Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jane's Green Bean Casserole

Thanksgiving Day - November 26, 2009

Admit it. You've all had the green bean casserole following the recipe on the label of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup and the can of French's French Fried Onions. Brian's mom Jane, a great cook as long as it came from a can, always made this for Thanksgiving, but instead of canned beans she was fancy - she'd use Bird's Eye Frozen green beans (I think that package also contains the recipe).

Lately, I've read several green bean casserole variations that sound tasty, but they're just missing that certain something - CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP! It wouldn't be a true green bean casserole without it.

Here' my new edition of Jane's old classic:

Start with fresh green beans. I bought a pound and a half. Wash the beans, pinch the ends off,then cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces. Blanch the beans for just a couple of minutes, drain, and drop them in a sink of ice water to stop further cooking.
Set aside, and take a photo of the pretty beans.

Saute a pound of sliced mushrooms. Julia would not approve of my saute method, as she says you should never let your mushrooms overlap in the pan - but I wasn't about to saute this many mushrooms in a single layer - so I just used a huge pan and threw them all in.

Now is when the traditional recipe kicks into gear. Preheat your oven to 375. In a casserole baking dish, empty one can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup (of course you can use "store" brands, but it's a holiday - splurge, go wild, buy the name brand)and stir in 2/3 cup milk; then add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and I like to squirt in a couple shots of tabasco, or your favorite hot sauce.

Fold in the green beans and the mushrooms, mixing well to coat all the veggies with the soup. Next stir in one half of a large can of French's French Fried Onions (again, store brand will work, but at Rock and Roll Ralph's on Sunset Boulevard, the French's brand were cheaper than the Kroeger brand during the Thanksgiving sale).

Place the casserole, uncovered, in the oven - immediately turn down the temperature to 350. Bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven, stir thoroughly and check for hotness. If it isn't quite done, put it back in for a few minutes. When hot, top with the remaining fried onions, and bake uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Voila - the classic green bean casserole with a new twist.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Boneless Chuck Beef Roast - Historical

Boneless Chuck Beef Roast
October 15, 2009. I know it seems like just yesterday when I cooked, and failed, but salvaged, the pork roast... but today's cooking assignment is a Boneless Chuck
Beef Roast, about 5 pounds and a beautiful slab of beef on a great sale at Ralphs (known as Kroger, generically).

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Rub the roast on all sides with salt, pepper and granulated garlic.
In your favorite dutch oven, heat oil, then brown the roast on all sides.
Chuck Roast Browning

Remove the roast but keep the oil on - adding in chopped fresh garlic, a small onion, chopped, and a few stalks of
celery, chopped. Sautee until the onion starts to carmelize.
Browned Roast sitting next to saute'ing onions and garlic
Saute Close Up

Add in about a cup of good red wine (remember, if you're not willing to drink the wine,
then you have no business cooking with it. Besides, you're not going to use very much of the bottle,
so you are going to HAVE to drink the rest.) I chose a Yellow Tail Shiraz/Cabernet blend from Australia.
Simmer to reduce the wine and onion/garlic/celery, and be sure to use your spoon to gather all that great char
from browing that accumulates on the sides of the pan.
Braising Base

Gently place the roast on top of the braising base (that's the wine and onion/garlic/celery for those of you
not familiar with the finer cooking terms).
Gently Rested

Now fill in all the holes and eventually cover the roast with quartered potatos, a few small whole onions (peeled)
and several carrots cut in half or thirds, depending on how big those carrots are.
The rest of the Pot contents
Pot Full, and the Roast is hidden underneath

Cover with a tight sealing lid (your favorite dutch oven should have come with one, otherwise, it should not be
your favorite dutch oven) and place in the oven, just a tad below the center rack.
Pot to the Oven. THIS is my favorite Dutch Oven - you can see why, can't you

Set your timer for 10 minutes, or go out for 2 smokes on the balcony. Then reduce the oven temperature to
250 degrees.
Ignore for 5 hours.

