Saturday, 14 February 2009

Ful for Love

Happy Valentine's Day my friends. I hope this day finds you well and generous of love and spirit.

Today I have a couple of dishes from The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber. "A memoir told through food. It explores the larger lessons that food can bring about cultural identity, faith and love." NPR

This is our Cook the Books selection of the month and I quite liked it. Feel free to join, the next book will be announced shortly.

Ful for Love. I first had ful about ten years ago in the West End of Toronto, in a small Eritrean restaurant. I was brought there by a friend who enjoyed introducing his friends to new foods and who also brought his own crusty rolls to the restaurant. Quite often we were the only people there, and the food was so hot that we went through an amazing amount of bread to both scoop it up and quench the fire. I have always wanted to make ful at home, so took this opportunity to give it a try.
Ful is basically cooked fava beans, spiced, with olive oil, lemon juice and toppings - tomatoes, onions and parsley. Served with pita bread, it is almost like a Middle Eastern/Northern African bean soft taco. Sans cheese.

Ful for Love - adapted from Diana Abu-Jaber
Ful is often eaten for breakfast, and considered an "economical" meal, to put it politely. It is nonetheless delicious.
1 can (15 oz) fava beans, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
1/2 tsp each ground cumin, cayenne pepper, ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Chopped fresh hot pepper, optional
In a saucepan, combine the fava beans, garlic, spices, some olive oil, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice, more olive oil to taste and a little of the parsley - mash into the beans with a fork.
Garnish with the onion, parsley, tomato and fresh hot pepper.
Serve with pita bread.
I put mine down on a bed of baby spinach, for added colour, crunch and nutrition.
You don't think I would do a Valentine's Day post without chocolate do you?
Sentimental Hot Chocolate - Diana Abu-Jaber
I reduced the salt, but otherwise remained true to the recipe. A nice, grown up treat with lots of warm spice to it.
2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 oz good semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
tiny pinch salt
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped into soft peaks (optional)
Stir all the ingredients except the heavy cream together in a saucepan over low heat until the chocolate melts. Increase the heat and cook until the hot chocolate comes to a low simmer but is not boiling. Pour into mugs and top with the whipped cream, if using.

Yes, mine are sloppy and spilly - but I think it makes them all the more lovable.

Don't forget about the universal language of kisses!