Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Who won the Rib Burn-Off?

Give up a chunk of a holiday Monday to help raise money for wounded soldiers? Yes, I can absolutely do that. I was one of four judges who stopped by the Patriot Festival at SouthPark's Symphony Park to lend eating expertise to the first Rib Burn-Off competition. My compatriots: Taylor Mathis of the food blog www.taylortakesataste.com, Richard Gruica of Meetup's Good Eats & Meets and Charles Jenkins of South Charlotte Weekly and WBT-AM.

Yes, kids, it was very hot out there. Luckily, I carry a folding fan wherever I go. I believe the boys were envious of my ability to accessorize. Also, my ability to eat pork ribs in the heat.

Since this was the first time for the competition, we ended up with only six competitors. But they were worthy adversaries. Always amazing how many different types of ribs can come off grills. Dry ribs, wet ribs, smoky ribs, chewy ribs.

After we chewed them over and our scores were tallied, the rib winner was the team Brothers In Barbecue, led by Joe Pelone of Spicy Sunshine Catering & Deli, 5304 Sunset Road. For sauce, the winner was Bobby Rayfield of Indianland with the team Bobby's Joe's. The People's Choice award went to Jim & Nick's.

And I headed off immediately for a stop at YoFro. Frozen yogurt -- stat.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eat and Tell: Ribs Day on Monday

What are you cooking on the grill Monday?

I will be eating ribs. But I won't be cooking them (not that day, anyway). I'll be judging ribs, at the Rib Burnoff at the Patriot Festival at Symphony Park at SouthPark.

The festival raises money for wounded members of the military and their families. It's 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and includes music, big trucks like firetrucks and Humvees, miltary maneuvers, a 5K, a Scout and service club challenge, and ribs. Tickets to the festival are $10 at the gate and $8 in advance at Harris Teeters with a VIC card. Children 5 and younger get in free, while military with ID are $5. Details: www.patriotcharities.org.

The Burn Off is a contest for restaurants and backyard cooks, beginning at 11 a.m. We of the judging team will give out awards for best rib and best sauce, while you of the eating team will get to name a People's Choice Award. If you're there and you spot me, say hey. Pardon me in advance if my mouth is full.

If you're not going to the festival, I'd love to hear what you end up cooking on Monday. Drop me a comment here and let me know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer survival: The best iced coffee

Hot weather and I have a special relationship. I hate it. It hates me.

That's what happens when you grow up in a sub-tropical zone like South Florida without air conditioning. Yes, without air conditioning. Didn't have it in my parents' house. Didn't have it in the cheap apartments I could afford when I moved out on my own.

Remember that scene in "Body Heat," where Kathleen Turner and William Hurt loll in a bathtub floating with ice cubes? Been there (truly -- I lived in Lake Worth, where it was filmed) and done that. The ice cubes in the bathtub part, not the William Hurt part.

I learned a lot of ways to survive in those days: Always keep the vodka bottle in the freezer. Hold a plastic bag of ice cubes on your neck if you get really desperate.

And iced coffee. Learn to love iced coffee. I still have a passion for the stuff.

Sadly, though, good iced coffee can be hard to find. Hot-brewed coffee that sits out until it's cold doesn't cut it. It's bitter, or it sits on the burner too long and gets that rank old-coffee taste. Iced coffee deserves more respect.

Last year, the Internet world popped a new one up for me: Cold-brewed coffee, based on a recipe that started several years ago in the New York Times Sunday magazine. It's coffee that is specifically made for iced coffee. Not bitter, not watered-down.

It's easy to make enough to last several days, it takes practically no work -- and it's a whole lot cheaper than daily coffeeshop stops. Sweetening it might be a problem, since sugar doesn't dissolve well in cold water. Since I drink all coffee unsweetened, I can't really say. If you keep simple syrup around, that would probably do the trick.

I discovered it late last summer, too late to share here. Now that warm water has returned with such a vengeance, it's time. You're going to need it.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

With thanks to the New York Times and a bunch of web sites.

