Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans

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Bobbie says:

If you live in the U.S., green beans are probably still “in season” for a little while, so you’ve still time to try Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans – a savory side with a couple unexpected ingredients. Things to like: short ingredient list, simple prep and short cooking time. Things to love: Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans tastes like it took way more effort than it really does.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - the money shot

 

My teenage self would never believe I’m writing about this. Other than babysitting, my first job was on a green bean farm. Sure, they grew other stuff. But seriously, it was mostly beans. Beans, beans, beans. All summer long. But we didn’t pick the beans. They were mechanically picked, and hauled to the barn and dumped into a contraption the owner’s son built to sort out most of the stems and rocks and teeny-tiny beans. Anything that made it through was dumped onto a conveyor belt manned by a handful of kids (can you still say “manned” if they’re teens? And mostly girls?) whose starting pay was $1 an hour, and whose only job was to pick out anything that wasn’t a nice, pretty-looking green bean before it went into the crates at the end. And not to get hypnotized by the conveyor belt going past oh, so steadily, because then you’d fall over. (Or maybe that was just me….) And we’d listen to the radio and sing along to the Bee Gee’s Bald-headed Woman.**

Moving on…

A few weeks into that job, I’d given up on trying to grow long fingernails (stupid conveyor belt) and also I never wanted to see another green bean. In. My. Life. By the time I’d worked there three summers (and late springs, and early falls) if anyone had told me one day you will go out of your way to buy fresh green beans, I would have told them they were nuts.

And speaking of nuts (see my subtle segue?) – they’re a major player in today’s recipe: Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans. Most people have had, or at least heard of, Green Beans with Toasted Almonds, which may be called Almondine or Amandine, depending on where you live and the circles you move in. Quite tasty, but been there, ate that, and most likely dribbled it on my t-shirt.

Well, this one’s a bit different, with butter toasted walnuts (obviously) but also a couple “secret ingredients” that you might not expect. Dry vermouth and…vanilla. Just a touch of each, combined with butter, garlic and onions, makes a sauce that belies the tiny amount of time and effort to make it. It tastes gourmet without much effort.

If you don’t have dry vermouth, you can use a dry white wine. Do not use sweet vermouth or other sweet wine, because sweet won’t work here.

Oh, and the vanilla! If you’re one of those who’ve always thought vanilla meant plain or boring, then you need to try vanilla extract in this non-sweet dish.  It enhances the other flavors in a decidedly non-vanilla way. Be sure you use real vanilla extract rather than imitation.

Make ahead: The nuts can be toasted and the sauce made earlier in your meal prep, but it’s best to cook the beans right before serving, so as to avoid overcooked beans, or you can serve them at room temperature if they’ve cooled down, rather than reheating them. I know any time I try to hold beans at serving temperature for a while, or when I reheat them, they taste overcooked. I can’t be the only one who hates mushy beans.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans

1 1/2 pounds green beans, washed, stem ends trimmed. Leave whole, or cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup broken walnuts. Not chopped – break each walnut half into 4 or 5 pieces with your fingers
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dry vermouth (or dry white wine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the real stuff)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Add beans to a saucepan of already boiling water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. They should be still be bright green when they’re done.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - toast the walnuts

While the beans cook, prepare the nuts and sauce.

Melt 1 T butter in saucepan over low heat.  Add broken walnuts, and stir until lightly browned. Remove to a small bowl.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - saute the onion

 

Melt remaining butter, then add onion and stir for one minute.

 

 

Add garlic, vermouth, vanilla, garlic, salt & pepper. Let it come to a boil and cook for a minute or two. Remove from burner, but keep warm.
When beans are done to your liking, drain, then return to pan.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - toss with sauce

 

Pour the sauce over and stir to coat well.


Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - top with walnuts

 

 

Transfer to pre-warmed serving dish, then sprinkle walnuts over top. Serve immediately.
This same sauce would also go wonderfully on roasted green beans. Those may take just a bit longer to cook, so plan accordingly. Toss with the sauce after roasting the beans.

 

Frozen green beans can be used out of season, but do try Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans with fresh, in-season beans while you can!

