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Green Beans with Hazelnut Garnish


Green Beans with Hazelnut Garnish

This easy side dish showcases the complementary flavors of fresh green beans with toasted hazelnuts, as presented in Lucy Gerspacher’s out-of-print “Hazelnuts & More Cookbook.”

If you don’t have hazelnuts, you can use a number of other nuts, including almonds, pine nuts, pecans or walnuts. You may also want to alter the nut oil you use.

Green Beans with Hazelnut Garnish

1 1/2 pounds whole fresh green beans
2 quarts cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil (see note)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wash and sort green beans. Remove stem ends, but leave tips, if desired.

In a four-quart covered saucepan, bring water and salt to boil.

Add green beans, cover just until water comes back to a boil.

Remove cover and cook for about five minutes, or just until tender. Drain, andpat off any excess moisture.

Heat hazelnut oil in a large skillet. Drop the beans in the hot oil and stir for about one minute just to coat lightly with the oil. Add the hazelnuts and toss until  well mixed.

Pour beans onto serving platter and top with freshly ground black pepper.

Note: If you can’t find hazelnut oil or another nut oil, use an oil with neutral flavor, such as grapeseed oil.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Hazelnuts & More  Cookbook” by Lucy Gerspacher

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Piedmontese Peppers Balance Sweet, Bright, Salty and Fresh Flavors


Piedmontese Peppers

The price of peppers at Sprouts lately has been great. Bell peppers of all colors have been far less than you generally pay for them elsewhere. On one visit I even found red bell peppers for the low price of three for $1.

So, what do you do with colorful beauties? Mince them into a confetti that you can toss in salads or fritattas. Or soften them in a touch of oil or butter and then use them as a garnish on seafood or chicken.

I also discovered this savory recipe in “At Elizabeth David’s Table: Classic Recipes and Timeless Kitchen Wisdom” (Ecco, $37.50). Piedmontese Peppers can be either a side dish or an appetizer, and you can make them in the quantity you wish. You can also play around with the fillings and modify them to your tastes.

The recipe calls for anchovies; but if you wanted to make this strictly vegetarian, use capers instead. You could add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top or incorporate some tiny bits of prosciutto or salami. Or you could up the heat with a slight bit of minced serrano pepper.

The main point is to have a good balance of acid from the tomatoes, the sweet crunch of the peppers, the saltiness of the anchovy (and the umami feeling that capers don’t provide), the burn of the garlic and the freshness of the parsley on top.

For those who don’t know her, Elizabeth David is considered by many to have been one of the best food writers in the business. As Ruth Reichl writes in the introduction to this handsome book, “To Elizabeth David cooking was an affirmation of everything good about being alive.” One bite of Piedmontese Peppers should convince you of that.

Piedmontese Peppers

Bell peppers
Garlic cloves, sliced thin
Tomato, cut into chunks
Anchovy fillets
Butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Flat leaf parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut your peppers in half lengthwise. Take out all the seeds and wash the peppers. (You can leave the stems on if you choose.) If the peppers are large, cut each in half again. Into each piece, put 2 or 3 slices of garlic, 2 small sections of tomato, about half a fillet of anchovy cut into pieces, a small nut of butter, up to 1 teaspoon olive oil and a very little salt, to taste. Arrange these peppers on a flat baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes. They are not to be completely cooked; they should in fact be al dente, the stuffing inside deliciously oily and garlicky.

Serve them cold, each garnished with a little parsley.

Allow 1/2 or 1 pepper per person.

From “At Elizabeth David’s Table” by Elizabeth David

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Mushrooms in Cream Sauce (Champignons à la Crème)


At several of the farmers markets in the area, you can find beautiful mushrooms that would be perfect with a nice juicy steak. Here’s a classic French way to prepare those beauties. The recipe comes from Richard Grausman’s new “French Classics Made Easy” (Workman Publishing, $16.95).

