Green Beans a la Basquaise

I’m reaching way back into the murky depths of time for this one–back to 1979, in fact.  Though 1979 wasn’t the first year I started subscribing to Bon Appetit,  it was my favorite year for the magazine, apparently.  So many of my favorite recipes came from that year, and this green bean recipe was in the regular rotation for me back then.  I hadn’t made it in years, but I resurrected it just now and it was as good as I remember.

Tonight I had these alongside roasted salmon.  I had some of the beans left over, and tomorrow I’m going to cook an Italian sausage and add it to them.

Green Beans a la Basquaise
(Bon Appetit, April 1979) with a few modifications
serves 4
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cooked 5-7 minutes, until crisp-tender
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley
3 large basil leaves, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano
salt and pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste

After the beans are cooked, drain them and set aside. Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat.  Add remaining ingredients (except green beans).  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer 20-25 minutes until tomato liquid has evaporated.  Stir in green beans, cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

 

 

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles

IMG_8699VCStitleAfter several days of eating some pretty unhealthy food (we’re talking Mexican food several times, plus there may have been ice cream involved, not saying for sure), I was feeling the need this morning to eat some vegetables, and fresh food, and something with a crunch (the almonds in the ice cream don’t count).  So I went looking on Pinterest, and as if by magic this recipe came up.  I had almost all the ingredients on hand, so I made it for lunch today.

The recipe is on this blog, and let me just say that the author goes a little bit nuts for this recipe.  I thought her description was somewhat over the top, but after I tried the salad, I was feeling a bit hyperbolic myself.  It was really, really good and it was just what I was looking for.

I made a few changes.  You can read the original recipe on the author’s blog, but I am going to retype it here using my changes.IMG_8700VCSclose

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles
(serves 4-6)
For the Dressing:
3 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
6 Tablespoons lime juice
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
For the Salad:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked in water until just done, diced
6 ounces rice noodles
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
8 oz. package of shredded cabbage (I used red cabbage, because that’s what they had, but green cabbage or Chinese cabbage would be great too)
large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
large handful mint leaves, chopped
crispy Chinese noodles

Dressing: place all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and combine.
*A note here about the serranos–I seeded them, which takes most of the heat out, but the original author does not.  Maybe her peppers aren’t as hot as mine, but I don’t think I could have eaten them with the seeds in.  And it’s me telling you this–me, veteran of Thai Taste Heat Level 18. I think the serranos give this dressing and the salad a great flavor and taste, but you can leave them out if you’re wimpy.
*And another note about the garlic–I love garlic, but it doesn’t love me in my old age, so I took the clove of garlic and smashed it, and put it into the dressing to steep.  I won’t be able to eat it, but the original recipe calls for blending 4 cloves into the dressing.  Would love to, can’t do it.

Chicken: After dicing the chicken breasts, pour a little of the finished dressing onto them to amp up the flavor.

Noodles: I really diverged from the author’s recipe on these.  My noodles didn’t soften like hers presumably did, so here’s what I did: Soak the rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes.  Heat a small amount of the dressing in a skillet over medium high heat, add the drained noodles, and stir fry for a few minutes.  When the noodles look like they’re starting to stick, add water to cover and bring to a boil.  Cook until softened to your taste.  Drain and cut them into bite sized lengths, or leave them as is.

Toss the chicken and vegetables together, add the noodles, and pour over the dressing to taste.  I used all of it. The crispy Chinese noodles add a lovely crunch and flavor.

I plan to experiment with this recipe in the future.  I think chopped peanuts instead of the crispy noodles would be delicious, and I think that chopped cucumber would be an interesting addition. I’m going to try adding some Thai basil.  And of course, for all you cilantro haters, go ahead and leave it out if you must.IMG_8697VCSmat

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Larry’s Chicken Pot Pie

Anyone who knows my husband Larry knows that his taste in food is not quite as eclectic as mine.  This may or may not be a gross understatement. In fact, his taste in food runs to comfort food with not many exceptions.  He’s also suspicious of anything new, so when I offered, years ago, to make a homemade chicken pot pie instead of the frozen ones he grew up with, he wasn’t sure he would like it.

Spoiler: he does. He loves this, as long as I don’t add anything to it, or fancy it up in any way.  Happy to oblige.

Larry’s Chicken Pot Pie
makes 1 11×17 inch pie
DOUGH
Scant 2 cups flour (2 cups minus about a tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
6 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
FILLING
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked just until done in water or broth, broth reserved
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk (I usually use canned evaporated milk; feel free to use regular milk or even half and half)
1 cup chicken broth
1 can peas and carrots, drained

Dough: Put flour, salt, and sugar in food processor and combine.  Cut up butter and shortening into small pieces and add, pulsing until the fat is cut into the flour mixture.  With machine running, add ice water through feed tube until dough forms.  Chilling makes it easier to roll and cut but is not necessary.

