Thursday, November 26, 2015

The best green bean casserole

I saw this on a Thanksgiving cooking show. I'm not sure which one. Everybody, including my anti-vegetable son, adored it. 

If you want to double this recipe, just make another layer of green beans, sauce, and onion rings. 

Preheat oven to 350.
4-6 servings

1 lb fresh green beans
2 cups white sauce (2 tb butter, 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbl flour, 1 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream)
1 cup or more shredded gruyere
1 cup or more french fried onion rings

Blanch the green beans in boiling, salted water. Drain and refresh in iced water. Drain.

White sauce - melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and garlic and sautee.  Add flour and cook 2 minutes, without browning. Add milk and cream. Bring to a boil, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Place green beans in an ovenproof dish. Add white saice. Add cheese. Top with onions.

Can be made a day or 2 ahead to this point and refrigerated. Pull it out of the fridge an hour before baking or run it in the microwave for a couple of minutes to knock the chill off.

Bake covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20-30 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Autumn arugala salad with pears and figs

I made this last night, and we all loved it! This salad was so amazing and beautiful that I may make it for Thanksgiving. If your pear is not ripe, poach it in white wine and sugar.  All of the prep can be done ahead.

Washed arugala
1 ripe pear, sliced thinly (If not ripe, poach it first)
A big handful of pecan halves toasted in a little butter
Dried figs, rehydrated in port (substitute raisins if you don't have figs)
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
4 oz or so of gorgonzola dolce or roquefort
Balsamic vinegrette
Salt and pepper

For ripe pears - if your pear is ripe just core and slice. Then, toss with lemon juice. You can leave the peel on or not. Don't slice the pear too early or it will discolor. Wait til an hour or so before serving.

For unripe pears, peel and simmer in 1 cup white wine, 1 cup water, and 1 cup sugar, a couple of pieces of lemon rind, and juice of half a lemon. Cook until knife goes through the pear with just a little resistence, about 20 minutes, depending on the size and ripeness of the pear. Core and slice and toss with a little lemon juice. If you are doing this more than a few hours ahead, store the pears covered in the poaching liquid. So, they won't discolor. If you're not poaching the pear, don't slice it until 

For pecans - melt a tbl of butter in a skillet with the pecans. Add salt, pepper, a little cayenne, and a couple of pinches of sugar. Be generous with the salt. Cook on medium heat until brown and delicious. 

For figs - slice figs in halves or quarters, depending on the size. Be sure to remove any hard stem. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and pour in enough port to cover. If you don't have port you could use sherry or wine or just water. Cover with plastic wrap or a plate and microwave for 60 seconds. Let stand til cool. Unwrap and stir. Repeat, adding more port if necessary, until figs are soft.

Balsamic vinegrette
1 tbl dijon
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh ground Black pepper 
1/4 cup balsamic vinegrette
1-3 tbl of port from figs, optional
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl lemon juice if needed

Mix all together. Taste. If you like a more piquant dressing, add some lemon juice 

To assemble the salad - toss the arugala with some of the dressing and salt and pepper. Place some on each plate. Toss the pears in a little dressing and place on top of arugala. Add the onion, drained figs, pecans, and cheese to each salad. Serve immediately.