The Sensitive Kitchen

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

Canned soup is so 50 years ago. Make your own!

1 1/2 lbs slender green beans, trimmed, cut into 1" lengths
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup onion, chopped small
10 oz cremini mushrooms, halved and sliced (to taste)
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
Salt and pepper
3 shallots, sliced

Steam green beans until tender. Drain and set aside.

While green beans steam, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion in butter until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook another 8 minutes or until mushrooms have given up their juice and juice has largely cooked off. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from saucepan and set aside.

In same saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour, whisking constantly, until mixture turns light golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in milk, whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in mushroom mixture, then green beans.

Butter a 9"x13" casserole dish. Spread green bean mixture evenly in dish. (Casserole can be held at this point in refrigerator, covered, 2 days.) Bake until dish is heated through and bubbly.

While dish bakes, toss shallots in flour, then fry in butter until crisp. Remove dish from oven and sprinkle with fried shallots. Serve.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Streusel

My mother used to make these when I was little. With a few adaptations, I have made them every year. Note that this recipe is sized to feed a crowd of 16 to 20. I go ahead and make this amount every year because if I didn't, my family would fight over who got the leftovers.

5 lbs jewel yams (sweet potatoes)
1/2 c half-and-half
1/2 c Grade B maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c Sucanat or other dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/3 c butter, softened
1/2 c chopped pecans

Peel the yams, cut them into chunks, and steam them until fork-tender. Let rest until cool enough to handle.

Place steamed yams in the work bowl of a food processor with half-and-half, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and egg (this may have to be done in batches). Puree until smooth. Spoon potato mixture evenly into a 13"x9" baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Work butter in with your hands until mixture is the texture of wet sand. It should come together when squeezed but crumble apart very easily. The amount of butter you use will depend on the moisture present in your flour; you will need more in dry weather. When the texture is right, stir in the pecans. (This streusel can be prepared a couple of weeks ahead and frozen; bring to room temperature before use.)

Sprinkle streusel over whipped yams. (Casserole can be held at this point for 1 day in refrigerator). Bake covered at 375° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until topping is browned.


Chocolate Lava Cakes with Pistachio Cream

These were absolutely the hit of my Thanksgiving menu this year. The sauce would be good on many many things; I took great pleasure in licking the spoon when no one was looking.

1 c shelled dry-roasted pistachios
1 3/4 c sugar, divided
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa
2 large eggs
5 large egg whites
2 ozs bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1 c milk
Dash of salt

Place pistachios in a food processor; process until a crumbly paste forms (about 3 1/2 minutes), scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Place half of pistachio butter in a metal bowl with 1 1/4 cups sugar, cocoa, eggs, and egg whites. Stir well (I used beaters). Add chocolate; cook over simmering water until chocolate melts and sugar dissolves (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat; add baking powder and vanilla. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray and sugar. Chill a minimum of 2 hours. (I chilled them for 10 and they baked fine.)

Place remaining half of pistachio butter with 1/2 cup sugar in food processor; pulse until combined. Add milk and salt; process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve into a small saucepan. (Solids can be eaten on toast - YUM.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes or until thick. Pour into a bowl, cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 450°. Bake cakes 8-9 minutes or until almost set (centers will not be firm). Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert cakes onto a cutting board, then place each on a dessert plate. Drizzle with sauce.

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Cheddar-Stuffed Mushrooms

These smell as good as, if not better than, they taste. Take the time to dice the cheese; it makes a difference in the finished product, giving you pockets of melted oozy goodness.

1 lb large cremini mushrooms for stuffing
2 tsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c dry breadcrumbs or panko
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp grated Asiago or other hard Italian grating cheese
3/4 c sharp cheddar or other strong cheese, in 1/8" dice
Lemon juice

Prep mushrooms: clean, then remove and finely chop stems. Set stems aside. Lay out caps open side up on a baking sheet.

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute minced shallots and minced garlic in olive oil 2 minutes or until tender. Add chopped mushroom stems; saute until soft. Add breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, Asiago and cheddar to shallot mixture; toss until blended.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling into each mushroom cap. (Can be held at this point 1 day covered in refrigerator.)

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until filling begins to brown and cheese melts. Serve warm.

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