Green Bean Salad with Fava Beans, Fingerling Potatoes, Radishes, Pine Nuts, and Shallot-Sherry VInaigrette

In my culinary world, not all dishes called "salads" have to consist of mainly leafy greens. Don't get me wrong, I love my baby romaine, mesculun, iceberg wedge, and butter lettuce salads just as much as the next person. But, to me, a salad can be as simple as composing fruits and/or vegetables together with a light dressing of some sort, creating a wonderful and tasty dish. Take, for example, "fruit salad" - you aren't going to find any leafy greens in that bowl - rather simply seasonal fruit tossed together.

Last fall, Fellow Foodie and I made Thomas Keller's Green Bean and Potato Salad, which was a delicious composition of green beans, figs, potatoes, and walnuts. Using its simplicity as inspiration, I decided to make a fresh, Spring-Summer composed salad using (again) green beans, but instead pair them with radishes, fava beans, and new potatoes garnished with pinenuts and chives. Lightly dressed with sherry vinaigrette, this salad was a hit with my Buttermilk Fried Chicken - the acidity from the sherry vinegar plays off the natural sweetness of the favas and green beans, while the radishes and potatoes add differential textures to the rest of the salad. Enjoy this dish as a side salad or add some goat cheese or cooked chicken to make it a full meal.



1 pound green beans (preferrably haricot verts), trimmed and washed
5-6 large pods of fava beans, shelled
3-4 radishes, very thinly sliced
4-5 small to medium red or yellow skinned potatoes (or fingerlings), sliced 1/8" thick
small handful/bunch of chives, finely chopped (for garnish)
1/3 C toasted pine nuts (for garnish)

1 small shallot, minced
1/4 C sherry wine vinegar
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1 C extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper

All of the components, prepped and ready to go!

For the potatoes: in a small pot, add cold water and the potatoes and set over medium-high heat; bring the water to a boil and add some sea salt; cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain potatoes and run under cold water to cool them down to room temperature.

For the green beans: In a medium pot (or the one you used for the potatoes), add water and salt and bring to a boil; add the beans and blanch for 4-5 minutes, or until the beans turn a bright green and are still crisp but slightly pliable when bent. Drain beans and immediately place in an ice bath to shock the beans and stop cooking (or run under cold water to cool to room temperature).

Blanching the green beans
For the fava beans: in a medium pot (or the same pot you have been using for the potatoes and beans), add water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes; drain and immediately run under cold water until cool to the touch to work with. Carefully remove outer skin to reveal a bright green bean.

Boiling the favas

Removing outer shell from favas
For the dressing: whisk together the sherry vinegar and red wine vinegar with the minced shallot; slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

To compose: in a large bowl, add the green beans, favas, potatoes, and radishes; toss lightly with the dressing, enough to coat the vegetables but not drown them (you will have extra dressing). Plate the salad and sprinkle pine nuts and chives on top.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken (Ad Hoc At Home)

One of my favorite restaurants is Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA, and to understand a little bit about my love for the place, click here to read about it in previous post.

One of the best things about the restaurant is their daily changing menu written around what is available that day - literally from farm to table. Each morning, Ad Hoc posts the menu for that evenings meal on their website, plus you can sign up to receive the menu via email. Though the daily menus change with vegetables and proteins, it has become a tradition that on Monday nights that they feature one of their most popular meals: Buttermilk Fried Chicken. And, the Monday reservations are sold out in minutes.

I have had a few friends lucky enough to land one of these coveted Monday reservations, and some of their overly-descriptive memories of the experience have included: "the best meal I have ever eaten" and "how do they get the chicken so moist" and "Thomas Keller is a Fried Chicken God".

Thomas Keller, the man known specifically for his restaurant, The French Laundry, who is also known as one of the best chefs in America, who is also known for his insanely provocative tasting menu, and who is also known for all things fine ALSO known for his Fried Chicken?

Of course, this begs, TRY ME PLEASE.

I needed to figure out how to get up to Napa to enjoy this amazing meal, but on a Monday?

And then, I bought Thomas Keller's cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, and lucky for me, as I flipped through the first few pages I came across this recipe in the poultry section:


Picture of Buttermilk Fried Chicken from the Ad Hoc at Home Cookbook
I have been waiting to try this recipe out for about a year, and I finally got my chance last week. It was a true test to see if my "Ad Hoc at Home" fried chicken could come even slightly close to my friends comments of "Ad Hoc's" restaurant chicken.

And, before you get to the bottom of this post, let me just say, IT DID. This is the most tender and tasty fried chicken I have ever had, mostly due in part to the chicken brine step that infuses moisture and flavor to the chicken in a relatively short period of time. The combination of dry ingredients coating the chicken, layered with the buttermilk and another roll in the dry coating leaves the crust smoky and salty but extra crunchy. A quick deep-fry in oil and a finishing roast in the oven leaves this incredible fried chicken leftover-less - as all of the chicken was devoured on site.

In the words of Thomas Keller, taken straight from Ad Hoc At Home:

"If there's a better fried chicken, I haven't tasted it."

