Friday, June 2, 2017

{ cooking for one } Fava Bean Toast with Poached Egg


a breath … grief can linger so don’t beat yourself up over it

May Gray has transitioned into June Gloom here in San Diego. For a city that has the reputation for being bright, sunny and easy going, this weather is contrary to the image my hometown likes to project. Truth be told, the gray weather kinda suits my mood these days.



I’m going to talk a bit about this awesome breakfast toast in a bit but first I need to be authentic and talk about something that’s been percolating in the background for some time. It’s about grief and how sometimes, no matter how much you try to deny it, it demands to be felt and dealt with. Feel free to jump down to “a bite …” to get to the food portion of this post. I won’t mind.


You might have noticed that things have been a little off at Casa Confessions from the (mostly) cone of silence that has enveloped this space for much of the past year. Turning 50 in 2016 was a lot harder on me than I thought it would be. Even a birthday trip to Hawaii for the first time did little to dispel the growing sense of “what’s the point?” that has nagged me the last year-and-a-half which, if I’m honest, began following the unexpected death of a dear friend in August of 2015. That’s a long time spent grieving, I know, and I’ve done my best to push it down, ignore it, deny that it's played such a significant role in my general apathy. But if I take a hard look at myself, the truth is that I’ve been quietly choking on it this entire time. 

I had been on a roll: I’d successfully reversed my diabetes within three months of the diagnosis; I was consistently posting about my progress. Work was stressful but manageable after having won several international awards. Loved ones were doing well. 

Or so I thought. 

I remember I was setting up lights to shoot a post when I got the call about my friend’s passing. At the time, we didn’t know details. I walked outside, away from the distraction of the TV and the looks of apprehension from my aunt and grandmother who immediately picked up on the transformation in my body language. I sat on the back steps, numbly listening as our mutual friend told me what he knew. When the call ended, I just sat there. Everything around me stopped. I couldn’t hear the noises in the house, the airplanes flying overhead, my neighbors pounding in the yard. 

There. Was. Just. Silence. 

Excruciating in its heaviness bearing down on me.

It would be two weeks before I found out that it hadn’t been an accident. That knowledge hit me even harder as questions crashed around in the depths of my soul screaming, “How could you miss this!?!” Several weeks before, we’d run into each other at our local park, he finishing up his workout, me walking Starbuck. He ran up to me, enveloped me in his sweaty arms and held me just a little longer than normal. He asked how I was, bent down and played with Starbuck while telling me how much he missed not having a dog any longer. He looked better than the prior time I’d seen him. A month earlier he’d been in a fierce battle with his demons and it played out in his shaky hands and erratic behavior. But standing before me, sweat pouring off of him post-run, face and bare shoulders sun-kissed and beaming at Star, I missed it. I MISSED IT. 

Earlier that summer he’d called well past midnight. He wanted to talk about us, about our history, no holds barred. He wanted to know how I characterized our relationship, both when we were intimate and after. Over the years, we’d find our way back to each other, take comfort and part again. But always, the connection was there and we both knew it. It was an intensely weird night of conversation and soul-baring. He cried. I cried. I told him I had long since forgiven him because the bottom line was that I had been in love with him from day one and, though different, loved him still. After his passing, I wondered if I should have been as truthful as I had been. Yes, he had insisted on knowing the depth of the pain he’d caused me but I could have sugar-coated it because I knew it hurt him to have his words and actions replayed from my perspective.

I dreamt about him again last night. I dream about him often. But last night, it was 1999 again and things went so very differently than they did in real life. I woke with tears in my eyes and his scent around me. I know it was my subconscious still processing grief but a part of me likes to think that these dreams are him visiting me, letting me know that he’s okay now and that even in death, we’re still connected. 

I am looking out the window as I type this. Literally, the clouds have begun to part and late afternoon sun is piercing the grayness. I breathe deeply, feeling the fog beginning to lift. I miss him terribly. I miss having a him in my life to tell me how it is, to cheer me on, to share our highs and lows, to laugh and be silly with, to make me feel like a woman and not just a friend, a sister, a daughter, a niece. 

I’m working on getting back on track. No matter how much I wish I could, I simply can’t change what happened. And I can’t keep thinking that I could have changed the tragic outcome had I known more, paid closer attention, tried harder to connect whenever he backed away into his corner. 

But I couldn’t have known how lost he was because he didn’t want anyone to know. 

I’m starting to get that now. I’m working on finding joy while letting go of the guilt. When he wasn’t fighting his demons, he lived big, passionately, boldly. I’m working to honor the memory of him by trying to live as passionately as he did. I have a long way to go, but at least I feel the forward pull again. 

Rest in peace, my friend. See you in my dreams.




a bite … because, toast!

My friend and I loved breakfast time. If he was cooking, it was waffles engorged with whole oats, seeds and nuts. If I was cooking it was often eggs in new and surprising ways or French toast. He loved my French toast. 

I rarely partake in sweet breakfasts anymore, usually opting for eggs. And I’ve traded in French toast for a slice of toasted whole grain bread and eggs. I also love legumes with any meal of the day so here, I’ve paired toast and a poached egg with fava beans. Although the peak season for these broad beans just ended, this nutrient-dense food is available year-round. A good source of lean protein, fava beans are high in folate, iron, manganese and dietary fiber plus they’re a good source of vitamin K, copper and zinc. A little bacon. A little shaved parmesan, some fresh herbs and breakfast is served.

If you’ve never worked with fresh fava beans before, I’m reposting my video tutorial on how to shell and prepare them for using in your recipes. I shell and blanch all the beans, allow them to cool, then store them in the fridge so they’re ready to add to salads, stir-fry’s or soups. They should keep for about a week. 




Fava Bean Toast with Poached Egg

I used fava beans but feel free to substitute it with shelled edamame, lima beans or even English peas. Using a sieve to prep the egg for poaching removes the watery portion of the egg white making for a prettier poached egg without those flowing “feathers” of egg whites.

1 slice bacon, rough chopped
1 tablespoon finely diced onion
1 clove garlic, peeled, sliced in half, divided
⅓  cup shelled and blanched fava beans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, mint or basil, plus more for garnish
pinch of sea salt
pinch of black pepper
1 slice whole grain bread
olive oil
2 tablespoons goat cheese 
1 large organic egg
shaved parmesan, for garnish
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Render bacon in a medium skillet. Once rendered, add onion, stirring, until translucent. Finely mince half the garlic, stir into the onions. Add the blanched fava beans, cook, stirring until fava beans are al-dente or to your taste. Turn heat off and stir in the fresh herbs; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet, preferably cast iron, until smoking. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the bread then rub the reserved half clove of garlic on both sides of bread. Add bread to skillet and toast to your liking on both sides. Careful, don’t walk away or the toast will burn. 

Bring a small saucepan filled with water to a boil. Place a small sieve over a cup or small bowl and crack the egg into it, discarding the watery white that falls into the cup. Place the egg into a small custard cup. Once water is boiling, use a spoon to swirl the water and carefully slide the egg into the eye of the whirlpool. Cook for three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the egg to a plate lined with a paper towel.

To assemble, spread goat cheese onto one side of the toast. Add the fava beans then top with the egg. Garnish with shaved parmesan, fresh herbs and salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. 




Until next time … xo, ani

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