Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nori Chips

I love to snack. Particularly before dinner in that 5-6pm dead space when you know it's too early to eat a full meal but late enough in the day when your brain naturally tends towards thoughts of culinary pleasure.

But snacking, as we have been told so often, is dangerous. Sure, you tell yourself you'll only nibble, so as to take "the edge off" but not spoil your dinner. But, if you're like me, this plan often comes to ruin. The cheese, the crackers, the nuts. Too often they do exactly what you had feared. Fill you up before you can enjoy the glories of dinner. This is a problem.

Which is why nori chips could perhaps be the best thing for the perpetual snacker. They are absolutely delicious: just enough saltiness to satisfy that nut/chip craving, but light enough so that it's physically impossible to spoil your dinner with them. They are literally "melt in your mouth" delicious.

These took seconds to make (and seconds to eat). As long as you can find seaweed sushi wrappers in your grocery store, you're golden. No extra special version is required. Dark sesame oil is best for these, just because it adds just another hint of flavor, but whatever oil you can find will work perfectly.

Honestly, I know they look weird. Just try them. Your snacking self will thank you.

6 sheets nori
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

Put a skillet over medium high heat. Brush the nori with the sesame oil and sprinkle with salt. Put a single nori sheet in the pan and toast it until it shrinks up, about 15 seconds. Turn it over and toast the other side for 15 seconds.

Use scissors to cut the sheets into rectangular "chips". Serve as soon as possible, certainly within a few hours.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vegetarian Posole with Mole

Anyone who knows me knows of my love of posole.

Or is it pozole?

Regardless, this is the single best thing about coming home to Phoenix. And not just any pos/zole. No, no. It must be made by Maria, goddess of Mexican cuisine, chef and owner of El Conquistador Mexican Restaurant. As is only right, she makes posole (both red and green) only on weekends, giving the broth time to marinate and thicken and become, in a word, wonderful.

Now, my personal favorite is her green variety. Made with pork, topped with slices of avocado and chicharrones (pork scratchings), and a healthy sprinkling of oregano, this soup is the stuff of dreams.

Because I'm unable to make the pilgrimage to the homelands very often, I'm always on the lookout for a posole recipe that could rival Maria's. And I have yet to find one. Too often they are thin watery things, with none of that fabulous deep rich flavor that makes Maria's so more-ish. Think more of a tortilla soup than a true hearty posole. And so I have been disappointed time and again when making them myself.

So when I saw a recipe in Bittman's Vegetarian cookbook, I was sure I was in for another let down. Yet my mother (who was a similar devotee of Maria's soups) has recently turned vegetarian, which has meant a sad new lack of posole in her life. I had to take pity and make this vegetarian version for her. We both knew it couldn't rival the Maria's, but still, we had to try.

And surprise, surprise! This may be the best homemade posole recipe I've found. Granted, there was a stunning lack of pork and thus it missed the rich meatiness to the original, but still, the thick broth, flavored with pumpkin seeds and tomatillos was spot on (also the addition of pork scratchings for my helping didn't hurt either). If I had a mind to make this for a non-vegetarian crowd, the addition of pork might send this recipe over the top to even rival Maria's version. I know this to be heresy, but still, Bittman deserves his credit for creating a vegetarian version of a soup that I thought to be solely within the realm of the meat-eating population.

Kudos, Bitty.


Makes: at least 8 servings

6 cups precooked hominy (i.e. canned)
1 1/2 cups freshly toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds, just toasted in a dry pan until lightly brown and popping)
4-6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock for the non-vegetarians)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 medium poblano or other mild fresh green chiles, roasted and cleaned (I did mine under the broiler in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, remove the skin and seeds)
2 serrano or other hot green fresh chiles, roasted and cleaned (see above)
1 lb tomatillos (16-20 depending on size), husked and rinsed (canned are okay, but include their juices)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped epazote or radish greens (optional, I couldn't find any so mine was without)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Optional Toppings:
Sliced avocado
Chicharrones (pork scratchings/rinds)

Place the pepitas and 1 cup of the stock in a blender or food processor; puree until smooth; transfer to a large bowl. Put the onion, garlic, chiles, tomatillos, herbs, and a large pinch of salt and pepper in the blend or food processor and puree until smooth (I had to do mine in batches, also add a bit more stock or water if necessary). Mix the tomatillo puree with the pumpkin seed puree.