Well said, Mr. Keller. Well said.

(Recipe taken and adapted from Ad Hoc At Home Cookbook)

(I have reduced the original amounts of ingredients from the original recipes for the amount of chicken I used, plus I have added one step in the cooking process; after deep frying the chicken, I placed all chicken in the oven to roast as they were not cooked all of the way through, plus this just made the skin even more crispy and yummy - would suggest using my recipe below, or follow along with the real recipe from the book)

Chicken Brine

3 lemons, quartered
12 bay leaves
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1/4 c honey
1 small head of garlic, halved through the middle
2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 C kosher salt
1 gallon water

Add all ingredients to a large pot; cover; bring to a boil and stir to dissolve salt and honey, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool completely before using.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

5-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, cut in half
2-4 drumsticks
2-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 x chicken brine recipe (above)

3 C AP flour
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Peanut or Canola oil for deep frying
1 quart buttermilk
kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Additional gadgets: meat thermometer (to test chicken doneness) and candy thermometer (to measure oil temperature)

Breasts halved and drumsticks ready for a submerge in the chicken brine
Add all of the chicken pieces to a large pot or plastic bag and cover with cooled chicken brine; place in refrigerator for up to and no more than 12 hours (I only brined for 6 and it was fabulous).

Chicken brining with the solution - if you brine over 12 hours, the chicken will be too salty.
Remove chicken from brine and pat dry - allow to come to room temperature (about 25 minutes) before beginning to fry.

Make the dry coating combining the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper using a whisk.

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large pot, heat enough peanut or canola oil so that the oil comes up about 2" high; attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pan (as in the pic below) and heat oil to 320F (we will be cooking the drumsticks and the thighs first.

Meanwhile, place all combined dry ingredients in a large pyrex and the buttermilk in another pyrex, setting up a "breading station".

The dry ingredients, buttermilk, and oil heating on stove ready for fried chicken goodness (oh and of course a glass of Rose in the background is most important)

Start with the drumsticks and begin to roll them in the dry ingredients, coating thoroughly and patting lightly to dust off any excess flour.

Then, add the chicken to the buttermilk for a quick coat of liquid.

Then return back to the dry ingredients for a quick last coating; remove chicken from dry ingredients and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Ready to fry!
When the oil reaches 320F, add the chicken drumsticks and thighs, 1-2 pieces at a time, carefully monitoring the heat and adjusting the temperature as needed (note: the second the chicken hits the oil, the temperature is going to drop - so you will need to turn the heat up and then watch that it doesn't exceed 320F). Fry for 2 minutes and then turn pieces over in oil using tongs to get a crisp, thorough, golden-brown fry on the outside, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Set aside.

Drumstick frying - note the level of oil in the pan relative to size of pan - you want a larger pot for frying to prevent any oil spilling over during frying process.

Once done with the drumsticks and thighs, raise heat of oil to 340F and begin to add chicken breast pieces, about 2-3 pieces at a time, and repeat procedure as with the drumsticks and thighs. Cook to a golden brown, about 7-9 minutes, and remove from oil and place on same sheet pan with thighs and drumsticks.

Once all chicken has been fried, place that sheet pan in the preheated oven until the chicken breasts register about 160F when a meat thermometer is inserted (170F for the drumsticks and thighs), roughly 15 minutes (may be longer). Remove chicken from oven and tent with foil lightly and all chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

The BEST fried chicken coming out of the final roasting in the oven.
And there you have it, folks - the tried-and-true tested Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Worth every second of preparation, and worth every last bite off the bone. It may be a while before I find myself in Napa on a Monday night, sitting down over a glass of wine at Ad Hoc to enjoy their fine fried chicken meal, but at least Thomas Keller shared his recipe, allowing all of us at home to enjoy one of his yummiest creations.

Breakfast Frittata with Pancetta, Mushrooms, Spinach, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Brunch takes the award as one of my favorite meals of the week, most often enjoyed at our house on lazy Sunday mornings, where plain-old-Sunday-Breakfast turns into a form of "Sunday Funday" with the arrival of a few friends to enjoy a great meal while basking in the sun in our backyard and, of course, a few bottles of bubbly.

But, amidst the sea of mimosas there must be something to eat, and that is where the humble frittata comes in.

Humble, I say, because essentially it is a basic egg dish heightened by whatever ingredients you throw into it.

If you can make scrambled eggs, you can make a frittata. Quite frankly, I think it is one of the easiest egg dishes to make, because all you do is whisk together eggs with your favorite ingredients, pour it into a skillet over low heat, and then pop it in the oven to "set up" and voila, your frittata turns out to be the hit of the party. It's like a crustless quiche, and if you are needing to clean out your refrigerator, it can be a dumping ground for what you need to use up. And, you may surprise yourself at what you can create.

And on that Sunday, I took stock of what we had laying around and created a frittata fit for kings and queens (well, maybe not kings and queens - that could have been the champagne talking...) and found spinach, crimini mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, chives, and...


Bacon and eggs...need I say more?

