Green Bean Casserole – another Thanksgiving staple

Casseroles seemed so nasty as a kid. It was a hodgepodge of veggies and some meat mixed with cream of something soup and then baked. But that actually sounds delicious. It is an easy one-pot meal that was a staple growing up. I’m not sure who thought up the green bean casserole as a side dish to Thanksgiving but it’s another necessity.

And to help save time on Turkey Day, make this the night before and store it in the refrigerator. Just leave off the onions until you are ready to pop it in the oven.

It also travels really well. So make extra and bring it to the in-laws.

Green Bean Casserole

  • 4 big handfuls of fresh green beans (sorry, I’ve never weighed it), ends trimmed
  • 1 lb of crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 3 TBS cream (not necessary but come on, it’s the holidays)
  • 1/4 cup or so of milk
  • 1 package of fried onions (6 to 8 oz)

Boil some water in a pot big enough to hold your green beans. Cook the green beans until just fork tender. Then blanch them in cold water to stop the cooking. Set them aside.

In a pan, melt the butter and oil. Add the shallots and mushrooms and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are just tender.

Add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Then slowly add the cream then the milk. The mushrooms should be swimming in the scrumptiously rich sauce. Cook a bit more until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Put the green beans in a casserole dish and pour the mushroom sauce over it. Give it a little stir and then shake the fried onions over the top.

Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Gobble, gobble.

What underground dives inspire

There used to be a set of Asian food stalls underground on Kearny St. many, many years ago. You know, the kind with a central dining area and a bunch of 10 x 10 stalls bordering it? The tables were wobbly and often sticky but the food was great. It might still be there. I might go check to see if it is. But I digress…

In this particular set of restaurants, there were stalls dishing out Vietnamese food, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and I think I remember Indian food stuffs. Anyway, it was a perfect place to go when everyone in the lunch group wanted something different.

I would always get the Vietnamese Noodle salad. The best part about the salad were the “add ons”. Kind of like Jamba Juice power boosts, you could “power boost” your salad with egg rolls, bbq meats, tofu, etc. I chose fried, of course…Egg Rolls. Since we’re no longer in SF, I make the salad at home and its delicious!

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Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Serves 4

  • 6 handfuls of lettuce (I like to use a combo of butter lettuce and mixed baby greens)
  • 3 persian cucumbers (or 1 hot house cucumber) sliced into 1/8″ medallions
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 10 basil sprigs leaves removed and julienned
  • 10 mint sprigs leaves removed and julienned
  • 4 oz maifun rice noodles
  • 4 TBS Tiger Tiger Sweet Chilli dipping sauce or any other sweet chili dipping sauce or make your own
  • 2 TBS hot water (reserved from the noodle water)
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1 package of egg rolls (small ones are best)

Cook the egg rolls per the packaged instructions. While those are cooking:

Boil water and cook the rice noodles per the instructions on the package. Pull out the noodles and put them into a bowl.

Put the sweet chili sauce into a small bowl and thin with the reserved noodle water. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the noodles and mix with chopsticks or tongs. Put the dressed noodles into the freezer to cool.

Place the lettuce at the bottom of a large bowl. Then the cucumbers. Dress with 1/2 the remaining dressing. Once the noodles are no longer warm, put those on top of the salad.

Serve with the accoutrements on the side: basil, mint, cilantro, lime wedges, remaining dressing and egg rolls that have been cut into 2″ pieces.

Enjoy with some BBQ pork slices and rice. Scrumptious!

Mondays with the munchkin

Mondays are my favorite days because it’s the one day I get one-on-one time with my little munchkin. A typical Monday morning goes like this: breakfast of some egg concoction with a side of rice, then story time at the local library where we sing songs with our friends, then we devour croissants at Moonside Bakery before heading to swim class. That takes us to noon when we go back home for lunch and naps. After that, our Monday afternoon could be a trip to the zoo or shopping or just resting at home.

Yesterday, we went to three farms and a bakery (sounds like a movie title). First, we dropped by Kelly’s to grab some dessert (apple crumb tartlets). Our intention was to get some meat at El Salchichero but sadly, they were closed.

After grabbing our desserts, we traveled along HWY 1 toward home. I’ve always wanted to take Ne to pick strawberries so we stopped at Swanson Berry Farm.

She had a blast and nearly finished off her basket on the 10 minute drive to Harley Farms. There, we spent some time with the goats and picked up some raviolis then went to Jacobs Farm (which usually isn’t open on Mondays) to pick up our weekly veggies. All within 35 miles from the house. We are so damn lucky! Needless to say, last night’s dinner was delicious and farm fresh!

