Savory

Vidalia Onion Pie

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Oh yes, the Vidalia onion. They are sweeter and milder than their yellow, brown and white relatives. They’re available pretty much everywhere in the south and prized for their mellow deliciousness.

The Vidalia Onion Committee makes sure these onions are grown in only 13 Georgia counties near the city of Vidalia, where they were born. Something about the soil in that region makes these onions more sweet and less spicy.

But enough about the onion’s history. Look at what I did with some Vidalias about a week ago. I made a pie!

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Slice the onions and cook them in lots of butter until they’re soft and translucent but not browned. Set aside.

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In a bowl, mix sour cream, eggs, milk and S&P until smooth. Add the buttery onions to the mix. Pour into an uncooked pie shell, top with shredded cheddar cheese and bake for about 45 minutes.frametastic

Slice, and enjoy it as a side dish or just by itself. As a Vidalia onion grower was quoted, these sweet onions “only make you cry when they’re gone.”

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Trimming Asparagus

imageI really have no idea what has come over me. I have been on a Paestry-posting roll! Aren’t you glad?

Today let’s talk about asparagus. This is my third recent post about delectable springtime vegetables.

I know many of you are great cooks already and the following will not be a revelation but attention asparagus novices:  trimming asparagus before cooking and eating is an absolute must. The bottom portion is woody and tough and will ruin perfectly cooked asparagus if it’s still there.

The conventional way is to snap off the bottom wherever it snaps when you bend it. But my dad recently showed me Jacques Pepin’s method and I was so charmed.

In the picture way above, I trimmed the asparagus, dressed them in S&P and olive oil and roasted them in the oven. Great way to eat them. But truly the most tasty way is to boil them in water like Pepin did. I hope you enjoy asparagus this season.

Radishes with Butter and Sea Salt

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I’ve really fallen in love with radishes. They are the manifestation of freshness. They remind me of their Asian counterpart, daikon, which I grew up eating all the time, usually in pickled or boiled form.

But who knew eating raw radishes, butter and salt together could be so delicious? I didn’t, until today.

I always read about this intriguing combination in David Lebovitz’s blog and Instagram photos. A Google search showed me it’s quite common in France as a snack with crusty slices of bread.

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Of course I had to try it for myself. I sliced some beautiful rosy radishes into thin disks, sprinkled some sea salt on them then dipped the slices in soft, unsalted butter. What a trio! Simplicity at its finest. The butter mellows the radish’s unique spiciness and crunch just right… and you can never go wrong with fleur de sel.

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Discovering fava beans

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There’s nothing like shelling fava beans after a long day at work to put my mind off things. I find myself going to the kitchen more and more these days to calm down. Cooking, it seems, is wonderful therapy.

Today, the fava bean was my therapist. The moment I snapped open the long pod and extracted the pretty little beans from within, I knew I had to write a Paestry post about the experience. Again, apologies for the lack of posting. Work consumes much of my time but I also haven’t been very inspired to write anything — until now. photo(1)It’s a downright shame fava beans are so often associated with the Silence of the Lambs movie because these are truly delightful. Must every reference to fava beans be followed by “did you have a nice Chianti with that?” No, there was no Chianti involved. Not this time.

So here we go. This post will give you an in-depth look at fava beans and show you how to prepare them!

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When you get to the store, pick the long, bloated ones. The first time I prepared these I did not know that the beans could be so small. The bigger the pod, the bigger the beans (probably). Make sure to buy a lot because they won’t yield much.

Bring a pot of water to boil and in the meantime, peel the pods to remove the beans. This is the most fun part. The pods are incredibly spongy and plush. Pulling the pod’s string, opening it like a book, then scooping out the edible seeds is a joy. For reals. It’s like opening a present. You don’t know what to expect and each time you snap one open, there’s that hope the bean will be fat.

