Posts Tagged ‘green beans’

Armed with two little kids, a dog, and a cooler full of my “essentials” from the kitchen, we headed out to the ranch for Thanksgiving.  The plan was to arrive before stores closed the day before Thanksgiving and pick up the fresh ingredients for a home style family dinner.  The Grandparents had a turkey thawing.

Plans are great until they change.

Grandma decided to run to the store for me, so I handed her a short list of key ingredients.

green beans

french onions (big can)


wild rice

mushrooms (cremini)

Emphasis was made on the fried onions, they should be with the canned vegetables or near spices.

About half an hour later I get a frantic phone call, it’s Grandma.  “Are those onions flaky?  In the spice isle?”  I described it as a tin with a plastic lid, I could swear this was like telling someone who has never used these things before.  Shoot, even the employees at the store could not help to find french fried onions.  At Thanksgiving!

It sounded like she located this alien substance and said she would be home shortly.  I continued prepping what I could for the following day.  At the time it was an apple crisp (an adaptation to the pear crisp in Paula Deen’s cookbook) which I should have waited to bake until dinner time.

This is what I was presented with…

Not french fried onions.  Not what I expected.  So the plan changed.

I took the leek reserved for stuffing and sautéed it with a little onion and butter.  This topped the casserole of green beans and mushroom soup.  For crunch that is now missing from the equation I made fresh bread crumbs using 12 grain bread slices, lightly toasted then ground up in the blender.  The last thing to go on my green bean casserole was Romano cheese.  I like a slight sharpness to the topping and the cheese would have been added had we had the french fried onions.  Bake until bubbly and heated through.

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Of the many things I am thankful for, it’s was the opportunity to move to Texas that still resonates with me.  Without that bold change, I never would have met the love of my life, husband and best friend.  Together we have two healthy children, and that was also very important for me this year at our quiet Thanksgiving feast.

Big brother munched on the orange segments from the Arugala salad from Angel Valley Farms, Little sister was entertained during the home stretch to finishing off the gravy and warming the sides.

In the haste of making a pumpkin pie I forgot to add sugar to the custard filling.  It turned out to be a savory pumpkin pie, but pie nonetheless.

With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the pie was alright.  Next time I want to make the pie ahead of time, or *gulp* buy one.  I don’t like buying stuff because I don’t know what could be lurking within the sweet treat.  How careful are bakers when handling nuts, and equipment that once had nuts on them?  I can’t be sure so I bake my own.  The silver lining to this pie flop is that it contains no sugar whatsoever, so my sugar sensitive friends could enjoy it, if they were here for the holidays.

Then there’s big birdy!  I went with the apple and sage flavours from last weekend’s roasted chicken.  I stuffed the cavity with granny smith apple, celery, salt and pepper.  A compound butter (a whole stick) was made with plenty of salt, and lots of sage (a good palmful), pepper, some thyme.  The butter is tucked under the skin and the entire surface of big birdy.  Then I sprinkled more coarse sea salt and pepper on top of the butter slathered skin.  Make sure you first lay thick slices of onion in the roasting pan, then rest big birdy on the onion.  If you have white wine, pour a glass or two into the pan and this will add another dimension to the resulting liquids.  The oven started at a blazing 475°F until the skin started to brown, about 45 minutes.  Then the heat was reduced to 325°F until the thick part of the breast (pectoral) meat reached 180°F.  And voilà…

Once big birdy was out of the oven, it was time to warm the side dishes.  I made the green bean casserole and prepared the sweet potatoes earlier in the day.  Some fresh beets from the farmstand snuck into the oven with the bird for a while, I roasted them whole with the skins on then peeled the skin off and finished them in a foil bag drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

The normal accoutréments joined the star of the meal: garlic mashed potatoes topped with chives, stuffing with raisins, cranberries, and gravy.  I was full just by looking at my plate, or maybe it was pure exhaution.

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Salad was just not enough for dinner, there were green beans hiding in the fridge along with some Angus beef chunks we bought in bulk to keep on hand.  The beef needed to be separated into roughly a pound per bag.  With the leftover amount, which was not enough for filling a freezer bag, I made a second course for hubby after the kids were fast asleep. 

Start by blanching the fresh green beans in boiling salted water.  If you only have frozen, that’s fine.  I think the texture of fresh beans works best here as they are the base of the dish.  Meanwhile, cut the beef against the grain, and thick slices of onion.  Smash three cloves of garlic, keep them as whole pieces so that you can remove them.  I forgot to take them out of the pan before I served this to hubby.  Lucky enough for yours truly, he didn’t notice. 

Warm a deep sauté pan with some olive oil, then add the onions.  Toss the onions around then add the garlic and beef.  You want a slow sauté to soften and mellow the flavours of the garlic into the meat.  You can add a pinch of salt and pepper here, just be mindful that soy will also be added next.

Keep everybody moving in the pan.  Add a pinch of ginger, fresh would be lovely however I used dried, some chili flakes, pinch of sugar, a scant tablespoon molasses, splash of apple cider vinegar, and a good glug of soy sauce.  Bring the liquids to a simmer for a minute or two, then turn down the heat just a little to reduce the sauce by half.  This is why you really don’t need salt and pepper, the concentrated soy steeped in red chili and vinegar easily replaces these ingredients.  In the end, you won’t miss them, your mouth will be too busy with the sauce.

Plate the green beans and pour the beef and sauce over them.  The cool clean flavour of the beans gives a contrast to the hot and sour dressing.

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