2/3 cup ground coffee
3 cups cold water, plus more for finishing
Ice cubes
Whatever you take in your coffee

Place the ground coffee in a pitcher or bowl. Cover with 3 cups water. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight.
Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the coffee into a small bottle or pitcher. (Here is where I split with the other sources. Some suggest a double-straining method, using a sieve and then a coffee filter or cheesecloth to get the last bits of ground coffee. A single straining works fine for me, because any ground coffee left in the mix will settle to the bottom and can be avoided. Up to you.)
Refrigerate the mix until you need it. To use it, pour equal amounts coffee and water over ice. (Use less water if you like, but remember that the coffee mixture is very strong.) If you really want to get fancy, you could also make a batch of ice cubes out of it, but that's more trouble than I can handle in summer.
Add whatever you need (while I usually drink coffee black, I do like a little skim milk in iced coffee).
Drink. Feel cooler.

The best thing you can do with a Pringles can

It's hard to convey just how goofy -- and weirdly delightful -- the Pringles Can Speaker is.

If you send in the original receipt from any four Super Stack cans of Pringles, you get a round speaker that snaps into the top of the empty can and plugs into any personal MP3 player, including iPods. Go to www.pringles.com to get details and a free-speaker-redemption form

The long, hollow can acts as an amplifier, adding a little depth to the sound.

The coolest things about this from my hour or so of playing with it?

1. It's a speaker that fits in a cup holder. Those of us who haven't got car stereos with iPod jacks can finally listen to Wilco on the way to work.

2. You get interesting reactions when you walk around waving a Pringles can that is playing music.

3. Finally, while the fidelity isn't real Bose, Pringles aren't real potato chips, either.

Playing music with the can beats having to eat the nasty things.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Food trucks are ready to roll

Has the food truck phenomenon finally rolled in to Charlotte? You can check it out tonight at 5, in the parking lot on 7th Street across from Seventh Street Station, at the Chow Down Uptown Food Truck Rally. At least eight trucks are signed up to be there, but that may grow.

I wish I could be there, but I already had a tight schedule between the end of the work day and the start of the Neko Case concert in Knight Theatre. I’ve also had my share of food truck experiences lately.

Last year, when I was in New York for the James Beard Awards in May, I had gotten a bead on a food truck rally at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. Fellow food soldier Andrea Weigl and I set out nice and early. But the Web site was unclear about the actual address – happens a lot in N.Y. social media, I’ve learned. By the time we found the right spot, the rally was well underway and the lines were stretching roughly from the Hudson River to Long Island. We stood in line for 40 minutes just for the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. It was worth the wait for a Salty Pimp (chocolate and caramel and soft-serve ice cream sprinkled with sea salt) and a Bea Arthur (hard to explain but it involves very tall soft-serve and crushed vanilla wafers). But that was all we had time to try.

This year, I was in the same place at about the same time. And now the Hell’s Kitchen Food Truck Rally is happening every other Sunday through the summer. This time, fellow food soldier Debbie Moose and I set out early with very good directions. We were almost too early: The trucks were still pulling in. But that meant we only had short waits to gather a full picnic.

Big Gay wasn’t there, tragically. They’re getting ready to open their own bricks-and-mortar store, the true food truck measure of success. But there were plenty of others: I counted Rickshaw Dumpling, Luke’s Lobster, Gorilla Cheese (grilled cheese sandwiches and deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls), Lloyd’s Carrot Cake, Kimchi Taco, Cinnamon Snail vegan food, and Kelvin Natural Slush.

Debbie grabbed a spot in the line at Gorilla Cheese and I fanned out to hunt and gather from the trucks that didn’t have lines. We met up at the curb and sat in the shade, spreading out a picnic while a street musician with a portable keyboard played jazz. New York food came to find us for a change. We had pork and chive dumplings, carrot cake, grilled muenster with proscuitto on challah, a big lobster roll ($15, but big enough to split), and spicy ginger slushies. My favorite thing was the deep-fried mac and cheese bites, which were crunchy and hot and tasted particularly good with a sweet onion dipping sauce.

If you’re in New York this summer and you're interested in something different, check www.hellskitchenfleamarket.com to see if it’s a food truck Sunday. Don’t get confused by the addresses – you want the flea market at 39th and 9th Avenue. And you need to get there by 10:30 if you want to miss the worst of the lines.

