sparkling sangria with melon, poolside
Though Champagne is the first wine that comes to my mind when someone says “sparkling,” true Champagne is probably a little “strong” for sangria, never mind that it’s normally too expensive at $50+ to dump into a pitcher with a bunch of other liquor, juice, fruit, and maybe even ice. Save Champagne for a glass by itself, and make sangria with an affordable Cava from Spain or Prosecco from Italy.

Don’t mistake “affordable” with “cheap,” though. Cheap wine and bottomshelf liquor are probably why you have somewhat hazy and altogether horrible memories of sangria from your 20s. Or 30s. Or last week or whatever. Stick with decent alcohol, and stay away from too much sugar in the form of soda, juice, or you know, just sugar, too.

For the ginger flavor, I LOVE Fever Tree ginger BEER (not alcoholic), but any brand of strong-ish ginger beer will work. If you can’t find ginger beer, or find the ginger taste too strong or spicy, use ginger ale.

Sparkling Melon Sangria {recipe}

INGREDIENTS

1 750 mL sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco
1 cup vodka
1 12-ounce bottle of Fever Tree ginger beer
1 to 1½ cups each of cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon balls
to serve: ice, fresh mint leaves, lime wheels, colorful straws

DIRECTIONS

Pour the sparkling wine, vodka, ginger beer, and melon balls into a large glass pitcher. The glass pitcher is solely for aesthetics — you can see the bright, colorful melon. Cover the pitcher tightly, and refrigerate — overnight is best but even just a few hours in the refrigerator is better than nothing.

Right before serving the sangria, add ice, fresh mint leaves, and lime wheels to the pitcher.

This sangria does not keep, not because it won’t taste good the next few days, but you will probably drink half of it by yourself before you even serve it, and then what.

cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon prep

sparkling sangria with melon

sparkling melon sangria with cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon
{“White Sangria” is Number 67 on my List of Things to Do This Summer}

Fava Beans, pods

Fava Beans, shucking

Fava Beans

Fava beans have always been a fascinating mystery to me. They were completely unknown to me in my childhood since any fresh green beans that you pop out of pods in a Korean-Midwestern house would be edamame. Then, the first time I ever heard the words “fava beans,” not only was it in that totally terrifying context that I will not name out loud (but everyone knows), but I was also still young enough that I was basically traumatized for the rest of my life.

The rest of my life, that is, until I started paying hyper-focused attention to food as a “grown-up” in LA.

In my my grown-up life, fava beans are more common, I guess you could say, but that doesn’t make me any less wary of them. I already have an equal and irrationally opposite reaction to any food that is, well, “foodie forward,” whether they are so for oddity, controversy, price (caviar), scarcity (ramps) or some other factor other than pure taste.

I don’t care what anyone says. Morel mushrooms, like so many “fashionable” celebrities we seem to idolize, are interesting in appearance to say the least, but have absolutely no taste.

Add to that the breathless anticipation of the fava beans’ arrival, the ensuing 3-week feeding frenzy, and I start to have vivid flashbacks to college when I tried to race through the main plaza of campus without getting accosted by unnaturally giddy students with huge smiles, glazed eyes, and stacks of pamphlets for God (mine? theirs? not sure) knows what.

Cults scare the shit out of me.

I didn’t necessarily go out of my way to avoid fava beans. If they were in a dish that was placed before me, I ate them. I just didn’t set unyielding sights on them when they appeared on a menu or at the market. And I certainly didn’t feel the need to cook with something that was rumored to be “difficult” to work with in the kitchen; I’ve got “difficult to work with” covered just cooking with myself.

This is the first time I’ve ever cooked fava beans, and it is true. Fava beans are more difficult to work with than, oh, say, canned chickpeas. But accusing fava beans of fussiness because you have to shuck the small inside beans out of the fur-lined pods, then peel each bean of its thin, pale skin seems a stretch. Peeling potatoes, cleaning mushrooms, and rinsing spinach are kitchen jobs that are much worse, but they don’t have the same reputation. And I sure don’t feel a therapeutic sense of accomplishment when I look at a plastic grocery bag full of muddy potato peels.

So yes, fava beans require some work. So does this recipe, which seems unnecessarily complicated for a simple puree. But like love and so many other things in life, if it’s worth it, you gotta work it.

Whether you put your thing down, flip it and reverse it, however, is a different story.

Fava Beans, single bean inside pod

Fave Bean Puree with French Feta and Garlic Toasts

almost completely identical to a recipe in Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook, except for the parts that aren’t.

if it’s not that three-, maybe four-week window in Spring when favas are available, make it with lima beans or even edamame.

