Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans

saltgirl9.jpgBobbie 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.

 

 

Popovers in a Muffin Tin

retrochick.JPGMichele says:

Have you ever had a popover?  If you haven’t, you’re missing out on one of my all-time favorite sides for a Sunday roast.  Crispy and crunchy outside with an airy inside, popovers are the perfect utensil for transporting gravy from plate to mouth.  Like Yorkshire puddings without the pan drippings, popovers are simple to make with five ingredients you probably already have in the house—or seven if you’re a fan of pepper and Parmesan cheese.  And no, you don’t need some fancy schmancy popover pan.  The most difficult part of this recipe is keeping yourself from peeking on them during the baking process!  (Seriously, don’t open the oven until 30 minutes into baking.  Deliciously good things come to those who wait.)

Looking back, I think I may have just undersold the deliciousness that is a popover.  Don’t get me wrong, most would agree that popovers are absolutely lovely eaten plain or as a Sunday roast side dish, but few people are unaware that popovers lead a double life as the English version of a taco shell.  Once cooked, popovers can be halved and filled with just about anything from cheese to eggs to fruit to salad. In fact, if you’d put it on bread, in a tortilla, or atop puff pastry, chances are that it’ll be equally good inside a popover.  The worst thing about popovers?  Filled or not, you can’t have just one!

popover5

Popovers in a Muffin Tin

Note: Let the cold ingredients sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before making the batter; cold batter makes for doughy popovers!  Use a gentle hand when whisking the batter because over mixed popovers are more commonly known as “yucky”.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Step One: Preheat the oven to 450 F.

While the oven is preheating, make your batter.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 cup flour, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt.  Remember not to overmix!

Crack two eggs into the batter and whisk again, mixing only until the batter is just combined.  The finished batter will look like crepe batter or heavy cream and may have a couple of lumps.  Let sit until the oven has reached 450 F.
popover1

Step Two: Liberally grease a heavy standard muffin tin with the additional melted butter.  Fill each muffin cup with a scant 3 tablespoons of batter.  The amount in each cup is not important, so long as they are evenly filled.
popover10

Top each uncooked popover with a grind of black pepper and/or a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese. (Both optional but highly recommended.)
popover2

Step Three: Place the popovers in the preheated oven, close the door and keep it closed.  After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 350 F.  Bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the popovers are browned.

Step Four: After you remove the popovers from the oven, use a paring knife to poke a hole in the top of each one to allow the steam to escape. (Very few things in life are worse than soggy popovers.)
popover4

Step Five: Once you’ve created a vent for the steam, immediately transfer the popovers to a cooling rack.  If the popovers seem stuck to the pan, use the back of a paring- or butter knife to release the sides.
popover5

If you cut the popovers in half and find that they look like the picture below, use your fingers or a paring knife to remove the excess dough.
popover8

Ideally, however, they should look something like this:
popover7

Serve immediately, or halve and fill with something tasty (may I recommend arugula and chicken salad?  Mmmmmm…).
popover9

Makes 12 popovers.

P.S. If you have leftovers, store them in a zip top bag.  They will get soggy overnight, but they can be easily re-crisped.  Set the soggy popovers on an ungreased baking sheet, then place the baking sheet in your cold oven.  Set the oven to preheat to 350 F.  Once the oven has preheated, remove the popovers from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack.  Serve immediately.

Michele Newell is a housewife turned blogger turned Home Ec 101 contributor.  You can read her near daily ramblings at Dreams Unreal.

Submitted to: Mouthwatering Monday

Picnic Perfect: Potato Salad

Dear Home Ec 101:

My neighborhood will soon be throwing their annual blockparty. I don’t want anyone to know that I can’t cook for beans. Do you have a recipe for me? Please don’t tell me just to go to the deli and put it in a new bowl. I want to try, but I’m busy and I need something I can make the night before. Oh, and I’m vegetarian but eggs and dairy are fine.

Signed,

Persnickety Picnicker

Heather says:

I recently talked my mother into giving up her potato salad recipe. Everyone needs a go-to dish for events like this and as long as you promise she won’t be there, you are welcome to bring this dish. This recipe is easily halved and makes a great side dish for BBQ dinners.

 

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold for best results)
  • 5 hardboiled eggs – (save two for garnish) And here’s How to Hard Boil Eggs
  • 1 medium sweet onion – diced
  • 2-3 green onions – chopped or diced
  • 2 stalks of celery – chopped or diced
  • ½ cup canned olives – green and black, sliced (save a few for garnis)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 TBSP sweet pickle relish
  • 1 or 2 dill pickles, diced or chopped
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2-3 TBSP honey mustard or honey mustard salad dressing
  • Salt / Pepper to taste
  • Paprika for garnish / color

Peel and cut up the potatoes, letting them sit in a bowl of lightly salted water during preparation.  Rinse several times and place into deep pan, cover with water. Bring to a simmer or low boil on medium heat until potatoes are cooked, but not mushy, between 10 – 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing. In a separate, medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, mustard, honey mustard, pickle relish, diced dill pickles, celery, sweet and green onions, and salt/pepper. Taste this mixture (use a clean spoon, not your fingers, please!)

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. When cool enough to handle, place potatoes in a large bowl.  Peel and cut up the hardboiled eggs (reserving two). Add these to potato mixture.

When you are satisfied with the tastes of the dressing fold it into the potato and eggs. To do this, slide your spoon or spatula down the side of the bowl and then scoop the potatoes to the center. Turn the bowl a little after each scoop. Doing this prevents the spoon from mashing the potatoes.

Cover tightly and refrigerate. It’s best if the flavors have several hours to blend.

Just before serving, add slices of eggs or olives for garnish and sprinkle with paprika for color, if desired.

Enjoy!

