When I was growing up, Thanksgiving dinner always included green beans. I loved the way my mom cooked them—to death—covered in water with a slice of smokey bacon until they were "done". She still likes them cooked this way but I have grown to love the vivid green color on the plate and a crisp al dente snap instead of the unappetizing grayish-green color of overdone, mushy beans. Now, I first par them in boiling water for just a few minutes and then shock them in ice water so they retain their beautiful, bright color. After that, all you have to do is melt the prepared butter in a skillet, throw the beans in until they're warmed through, and voila—a green bean dish that manages to be easy, memorable, and delicious.
Green Beans + Toasted Pecan, Bacon, Garlic Butter
1 stick unsalted butter
2 lbs fresh green beans, stem end removed
1/4 c pecans
4 pieces bacon (I use Dailey's brand )
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
Pull the butter out of the fridge and allow to soften on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour. In the meantime, par the green beans in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until just tender to the bite. Immediately drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to shock them so they will retain their color, drain after they are cooled completely. Set aside or put in a baggie with a paper towel until the next day (bring to room temp before reheating).
Toast the pecans in a 35o degree oven for 15 minutes, cool then chop finely. Chop the bacon into a small dice and fry until crispy, drain on paper toweling. Finely chop the garlic.
Mash the butter with a fork in a bowl with the salt and pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients except the beans. You can refrigerate ahead at this point for a day or two.
When ready to serve warm the butter in a wide pan, add the green beans and toss to heat through. Serves 8.
I thought I had an original idea the other day when I thought of using butternut squash to make a holiday version of hummus...nope. There were several recipes already on the internet and after reading a few, I settled on one from Ina Garten. She's my hero, I want to BE her. I changed a couple of things to make it 'mine' and it turned out delicious. Seasonal and beautiful, it can be made a few days ahead of time so you can tick off the box that says "appetizer" and get to more important things like time with family and raising toasts.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
1 1/4 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut in a 1" dice
3 T good olive oil
1 t ground cinnamon
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained with liquid reserved
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt (I use Fage)
1/4 c tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 lemons juiced
2 medium cloves minced garlic
pinch of cayenne
pure Grade A maple syrup, to drizzle on top (optional)
parsley chopped for garnish
toasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), for garnish
*toasted pita bread , for dipping or store bought pita chips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, 2 t salt, and 1 t pepper. Toss with your hands and spread the squash out in one layer on the pan. Roast for 35 minutes, stirring once, until tender, and set aside for 15 minutes to cool.
Reserve ¼ cup of squash for the garnish and transfer the rest to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the chickpeas, yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and pulse until coarsely processed but not pureed. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved chickpea liquid and pulse a few times to combine. If the hummus is too thick, add more liquid a few tablespoons at a time (I did add more to get to the consistency I liked). Taste for seasonings, transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the reserved butternut squash, chopped parsley, toasted pumpkin seeds and drizzle with maple syrup, if desired. Serve at room temperature with toasted pita bread. For a less sweet version, substitute curry powder or cumin for the cinnamon, lime juice for the lemon juice and cilantro for the parsley.
*to make toasted pita chips
Cut store bought pita bread into 6 or 8 wedges. Pull apart the wedges from two layers to one layer and place on a sheet pan. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees until light brown and crispy.
I catered a luncheon last week for a group of guys. They didn't want sandwiches but something warm and hearty instead. Since it was really close to Dia de Los Muertos, I decided to put together a tortilla bake with some "south of the border" flavors. They LOVED it and I know you will too. Don't let the list of ingredients put you off, after you make it the first time, the then familiar process goes quickly. Make this after Thanksgiving and you can use your leftover turkey instead of chicken or, instead of meat, layer in butternut or Delicata squash for a vegetarian version. This 'bake' has bold Mexican flavor without being too spicy, it freezes well so you can make it ahead and it feeds a crowd of 8-10. Add your own salsa to kick it up a notch!
Chicken Tortilla Bake
4 T butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped to 1/4"
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped to 1/4"
2 medium poblano peppers, chopped to 1/4"
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 T New Mexico chile powder
1 T ground cumin
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 c flour (use an alternative flour for a gluten free version)
1 - 14 oz can chicken broth (or about 1 3/4 c)
1 - 10 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 c sour cream
2 lbs cooked chicken, (I used poached breast meat the first time and a store bought rotisserie chicken the second time I made it.)