And if you’re at the Charlotte food truck rally tonight, drop me a line, kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com, and let me know how it went. If you send me a jpeg, I’ll try to post it here next week. Have fun, kids.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

N.C. rare burger ban gets AOL Weird News attention

My recent column on the myths surrounding North Carolina's rule against cooking burgers to less than 155 degrees has gotten some attention this morning. Ben Muessig of AOL Weird News interviewed me last week for his own column on the issue.

Ben's column was then followed up Ben Chapman of the N.C. Cooperative Extension, with his own column on Barf Blog, a Web site where food safety experts weigh in. Chapman points out that the video AOL-WN posts, showing how to grill a burger, is itself sprinkled with food safety violations, particularly handling raw meat and then handling other things in the kitchen and out at the grill.

It's always a little strange being interviewed by a fellow journalist, and there are a couple of facts I'd quibble with in the final piece (for one, I wasn't the first journalist to write about, my esteemed colleague Helen Schwab has covered it too). But then, people quibble with my articles too. It's part of the writing world.

Still, AOL Weird News? Gee, that's quite a morning.

Need a market? We got 'em

On www.charlotteobserver.com/food today:

  • Don't miss 0ur searchable database of farmers markets. We paired with Raleigh N&O, so we have the details on markets from Morganton to Louisburg. And if the weather ever clears up and warms up, we also have the list of pick-your-own farms up, too.
  • Need to know how to cook what you find at the markets? Andrea Weigl followed chef Andy Schaumann on a shopping expedition and into the kitchen.
  • My column: There's so much local food out there, the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market can't hold it all.
  • Tom Hanchett brings you sandwiches, Jerusalem-style.
  • Robin Hall Domeier gets lunch at City Deli & Bagel.
  • Peter St. Onge really likes Hop Sun from Southern Tier Brewing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Food news roundup: Want to be a hot dog?

  • Here's a title that will make your mama proud: N.C. Hot Dog Eating Champion. The qualifying round for the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, televised on ESPN, will be held at 1 p.m. June 18 at the Concord Mills Food Court, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd. You have to be 18 or older to sign up here.
  • Lakeshore Elementary School in Mooresville is in the Top 10 nationally in a contest to win a Farm to School program or a school garden through Annie's Root 4 Kids. Parents, family members, teachers and administrators sign up to commit to helping kids eat or grow more vegetables. The school with the most sign-ups wins. To help, go here.
  • If you're free Saturday, you need to drive up to the 10th annual Yadkin Valley Wine Festival in Elkin and get a taste of what N.C. wineries are all about. Tickets are $20 at the gate in Elkin Memorial Park . (Active-duty and retired military personnel with identification get in for $16 to mark Armed Forces Day.) The festival runs from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and includes wine samples, food for local caterers, craft vendors and live music. Details are here.
  • Get ready to celebrate local food in Gaston County from 5-8 p.m. May 24 (that would be next Tuesday) at Home Grown Gaston Local Food Festival, 410 E. Long Ave. There will be appetizers, entrees and desserts from five local restaurants, local beer and wine and exhibits on local food. Proceeds raise money for the Interagency Child Abuse Prevention Council. Tickets are $35 and have to be bought in advance. You can get them Saturday at the Gastonia Farmers Market on Long Avenue, or at Bogle, Anthony & Leach, 223 W. Main Ave., or the Gastonia Cooperative Extension Office, 1303 Dallas-Cherryville Highway in Dallas.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Perfect Dinner Party: Who Wins?

I'll admit it: As the mother of a teen boy, I'm a sucker for good answers from 14-year-old sons. So Paige Ladd is the first-place winner in my kitchen-stuff giveaway, for her answer to my question about which six people, living or gone, would be around the table at your dream dinner party:

"I read the paper in the morning while my 14-year-old son prepped for his school day. I posed your question to my son, then struggled to maintain my composure when he quickly and emphatically responded with simply the best answer possible (to me anyway): 'My family . . . of course.'"

Paige, you and your son get the set of Trudeau Stress-Less kitchen tools.

2nd prize, Pyrex's new Easy Grab baking dish, goes to Windy Sabin, for her amusing answer:
"Ben Franklin - kitchen gadget inventions. Julie Andrews - the REAL Mary Poppins. James Earl Jones - live 'Star Wars' quotes from Vader. Hugh Jackman - make sister jealous. Queen Elizabeth I - if she can save England, she can save awkward moments at dinner. Kermit the Frog - can't go wrong with a banjo-playing frog."