The beauty of a frittata is that there really is no need for set measurements on ingredients, just add what you want. But, for the sake of this recipe, I have listed a rough estimate of the amounts I used below.


(serves 4 people)

6-7 large eggs, preferably organic-free range
about 2 tbsp milk
about 1/4 lb (4 ounces) pancetta, cut into small chunks
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
6-8 crimini mushrooms, sliced
about 1/4 C sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
about 2oz goat cheese, crumbled
about 1/2 a small bunch of chives, minced
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325F.

Add the pancetta to a cold saute pan (that you intend to cook the frittata in) and turn on heat to medium; render out fat from pancetta as it slowly cooks and crisps up, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove pancetta from pan, reserving some of the rendered out fat, and place pancetta on a paper towel to drain and cool. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute mushrooms over medium heat until soft and slightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the spinach to the mushroom mixture and cook for about 2 minutes or until the spinach begins to wilt. Set pan aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper. Add the mushroom and spinach mix, sun dried tomatoes, pancetta, goat cheese, and chives to the eggs and whisk together to combine throughly.

In the same saute pan you used for the pancetta/mushroom/spinach, pour the egg mixture into pan and set over medium heat on the stove, just until the sides of the egg start to set. Turn off stove and place frittata, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the middle of the frittata is set (no runny eggs and firmly jiggles when you shake the pan).

Adding the egg mixture to the saute pan on stove - wait for sides to set before placing in oven
The finished frittata
Allow to rest for about 1 minute before sliding onto a plate. Cut frittata in wedges and serve.

Farro Risotto with Fava Beans, Asparagus, and Fresh Herbs

Mmm, farro. If you don't know this grain, you are truly missing out. Truly. Big time.

Farro has been around for a long, long, LONG time, dating its origins back to Mesopotamia a few thousand years ago. Widely popular in areas of Italy, farro took the "backseat" to the growing and harvesting of other grains (like wheat) over the last 100 years but is making a huge comeback on the culinary track, mostly for its amazingly nutty flavor and nutritional value.

High in fiber and protein, farro also is nutrient-rich in B vitamins. It's a "good carb", to say the least, and it is unbelievably easy to cook and versatile in so many dishes - simply boil like pasta and add to salads, side dish to entree, etc. Herbs and nuts and dried fruit are pairing friends of farro, making for one tasty plate of goodness. Chefs all over the world are re-introducing it to their cooking repertoire, so why shouldn't everyone?

Move over brown rice - and HELLO farro.

I receive emails from (you should sign up for these recipes of you don't already) and came across this recipe for Farro Risotto with Fava Beans and Asparagus. Fellow Foodie and I decided to try it out for dinner one night with chicken, and we were overwhelmed with how amazing this recipe is. You cook the farro like risotto, but it isn't as daunting or fickle as making traditional risotto with arborio rice. Quite frankly, you can' mess this risotto up because the farro's texture always stays slightly firm.

This side dish is so flavorful with the herbs, asparagus, and fava beans, I had to re-share it. If you don't have tarragon, don't worry - we made it again with chives and it was even more fabulous.



1 C farro, rinsed in cold water
6-8 stalks large asparagus (about 3 cups), cut into 1/2" thick slices on the bias and blanched
1 pound (about 5 pods) fava beans, shelled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2/3 C dry white wine
2 C chicken broth or vegetable broth (I prefer chicken)
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Dried farro grains
First, bring a pot of water to a boil; add some salt and add farro to boiling water. Cook over medium high heat for 20 minutes until farro is cooked and slightly "puffy". Drain thoroughly and cool completely under running cold water. Set aside.

While the farro is cooking, shell the fava beans from their pods.

Fava bean pods
Fava beans with outer shell
Bring a pot of water to a boil; add some salt, and add the un-shelled fava beans to the water. Cook for 1-2 minutes and drain. Cool the beans down by running under cold water until able to touch.

Boiling fava beans with outer shell still intact

Drained and cooled fava beans
Peel the outer shell/membrane from the fava beans, exposing the bright green bean. Remove shell and set aside fava bean.

Removing outer shell from fava bean

Shelled fava beans ready to eat!
In a pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and then add the shallot and then sweat the shallot (no caramelization) for about 5 minutes or until the shallot get soft.

(Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in another pot until just under a boil - you will need this for the risotto)

Add the cooked farro to the shallot and bring heat to medium high, allowing the grains to slightly toast with the olive oil and shallots, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.

Add the white wine and cook until  no liquid is left in the pan.

Once the wine has cooked off, begin adding one ladle at a time of hot chicken broth to the farro, cooking over medium heat, until there is almost no liquid left in the pan. Continue this procedure until all of the chicken stock has been absorbed by the farro and becomes slightly "creamy" in look and texture (about 20 minutes - but may vary).

Add the cooked fava beans, blanched asparagus, and butter to the farro and mix well.

Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper.

And voila - farro risotto with fava beans and asparagus.

This dish is our new go-to side dish for just about any lean protein. It is amazingly fresh in flavor, healthy, and loaded with veggies reminiscent of Spring and Summer. Cheers and enjoy!