Champignons à la Crème, as they are also known, also make “an excellent first course served simply on a piece of toast (or) puff pastry,” Grausman writes.

Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, washed, dried and sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 teaaspoons dry sherry or Madeira, to taste (optional)
Toast, for serving

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté for about 2 minutes without browning.

Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and cover tightly with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and steam the msuhrooms slowly in their own moisture for about 10 minutes.

Remove the mushrooms with a skimmer or slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the cooking liquid over high heat until only 3 tablespoons remain, about 3 minutes.

Add the cream and boil, uncovered until the sauce thickens slightly. Return the mushrooms to the sauce. (The mushrooms can be made in advance up to this point. Cover the surface with plstic wrap and refrigerate.)

To serve: First bring to a boil, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Add the sherry or Madeira (if using) and spoon over warm toast.

Makes 6 servings.

From “French Classics Made Easy” by Richard Grausman

 

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For Passover, Try Haroset with a Touch of Ginger


Freshly chopped apples are the basis for Haroset.

The following recipe comes from Joyce Efron of the San Antonio Herb Society. She has added a touch of ginger, which provides a little kick to complement the sweetness from the honey. Don’t just serve this wonderful condiment at Passover. It works well alongside seafood and chicken.

And remember, when peeling fresh ginger, it’s quicker with a spoon than a knife.

Haroset

1 1/2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled
2 red apples (any type but Delicious)
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts)

In a food processor, minced ginger root finely. Core and remove seeds from apple; leave peel on. Cut apple in eighths and add to food processor with ginger; chop. Add red wine, cinnamon and honey. Combine and remove to separate bowl. Chop nuts in processor, pulsing until nugget size. Add to apple mixture; stir thoroughly. Serve as a spread with matzoh or crackers.

Makes 2-3 cups.

From Joyce Efron/”The San Antonio Herb Society Cookbook, Vol. II”

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Guavas Are in Season. So What Do You Do With Them?


Guavas

The large display of guavas in the supermarket had a heady aroma that filled the entire area. It was sweet and fruity, but there was also a floral note that was entrancing. I just started to grab the first ones I saw. But what was I going to do with them?

I have worked with guava paste in the past, in empanadas among other dishes. But I’ve never used the fresh fruit. So a little research was in order.

“There are a number of guavas in the world, but the common guava — the one most available here — resembles a pale smooth-skinned lemon,” says “Joy of Cooking.” That was the variety in the market, not the green ones with a pink interior that are commonly depicted. “Choose blemish-free fruits, as yellow and soft as you can find, and ripen them at room temperature, out of the sun, or in a closed paper bag. … Ripening time is unpredictable, so check daily and turn the fruits often. When they are ripe, refrigerate in a perforated plastic bag.”

From that point, things get both easier and more complex.”Guavas are simple to serve. Just trim off the blossom end, slice in half either way and eat with a spoon — the seeds of most guavas are edible. For fruit cups and salads, peel with a vegetable peeler and cut in slices,” according to “Joy,” which is largely indispensable in such matters.

Trouble is, the cookbook offered no recipes for guavas.

I did find three simple recipes in my favorite go-to guide for all things fruit, “A Passion for Fruit” by Lorenza De’Medici. They ran a gamut of styles, and I made all three in the course of the evening, just to get that aroma into the kitchen.

Guava Sautéed with Chives was a sweet-savory side dish. Guava Sauce with a lively hit of chili powder went perfectly with a pork chop for dinner. And dessert was a decadent Guava Ice Cream made with heavy cream.

All of the recipes talked about seeding the guava before using, and one website mentioned that there were often anywhere from 112 to 535 per fruit, but no one really said how to do it. I tried picking at a few with a knife tip, but that seemed to take away too much flesh with it. Juicing the fruit would probably work, but the recipes I had didn’t want juice. So, I simply left the seeds in. I do that with raspberries and blackberries. I don’t mind those seeds. I will say that the guava seeds are a little larger and slightly harder, so that really could be a problem for some.

