Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Toasts to Summer!

What’s cooking? Morel Mushroom Toasts with Parsley Salad and Flatbread Toasts with Fava Beans, Cucumbers, and Burrata

It’s July, and the Kitchen Goddess has been cooking like “a house afire,” as my Yankee dad used to say. So much so that I’ve neglected to write. Oh, yes, I’ve started pieces on all these delectable dishes, but can’t seem to get finished.

What have I been doing, you ask? Well, my prince and I have discovered that if you live in a place for 10 years, things start to go wrong, even in a house that was new when you moved in. This spring in Texas, for instance, those “things” were the ice maker, the sprinkler system, and the doorbell. Not everything needed a complete overhaul; the sprinkler system, for one, had just gotten a little out of whack and needed adjusting. The doorbell worked, sort of, but the sound was a thunk, not a ding-dong, and we could only hear someone ringing if we were standing right next to the box. The icemaker was in complete meltdown, so to speak, and has to be replaced.

So we fixed what we could and left for the summer in New Jersey, where we found:

■ a wobbly toilet paper holder that finally detached itself from the wall entirely;
■ two bathroom light fixtures that over the last two years slowly, excruciatingly, stopped working light by light, so that by this summer, we could barely see ourselves in the mirror;
■ hot water pressure in the kitchen sink that barely qualifies as more than a dribble;
■ an interior door handle that mysteriously has become so loose it threatens to lock some unfortunate soul into the guest bedroom; and
■ a dead printer, which failed to recover from being dropped on the floor during our Christmas visit.

These are not the sorts of problems that either of us enjoys addressing. One of us took the time to create a spreadsheet of the issues, with boxes for noting progress and next steps, and posted it on the refrigerator door; the other of us has studiously ignored that paper, relying on the creator of said spreadsheet to remind/nag him as to progress. It’s not a methodology I can recommend, but eventually, things get done. I’m hoping this gives us a reprieve for the next 10 years, but who knows.

So with those items mostly taken care of, I can get back to telling you about the exciting dishes the Kitchen Goddess has been preparing. Today’s recipes both feature Toast. Not the kind that goes with your eggs or your BLT or even a glass of champagne – although I can see toasting to these toasts with some bubbly. Both are amazingly simple preparations that can serve as lunch on their own, or a light summer dinner when accompanied by a hearty salad and a nice chilled glass of dry rosé or a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. And if you slice the bread into smaller pieces, either recipe can work well as an appetizer.

As you’ll see, both assemblages are remarkably flexible. Just don’t skip the parsley salad on the morels.

Morel Mushroom Toasts with Parsley Salad

Adapted from The Tasting Table (tastingtable.com), May 2014

This whole thing started when the Kitchen Goddess stumbled across some fresh morels at her fabulous farmers’ market. If you can’t easily find morels, do not panic. The best substitutes are probably porcini or hen-of-the-woods, or really any variety of wild mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, maitake, etc.). Morels have a very woodsy, earthy flavor, which you won’t get with criminis, portabellas, or white button mushrooms; so avoid those.

Kitchen Goddess note: If you are lucky enough to find fresh morels, choose ones that are fresh, firm, and dry. Generally speaking, the larger ones have a tendency toward sponginess and rot; but if you find large ones in good shape, go for them. Inspect morels for dirt and debris before you begin to cook, and clean them off using a dry pastry brush.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


For the mushroom saute:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced (about ¼ cup)
1 fresh bay leaf ( or 2 small dried bay leaves)
½ pound morels, cleaned, trimmed and sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
½ cup crème fraîche (easy substitutions include heavy cream, sour cream, or plain 2% yogurt)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:
1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon olive oil

For the bread:
1 medium whole wheat baguette (or whole wheat sourdough), sliced horizontally in half
1 clove garlic


In a large skillet at medium temperature, heat together the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 2-3 minutes.

Add the bay leaf and the morels. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. (This timing may change with other mushroom types, so you’ll have to judge for yourself. Mostly, you just want the mushrooms to be tender.)

Stir in the crème fraîche until it’s well combined with the mushroom mix, and adjust the heat if necessary to keep it from burning. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes more, to let the flavors come together.

Stir in the thyme and lemon zest and remove the skillet from heat. Season the mushroom mixture with salt and pepper.

In a small mixing bowl, toss the parsley, chives, lemon juice, and Aleppo pepper with the teaspoon of olive oil.

Toast the bread lightly under the broiler, and cut the garlic clove in half. Rub the cut side of the garlic clove on the warm toasts to scent them. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the toasts and slice in appropriately sized pieces. Top with parsley salad. Serve.

* * *

Flatbread Toasts with Fava Beans, Cucumbers, and Burrata

Adapted from Dave Muller & Lana Porcello in Bon Appétit, April 2016

Yes, fava beans take a while to make ready for cooking, but that’s never been an issue for the Kitchen Goddess, who dearly loves them. If you don’t want to use fava beans, by all means make this toast with fresh or frozen lima beans, or fresh or frozen edamame. Cooking times and quantities are the same as for favas.

To process fava beans (Click here to see more details with more photos):
Shuck the beans, discarding the pods. Bring a large saucepan (or soup pot, depending on how many beans you have) of salted water to a boil. Add the shucked beans and cook 1 minute once the water has returned to a boil. This will set the green color and loosen the skins. Drain the beans in a colander, then plunge them into an ice water bath for 1-2 minutes to stop the cooking.
Drain them from the ice bath and, using a paring knife or fingernail, pierce the outer skin of each bean and gently squeeze it to slip off the skin; discard the skins. Use them immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 days in a covered bowl, or blot dry then pack into a zip-top storage bag for freezing, first removing as much air as possible from the bag.

Yields 8 servings.


For the topping:
2 cups shelled fava beans (you’ll need about 2 pounds of pods), or limas or edamame
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

For the assembly:
1 large naan bread (preferably whole wheat) or 1 small whole wheat baguette
2 8-ounce burrata balls or soft mozzarella, drained
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
Basil leaves, sliced in chiffonade, or mint leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
Flaky sea salt and pepper


Bring a medium saucepan of well-salted water (1-2 tablespoons per quart of water) to a boil. Add the beans (shelled and skinned) and bring the water back to a boil. Cook 4 minutes, until the beans are tender, then remove to an ice water bath.

Combine the cucumber slices with the vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for 10-12 minutes.

While the cucumbers soak, combine half the beans in a small mixing bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Using a fork or other mashing instrument (the Kitchen Goddess used a small measuring cup), mash the beans enough to make a rough paste. Stir in the remaining beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you are using naan bread, toast according to package instructions. If using baguette, slice it horizontally and toast lightly
under a broiler.

Remove the cucumbers from the vinegar and discard the vinegar. Tear the burrata/mozzarella into pieces and spread it along the bread. Pile the bean mixture evenly on top, and scatter the
cucumbers over the bean mixture. Sprinkle with basil/mint and toasted sesame seeds, then dust lightly with flaky sea salt and pepper. Slice the bread into appropriately sized pieces, and serve.