1 c fresh cilantro leaves, chopped coarsely
2 c grated jack cheese (about 8 oz)
2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)
18 (8") soft taco-size corn tortillas
1/4 c veggie oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the two cheeses in a bowl. Put the chicken and the cilantro in a bowl and toss to combine. Melt the butter in a wide skillet over med-high heat. Add the onion and all of the peppers, cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and browned lightly. Add in the garlic, spices, salt and pepper and cook for about a minute more. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Add the broth and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and sour cream, then add the veggie, sour cream mixture to the chicken.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Brush the tortillas with the oil on both sides and cook in batches, a few of minutes on each side until slightly crispy.
Lightly grease a 13" x 9" and line with 6 of the crisped tortillas. Top with 1/2 of the chicken mixture and 1/3 of the cheese. Add another layer of tortillas, the rest of the chicken mixture and 1/2 of the remaining cheese. Add the last layer of tortillas and the rest of the cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more until it is browned and bubbly. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.
Serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, sliced avocado and your favorite salsa.
I went out to the garden yesterday afternoon to see what was out there. It's been so hot here in the foothills this past week, most things have gone to seed but there were some ripe tomatoes, just a few, but...there were tons of unripe green tomatoes. Yippee! I am a huge fan of fried green tomatoes and if you have never tried them you are in for a real treat. It's a great way to use up what's left on the vine at the end of summer season. These go together really quickly and before you know it you are eating them out of hand right off of the paper toweling, hot as they come out of the oil. Crispy, tangy and delicious. Oh and these are gluten free.
Fried Green Tomatoes
2 unripe, green tomatoes
1/2 c chickpea or regular flour
1/2 c fine-ground cornmeal
1 t ground pepper
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t curry powder
pinch of cayenne
2 eggs, beaten
chopped cilantro or parsley for sprinkling on top (optional)
corn or canola oil for frying
Put flour and cornmeal in one bowl and mix in salt and spices. Beat eggs in another bowl. Heat oil (maybe 1/2 inch deep?) in frying pan. I use a cast iron skillet but any heavy bottomed skillet will work.
Slice tomatoes about 1/8 inch thick. Dip tomato slice in beaten egg, cover both sides.
Dredge egg-covered tomato slice in flour/cornmeal mix until coated. Place in pan with oil.
Keep going with the rest of the tomato slices. Let cook until browned on one side, about 5-10 minutes, then turn over and let the other side fry for about 5 minutes. When browned and crispy transfer fried tomato slices to a plate lined with paper towels and let them drain for a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Serves 1, not kidding...these are so good that once you eat one, you can't stop! Seriously though, I made about 16 slices and that might be enough for 2. Make a lot and eat while they're hot. They're also really good in a sandwich with some white bread and mayo (my southern roots coming out).
Growing up in Texas, my Mother loved to cook with curry powder. She would mix it into Miracle Whip (I am a convert now to Best Foods mayo) and top sliced tomatoes, elevating them to an unexpected flavor dream. Curried, compound butter ended up melted in the hollow of broiled stone fruits next to grilled lamb chops. I too, love curry so it's no wonder that one of my most popular salads in the 'take out' case (when I owned Alchemy Market) was the Curried Chicken Salad. Tasty, versatile and easy to put together, this salad makes a great sandwich filling or a main dish salad. It's popular with my catering clients today. Thanks for the inspiration Mom!
Curried Chicken Salad
2 large organic chicken breasts
2 c dry sherry, chicken stock or water
salt & pepper
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2" dice
3 green onions, chopped
1 Gala apple, cut into 1/2' dice
1/4 c chopped parsley or cilantro
1/2 c sliced, toasted almonds
1/2 c currants
1/2 c red grapes cut in 1/2 (or quartered, depending on the size)
Place the chicken breasts in a glass pie plate and pour in the sherry, stock or water. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 minutes or until done. Let cool and cut into 1/2" pieces and put in a mixing bowl. (Save the stock for soup or sauce). Mix all other ingredients in with the chicken. Toss with the curry mayo and serve on a bed of lettuce or as a sandwich filling.
1 c Best Foods mayo
1 t curry powder
Mix together and let sit for a few minutes to let the curry develop. Use for the chicken salad above or serve on sliced tomatoes (like my Mom) or crudités.
Voted Best Caterer for Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties 2016