And 3rd prize, a copy of the book "Just Married & Cooking," by Brooke Parkhurst and James Briscione (Scribner, $30), goes to Joy Hardison: "Barbara Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Rachael Ray, Andrea Bocelli, Charlie Gibson and my husband, Lawson Hardison. Conversation is more important than the menu. Gibson asks the questions and perhaps Bocelli would sing for his supper. Rachael would help me if needed, and my husband would be there so I could talk with him about the evening for the rest of my life!"

And just for fun, here are a few more of the dozens of answers I received:

Cathy Nechin: "Julia Child (always wonderful company), Rachael Ray (love her warm personality), Craig Claiborne (for his urbanity), Kathleen Purvis (local food and organic cooking), Helen Schwab (mystery woman), and my sister, Belinda Hodges, an open-minded yet practical cook."

Pat Jampol: "Hero, Capt. Sully Sullenberger; religious leader, David Chadwick; philanthropist, Melinda Gates; musician, Paul McCartney; food guru, Rachael Ray; and the widow of Carnegie Mellon physics professor Randy Pasch."

Bob Bruzik: "Nostradamus, for reactions to his predictions past or future; Lee Harvey Oswald to see if he acted alone; both of my grandmothers as they passed away before I was born; Benjamin Franklin because of his creative thinking; and Martin Luther King Jr. to see how his 'Dream' has progressed or regressed."

Ron Gensemer: "Rick Harrison of 'Pawn Stars' - he knows a lot about everything. Bob Dylan - he's been there and done that. Criss Angel - a fascinating individual. Jodie Foster - one of the most brilliant women alive. Barack Obama - he seems friendly and well-rounded."

Kenza Wingate: "Rob Lowe - after reading his book, I have juicy questions. Steven Tyler - oddly fascinating. Lady Gaga - no telling what she would wear. Pat Conroy - I could listen to his stories all night. Ellen Degeneres - she seems like a genuinely nice person. My best friend - always excellent company at any event."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where to eat in New York right now

Whenever I head to New York, I always have more places on my wanna-eat list than I have meals in my day (or dollars in my wallet). After the James Beard Awards last weekend, my list of places I didn't get to include The Dutch, Annisa and Balthazar. But over a five-day visit, I managed to try several others:

Torrisi Italian Specialties, 250 Mulberry St. btw Prince and Spring streets, Little Italy; 212-965-0995. The first time I saw "Moonstruck," I thought, "That movie SMELLS good." You could practically taste the fried eggs with the red peppers and red wine being sloshed into glasses. It feels like that at Torrisi, where chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbonne have created an homage to Italian grandmothers. During the day, it's a takeout food shop. At night, it morphs into a homey little restaurant with lace curtains, pressed-tin ceiling and Detroit soul cranking out of the sound system.

It's extra small, with only 18 seats and no reservations. The trick to getting in: Stop by when they open the list at 5:30 and put your name down, then go wander around and window shop.

That was my plan, anyway. But I got stuck circling JFK for an hour on Thursday afternoon because Air Force 1 was taking off. Then I got stuck on delayed trains during rush hour on the No. 6. I puffed up to the door at 5:45, ready to activate Plan B (Balthazar, just around the corner). I was in luck: There was one seat left for the 6 p.m. seating.

Torrisi at night features four courses for $50, plus wine or beer. The courses change nightly, according to whim, but they always follow the basic Italian lineup: Several antipasti, a pasta, an entree choice (Deviled Chicken or Skate Francese the night I was there) and a plate of cookies. By New York pricing, that's a very good deal.

Antipasti started with a ball of freshly made, warm mozzarella in olive oil with a little cream, squeaky fresh and tasting like spring grass. "Lombardi clam slice" brought a piece of charred pizza dough in an herbed broth with succulent, tiny clams; Cucumbers New Yorkese was a slices of sweet and sour cucumbers in various stages of pickling, like a homemade batch where you add more cucumbers every time you take some out. Pork fried rice was rice, peas and chunks of sausage topped with proscuitto -- the ultimate clean-the-refrigerator dish with the rice fried so it had crispy, caramelized bits.

The pasta was baby shells the size of your pinky with long strips of calamari and shaved pepperoni, cooked in a deeply flavored, rich marinara.