The next day I went back for more. Now that I’ve started,  I can see more ways of using guavas, from salads to tarts. Or, as a friend suggested, you could swirl guava purée into an icy glass of horchata. How do you like to use them?

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Guava Sautéed with Chives a Sweet-Savory Side Dish


Guave Sautéed with Chives

This fruit side dish is deliciously different and goes well with pork, chicken and seafood.

Guava Sautéed with Chives

3 guavas, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt, to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Sauté the guava slices in the butter over low heat for a few minutes to warm them through. Add a pinch of salt and the cream, then cook for a couple of minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly. Sprinkle with the paprika, then the chives, and serve immediately. This makes an excellent accompaniment for spicy Mexican dishes.

Makes about 1 cup.

From “A Passion for Fruit” by Lorenza De’Medici

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Use Collards to Make Brazilian Greens


Collard greens

“In the 21st century, we have learned that not all greens are cooked with bacon drippings and a ham hock,” Jessica B. Harris writes with no small part of her tongue firmly planted in cheek in her new book, “High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America” (Bloomsbury, $26). “This is the way that they accompany feijoada, the national dish of Brazil. The greens may be kale or collards or a mix, but I prefer to use the collards.”

You can serve the greens alongside anything from beef and pork to chicken and fish. Present them with orange or tangelo slices for a beautiful array of colors and flavors.

I made a variation of this dish shortly after visiting Brazil, using kale. It is the only time I can remember my father asking for seconds of anything I ever cooked.

Collards and kale are both are in season, and you’ll find them at your local farmers market right now.

Brazilian Greens

2 pounds fresh young collard greens
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, or to taste, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons water
Hot sauce, to taste

Wash the collard greens thoroughly and bunch leaves together. Take the bunch, roll it tightly, and cut it crosswise into thin strips. (This is a method that the French call en chiffonade.) Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, then cook the garlic, stirring over medium heat, then cook the garlic, stirring it until it’s only slightly browned. Add the collard strips and cook them, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, so that the greens are soft but retain their bright color. Add a tablespoon or  two of water, cover, lower the heat and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Serve hot with the hot sauce of your choice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Tasting Brazil”/”High on the Hog” by Jessica B. Harris

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Fresh Corn Soufflé a Great Side Dish


Fresh Corn Soufflé  is a good side dish year-round. In the winter it’s great with a roast beef or pork roast. In the spring it’s good with rack of lamb, and in the summer with anything barbecued. I don’t mind the 15-20 minutes or so of prep because I’m thinking ahead to how the freshly cut corn will bake into the creamy egg mixture and be the perfect companion to steaks or chops on the grill.  It’s good as a main dish for a lighter meal, or to include on a brunch buffet. Serve a green salad or vegetable with it, plus good bread.

Fresh Corn Soufflé

2 large ears corn, kernels sliced from the cob
1 (14.75-ounce) can creamed corn
½ cup half-and-half or heavy cream
3 large eggs, separated
1 small onion or 3-4 scallions, minced finely with some of the green
3-4 sprigs parsley, minced
½  teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Generous pinch of white pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-3 quart soufflé baking dish or other dish large enough to hold the batter, which will rise.

Put corn kernels, creamed corn and half-and-half in blender and pulse/blend until the corn kernels are roughly chopped, but not puréed. You might even hold aside some whole kernels to add. Pour from blender into a large steel or glass bowl.

In mixing bowl or stand mixer, put the egg yolks and whisk until they are light colored. With a spatula, spoon the yolks into the corn mixture. Clean the mixing bowl and whisk tool and dry well. Put whites into the mixing bowl and whip until they are medium stiff (they will form a soft peak). Gently scoop the whites into the bowl. Add the onion, parsley and thyme, salt, to taste, and pinch of white pepper.