Harley Farms Ricotta and Chevre Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

  • 2 dozen Harley Farms ricotta and chevre ravioli (or whatever goat cheese ravioli)
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted organic butter
  • 1 small leek cut in half lengthwise and cleaned then sliced (picked up from Jacobs Farm)
  • 5 fresh sage leaves sliced (picked up from Jacobs Farm)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly cracked pepper

Boil the ravioli per the instructions in salted water.

Melt 2 TBs butter over medium heat and add the leeks. Cook until the leeks are soft. If the butter starts to brown, add a bit of olive oil. Remove to a separate bowl.

Melt the remaining butter over medium heat and keep swirling until it becomes a golden brown (~5 mins). Add the sage for one minute. Add the leeks. And remove from the heat.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked ravioli from the pasta water and gently place into the pan of butter, leeks and sage. Give it a little toss and then serve.

Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and cracked pepper. Scrumptious!

Stuffed Shrooms

These stuffed mushrooms are such a hit every time I make them (which is usually for Superbowl Parties or family get-togethers). While at the Campbell market, I came across some gorgeous button mushrooms that were the perfect size for stuffed shrooms. I couldn’t resist buying a couple to make for our little family dinner (of 2 and a half).

Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Chive Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 2 lb crimini or white button mushrooms (stems removed by plucking the stems out of the cap)
  • 1 package (8 0z) cream cheese (leave out of the fridge for 15 minutes to soften)
  • ~6 oz of Harley Farms Fromage Blanc or any soft chevre goat cheese (leave out of the fridge for 15 minutes to soften)
  • 7-8 pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch fresh chives, minced (about 1/4 cup) and extra for garnishing (if desired)
  • 1 cup panko (japanese breadcrumbs)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesean
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚F

Sauté the shallots over medium heat in a bit of olive oil until softened (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and cook for another minute.

In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and goat cheese until combined.  Add the chopped proscuitto, shallots and garlic, chives, a bit of pepper.  Stir to combine.

In another bowl, combine the panko, parmesean and the extra chives with a bit of freshly cracked pepper.

Stuff the mushrooms and dip in panko:

Using a table spoon, generously fill each mushroom cap.  Dip the top of each mushroom in the panko mixture, and then put on the baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle the mushroom tops with olive oil.

Bake the mushrooms in a 400˚ oven for 12-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Serve warm. This batch didn’t even make it to the platter. We ate them straight from the cookie sheet.

Lu’s eggplants – from garden to hummus

I’m lucky enough to be gardening again in San Jose. Or rather, planting and harvesting in SJ. My sister has graciously let me plant some of my favorites in her veggie garden: tomatoes, squashes, peppers and eggplants. She’s since kept up the watering and tending. And now the veggies are going bonkers. Each visit, I go out to her garden and am wowed by both the massive quantity of veggies on each plant and the enormous size of her veggies. Seriously, the zucchinis look like wiffle ball bats.

The last visit she gave me her first eggplants. They are so beautiful with their shiny, deep purple skins. I couldn’t wait to get them into the oven (I love the smell of roasted veggies!) and then I added this with them.

To make this scrumptious appetizer:

Roasted Eggplant and Feta Hummus

  • 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
  • 1 cup plain 2% FAGE yogurt
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • ¼ cup Harley Farms feta
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • lemon juice from one lemon
  • 1 bunch of mint (from Jacobs Farm)
  • S&P

Roast eggplant in 350 degree oven for 30 mins until soft (on a cookie sheet with olive oil and S&P)

Blend yogurt, chickpeas, 2 TB olive oil, garlic, and half lemon juice until slightly blended (looks gritty). Add feta, eggplant and give it a quick whirl (should be chunky). Stir in mint and S&P to taste. Add more lemon juice if needed.

Scrumptious with any bread and additional feta and kalamata olives. Can be served hot or cold (best warm).

Summer’s bounty as a Mediterranean and quinoa salad

The other night was a warm one (I know, it’s Summer and it’s supposed to be warm). Well in our little hometown, we’re usually blanketed in coastal fog June through August which makes it super chilly and wet.
So given the rarity (and desire not to “cook”), our family celebrated the Summer’s bounty with a Mediterranean chopped salad over quinoa. It was scrumptious. In fact, I’m all ready to make it again along with the fried squash blossoms from last night.

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Mediterranean chopped salad

  • 1 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 small summer squash quartered lengthwise and sliced (great for color)
  • 1 medium cucumber diced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1 handful of black olives sliced
  • A good hunk of Harley Farms feta cheese broken up with your fingers
  • 2 small heirloom tomatoes diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup (or a mini handful) of fresh mint leaves chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Mix first nine ingredients in a bowl.

Put cooked quinoa (I liked it a bit warm but it’s also great cold) into a bowl. Drizzle the quinoa with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dress with the chopped salad. Eat!

Scrump-dilie-umptious!

Note: this can be made a day ahead. But don’t blame me if you can’t keep your paws out of the dish.