat to coat with sauce.

Portion the agnolotti into bowls and top with chopped scallions, or blanched ramps or garlic sprouts if available.


Veal Scallopini with Tomato, Oregano, and Capers

This is a very tasty recipe that I learned from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Having previously eaten veal that was dry and tough in restaurants on more than one occasion, I was pleased to find that I could make quite appealing veal very easily at home. I have been making this recipe for so long now, and so many times that I haven't looked inside the cookbook for years. Hence I am sure I have altered it somewhat to fit my own personal cooking needs and conveniences.

It is one of my old standbys, a recipe that I make when I don't know what else to make and am too pressed for time to look for new recipes.

It doesn't take too long and is very easy.

To serve approx. 4 people, or 2 adults and 3 little ones as in our household, the ingredients are:

1 lb thinly pounded veal slices for scallopini
about 1/2 c. flour
salt and pepper
vegetable oil, enough to coat your frying pan
1/2 c. white wine
1 large can of imported Italian plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
1 T. oregano
1 T. capers, or a lot more if your children adore capers like ours do...
1 T. butter

First, season the veal with salt and pepper.
Then, dredge each slice with a thin coating of flour.

Pour a small amount of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, just enough to coat the bottom.
Fry the veal slices until browned, turning once to brown both sides, about 4 minutes per side.

They will look something like this:

If you need to brown multiple batches of veal, deglaze the pan with the wine between batches in order to prevent burning leftover particles from the previous batch. Set aside the cooked veal and glazing liquid in a bowl.

Once all the veal is cooked, deglaze the pan once more. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Pour any liquid from the reserved veal into the pan as well, and cook this sauce for about 30 minutes.

Toward the end of the cooking time, add the oregano and the butter. This time I forgot the butter, and didn't even notice until I typed this out. Thus, if you're watching your fat intake, you too can "forget" the butter with no ill consequences.
When it is done cooking, add the capers.
Briefly reheat the veal slices in the sauce.

Serve the veal topped with the sauce.

Enjoy with a green vegetable or salad!


Asparagus Salad with Parmesan Dressing

I have to share the delicious dinner that Bill and I enjoyed tonight. I found the recipe in this month's bon appetit magazine. Mmmmm...

5 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved with vegetable peeler
1 1/2 cups water
5 Tbsp minced shallots, divided (from about 2 large)
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 lbs large green asparagus spears, trimmed (may use 1/2 white asparagus if available)
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
12 oz oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced
cracked black peppercorns

Bring cheese and 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until milky liquid forms, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Strain into small saucepan; discard solids in strainer. Boil over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Add 2 Tbsp shallots and vinegar. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Cook all asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl of ice water to cool completely. Drain. DO AHEAD dressing and asparagus can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill dressing. Wrap asparagus in paper towels, the plastic, and chill. Bring dressing to room temp before using.

Preheat oven to 350. Place asparagus on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss; arrange in single layer on sheet. Roast until crisp-tender about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 3 Tbsp shallots and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms begin to wilt, about 5 min.

Divide asparagus among plates. Spoon mushroom mixture over. Drizzle with Parmesan dressing and sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

I left the mushrooms out since Bill does not like the texture, and substituted pine nuts instead. I also forgot to reduce the dressing. Oops! Good excuse to make this yummy dish again :) We ate this salad with a side of harvest grains cooked simmered with sun-dried tomatoes.