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - dinner is served

 

** I swear I am not making this up. One of my co-workers at the green bean farm, a girl who shall not be named, absolutely  believed the Bee Gees were singing bald-headed woman instead of more than a woman. We learned this the first time the song came on, and she started singing the wrong words. Unironically, because nothing was ironic in the 70s. And when we tried to tell her the real lyrics, she argued with us about it, convinced she was right, and she was not the kind of person to try and put one over on us. So now, over 35 years later, I always sing Bald-Headed Woman quietly to myself as I wash and trim the green beans.

 

Bobbie Laughman is a dabbler in this, that, and the other thing. She is blessed to be Gwamma to EB: a half three-year old girl, half fierce tiger, and half genius philosopher, who currently lives 2 miles away and visits frequently.
Bobbie lives in the Gettysburg PA area, with her husband who has known her since 1981 and loves her anyway.

 

 

Homemade Pasta – Fettuccine Noodles from Scratch

Heather says:

Here is an updated recipe for making fettuccine noodles from scratch.

I should do this again very, very soon.

Or maybe I shouldn’t look at this when I’m hungry.

Homemade Noodles

A (Very)Basic Tutorial

Noodles

It won’t be long before someone whose traditional, Italian grandmother taught them how to make noodles chimes in and tells me I did it all wrong. I know this, There is a different (more traditional) technique that involves piling all the flour on the cutting board and mixing the eggs in a well. My goal for this tutorial is to explain the process in a manner even a very novice cook could attempt. I also live in a small town and Semolina flour requires a long drive I wasn’t going to make for an experiment. Ok, now that’ we’re on the same page, let’s get started.

  • 4 eggs (use the best quality you can afford / find)
  • 1/4 tsp salt aka a pinch
  • 2 TBSP olive oil (again best quality)
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose (plain, not self-rising) flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

beat the eggsIn a large bowl, beat the four eggs with the oil and salt.

white and wheat flourIn another bowl whisk together the all purpose flour with the wheat flour.

stir with forkUsing a fork to stir, slowly add one third of the flour mixture. Stir until there are no lumps, then hunt down a spoon.

Add another third of the flour mixture while stirring. The dough will be very sticky.

Slowly add flour from the final third of the dough until it has all come together and isn’t impossibly sticky. It was so humid in my area that I had to use all the flour. Drier climates and seasons may require less flour. Don’t underestimate the weather when it comes to some recipes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about five minutes. Much like bread dough, you want to knead enough to encourage the gluten (basically flour glue) but not so long that the proteins from the wheat break down.

shape into a ballShape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Allow it to rest for 15 – 30 minutes. If you’re bored, click through the McKlinky above and see what other Home Eccers have been up to.

Roll the dough out using a rolling pin. Turn the dough (or I highly recommend the pastry mat,  for less than $10) about an 1/8th of a turn after each roll to try to keep the thickness of the dough as even as possible.

eighth inchRoll the dough out until it’s about 1/8th of an inch thick. Don’t break out the ruler, eyeball it. Think about boxed fettuccine, as that’s the general idea of what we’re going for.

Let the dough hang out for at least then minutes. A little longer if the air is so humid that it’s hard to breathe (what, like you’ve never complained about the weather before?)

Grab the bottom of the sheet of dough. Fold it about 1/4 of the way toward the top. Grab the bottom and fold it up again, repeat until you reach the top. It’s kind of like rolling up the dough, but it’s flat folds.

slice into ribbonsGrab a sharp knife and cut the dough into 1/4 – 1/2 inch strips.

draped noodlesUnroll the strips and drape over whatever is handy. If this is your first time making pasta, I bet you don’t have a past drying rack, either. I used one of my grill accessories as it happened to be nearby. Whatever floats your boat.

Let the noodles hang out and dry for a while. Some tutorials said ten minutes, some said three hours. My noodles hung out somewhere around 30 – 45 minutes.

pot of waterNow, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

boil the noodlesDrop your noodles in and check after 3 minutes. Fresh noodles don’t have to boil anywhere near as long as dried pasta. Don’t forget about them or you will have a pot of starchy mush, not the best way to end a culinary adventure.

Drain and toss with your favorite sauce.

In our case, we had alfredo with beef stewed in a wine gravy. All I can really say is NOM!

Homemade noodles

Enjoy!