Ingredients

1 baguette
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, 1 whole and 1 finely minced
2½ pounds fava beans in their pods
1 small spring rosemary
1 chile de árbol, crumbled (substitute: about 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper)
½ lemon for juicing
½ cup pitted oil cured olives, sliced in half (I didn’t use olives because I didn’t have any)
¼ cup sliced flat leaf parsley leaves (I left them whole)
¼ pound French feta cheese (I bought French feta cheese at Bristol Farms in LA. If you can’t source, substitute any feta, really)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut the baguette on the diagonal into twelve ¼-inch thick slices. (You may have leftover bread.) Brush both sides of each slice generously with olive oil. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven 10 to 12 minutes, until golden and crispy but still tender in the center. While the toasts are still warm, rub them with one of the garlic cloves.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Blanch the beans for about 2 minutes in the boiling water. Drain the beans in a colander. cool them in ice water, and then slip them out of their pale green skins with your fingers. (It’s actually not just “slipping” the beans out. You need to “slice” the skin open a bit with your fingernails.)

Heat a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining olive oil, rosemary sprig, and the chile. Let them sizzle in the oil a minute or two, then stir in the minced garlic. Let it sizzle for a minute and stir in the fava beans, ¾ teaspoon salt, and some fresh ground black pepper. Simmer the beans 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until they’re tender. Strain the beans, reserving the oil. Discard the rosemary and the chile.

Transfer the beans into a food processor and puree them. With the motor running, pour in half the reserved oil slowly, until the puree is velvety smooth. Once the puree is smooth, pour in more of the reserved olive oil to taste. Squeeze in some lemon juice and taste for seasoning.

In a small bowl, toss the olives and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice. Crumble in the feta, tossing gently to combine.

Spoon the warm fava bean puree onto a platter. Place the grilled toasts off to one side and scatter the feta-olive salad over the puree.

(I spooned the puree onto each of the toasts and garnished with the feta and parsley.)

Fava Beans, cooked and peeled

green goddess grilled cheese sandwich
Supposedly, Green Goddess, an invention of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in the 1930s, is a salad dressing.

The reality is, Green Goddess is a state of mind.

After (re)discovering Green Goddess several years ago, we’ve been obsessed with the bright, fresh combination of green herbs, garlic, and lemon that make up the dressing, and have been inspired to add it to just about everything, to the point that we even took Green Goddess and herbs and rolled them up in rice paper to make Summer Rolls. Spring rolls. Grain bowls. Zucchini noodle pasta.

Sandwiches.

Specifically, a grilled cheese sandwich.

We made a fresh herb pesto with the standard Green Goddess herbs, plus a sneaky handful of kale, and now keep this Green Goddess Pesto as a staple in our refrigerator. We spread the pesto onto slices of La Brea Bakery‘s Whole Grain Gluten-free Bread, added Monterey Jack cheese, feta cheese for some tang, baby spinach for added greens, and of course, this wouldn’t be The Delicious Life if there weren’t avocado.

Make this Green Goddess Grilled Cheese. Hell, make any grilled cheese because April is National Grilled Cheese Month, so we have almost two more weeks to celebrate.

And if you happen to live in Los Angeles, go to the La Brea Bakery Café on Thursday nights during the month of April for their world-reknown weekly Grilled Cheese Nights. I went last week; check out my mini-review for deets.

greengoddessgrilledcheese_pan
green goddess grilled cheese sandwich

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich {recipe}

We have been making versions of Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for years now, and have made them on many different types of bread — everything from basic white sandwich bread to super whole grain-y, seed-y rustic loaves.

This go ’round, we used La Brea Bakery’s Multi-Grain Gluten-free Sandwich Bread, not because we can’t eat gluten, but because the bread makes a pretty great grilled cheese sandwich.

For resources and recipe notes, see list at bottom of this recipe.

Ingredients

For each sandwich:

2 slices bread
2-3 tablespoons Green Goddess Herb Pesto {recipe}
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
handful fresh baby spinach
¼ avocado, sliced
salt and pepper
grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil for cooking
butter, if you’re so inclined

Directions

For each sandwich:

Spread about 1 tablespoon of Green Goddess Herb Pesto onto each slice of bread. The pesto is strong, so if you’re sensitive to garlic or the slightly bitter taste of fresh kale, go light on the pesto.

On one slice of bread, add ¼ cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, baby spinach, sliced avocado, crumbled feta cheese, dashes of salt and pepper, the remaining ¼ cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, then top it with second slice of bread. Press together gently.

Heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil  in a frying pan over medium low heat. If you want to use butter, add it to the oil and let it melt.

Add the sandwich to the oil and cook until bread is golden brown, about three minutes. Press down on the sandwich lightly, then flip the sandwich over and cook until second side is golden brown, another three minutes.

Remove Grilled Cheese Sandwich to plate, let cool, cut into halves, and serve. Hot sauce and little pickled things like onions, cherry peppers, or other hot peppers alongside the sandwich are great!

