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Edamame & Feta Dip

July 31, 2009


When I lived in San Francisco I got a job working as a weekend prep-cook at a restaurant know primarily for brunch. On weekends, several hundreds of people were served brunch at Ella’s and if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know that is a lot of people. I think I was getting paid about $9.00 an hour and my shift lasted around seven hours or so. Each weekend, these were the most terrifying and stressful 7 hours of my life. Ella’s had two open kitchens on each side of the restaurant.  Amusing for the customers, terrifying for the new female prep-cook.

I don’ t know why I took the job and I don’t know why I was even hired. I was the only woman working in the kitchen and I was the only English speaker. I was eager though, a trait I used to think was an attribute and I’ve since realized can turn me into a complete sucker. In the kitchen, especially when you’re the only woman (And blond. Yikes) you do not want to be a sucker.

Some mornings, my job was to receive the plate after it came down the hot line, add the toast, and ring a little bell so the waiters knew an order was up. Sounds easy, right? Not if you’re working at a restaurant that offers six different types of toast (wheat, rye, white, sourdough, multigrain, biscuits) and they’re all being toasted on the same rotating toaster with a glitch that causes toast to occasionally get stuck as it rotates around. Once stuck, the toast continues to burn and eventually catch on fire, causing billows of black smoke to hover over the crowd eating at the counter while you frantically try to put out the flaming toast and remember if the order for the fried egg with the hard yolk gets sourdough toast and the order for the fried egg with the soft yolk gets white toast, or vice versa.

Other mornings I worked in the prep kitchen. One morning about a month into my employment I was greeted by several giant boxes of fava beans and the assignment (given to me in Spanish I only kind of understood) to shell all of them. By now I was coming in every morning with a knot of nerves and misery in my stomach and the giant gnarled fava pods did not make me feel better. But I was eager to please, so I began shelling. Have you ever shelled fava beans? First, you snap off one end, then you pull off the long “string” that holds the pod together. You can then open the pod and pull out each bean individually, which is fine at home but not fast enough in a restaurant. The faster method is to apply images-2pressure to each bean with your thumbs and shoot them out of the pod in quick succession. And this is faster, unless you can’t control the speed and direction of the bean and it shoots across the kitchen and nails a giant tattooed prep cook in the face. The morning was not going well.

Once out of the pod, the beans must be boiled and then blanched in ice water to loosen yet another shell that bean must be popped out of and this second shell, it’s a real bitch. I spent hours shelling and popping out favas that morning  and every time I finished one box, another was brought up from the basement store room. My fingers were raw and blistered. My hands were dry and cracked. And by the end of the day the favas had broke me. I quite the job soon after.

Fava & Feta Dip

Fava & Feta Dip

If you’ve ever had fava beans from the farmers market, boiled or grilled and then drizzled with olive oil, you know they’re a beautiful thing. I love eating fava beans, but I cannot get myself to buy them. I eat them only when they are served by someone else. My recipe for Edamame and Feta Dip would probably be amazing if you subbed in favas, but that’s up to you. It’s not going to happen in my kitchen. For this dip, I’m perfectly happy with the close-cousin-and-incredibly-easy-to-use frozen edamame bean. The dip is a delicate spring green color and gorgeous served as an appetizer spread with pita chips.  My husband isedamame_appetizer man who can turn anything into an appetizer if there is prosciutto nearby and he did a fine job with a slice of baguette and some kalamata olives.  You can also use it as a spread for sandwiches. I’m also toying with the idea of a Edamame and Feta pizza, with kalamata olives and prosciutto…

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