Filling: In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add flour and cook 1 minute.  Mix together milk and broth (if the broth that you cooked the chicken in is not very flavorful, add instant chicken bouillon powder to taste) and add to flour mixture, whisking constantly.  Cook and stir until thickened.  Add cut up chicken breasts and peas and carrots and let cool slightly.

Assembly: Divide the dough into two pieces.  Roll out each into a 9×13 inch rectangle.  Line the 11×17 inch baking dish with one piece of dough, bringing it up around the sides.  Top with cooled filling.  Fit the second piece of dough on top and crimp edges to seal.  Cut steam holes in dough and bake in a 375° oven for about 30 minutes, until slightly browned.

 

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On No Kyauk Swe

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Sometimes I’ll just be sitting there, minding my business, when the thought of a food item or recipe will explode, fully formed, in my consciousness.  Does that ever happen to you?  No–just me?  Whatever.  Sometimes it’s a dish I had recently and I have a hankering for again, but sometimes, as with this particular dish, it is a craving from a long time ago.  I have no idea why the thought of Kyauk Swe (pronounced “COW-sway”) stuck in my mind this particular day last week, but once it did, it took root there and refused to go away.  So I had to make it.

First problem I had was that I did not have any besan.  Besan is chick-pea flour, and not something you necessarily have on hand or find at your local grocery.  Since the craving refused to budge, I had to go to an Indian grocery to get some.  (The best part of that was that our favorite Thai restaurant is right across the street, so there was a side trip involved.)

Armed with the besan, I was able to construct this spectacular, mild curry dish with ease.  There are a lot of ingredients, but many of them are garnishes and you can pick and choose which ones you include.IMG_8579KyaukSweingredients

I halved this recipe, but it still makes a ton.  It’s a real comfort food, though, and I don’t have any trouble finishing it; I can eat it a few nights running.

The recipe comes from one of my older cookbooks, The Burmese Kitchen.  This cookbook, of course, was written when Burma was still a thing, in 1994. I suppose you could call it “the Myanmar Kitchen” now.

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Here is the recipe, edited a bit to reflect current package sizes.

On No Kyauk Swe
Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk Gravy and Garnishes

Curry
1 lb. boneless chicken
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Gravy
10 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chick-pea flour (besan), soaked in 2 cups water for 30 minutes
1/2 lb. shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cups coconut milk
1 Tablespoon fish sauce

Garnishes
2 lb. fresh egg noodles, cooked and drained according to directions
1 cup onion slices, rinsed under cold water, drained
6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
2 cups crispy fried noodles, purchased or homemade
1 cup chopped cilantro
dried hot red chili flakes
lemon wedges
(I like Thai basil chopped up in mine too.  If you have some, try it)

Cut the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat the oil in a large pan.  Fry the onion, ginger, and garlic over moderate heat for 2 minutes.  Add the turmeric and paprika and continue to stir fry.  Add the chicken, fish sauce, and salt.  Stir fry the mixture for 10 minutes.

To make the gravy, add the broth to the pan of curry, and bring to a boil over moderate heat.  Add the chick-pea liquid and cook for 20 minutes, stirring continuously since the besan has a tendency to stick.  The gravy will begin to thicken.

Add the shallots as the gravy simmers, and cook for 10 minutes.  Now add the coconut milk and fish sauce and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring constantly.

For each serving, combine in a soup bowl the egg noodles and chicken curry with gravy with whatever condiments you like. in the proportions that make you happy.

Serves 10-12.IMG_8598KyaukSwecomplete

 

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Carne con Chile

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I haven’t posted here in a while, I know.  But this dish is worth the wait.

Recently my brother (see his blog here, though it’s not usually about food) sent me a text alerting me to check out a recipe for enchiladas verdes that he had found on Youtube.  The video showed a Mexican abuela, Maria Contreras Rico, assisted by her granddaughter, demonstrating her method for making that dish, and after watching it, I was hooked.  I quickly subscribed to her Youtube channel, Abuela’s Kitchen, and watched pretty much every video they had there (except for the ones about tripas and chicharrones, because ew.)

I’ve made a few of Abuela’s recipes now and this Carne con Chile is my favorite so far.  It is not like the chili con carne that I am used to here in Texas (for one thing, it doesn’t contain cumin), but it has an amazingly rich and deep flavor.

Here is the video, and though I’m going to include here the transcription of the recipe as I copied it down while watching, it’s definitely worth watching the video just to experience this very nice lady’s cooking style.  Abuela’s Kitchen has quite a following these days, and I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon.