RECIPE RESOURCES and NOTES

  • La Brea Bakery bread is available in most major supermarkets and even Costco!
  • Monterey Jack cheese is by Tillamook, available in regular grocery stores
  • feta cheese from Bristol Farms
  • avocados from JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch, available at Santa Monica and Hollywood Farmers’ Markets
  • any and all other produce, organic, from local farmers’ markets or Whole Foods Market

green goddess grilled cheese sandwich
This post is sponsored by our friends at La Brea Bakery.

green goddess pesto
Green Goddess Pesto pesto is one of the “mother sauces” in The Delicious Life.

Use this pesto as a spread for sandwiches — Green Goddess BagelGreen Goddess Grilled Cheese! — as a sauce for pastas and grain bowls, stir into thick yogurt for a dip, thin it out with extra olive oil and lemon juice to use as a vinaigrette for salad.

Green Goddess Herb Pesto {recipe}

For resources and notes, see see list at bottom of this recipe.

Ingredients

1 clove garlic
1 or 2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained of oil (this is optional)
½ small shallot, chopped, about 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped
½ cup green kale, chopped
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives
¼ to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pulse garlic, anchovy if you’re using, and shallot in food processor until chopped. With the food processor running, add lemon juice, parsley, kale, basil, and chives. The herbs won’t process very well without much liquid yet, don’t worry.

Very slowly drizzle in ¼ cup olive oil until kale and herbs get sufficiently chopped and everything is the consistency of a pesto.

Every once in a while, turn off the food processor and push herbs down the side of the bowl with a spatula every once in a while. You may need more or less of the olive oil depending on how well you packed chopped herbs into your measuring cups.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. You probably won’t need too much salt if you used 2 anchovies, though this is a pesto, so it’s better if it’s salty.

Store pesto in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

RECIPE RESOURCES and NOTES

  • I use whatever jar anchovies at the grocery store aren’t too cheap nor too expensive because it doesn’t seem to matter unless you are eating straight anchovies with a pair of chopsticks from the jar (I’ve never done that. Maybe.) However, Serious Eats did a taste test, and they found Ortiz anchovies to the best.
  • any and all produce, organic, from local farmers’ markets or Whole Foods Market

green goddess pesto

La Brea Bakery Cafe Grilled Cheese Thursday NightsLa Brea Bakery + Café is typically open every day during what you’d call “café hours,” early morning for coffee, bread, and pastries, until about mid-afternoon. During the month of April, which is National Grilled Cheese Month (it’s a thing), the La Brea Bakery Café extends its hours on Thursday nights only to host Grilled Cheese Night.

Grilled Cheese Night is an in-house “pop up” of sorts, serving grilled cheese sandwiches and suggested beer and wine pairings.

A friend and I went a couple of weeks ago. We thought we over-ordered with a Classic Grilled Cheese, a Mushroom Grilled Cheese, tomato soup, AND French fries.

We ate (almost) everything.

La Bakery Café
468 S. La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036 {map}
for information reservations: (323) 939-6813
www.labreabakerycafe.com

la brea bakery grilled cheese night

la brea bakery grilled cheese night

bourbon maple glazed easter ham plate

Bourbon Maple-Glazed Ham {recipe}

makes 1 ham, about 8-10 servings

Ingredients

for Ham:
1 8-10 pound bone-in ham
Bourbon Maple Glaze (see just below)

for Bourbon Maple Glaze:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup Bourbon
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
juice from half a lemon, approximately 2-4 tablespoons
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions

Start Roasting Ham:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Trim outer layer of fat on ham down to about ¼-inch thick. Using a sharp paring knife, make shallow criss-cross cuts across the surface of the ham creating a “diamond” pattern.

Place the ham in a roasting pan with sides high enough to catch juices and drippings. Cover with foil and place in oven. Roast for about 1½ to 2 hours before adding glaze. The ham will roast in total for about 2 to 2½ hours, or until the internal temperature of the ham is 140°F.

While Ham is Roasting, Make Bourbon Maple Glaze:

Whisk all of the ingredients for the Bourbon Maple Glaze in a bowl until the brown sugar is mostly dissolved (it may not dissolve all the way).

Complete Roasting the Ham:

Remove ham from oven, remove foil and save it, and brush the ham with all but about 2 tablespoons of the glaze. If you do not have a brush (I don’t), use a spoon and carefully drizzle the glaze and spread over the ham.

Continue roasting, uncovered, for another 30 minutes to an hour, or until the internal temperature of the ham is 140°F. If the glaze on the ham starts to turn too dark, cover with foil.

Remove ham from oven and let rest uncovered about 15 minutes.

RESOURCES and NOTES

bourbon maple glazed easter ham dinner table

bourbon-maple-glaze-ingredients

pavlova_icecream_chocolate_strawberry_squareSo.