Put the oil in a large pot over medium high heat; add the mixed puree and cook, stirring frequently, until it's dry, 10-15 minutes. Gradually stir in another 3 cups of the remaining stock; reduce the heat to a gentle bubble and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, another 15 minute or so.

Add the hominy. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot with any and all garnishes.

Eggplant Salad with Miso

Whenever I head back to the Phoenician homelands I have a few restaurants on my "must visit" list. One of these, the Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe, is perhaps the best thing since sliced bread, serving a wonderfully eclectic blend of sushi, Asian soups, Italian soups, and freshly baked banana bread served with every meal. Yes. That's right. With every meal. It's like someone downloaded my mind and created a restaurant menu from it. This place is heaven.

Anyway, on their menu they feature a fairly standard Asian eggplant salad. Silky cooked eggplant with a soy miso dressing. Fabulous. I've never been able to figure out exactly how they made it, but when I saw a recipe that looked similar in Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I knew I had to try it.

Alas, it wasn't exactly the same as Cherry Blossom's salad o'glory (I blame my lack of white miso for this), but, hey, you can't imitate heaven. And, that being said, this version is still pretty good. The walnuts make for a good addition, providing a nice crunch against the softness of the eggplant. My quest for the perfect eggplant salad continues, but until then, this recipe will do nicely.

Serves 4

About 1 lb eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/3 cup white miso (mine was a dark miso, if using it, I'd recommend no more than 1/4 a cup)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cayenne (to taste)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Trim the eggplant and cut it into 1-inch cubes. If the eggplant are large, soft, or especially seedy, sprinkle the cubes with salt, put them in a colander, and let them sit for 30 minutes, preferably 60. Rinse, drain, and pat dry.

Put two tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Whisk together the miso, soy, mirin, and vinegar in a serving bowl. Thin with a tablespoon or so of water if necessary. Add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and cayenne, then toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve topped with the walnuts.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Olive Oil, Salt, & Rosemary Flatbread

I've already waxed lyrical on the glories of flatbread. The speed! The convenience! The deliciousness!

Well, if previous posts hadn't convinced you, let me add another piece of evidence to the argument.
Behold: the awkwardly-titled "Olive oil, salt, and rosemary flatbread".

This masterpiece is another inspiration from Mr. Bittman in his How to Cook Everything, Vegetarian.

Although, to be honest, this recipe had me worried. Sure, he said it was easy as pie. Sure, this recipe allows for infinite combinations (this one just happens to be my favorite). But I was worried about the plague that haunts the seemingly failproof method of flatbread. Tough dough. Unlike yeast bread, which you can knead and manhandle (up to a point), the doughiness of the flatbread (just flour and baking powder) lends itself far more quickly to toughness if it's over-handled.

Now, I had been as gentle as I thought appropriate, but when pulling pieces apart to be thrown on the pan, there were the seemingly tell-tale signs of toughness. They were thick. Apparently too dense.
Had I lost the charmed flatbread ways?


I had doubted in vain. Despite the seemingly touch texture in the pan, as soon as I was able to tentatively tear into a piece, the same soft and chewy warmth was a welcome sight/taste. And so, I offer yet another example of why yeast breads are horribly over-rated. Seriously, try these. You'll thank me.

NB: This recipe (as mentioned above) is merely one of a thousand possible combinations. I added rosemary and olives to the mix, but for the basics all you need is the olive oil, four, baking powder, and salt. All other ingredients are completely up to you. Bittman recommends adding spice blends, pesto, chiles, cheese, minced herbs, sauteed onions, dried fruit, basically anything you want. The choices are endless. Did I mention how awesome flatbread was? Oh, I did. Ok.

1/3 cup olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/2-1 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
3 tbsp chopped rosemary (fresh or dried)

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil and then most of 1 cup of warm water.

Mix until the dough begins to come together. Knead in the bowl for 30 seconds. The dough should be in a well-defined, barely sticky, easy to handle ball.
If it is too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet, which is unlikely, add a tablespoon or two of flour.

Heat a griddle or set a heavy pan over medium heat. Have extra olive oil handy for greasing.

Divide the dough into 8 to 12 pieces and pat them into patties between your hands until they're about 1/2 inch thick. When the griddle/pan is hot, use enough olive oil to film the bottom and put in as many breads as will fit comfortably without crowding.