Carne con Chile
2 lb. thin beef steak (Maria Contreras Rico uses a thin sirloin that is marketed in some areas as milanesa.  In my Latino-influenced area in South Texas, I was able to find the exact cut she uses.  Probably any very thin cut of steak would work)
3-4 good sized tomatoes, cut in quarters and boiled until somewhat soft but not falling apart, then drained
chiles California and a handful of chiles japones (these are dried chiles)
1 clove garlic

On a comal or in a dry frying pan, toast the chiles until they are slightly browned.  In a hot pan this happens very quickly, and as the Abuela says, if you burn them they will make you cough.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Remove the seeds (“so you don’t get sick in your appendix”) and break the peppers into a blender container.  Add a little water just to start to soften them.

Cut the meat into thin strips.  Swish them around in a little water (the Abuela says you don’t know how many people have handled that meat.)  Drain the meat and place in a dry frying pan.  There will still be a little water on the meat and that will help it cook.  Turn on the heat and start to cook the meat; cover the pan and let it cook for a while, then uncover and let the liquids evaporate.  When the meat starts to look dry, add a spoonful of lard (okay, you can use oil, but the Abuela doesn’t like it.)

To the peppers in the blender, add the garlic clove and the tomatoes.  Blend until smooth. Add this salsa to the meat.  The Abuela likes hers with more liquid and adds some water, but I liked mine without it.

This recipe serves about 4 people.  I think the proportions are pretty flexible.  I made beans to go with mine, and white rice with salsa was a good accompaniment.  And tortillas, of course–always.img_3475carneconchile

 

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Orange-Rosemary Glazed Salmon

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I’ve talked before about my love of salmon.  Here, here, and here are some of my other favorite ways to prepare it.  This one is going on the list.  This one is definitely going on the list.

I found the recipe at this site, and made it as written, except that I doubled the sauce.  Well, actually I used half the amount of salmon and kept the sauce the same but…same thing.

I have a huge amount of rosemary growing in my front yard, and it has become one of my favorite flavors, besides making beautiful decorative plants to cascade over my stone wall.  It really comes through in this recipe, and the orange and honey provide just the right counterpoint.  IMG_1221orangesalmoncloseup

Orange-Rosemary Glazed Salmon (serves 2)

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets (1-inch thick), rested at room temperature 10 minutes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
5 Tablespoons chicken broth, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • Heat a large non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil then add salmon and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, leaving oil in pan.
  • Add garlic and rosemary to pan and saute 20 seconds, then add 1/4 cup chicken broth and simmer until mostly reduced. Stir in orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice and honey. In a small bowl whisk together remaining 1 Tablespoon chicken broth with cornstarch. Pour into pan, season sauce with salt and pepper to taste then bring to a boil and allow to boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return salmon to pan, spoon sauce over salmon.IMG_1223orangesalmon

 

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Mexican Street Corn Salad with Avocado

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I really like summer food, on the whole, better than winter food.  It can get pretty warm around here in South Texas, so cooking is not always appealing, but if you can throw together a quick salad and it tastes this good, why wouldn’t you?

I found the original recipe here, but I added and subtracted some things and I didn’t always measure, so I’ll tell you what I did.

First of all, I decided to make this a main dish, so I grilled a chicken breast and diced it up and added it.  I don’t really like cheese too much, so I left that out.  I added grape tomatoes because I had some.  Instead of the regular chili powder, I added chipotle powder.  And to make the salad a bit lower in fat, I only used about 1/2 Tablespoon of mayonnaise instead of the 3 Tablespoons called for.  I found it creamy enough, especially with the avocado.  And finally, I used frozen, thawed corn because it’s only April and the fresh corn is not here yet.

Mexican Street Corn Salad with Avocado
serves 4-5

1 boneless chicken breast half, grilled and diced
1 1-lb. package of frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 green onions, sliced
handful of cilantro, chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, chopped
10-12 grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, cubed
juice of 2 limes, or to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used chipotle)
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

Heat olive oil in large skillet; put in well-drained corn, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook until starting to char, about 5-6 minutes depending on how hot your skillet is.  Remove and let cool slightly.

Add remaining ingredients to corn and mix well.  Serve cold or at room temperature.
See original recipe for variations.IMG_9451MSCSalad

 

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Sausage Balls

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Do you know Sausage Balls?  I’ve been making them for years and it’s something that I seriously thought everyone in the country knew about.  But from time to time I hear of someone who has never had them, never made them, never heard of them, and I think oh you poor thing.  Because these are seriously good and seriously easy and you can keep them on hand in the freezer.