Lemon Shake-Up Recipe — A Refreshing Summer Drink

Bobbie says:

Ah, summer. The scorching heat, the overwhelming humidity. Fun times. Well, when life hands you lemons, shake things up a bit and make Lemon Shake-Ups. Depending where you live, you may have had these treats at a local fair or carnival. For the uninitiated, a Lemon Shake-Up is basically a freshly made individual lemonade. At the fairs where I’ve had them, it’s a big production: One person operates a big press to squeeze the bejeebers out of a lemon, into a tall, heavy glass. Another person adds sugar, ice and some water. A paper cup is turned upside down over the glass, and someone else shakes it all up to dissolve the sugar. The whole lot is dumped into the paper cup, water is added to fill, et voila – a Lemon Shakeup is served. You’d have to pay four or five dollars for this refreshing beverage and the opportunity to see it being freshly made in front of you.

I’d been reminiscing about this unofficial beverage of state and county fairs, but not about the hassle of actually going to a fair and the expense of paying several dollars for one beverage. For the cost fair admission and ONE Lemon Shake-Up at the fair, I could buy enough lemons to make shake-ups for the whole neighborhood.

Making Lemon Shake-Ups at home means I can choose my own sweetener. Most of the time, I use a stevia-based sweetener such as Truvia or Pure Via. (I like my lemonade on the tart side, so I usually use 3 packets.) Honey and lemon is a great flavor combination, but getting honey to dissolve well in the ice water is difficult, so it’s best to first melt the honey in a small amount of very hot water. Once the honey melts into the water, add the ice and lemon and proceed. (As always, do not give honey or anything prepared with honey to infants under one year of age.)

Whatever sweetener you choose, use an amount equivalent in sweetening power to ¼ cup sugar.

 

 

Lemon reamer

Personally, I prefer this handheld wooden kind,because I find I’m able to get more juice out of each lemon or lime. I used to have one made of shiny black plastic, which looked gorgeous but was too slippery to get a good grip, so I could hardly
squeeze anything out of the fruit. That tool wore out its welcome almost immediately.

 

 

 

One-quart jar with lid

If you use a wide-mouth jar, you can put the lemon halves right in for a more authentic shake-up. If not, you can cut the lemon into smaller pieces after you’ve juiced it thoroughly. Make sure it has a leak-proof lid. This replaces the potential disaster of the tall-glass-and-large-paper-cup shaking method used in the carnival and fair production.

 

Lemon Shake-Up Recipe

  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup sugar OR 3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or agave nectar (OR equivalent amount of a sugar substitute – read package to determine amount – remember to dissolve thick syrupy sweeteners in a little hot water first)
  • 1 cup ice (crushed or cubes)
  • Cold water

Wash the lemon, and cut it in half. Juice the lemon into the jar using your method of choice. If you prefer your drink to be slightly less “authentic” you can remove the seeds.

Add the lemon halves to the jar. If you wish, you can cut these into smaller pieces first, but it’s not
necessary. Add the sugar or sweetener, ice and about a cup of water. Cover tightly and shake until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the lid and add enough ice and water to make 16 ounces. Pour into a tall glass, or just drink it straight from the jar. I won’t tell.

 

 Bobbie Laughman is a freelance writer who thinks she’s normal. Don’t try to tell her otherwise.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps, Regular and Gluten-Free

Heather says

Did you think oven fried goodness was out of reach just because you have to go gluten-free?

Here’s a simple, magic substitution for you… swap crushed Rice Chex for Panko crumbs and you’re set. No other changes, no mixing a bazillion different flours or buying special bread to make your own crumbs. Take out your aggression on a handful of cereal and call it a day.

Tested. Tasted. Proven.

I really like oven-fried zucchini chips, but find them a bit too fiddly for most occasions. If you have older kids, make them bread the zucchini, it’s a great exercise in patience with a decent pay off. I see these often suggested for parties, but unless you want to keep the oven on until serving time, save them for a rainy afternoon with a craving for some savory, crispy deliciousness.

zucchini crisps

 

: Zucchini Parmesan Crisps (Gluten-Free)

: Crisp, cheesy, oven-fried zucchini chips

  • 2 medium – large zucchini sliced thinly (use the slicer on a grater)
  • 2 eggs
  • splash of milk or water
  • 1 cup grated parmesan -yes, the cheap stuff
  • 1 cup Rice Chex, crushed  -if you don’t have a wheat allergy / you can use Panko crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Instructions:

