Jun 28, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Grains & Beans

Hello to our first session in the Haven’s Kitchen Summer School series. For nine weeks, we’ll be expanding on the lessons from each of the chapters of The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School cookbook. Follow along with us each week through our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence. This first installment is from special projects director, Sonjia Hyon, who worked on The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School with Alison Cayne.


When Ali first started conceptualizing The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, she wanted to write a cookbook that would encourage people to find confidence in the kitchen. From the start, Ali talked about writing an entire chapter on how to cook grains and beans.

Mastering the art of cooking grains or beans, Ali argues, teaches you the purpose of cooking. For her, it is the key to unlocking the chef in any so-called terrible cook because it teaches a person how to imagine the intention of their process. How do we want to use these beans or grains? What kind of texture do they need to be? And how do we need to use heat, temperature and time to achieve that texture?




When you cook a pot of garbanzo beans for a salad like our Garbanzo Feta recipe, you want the  texture to have some give, yet tenderness. This means maintaining a careful watch of the simmering beans, remembering to lower the heat when they bubble too aggressively, and stirring and tasting every so often so they don’t become mush. On the other hand, the cook time for a hummus can be more forgiving as mush because they’ll be pureed into a dip, which you want to be creamy.


Use this framework when following a recipe as well. In general, recipes are designed to be roadmaps. Each ingredient is used to serve a purpose and intention — texture, flavor, balance, and aesthetic. So when adapting recipes to sub out ingredients you like, which you should do ALL the time, consider the architecture of the recipe.




In our Garbanzo Feta Salad, for example, we use the garbanzo beans as the base for a salad that is complemented by the crunch of fresh cucumbers and onion, and a briny, creamy punch of feta cut by an herbaceous parsley. The red onion gives it color and sharpness. 




In the recipe, Ali suggests the garbanzos to be cooked, the red onions to be sliced and the cucumbers to be cut on the bias. But, consider what would happen if we roasted half the chickpeas, diced the onions and cucumbers, marinated the feta, and added tiny rainbow peppers. It reinvents the salad and gives it a different kind of crunch, flavor, and color while relying on the same recipe.





Think about how you can reinvent your own favorite recipes without too much work. Try a different knife cut, substitute an ingredient, try a new spice – this is the beginning of finding an “automatism” in your cooking.



Garbanzo Feta Salad, Apt 34.


Roasted Chickpeas
makes 2 cups 

3 cups cooked chickpeas

¼ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons smoked paprika, curry powder, or spice of your choice (optional)

salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven, stirring every 15 minutes or so. After the first 30 minutes of baking, start to test for doneness. If you want them really crisp, bake for another 15 minutes, if you like them on the chewier side, only bake for another five minutes.

Add and stir on the seasonings and salt for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. Cool on the tray before transferring to an airtight container.


Marinated Feta
If you don’t want to make chimichurri, you can also use olive oil with lemon juice or another type of acide and any other herbs you like. You need more oil than acid so it doesn’t break down the feta. 

2 cups feta, diced

1 cup chimichurri sauce, recipe from the cookbook or this one is pretty good as well.

olive oil, if needed, to cover

To successfully marinate feta, it should be done overnight.

Carefully toss the in the chimichurri so it’s fully coated with herbs. If needed, pour olive oil over top until the feta is fully submerged. This will help to extend the shelf life and permeate the feta with the flavors of the herbs and oil.

Join us next week when we talk about fritters! Please send us questions, comments and feedback about the cookbook. We want to hear it all.