Cook undisturbed, until they begin to brown around the edges and they begin to puff up, about 3-5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side, until crisp and golden.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pumpkin Ginger Bread with Hazelnuts

England needs to get on the pumpkin bandwagon. Yes, yes, we all know it's a "new world food" but that hasn't stopped the joys of tomatoes, turkey, sweet potatoes, etc. from making their way back across the pond. Pumpkins should be included in the list. And no, I don't just mean for Halloween purposes. Every year Tesco gamely puts out a crate of pumpkins right around October 31st. And from what I can deduce, no one buys them.
They sit there quietly rotting.
And weeping.
Also quietly.
Every once in awhile someone buys them for jack-o-lantern purposes but you can hear the poor pumpkins whimpering because they know their glorious tasty guts are being wasted. And once Halloween is past, the pumpkins disappear and Americans, come Thanksgiving time, search for them in vain.

No pumpkin pie for you.

And, really, that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what pumpkins can provide in terms of deliciousness. For some reason, don't ask me why, English Starbucks have yet to realize the true joys of the pumpkin spice latte. Everyone in America (so far as I can tell) looks forward to autumn for this precise reason. The appearance of pumpkin spice lattes (and pumpkin spice muffins) at Starbucks. Parades are held. Parties thrown. Why? Because they are delicious.

Ah well, allow me to add yet another reason why England needs to figure their pumpkin issue out. Pumpkin bread. With hazelnuts (which are uber-British and therefore I deem this recipe "fusion food"). And ginger. And cinnamon. And nutmeg. How can this ever be wrong?
This recipe is simple. And delicious. Coming straight from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything (Vegetarian)". I don't know why this particular loaf ended up in this version rather than the meat-eating one (do you put bacon in that version?) but regardless, it's phenomenal. If this doesn't get the Brits onto the pumpkin-eating bandwagon, nothing will.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, plus butter for the loaf pan
2 cups all purpose (or plain) flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup apple juice (or non-alcoholic cider)
1 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup grated pumpkin (raw)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Grated pumpkin, not as hard as you might think.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Stir the dry ingredients together. Cut the butter into bits, then use a fork or 2 knives to cut it into the dry ingredients until there are no pieces bigger than a small pea.

Beat together the juice, ginger, and egg. Pour into the dry ingredients, mixing enough just to moisten; do not beat and do not mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the pumpkin and hazelnuts, then pour/spoon the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on the rack for 15 minutes before removing from the loaf tin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Strawberry Crisp with Pine Nut Topping

This dessert suffers from an identity crisis. Or rather a vocabulary crisis. Yes, I've called it a crisp, but what differentiates it from a crumble, a grunt, a brown betty, or a cobbler?

Now, from what wikipedia tells me, the cobbler (and its derivations, including the crisp) is the US equivalent of the UK crumble. Now I've made far more crumbles in my life than cobblers, most of them in the US. What makes one belong on the eastern side of the Atlantic or the western side, I still have no idea.

All I know is that whatever you call it, this crumble/crisp/grunt/brown betty/cobbler is one of my favorite desserts of all time. A delicious fruity sweet confection, topped with some combination of oats, sugar, flour, and spices.
Why Bittman wanted to mess with this time-honored combination, I have no idea. But there he went, putting pine nuts with it.

Why? Who knows?

I never had a crumble in my life and thought "Wow, you know what would make this perfect? Pine nuts."
But I was curious. What if it was amazing? What if it raised crumbles (etc.) to a whole new plane of existence? How could I not try it? I even had (absurdly expensive) pine nuts on hand! The recipe was calling to be made.

How did it turn out?
Well, it a crumble. Despite the avowed 1/2 cup of ground pine nuts added to the crumble topping, there was no new depth of flavor to be had. It tasted like the good ol' combination of oats, flour, sugar, etc. No new boundaries of cuisine pushed here. So, while the product was certainly scrumptious (I mean, there's nothing wrong with a crumble tasting like a regular crumble), but I don't think pine nuts will be making a permanent addition to my dessert culinary standards.
Ah well, at least we tried it. Better luck next time, Bitty.

6 cups strawberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup crushed pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Toss strawberries with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch; spread in a greased 8-or-9-inch pan.

2. Combine brown sugar, butter, rolled oats, flour, pine nuts, cinnamon, a dash of salt (and almond extract if you like) in a food processor (bah, don't be lazy, just stir by hand).