  • Spread the sliced zucchini on paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt
  • Turn the oven on to 450°F
  • Beat the eggs with either a splash of milk or water in a shallow bowl to create an egg wash.
  • In a second shallow bowl or dish, combine the crushed cereal, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, a pinch of salt if desired, and a few turns of fresh ground pepper. (If you want to kick up the heat a little, cayenne pepper is a nice addition)
  • Grease a baking sheet.
  • Roll or blot the zucchini in the paper towel to absorb the moisture it sweated due to the sprinkle of salt.
  • Dip the zucchini slices in the egg wash and then the breading.
  • Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  • Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes and flip the zucchini slices with a fork or tongs. Bake for another 8 – 10 minutes depending on how done / crispy you like your cheese. Watch them carefully toward the end.
  • Serve immediately.

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

How to Fry an Egg

Heather says:

Today we’re covering fried eggs -as new projects to procrastinate develop- I’ll also address: scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, quiche, and my as yet unnamed hybrid of the three techniques that feeds my family on a busy evening when I have no interest in effort.

So what is a fried egg? Well there are five ways to have them, in this tutorial:

The Great Fried Egg TutorialGot that?

If you do not have a nonstick pan before you even pull the eggs out of the fridge, you have a little prep work. Grab a bottle of vegetable oil, a paper towel, salt, and your pan. Wipe the pan with a thin coat of vegetable oil. Heat the pan over medium high heat until it is very hot, but not smoking. Turn off the burner and let it cool completely. Your pan is now conditioned and primed for use.

You must do this if you are using a stainless steel pan or the eggs will stick in the tiny scratches and pits on your pan’s surface. The vegetable oil seals these cracks and lets the eggs fry without making a horrific stuck on mess. If some bits of egg do stick to your pan, scrub with a little bit of salt and a paper towel between batches. If you use soap and water, you’ll have to recondition your pan before cooking more eggs.

Now we’re ready to fry some eggs.

Whether the eggs are basted, sunny side up, over light (easy), over medium, or over hard they all start the same:

Gather your conditioned or nonstick pan, your fat -butter, bacon grease, coconut oil, or vegetable oil,- and a spatula. Flipping eggs without a spatula will be covered in a future post. Just hang tight if that’s your goal.

The amount of fat you’ll use depends completely on the size of your pan. You want 1/8″ of fat / oil, less than that and the eggs may stick with more, they may be greasy.

Turn your burner to medium or your griddle to 325F. Allow the pan and fat to heat. To check and see if the pan is ready sprinkle a TINY -you read that right? TINY- amount of water. It should sizzle. If it pops, turn the heat DOWN.

Oil that is too hot causes brown, crispy edges.

Oil that is too cool lets the eggs spread too far which makes them harder to flip.

Reduce the heat to low, unless you’re using a griddle, in that case just leave it alone, but know you’ll have to flip sooner.

Now here’s where the methods diverge.

Baste with a lidFor basted eggs, sprinkle a few drops of water over the eggs and cover. Cook just until the whites are set. The steam will create a thin film of cooked white over the yolk.

For sunny side up eggs cook slowly until the whites are set, then use a spatula to remove from the pan. This is boring, but effective.

To fry eggs over light, medium, or hard they must be turned.

Egg Flip Slide the tip of your spatula all the way around the edge of the white, to ensure the egg is not sticking the pan. Then, slide the spatula halfway under the eggs, in one motion lift up and turn over toward the side of the egg that does not have the spatula under it. That edge (marked in my ever so spiffy illustration with a blue arrow) should never lose contact with the pan.

Remember! Flip gently or suffer the consequence of broken yolks. Remember you will probably break a few before you get the hang of the turn.

Ready to flipFor over light / easy eggs leave them alone until the edge of the white is set, there will still be a pool of unset white surrounding the yolk. Let the egg cook for only a few seconds to set the rest of the white and transfer it to a plate to serve.

Over medium eggs should cook until the white is mostly set, then turned and allowed to cook for 15 – 20 seconds. The yolk should be thick and partially, but not fully cooked. If you break it with a fork, it should still flow, but not be super runny.

Break YolksFor over hard eggs, break the yolk with a fork, then flip and allow to cook until the yolk is completely set.

Enjoy!

Related Post:

How to Hard Boil an Egg