All of it was playful until we got to the skate Francese and it turned soulful: Crispy and brown on the outside, moaningly tender on the inside, in a lemon butter sauce that made me want to lick the plate.

After lingering over that plate of cookies, from the rainbow-colored almond cookies to the edgier celery sugar cookie (yes, celery, and yes, delicious), it was the kind of meal where you just want to wander the streets for a while and hum Italian arias.

Prune, 54 E. 1st St. btw 1st and 2nd avenues; 212-677-6221.
The only way to describe Gabrielle Hamilton's food is "personal." This a woman who put Triscuits and Sardines on her menu just because she likes them. I'd been once before, and was intrigued enough that I wanted to go again. And this is certainly the time to go: Hamilton's memoir, "Blood, Bones & Butter," is on the best-seller lists and she won Best Chef NYC on Monday night at the James Beard Awards.

Hamilton's restaurant also is tiny; call a couple of weeks in advance for a reservation or prepare to be out of luck. It's a well-worn place, with the feel of one of those French bistros that have been there forever. Prices are about standard -- most of the appetizers are in the $10 range, most of the entrees are in the $25 to $30 range.

The food is sort of French and sort of Italian and sort of just Hamilton. I was with my friends Debbie Moose and Andrea Weigl, so we started by splitting the Roasted Marrow Bones, three large bones served with parsley salad, a bowl of crispy salt and not enough toast -- we were reduced to eating the silky, fatty marrow by the spoon (not exactly a hardship).

Debbie's pork chop was massive and juicy, Andrea's roast chicken was herby and juicy, and my lamb blade chop was meltingly tender. But what we really loved were the side dishes, a lineup of fresh and seasonal: Dandelion greens, artichoke and fava beans, broccoli raab with trumpet mushrooms, and my favorite, a cold dish of Leeks in Vinaigrette topped with long, tender white shreds that turned out to be sieved hard-cooked egg.

We skipped dessert because . . .

Momofuku's Milk Bar, 251 E. 13th St., at 13th and 2nd Ave. (also Midtown at 15 W. 56th St. btw 5th and 6th Avenues). It was within walking distance of Prune and I've made a hobby of collecting Momofuku experiences. Noodle Bar's ramen rocked my world back before David Chang began his march toward restaurant-world domination, and I've been to Ssam a couple of times.

Milk Bar, across from Ssam, is desserts-only. Takeout desserts, in fact: You cram into the tiny space and make your pick from odd things like Cereal Milk (think Froot Loops covered with milk), cookies like Compost (chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, potato chips, pretzels and ground coffee -- seriously) and several kinds of pie, then scurry away with a serious amount of sugar in your bag.

What you really go for is Crack Pie, at $5.25 a slice. (Pricey, but like pushers every where, they can charge what they want). I've wanted to play with making Crack Pie for a while, and hopefully that will be a future blog post. But I wanted the real thing to have a base for comparison.

What is Crack Pie? For the crust, you bake oatmeal cookies, grind them up, press the crumbs in a pan and bake them. The filling is sort of like chess pie and sort of like buttermilk pie. The whole experience is what would happen if butter married sugar and went on a honeymoon.

Let me introduce you to a concept I call "food-drunk." That's when you eat something that's so overwhelming, your head spins and you feel like you need to lay down and put one foot on the floor. I've had it from a cheese tasting, and it always happens to me after barbecue contests, when all that fat floods my brain and glues the synapses shut.

Crack Pie made me sugar-drunk. Eat it where you have a place to lay down. And make sure you have a glass of milk.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This week in Food

While I sort through this pile of notes and photos from New York for future blog posts (food truck festival! Soulful skate francese! corn pudding with bottarga!), take a look at today's food coverage at www.charlotteobserver.com/food:

  • We've got advice and lists for people starting new kitchens (or people who want tips for their old ones).

  • We have three prizes for the best answers to the question "Which six people (living or not) would be around the table at your perfect dinner party?" Send your answer to me at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com for a chance to win. Deadline is end of the day Friday. I'll share answers and announce winners right here next week.

  • I've got details of three N.C. culinary stars who did great at last weekend's James Beard Awards in New York.