3. Crumble over fruit and bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes.

Spicy Stir-Fried Japanese Eggplant and Cucumber

I admit it. Stir-fries can be boring. Oil. Vegetables. Some protein. Cook. My life as a college student was defined by this simple recipe. It was easy, fast, and relatively healthy. After about 1000 of these dinners, and after I had done all the permutations of veg + meat I could think of, I abandoned the stir-fry, thinking I had moved on to much grander, more sophisticated meals.

How silly. Stir fries can be amazing. You just have to think a little creatively. And you have to know how to manipulate your herbs and spices. But really, they can be just as complex and "grand" as anything else on offer.

Now, cucumber may not be the most obvious vegetable for stir-fries, but it works beautifully. If cooked just long enough, it retains just a bit of a firm crunch, but soaks up flavors and spice beautifully. And eggplant? Well, anything that has it usually gets my thumbs-up. This was no different. After just a few minutes in the pan, it'll soften into that wonderful silky texture, absolutely more-ish.

This dish probably works best as a side; however, I turned mine into a main (and it probably could have benefited from some tofu or shrimp to bulk it out as such). Feel free to experiment with the flavors on this one; you can't go wrong with boosting the ginger or spice content.

Serves four as a side dish


2 long Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 long English cucumbers (or the equivalent in weight of Japanese or Persian cucumbers)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (to taste)
3 tablespoons minced scallions or chives

1. Trim off the ends of the eggplants. Cut in half lengthwise, then slice thin (about 1/4 inch). Lightly salt, and toss in a colander. Allow to sit for 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Squeeze out excess water, then dry between sheets of paper towel.

2. Meanwhile, trim off the ends of the cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise, then slice on the diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices.

3. Combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, salt and sesame oil in a small bowl. Place all of the ingredients near your wok or frying pan.

4. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch steel skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two from the surface of the pan. Add the peanut or canola oil to the sides of the pan and tilt the pan to distribute. Add the eggplant. Stir-fry for three to four minutes until cooked through. Add the ginger and red pepper flakes, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the cucumbers and scallions or chives. Stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce mixture to the wok, and stir-fry one minute until the cucumber just begins to wilt. Remove from the heat and serve.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ground Coriander and Cilantro Flatbreads with Indian Raita

I have already waxed lyrical on this blog about the double-edged sword that is making bread.
Sure, it's amazing. But it takes forever. Who has that kind of time?
Kneading. Rising. Proofing. Baking.
I rarely have the willpower for even the unrivaled glories that are fresh-baked loaves straight from the oven.

But that's the glory of bread. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and most importantly, requirements expected of the would-be baker.
Behold: the flatbread.
No stupid yeast to deal with. No needing to let it rise. No hours waiting by the oven. These things are deliciously instantly gratifying. Mix some flour with baking power and soda, throw in a few ingredients. Stir. Roll out. Throw in the pan. Wait 3 minutes.
Presto: fresh baked flatbreads.
Soft, warm, heaven on earth.

I couldn't believe how easy and delicious this recipe was. I went website-diving in search of flatbread recipes when my local flatbread supplier, a woman who literally makes my Saturday at the weekly farmer's market, ran out unexpectedly. This has potentially disastrous consequences. Without my usual supplier to my flatbread fix, I turned to the internet in desperation. I never had an idea that the recipe I stumbled upon (inspired by the geniuses at Bon Appetit) would become an instant classic. Combine it with Indian raita (recipe follows the flatbread recipe) they had as an accompaniment?
I may never need the flatbread lady ever again.


  • 1 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour 
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup (or more) plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Olive oil (for frying)


Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Stir in cilantro. Add yogurt and stir with fork until small clumps form. Knead mixture in bowl just until dough holds together, adding more flour or yogurt by tablespoonfuls for soft and slightly sticky dough. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead just until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into ball, then roll each dough piece out on floured surface to 4 1/2-inch round. Brush large nonstick skillet generously with olive oil; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, add 3 dough rounds to skillet; cook until golden brown and puffed, adjusting heat to medium-high as needed to brown evenly, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer flatbreads to platter; serve warm.

Indian Yogurt/Raita

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded English hothouse cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt. Chill raita, covered, until ready to serve.

Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad

I have a certain penchant for egg salad. My mother would rarely make it, but, oh goodness, when she did...
Eggy, mayonnaise-y, heaven.
I rarely make it myself, particularly after I saw just how much mayo went into it. Also, after years of bad deli experiences, my longing for it fizzled and slowly died.
But then I found myself with a bunch of hard boiled eggs on my hands. In a fit of "hardboiling" for the "Fish and Broad Bean Salad" recipe, I had boiled an entire carton of eggs and I was left with many many hard boiled leftovers with little to do with them.
If there was ever a time to justify egg salad...
But my fears about mayo overdose remained and so I trawled the internet searching for an egg salad that downplayed the white stuff and front-loaded other ingredients.
And came to my rescue. Their recipe for an egg salad infused with cucumber and basil seemed exactly what I was looking for. Yes, it still called for 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, but I could work with this. After a little tweaking, I found myself in the possession of a fresh "healthier" version of egg salad that was absolutely phenomenal. Enough mayo had gone into the recipe to evoke memories of the mayo-drenched creations of my past, but supplementing some of the mayo with yogurt, plus the addition of cucumber, basic, and celery, gave it a much more refined feeling.

This recipe may not satisfy everyone's yen for egg salad (after all, I ended up only putting 3 eggs into it), but for me, it was the perfect balance.

Serves 2


3 hard-cooked eggs, diced
3/4 cup seeded, diced cucumbers (about 1/2 cucumber)
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup sliced green onions (green part only)
2 celery stalks (chopped)
3 tablespoons lightly packed chopped fresh basil (I used probably about 5 tbsp)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I also used a blend between regular mayo and a onion/mustard mayo I had found at Tesco)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper


Gently combine the eggs, cucumbers, shallots, celery, green onions, and basil in a medium bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, yogurt, salt, and peppers. 

Store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Slow-Cooked Fish and Broad Bean Salad

This recipe (adapted from the City Kitchen blog on the NY Times) was supposedly all about the joys of slow-cooked tuna (NOT out of a can!) and fresh shell beans.

I'm all for the slow food movement. And I'm all for fresh shelled beans. I'll even give an "amen!" to the non-canned tuna. But unless a farmer's market and local fishery show up outside my door tomorrow, there was no way I was going to acquire either "crucial" item for this recipe.

So I improvised.

Fresh skinless albacore tuna morphed into haddock and the fresh shell beans became the frozen broad beans stocked by your friendly neighborhood Tesco. The best of all possible worlds? Certainly not. But, alas, this is what we have to work with. And, honestly, skin on fish is not the end of the world. Man up, people. It's delicious.

Anyway, don't get me wrong, this "salad" does take some time. But not nearly enough time as I feared. The fish cooks in about 20 minutes, during which time you can be doing all the slicing and dicing and reheating of frozen broad beans required. Speaking of how you cook the don't cook it. You poach it. In olive oil.

Hot damn.

I'm often wary of cooking fish, because I dread the schoolboy error of overcooking it and turning it into some sort of dry tasteless slop. Why don't they tell you there's an easy solution to this? Bathe that sucker in olive oil! Unless you forget the fish is in the oven and wander away in a fog, there's almost no physical way to overcook this. Granted, the less time the fish spends in the oven, the better. But still. Almost foolproof.

Time: About 1 hour

Makes about four to six main course servings

For the Fish:
1 pound skinless albacore fillet (or haddock in my case)
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used guajillo chiles)
½ teaspoon marjoram
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small rosemary sprig(or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)
½ cup olive oil, approximately

For the Salad:
1 cup finely diced red and yellow bell pepper
½ cup finely diced sweet white or red onion
A pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, smashed to a paste with a little salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped basil or mint, or 1 teaspoon chopped marjoram
2 cups cooked shell beans (from about 2 pounds in the pod, or, you guessed it, cooked from frozen, just like nature intended)
2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and halved, optional.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the albacore into inch-thick slices and place them in a small ovenproof dish. Season generously with salt and pepper. Put the red pepper flakes and marjoram in a mortar or spice mill and make a rough powder. Sprinkle over the fish. Add the garlic and rosemary. Add oil to a depth of ½ inch.

2. Cover the dish and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the slices over, then return to the oven for another 10 minutes. The albacore should be cooked through, but barely. Let the fish cool in its dish, uncovered. Store the fish in its cooking juices in the refrigerator for up to a week. Bring to room temperature to serve.

3. To make the salad, toss the peppers, onion, pepper flakes, vinegar, garlic and olive oil in a large serving bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and stir in the basil, mint or marjoram. Add the shell beans, draining them well first, and the cooked albacore, broken into large pieces, and mix together. Serve with hard-boiled eggs, if you like.

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