Once removed, the beans will look like they’re ready to eat but not quite yet. A pale, waxy, and bitter skin covers the bean inside. That’s why you cook them. Put them in boiling, salted water and blanch for about 2-3 minutes. Remove immediately and rinse with cold water to cool them.photoThen you must do more peeling. This is when it becomes labor-intensive. Probably the most tedious part of preparing fava beans. Pinch off one end of the skin and squeeze out the bean.
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A big bag of fava bean pods only yielded a small bowl of them. But it’s worth it.

As for taste… they’re less like beans and more like peas. The flavor is similar to fresh spring peas.The texture… more plant-like than starchy bean-like. Kind of like edamame. There is also a distant bitterness that many green vegetables offer and it is wonderful.image_8I dressed mine with olive oil, salt, pepper, a tiny squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro. They are so delicious and I’m eating them as I write this.

I hope you try fava beans if you have never done so. It is a wonderful vegetable experience. I just counted how many times I used the word “wonderful” in this post (4) so trust me on this one.

A Taste of Alabama, BBQ Edition

FINALLY! Where have I been??? Sorry folks, my busy work schedule has kept me away from routine Paestry-posting. It’s high time I update this baby.

I’ve been living in Huntsville, Alabama for about eight months now. This has been enough time for me to do some food exploring in the area and report my findings. What else could I possibly discuss for my debut Alabama post than — you guessed it! — good ol’ southern BBQ.

Let me begin by saying the BBQ here is fantastic. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had back home, of course. Phil’s BBQ remains dear to my heart but the pulled pork and ribs here have won me over.

Everyone has a go-to BBQ place. The “best” one varies, depending on who you talk to. I’ve tried countless places by now and noticed each restaurant has a unique way of preparing BBQ. You’ll be sure to see pulled pork plates, pork ribs, chicken, and brisket on the menu but they’re different at every place. Particularly, the very important BBQ sauce makes or breaks the dish. So without further ado, here are a few examples of what I’ve tried:

Dreamland BBQ
This place originates from the Tuscaloosa area. I like Dreamland because of the delicious sauce on the ribs. It’s vinegar-based, peppery and more runny. The mac and cheese is so amazingly bomb and those baked beans you see there — atomic bomb. No picture, but they also have an unforgettable banana cream pudding made from scratch.

Big Bob Gibson, Decatur
This place has appeared in food shows so it has gained its share of hype. I went there with my brother months ago and it was very good. The sauce is thicker and sweeter. But the real winner is the stuffed barbecue potato loaded with cheese, sour cream, and pulled pork. BAM-ah!

This place is famous for its white BBQ sauce. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of it but it’s a nice sauce that reminds me of thin ranch dressing. This description could be argued among white sauce aficionados.

Gibson’s BBQ, Huntsville
Another place with a similar name in Huntsville. I liked their ribs very much. The sauce is sweeter but I remember the pork was very tender and perfect. The deep-fried okra is also good. Crispy on the outside, pleasantly slimy inside (not pictured, sorry).


This is actually where I discovered a very particular style of coleslaw. I’m used to eating slaw with creamy dressing but here, nearly every BBQ joint serves it in a vinegar-based dressing. The cabbage is chopped more finely and tossed with vinegar and something else that makes it a little sweet. Tangy, if you will. I had a hard time truly enjoying it but the more I have it, the more I like it.

Gibson’s is also known for good pie. Here we have coconut pie. Great with a cup of black coffee.

On a final note, almost everywhere you go there is sweet tea. It’s just sweetened iced tea but for whatever reason, it is so damn refreshing here. I like it with a lemon wedge to cut some of the sweetness.

Just tonight, I went to a really good place in Madison called Greenbrier. Wonderful pulled pork but what wowed me was the most mellow baked sweet potato I’ve ever had. It came whole with the skin still on. Served with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter for a DIY mash. Just simply good. I wish I took a picture! Next time…

Stay tuned for more updates on a Taste of Alabama.