Now, I know 5 hours at 200 wasn't enough for my huge pork roast, so that's why I upped it to 250 - if your oven
temperature is true (ours isn't) you might want to reduce the oven to 225. Play with it, I am.

I'll report back when it's time to eat - hopefully in six hours (I'm allowing for resting time and time to fix the salad)

Thanksgiving Stuffing

I was recently asked (by Melissa Marlowe, former Olympian and Univ of Utah Gymnastics Great) if I have a good stuffing recipe, and in fact, I have what I consider to be a killer stuffing recipe. After I emailed it to her, I thought "why not put that on my blog?"
BIG CAVEAT - I have to tell you that it is based on the boxed stuff. I'm always in charge of the stuffing for the Hogan dinner, which usually involves 25 people. They initially mocked me for using boxed mix, but I've been asked to do stuffing every year for the past 10 years, so they must like it, or they really hate making their own stuffing.

It's all in the secret ingredient. Here's what I do (sorry, not photos this post):

1 box of Mrs. Cubbison's Cornbread Stuffing Mix
2 boxes of Stove Top Turkey Stuffing Mix

I follow the box recipes (add the quantities together for the 4 total bags of bread stuff) for butter and chicken stock. I use the recipe as a guide for diced onions and celery - but I usually add a bit more. I also add diced carrots - it's a secret from Lauren Suzuki - a dear friend here in LA.

Saute the veggies in butter. Then, add in the shitake mushrooms (THIS is the KEY Suzuki secret - shitake mushrooms. I buy the dried shitakes and reconstitute them for 2 days in red wine. When they're puffed back up, chop them up and return them to the wine they've soaked in). After adding the shitakes (including the wine), add the chicken stock, bring to boil, simmer (as directed on package) and then toss in the bread crumbs.

I know it doesn't sound mind boggling - but it's tasty - and I think it's gross to stuff the turkey cavity - even though my mom does it and her stuffing is always yummy. She use to crumble the stale bread, but even she now resorts to the boxed stuff.

Boxed stuffing mix is nothing to be ashamed of.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Breakfast Potatoes

I'm going to dedicate this post to Roo, who tried to drum up support for this blog on Face Book, but didn't get one response - other than my own.

You know Roo, not all meals have to be fancy or time consuming to prepare. Take today's breakfast. Hard boiled eggs and pan fried potatoes. Simply sliced the potatoes, heated some canola oil in a large fry pan, then tossed in the potato slices and sprinkled with salt, pepper and garlic. Yummy to the tummy. And so fast and easy to make.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dinner Party - November 14, 2009 (edited to add a few photos)

Mike and Amy, Al and Karen, and Brian and I are finally having our "regular" dinner party night. "Regular" in that when we started this thing 5 years ago we intended on gathering once a quarter, but now we're lucky to meet twice a year. Oh well, when we do, we always have a spectacular meal with our spectacular friends. And here's tonight's menu:

Cocktail Hour: Beefeater Martinis with Bleu Cheese stuffed Olives for the adults and Apple Berry Fruit Juice with Fresca for our Mormon friends.

Appetizer: Endive Lettuce spread with Bleu Cheese/Sour Cream spread with Bacon and Walnuts, sponsored by Al and Karen. When the Endive Lettuce runs out, spread on Rosemary Olive Oil Triscuits.

Salad Course: Mixed Greens with sliced Pear, Dried Currants, Candied Walnuts, and a homemade Vinaigrette, sponsored by Amy and Mike. Accompanied by Olive Garlic Loaf from Bristol Farms, served with a yummy Gorgonzola Butter spread. White Wine sponsored by Al and Karen.
Main Course: Pomegranate Molasses marinated boneless Rolled Leg of Lamb, served with homemade Spicy Harissa, and accompanied by Oven-Roasted Curry Cauliflower tossed with Chili Flaked Rice, sponsored by Scott and Brian. Red Wines sponsored by Al and Karen.
Dessert: Mango Pistachio Rice Pudding, sponsored by Scott and Brian.

Don't forget how important the table setting is. A nice warm touch is to add a kittie.

DELICIOUS. Perhaps photos to follow. Julia would have been proud of us.