Gently fold together the ingredients until the whites are well mixed in. With the spatula, scrape the soufflé mixture into the prepared baking dish. Set in the oven and let cook for about 30-40 minutes. (Check after 30 minutes, if not a little sooner. The soufflé will puff up, but will not rise as dramatically as a dessert or plain egg or cheese soufflé. It is ready when the top is lightly browned and the center is springy, not soggy. Don’t leave in the oven too long or it will become dry.)

This is a good side dish with barbecued ribs, smoked brisket, roast chicken, grilled steak or burgers. Or, serve it with a salad as a vegetarian main dish.

Makes 5 to 6 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

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Don Strange’s Corn Pudding


“When Don (Strange) and his parents began to cater large parties serving their popular barbecue, Don wanted to serve side dishes that were also noteworthy, rather the same old menu of coleslaw, potato salad, and pinto beans,” writes Frances Strange in “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes” (Shearer Publishing, $34.95). “He settled on Corn Pudding, which no one else served with barbecue, and it became one of the company’s signature barbecue side dishes in the 1980s. … Hard to beat a good side dish!”

This easy-to-assemble dish will also go great with Thanksgiving turkey, grilled steaks or whatever you’re serving.

Corn Pudding

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cream-style corn
3 eggs, beaten
1 (6-ounce) package Pioneer Brand corn muffin mix
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it is wilted and transparent, about 5 minutes. Do not allow it to brown. Remove from heat and blend the onions and sour cream in a bowl. Mix well; set aside.

In a separate large bowl, combine the creamed corn, eggs and muffin mix. Turn out into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the onion mixture evenly around the baking dish in dollops. Scatter the shredded cheese over the top and bake in preheated oven until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot.

Makes 8 servings.

Variation: Cornshuck Pudding

For a striking presentation at a formal seated dinner, serve Corn Pudding in corn shuck “bowls,” which are made by lining a large muffin tin or popover tin with corn shucks.

Soak 12 corn shucks in a large bowl of lukewarm water for about 45 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Instead of a baking dish, use a muffin tin with 12 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) cups; spray each cup with nonstick vegetable spray. Push a softened corn shuck down into each up, letting the ends extend upward. Set aside and make the Corn Pudding as directed in the rcipe.

To bake the individual puddings, spoon equal portions of the corn batter into the muffin cups. Spoon equal portions of the sour cream mixture into the center of each cup. Scatter the shredded cheese on top of each serving and place the tin on a large baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden toothpick inserted in the enter of the cups comes out clean, for about 30 minutes.

To serve, grasp each end of the corn shucks and gently lift the puddings out. Place on individual serving plates and serve hot.

Makes 12 servings.

From “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes” by Frances Strange with Terry Thompson-Anderson

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Scarlet Roasted Vegetables


A medley of root vegetables will turn scarlet from the beets.

“I call these scarlet vegetables because the beets bleed into the others, making everything red, messy and yummy,” Alicia Silverstone writes in “The Kind Diet” (Rodale, $29.99). “This is a pretty dish, perfect for Thanksgiving or any time.”

Scarlet Roasted Vegetables

4-6 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
3 large beets, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 parsnips, quartered lengthwise
1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored and thickly sliced
1-2 cups kabocha squash, cut into big chunks (peel only if the squash is not organic)
3-4 ribs celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
3-4 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup pecan halves
6-8 dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1-2 teaspoons shoyu (see note)
Grated zest of 2 lemons
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a large, shallow baking dish.

Combine shallots, beets, parsnips, fennel, squash and celery, bay leaves, pecans, apricots, shoyu, lemon zest and oil in a mixing bowl. mix the vegetables to coat them well.

Transfer the vegetables to the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are soft when pierced.

Remove the foil and roast for 15 minutes longer to let the vegetables brown a little. Remove from oven and toss with the lemon juice. Garnish with the parsley.

Note: Shoyu is a type of soy sauce. It is available at Asian Markets and Whole Foods.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “The Kind Diet” by Alicia Silverstone

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