I made a pavlova.

And I might not need to make another dessert ever again.

Ever.
chocolate pavlova layers ice creams and fresh strawberries and raspberries
Pavlovas are a crisp meringue base typically spread with fluffy whipped cream, sometimes curd (I hate this word almost as much as I hate the word “moist”), and topped with fresh fruit. But really, is anything ever “typical” anymore? We’ve seen every component of a pavlova take on different variation, from coffee and chocolate flavored meringue bases, to other fluffy cream-like spreads and mousses, to every kind of fresh fruit, fruit compote, nuts, and even herbs.

As fitting as the original version is for summer, with the lightness of whipped cream and fresh fruit, we thought we’d swap out the whipped cream for the quintessential creamy dreaminess of summer, ice cream. What we’ve ended up with is something that tastes like a chocolate covered strawberry: two chocolate meringues with chocolate chunks inside, layered with chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and raspberry ice creams, fresh super summer-ripe strawberries, and warm, melted chocolate sauce.
chocolate pavlova layers ice creams and fresh strawberries and raspberries

This Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ice Cream Pavlova is the perfect kind of show-stopping dessert for a group or a party. Just have all the components separate and ready to assemble just before serving. The meringues can be baked days in advance if kept cool and dry, slice the berries, and you can even scoop the ice cream and keep the frozen as scoops until serving time.

But if the ice cream gets a little melty…

chocolate pavlova layers ice creams and fresh strawberries and raspberries

Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Pavlova with Ice Cream, Strawberries, and Melted Dark Chocolate Sauce {recipe}

Makes on double-layer pavlova, enough for 1 (!) – 10 people

Check the “Notes and Resources” section that follows for technique tips, ingredient brands, stores/where to buy.

INGREDIENTS

Ingredients for the Pavlova Meringue Base:
6 large egg whites
1½ cups superfine sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

Ingredients for the Finished Pavlova:
1 pint chocolate ice cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 pint strawberry ice cream
1 pint raspberry sorbet
1 basket super summer-ripe strawberries, sliced into halves
chocolate sauce for drizzling
optional: nuts. but why.

DIRECTIONS

Make the Pavlova’s Meringue Base: Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet. Draw two 8-inch diameter circles with pencil on the parchment. (If two circles don’t fit, make each meringue base layer on a separate baking sheet.) Turn the paper over on the baking sheet so that the pencil drawn circle side in down.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and shiny peaks form. Beat in superfine sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until stiff, shiny peaks form off the beaters and in the bowl.

Sprinkle sifted cocoa, balsamic vinegar, and chopped chocolate over the beaten egg whites in the bowl, then gently fold until everything is incorporated.

Divide and spoon the chocolate meringue between the two circles on the parchment paper, spreading it to just about ½-inch inside the pencil mark; the meringue will spread during baking We learned this the first time when our two meringue layers spread and stuck to each other. Try to make the edges ever so slightly higher (like a rim) to hold in the fillings later.

Place the baking sheets in the pre-heated oven, then turn the temperature down to 350º. Bake the meringues until they are dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door, and allow the meringues to cool down completely inside the oven.

The cooled meringues can be stored in an air tight container in a cool, dry place for a couple of days.

Assemble the Pavlova: Place one chocolate meringue on a serving platter, with rimmed edges to catch any melted ice cream if desired. Place small scoops of the different ice cream in a single layer on top. Place the second meringue layer on top, adding another layer of ice cream scoops. Top with fresh sliced strawberries, then drizzle with chocolate sauce or hot fudge.

Serve immediately. No part of this dessert can be stored once it is assembled so eat all of it.

Notes and Resources

  1. Best if egg whites are room temperature and the mixing bowl is very cold, and clean of any kind of oil/grease (like yolk or oil from your hands)
  2. Vital Farms Eggs for the pavlova in these photos. They are available at Whole Foods Markets and slightly higher-end grocery stores.
  3. Superfine sugar is different from confectioner’s/powdered sugar (which contains cornstarch). If you can’t find super-fine sugar, just make it at home by processing it in a food processor or blender for about three minutes on medium speed. Careful when you process it, it will give off a sugar “dust” that you don’t want to inhale.
  4. Unsweetened cocoa: use any  organic, unsweetened cocoa, not “hot cocoa mix” or whatever.
  5. Balsamic vinegar: I have no idea what this is for. Color? Chemistry? But it’s in there, and since it’s so weird, it must be important.
  6. I bought super-ripe, super-sweet (red inside!) strawberries from the farmers’ market the morning of the day we served the Pavlova. If your berries are slightly underripe or not as sweet, slice them, toss them slices with a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two. The strawberries will weep out their juices and make a sweet “sauce” with the sugar,; you can pour the entire thing over the ice cream for the final product.