*Check out Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale*

Plato’s Potato Salad Recipe – The Requisite Summer Cookout Side Dish

Bobbie sez:Bobbie says:

Am I the only one who thinks a summer cookout just doesn’t seem right without potato salad? Whether you’re planning a barbecue for the July Fourth Independence Day here in the states, or planning a small family picnic; this easy potato salad recipe will round out the menu nicely.

I had a fear of making potato salad for a while. When I still lived at home, my parents had a friend, who was a very nice lady; but a rather dreadful cook. Her chili was thin and watery and I doubt a single chili pepper in any form was ever anywhere near it; and her potato salad was crunchy. Not from crisp, fresh bits of celery or onion, or even bacon. It was the potatoes. My husband has a similar story, of a beloved relative whose potato salad was spoken of only in hushed tones so as not to hurt her feelings. I did not want to be THAT person.

And when I finally decided to give it a go, guess who I turned out to be? Yep. The crunchy-potatoes-potato-salad-maker person. Fortunately, it was only for my own household, no guests, and it was only some of the potatoes that were a bit not un-crunchy. So, mostly edible. I kept working at it, trying different methods for getting the potatoes just right, and tweaking the dressing based on family input.

I was certain I’d finally perfected my potato salad on the day my husband referred to it as “Plato’s Potato Salad.”

We’d both had to take the same religion & philosophy course long ago at Grove City College, so I knew exactly what he meant. You’ve heard of Plato, that wacky ancient Greek philosopher? Well, he had this notion that things in the physical world were only cheap knockoffs of perfect things that existed only in the realm of thought. (No, seriously. It’s called Plato’s Theory of Forms. Look it up.) That chair you’re sitting on, comfy as it may be, is nowhere the ideal of perfect chair-ness that exists in your mind. So, when my husband called this Plato’s Potato Salad, I knew he liked it…

A lot.

Now that we’ve gotten the involuntary Greek philosophy lesson out of the way, on to the actual food discussion. I think it’s time for a picture.

Potato Salad - better and cheaper than the deli, with my lame atttempt at garnishing.

And there it is. I’m presentationally-impaired, so forgive my lame attempt at a garnish.

This is a pretty simple recipe, with only four chopped ingredients tossed with a non-sweet dressing. If you prefer yours on the sweet side or with – as we say at our house – “lots of stuff in it” then you might want to check out the potato salad recipe that Heather posted in 2009. That recipe also uses a different method of cooking the potatoes, which of course you could use here, as well. When I try it that way, I tend to end up making mashed potatoes and trying the potato salad again at a later time. It’s probably just my inability to pay attention to a timer beyond setting the thing. My method still uses a timer, but it’s slightly more forgiving in the paying-attention department.

 

Plato’s Potato Salad Recipe

  • 2 pounds medium potatoes (5 to 6) – enough to end up with 4 1/2 cups cubed, cooked potatoes
  • 6 hard cooked eggs, peeled
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (yellow or purple)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Wash the potatoes, scrubbing well with a brush if they’re very dirty. You want them completely free of dirt before cooking to avoid simmering the potatoes in muddy water. That wouldn’t be conducive to tasty tater salad. Get ‘em clean, kids.

Choose a pot large enough to hold all the potatoes in one layer, and make sure it has a lid that fits well. Fill with water to a depth of 1 inch and bring to a boil. Add the whole, clean and not-peeled potatoes. Cover tightly and return to boiling. Reduce heat to a high simmer and cook 30 to 35 minutes or until tender. If you can push a table knife (not a sharp knife) easily through to the center of the largest potato, they’re done. Drain and allow potatoes to cool until you can handle them enough to peel.

While the potatoes are cooking and cooling, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar and pepper. Set aside. Oh, and if you haven’t cooked your eggs yet, git ‘er done.

Here’s how I peel the cooked potatoes: take a sharp, non-serrated paring knife and use it to scrape the skin right off. I hold the knife so the blade is perpendicular to the surface of the potato. It comes off rather easily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks, or smaller if you prefer. Chop up the eggs into bite size or smaller pieces. I like big chunks of egg, but others may not. If you want to garnish with egg slices, cook an extra egg or two, then peel and keep in the fridge to slice just before serving.

 

Put the potatoes, eggs, celery and onion in a large bowl.

Pour dressing over and gently mix until all pieces are coated well.

 

 

Transfer to storage container or serving bowl and cover. Chill a bare minimum of two hours, but preferably several hours or overnight. Salad should be stirred gently before serving (or before adding your garnish if you’re doing that)

Recipe makes 3 1/4 pounds, or about 14 half-cup servings

Bobbie Laughman shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. You could report her, but you know they’ll just laugh at you. Besides, you know he had it coming, so instead you should go check out her blog Gruntled. Sheveled. Whelmed. Send questions to Bobbie@Home-Ec101.com

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Heather says:

We love oven-roasted Brussels sprouts in our home. This variation on the classic takes advantage of bacon and all of its wonderful flavor.

Make more of these Brussels sprouts than you think you could possibly consume. Just trust me, this is especially true for holiday dinners. Oh it’s a vegetable, who wants vegetables on Thanksgiving? Apparently a LOT of people do.

: Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts
  • 4 – 6 bacon strips cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

 Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (If you have other items at 350, that will be just fine)
  • Wash and then peel off any loose or damaged leaves from the sprouts. Trim the root end and cut each sprout in half.
  • Cook the bacon in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until bacon just begins to crisp. Transfer the bacon  with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts to the skillet and season with salt and pepper and toss to coat withe the bacon grease. If you need your pan for another dish, you can transfer the sprouts to baking dish for the next step.
  • Put the pan in the oven and roast the Brussels sprouts for about 30 minutes, add the bacon and continue to roast until the sprouts are cooked through and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Enjoy!