  • Catherine Rabb has advice for people who want to go into the wine business.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Live from New York

I'm heading up to New York on Thursday for the James Beard Foundation awards weekend. That includes the media awards (cookbooks, journalism, TV and radio) on Friday night, then the gala on Monday night at Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center.

If you're interested, my colleague Andrea Weigl and I both will be tweeting through the weekend. I'm @kathleenpurvis, she's @andreaweigl. I'll try to remember my hash tags: #nypurvis for general New York eating and watching, #jbf for the awards.

And if you'd like to watch, the James Beard Foundation will offer live-streaming for the first time on Monday night. It starts at 6 p.m. Monday, at http://www.jamesbeard.org/awardslive/. It's great people-watching. I'll report in next week with plenty of tidbits.

Today in Food

Can you ever cook as good as your mother? Andrea Weigl shares stories from people who have certainly tried.
What do you plan to do with all those recipes your mom clipped? I have an idea here.
Robin Domeier falls in love with the sugar biscuits at Sauceman's.
And you shouldn't give up on becoming a Southern cook just because you're short on time. The new book "Quick Fix Southern" can show you the way.

All of today's food coverage, including our searchable map of Pick-Your-Own farms, is at www.charlotteobserver.com/food.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Farm dinner in Waxhaw

A dream team of chefs will cook for the Waxhaw Food and Drink Weekend to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. And they'll be doing it with all local ingredients. Check out the lineup sent to me by local farming force Sammy Koenigsberg:

Paul Verica of the Club at Longview, passed appetizers
Gene Briggs, Blue, Local Spring Onion and New Potato Soup With Crisp Bacon and Micro Chives
Marc Jacksina, Halcyon Flavors of the Earth, Rabbit Rillette with Pickled Local Vegetables and Baby Clover Salad
Joe Kindred, Roosters, braised Bame Farms pork belly, Anson Mills smoked tomato polenta and local organic vegetables.
Ben Miles, BLT Steak, thyme-based beef strip loin, Gruyere spoon bread, spring vegetables and grilled ramp hollandaise
Bruce Moffett, Barringtons, local-strawberry shortcakes with whipped cream and Grand Marnier.

That's all paired with wines from Anita Skogland.

Think how much it would cost to eat at all six of their restaurants: A lot more than the $100 cost of the ticket for the dinner. It's 6:30 p.m. May 13 at the Waxhaw Women's Club, 200 E. S. Main St. Get tickets by calling 704-843-2195, extension 226, or email events@waxhaw.com.

Two-timing fava beans

It's officially spring: The fava beans showed up Saturday morning at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market.

OK, OK, you can't think of fava beans without imitating Hannibal Lecter. Go ahead, I'll wait right here. ("F-f-f-f-f-ahvah beans. And a nice chi-ANT-ti.")

Feel better, Clarice? Good, let's continue.

Favas aren't a big crop around here. A few farmers grow them, but usually not in large amounts and never for very long. When I spot a small pile at a stand, I know I had better grab them.

The good thing about favas, besides their jade-like color, is their size. Yes, you have to shell them, but the beans inside are usually as big as the end of your thumb, so you get a nice-size pile for a little less work than shelling smaller peas.

There is a trick to favas, though: You have to shell them twice. First, you pull open each big pod and release the beans. Put the beans in a small amount of salted water and cook them briefly, maybe 5 minutes.

You'll notice they take on a strange, white hue. Welcome to the second shelling. Nature really protected favas, putting them in big, padded pods and then surrounding the actual bean with a thick, translucent skin. You usually can't see it until after you cook them, when it suddenly appears. It's easy to remove, though. Let the beans cool, then just squeeze. The bright green bean will pop out.

You can eat them cool, dressed as a salad, toss them in a salad or serve them warm as a side dish. Since I usually don't find many favas at a time, I use them as an accent. On Sunday night, I made a batch of quinoa and then sauted my peeled favas and a couple of stalks of chopped asparagus in a little olive oil. Then I tossed it with the quinoa as a side dish. The leftovers made a dandy lunch salad, too.

One more thing about favas, though: There is a rare fava allergy called favism. It only occurs in people who have inherited a genetic enzyme deficiency, called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. It's most common among people from the Mediterranean and African-Americans. It causes hemolytic anemia, along with symptoms like dizziness, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. If you serve favas to anyone who has never eaten them, it's worth being aware of it, but it is very rare.