Even though the recipe is pretty standard, my sister-in-law Mary and I have been discussing our varying results on these.  We use the same recipe, but she gets a lot of grease coming off of hers during baking and I don’t.  We decided that it might be the cheese–we are using different brands, mostly because we live in different parts of the country and can’t both get the same brand of cheese.  And I seem to remember that many years ago, these did have more grease and as a result, they tasted better.  Oh shut up, it’s Christmas.

In any case, Sausage Balls–not pretty, not healthy, but make these anyway.

Sausage Balls

1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage (I use hot)
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated (do not use pre-grated)
3 cups Bisquick
Combine all ingredients.  I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer to mix these up in no time flat.  Form balls the size of walnuts and place on a baking sheet.  If yours are like mine and don’t give off much grease, you will need to spray the sheet with Pam.  If they’re like Mary’s, you won’t.  I don’t know what to tell you.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.IMG_6949Sausageballs

 

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Cheesecake Tart with Raspberry Sauce

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Not really a cheesecake, but cheesecake-like, this amazingly rich and delicious dessert is a real show-stopper.  I like it best the way the original recipe appeared in Bon Appétit a few years back, with an amazing cranberry and port wine and star anise flavored topping.  But I’ve served it to a few cranberry haters (I KNOW) and so I had to come up with a modification.  Raspberries are a natural substitute, and when I think of raspberries I think of chocolate, so I switched out the crust while I was at it.  An Oreo crust did the trick.

Here is the recipe as it originally appeared in Bon Appétit, November 2002.  The recipe for my raspberry and chocolate variation, pictured here, is at the end of the recipe.

Happy holidays!  And enjoy the extra five pounds this little number will add to your thighs.  You’re welcome.

Cheesecake Tart with Cranberries in Port Glaze

BON APPÉTIT NOVEMBER 2002

Yield: Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

  • Crust
    • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling
    • 3 cups chilled whipping cream
    • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
    • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into pieces
    • 1 cup chilled sour cream
    • 6 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwiseIMG_6914cheesecake tart
  • Cranberry topping
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
    • 1 cup ruby Port
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 whole star anise*
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2 whole cloves
    • 2 2-inch strips orange peel
    • 2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed

Preparation

  • For crust:
    • Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend graham cracker crumbs and sugar in processor until combined. Gradually add butter and process until moist clumps form. Press crumbs onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan with removable bottom. Bake until set, about 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.
  • For filling:
    • Place 1/2 cup whipping cream in medium bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1 cup whippin
      g cream and cream cheese in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture is smooth and just beginning to simmer. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture; whisk to dissolve. Strain into large bowl. Let stand 45 minutes to cool.
    • Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in another large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve bean for another use. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture thickens and peaks form. Fold into cream cheese mixture in 3 additions. Transfer filling to prepared crust. Cover and chill until set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
  • For cranberry topping:
    • Place 1 tablespoon water in small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 5 minutes.
    • Bring Port, sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, and orange peel to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer mixture until cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir some of hot cranberry liquid into gelatin mixture in small bowl to melt gelatin; stir gelatin mixture into cranberry mixture in saucepan. Transfer to medium bowl; refrigerate until cold. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
    • Just before serving, remove pan sides to release tart. Cut cheesecake tart into wedges. Spoon cranberry mixture over each wedge and serve.

*A brown star-shaped seedpod that can be found at Asian markets and specialty foods stores, as well as in the spice section of some supermarkets.

For the raspberry and chocolate variation, I substitute Oreo crumbs for the graham cracker crumbs in the crust.  Instead of the cranberry topping, I thaw a 10 ounce package frozen raspberries, puree, and force through a sieve.  Add about 1/3 cup sugar, or to taste.  I drizzle this sauce from a squeeze bottle over the slices, and alternate with a few drizzles of chocolate sauce (bottled is fine).  IMG_6919cheesecake tart

 

 

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Pasta Estivi

 

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From my venerable old 1983 cookbook, Beard on Pasta, by James Beard.  Makes a great summer meal.

Here is the recipe in James Beard’s words, with my changes in parentheses.  Not saying that I know better than James Beard, but I have found I like it better with a few changes.

_MG_2882ingredientsPasta Estivi
(2-4 servings)
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into sixths (I dice my tomatoes and I don’t peel them)
1 medium onion, peeled and ringed (I slice mine very thinly and then dice)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I use red wine vinegar)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound green noodles (I use whatever kind of pasta I have available–I prefer linguine)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, if available
Chopped parsley (lots!)
Mix the tomatoes, onion, olive oil, and vinegar.  Sprinkle with lots of pepper, and let sit for at least an hour, to give the onions a chance to lose their sharpness.
Cook the pasta in boiling water, and drain.  Spoon the cold sauce over the hot pasta, and sprinkle with fresh basil and parsley. (I also add crumbled Parmesan).

 

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