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I imagine many people have terrible memories of eating green beans as children. Green beans from a can, mushy green beans, green bean casserole… these were never dishes foisted upon me, and for that I am grateful.

My mom’s method for cooking green beans is awesome. They have lots of garlic and soy sauce, and they’re cooked in a pan until crisp and tender but nowhere near mushy. I remember helping to snap off their little ends before she would cook them.

I don’t make green beans all that often at home and I’m not sure why. But I was at a barbecue recently and someone brought green beans, which I cooked in this manner, and was inspired to do it again at home. So this is another “method not a recipe” kind of post. You just rinse your green beans, remove the root ends, heat some olive or neutral oil in a large saute pan and toss in a bunch of chopped garlic. Cook it just a little bit but careful to not let it brown. Then toss in the green beans. Add a splash of water, cover the pan, and let them steam for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid, add a few tablsepoons of soy sauce, and let them continue to cook a few more minutes until any remaining liquid has boiled off. Taste for doneness and seasoning. Add some toasted sliced almonds for a nice crunch, if you’ve got them.

I broiled some tofu slathered in miso, soy, and rice vinegar and made some rice to go along with the beans. But this is a great side dish for your repertoire, and definitely try it if you don’t think you like green beans. It might just change your mind!

Happy Thanksgiving! This is my favorite holiday (do you wonder why?). I was literally dreaming of cooking Thanksgiving last night — although in my dream I was making Empanadas. Random. Right now I’m drinking coffee with Charlie Brown on in the background, soon I’ll put on Home for the Holidays, by far my favorite holiday movie. I think I’ve watched it approximately 50 times by now, but somehow it never gets old.

Anyway, Gemma and I are about to be cooking up a storm — here’s what’s on the menu for our (Vegetarian) Thanksgiving:

Appetizers
Baked Brie (wrapped in crescent roll dough with caramelized onions. this one’s a tradition for us.)
Rosemary Cashews
Roasted Fennel Dip with Parmesan

Main
Leek and Swiss Chard Tart

Sides (it’s all about the sides, let’s not even pretend otherwise)
Mashed Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts two ways – roasted with hazelnuts & hashed
Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Goat Cheese and Pickled Red Onions
Angel Biscuits with Cranberry Butter
Stuffing with Mushrooms, Sage and Chestnuts
Cranberry Relish

Dessert
Spiced Pumpkin Pie
I’m also debating whether to make these Cranberry Curd Bars because they sound SO GOOD.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Brian has a habit of secreting in a tin of grocery store onion dip occasionally. I’d never even seen the stuff myself, and it has that addictive flavor of something highly unnatural. Here’s the simple, natural response to such cancer-inducing stuff, and unlike many “homemade” versions of junk food, I think it’s actually better. It requires a bit of patience to caramelize the onions (it will take longer than you think) but it’s worth it in the end, because you get tartness from the yogurt, sweetness from the onions and balsamic, and a tiny hint of heat from the cayenne. I may need to have a party just to make this dip again!

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I had this post sitting, waiting to go up before I left for vacation…so here it is! I was in a rush so the pic is crummy, but use your imagination.

Latkes are so simple and quick — the shredded veggies cook up in no time, and you can spice them up with whatever you want. I found a recipe for beet latkes and decided to combine them with the sweet potatoes. For a simple topping, you could just add a dollop of sour cream (always yummy with beets — think borscht) and if you like dill, it’d probably be great with this as well. I chose to make this tangy green apple & celery slaw instead, with greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayo. The crunchy texture of the slaw goes nicely with the crisp yet soft latkes. A great weeknight meal served in this case with some Trader Joe’s chicken sausage for bulk.

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Ramps, ramps, ramps. It’s all the New York foodies can talk about this time of year. They’re in season for about five minutes, so everyone scrambles to get them from the farmer’s market before they’re a fleeting memory of early spring. What are ramps you ask? At one point I was under the false impression they had something to do with ferns, but in fact they are spring onions, otherwise known as wild leeks (they are like a very delicate cross between a scallion and a leek, but the roots are tiny and the flavor is mild).

Aware of the ramp fervor yet at a loss for ramp-related recipes, inspiration arrived by way of The Spotted Pig this weekend. Brian’s dad was in town, and very generously took us out to dinner Friday night at said West Village gastropub. There were a few items on the menu featuring ramps, but what spoke to me was the braised rabbit with ramps and fennel. Ok, you may think I am a horrible person for eating rabbit — well, I defy you to try it and not want to eat it ALL THE TIME. It’s like the most flavorful moist dark meat chicken you’ve ever had, times a million. I cannot sing its praises enough.

In any case, the dish was expectedly delicious, and the braised vegetables were no exception. I knew I wanted to cook a farmer’s market meal Saturday so I decided on braised vegetables (whatever looked good) with ramps for my side. Saturday was the first really warm day we’ve had this spring, so people were out in droves, and as I feared, many market stands were picked over by the time I got there. Luckily, I found some good ramps, some tiny, tiny potatoes (the tiniest I’ve ever seen, in fact), and carrots. Because the licorice flavor of the fennel had been so good in the rabbit dish, I decided to flavor my veggies with tarragon, an herb I rarely use, but which worked out perfectly here, enhancing the natural sweetness of the carrots and potatoes.

Braised Potatoes, Carrots and Ramps with Tarragon
Cooking and prep time approx. 35 – 40 minutes
Serves 4

1 lb. small potatoes — creamers, fingerlings, Yukon Gold would all work. If you can’t find tiny bite-sized ones, dice as necessary
1 bunch ramps, root ends cut off, leaves separated from roots (you could easily sub for greens like kale or spinach when ramps are out of season, or stick with the onion family with leeks. Cooking time would increase.)
6 small carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thickly
3/4 c. chicken stock
1 T. tarragon, chopped
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 T. butter

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy stockpot with a lid. Add potatoes and garlic and saute for a few minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil; lower heat so liquid is simmering but not boiling. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and tarragon. Cover again and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and the carrots are just tender. Stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the ramp roots and cook for 2 – 3 minutes with the lid off, then add ramp leaves and cook, stirring, until leaves are just tender. Add butter and stir until melted; taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.

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schnitzel

First off, I would like to clarify something: schnitzel does not mean “sausage”. I know Wikipedia is not exactly an unimpeachable authority but I will quote it for the sake of corroboration:

Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese Schnitzel in German, where Schnitzel means a cutlet without bones) is a traditional Ausrian dish and popular part of Viennese and Austrian cuisine, consisting of a thin slice of veal coated in breadcrumbs and fried. In Austria the dish is traditionally served with a lemon slice, lingonberry jam and either potato salad or potatoes with parsley and butter. While the traditional Wiener Schnitzel is made of veal, it is now sometimes made of pork, though in that case it is often called Schnitzel Wiener Art (Germany) or Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein salad or potatoes with (Austria) to differentiate it from the original.

Thank you, Wikipedia!

Now, on to the dish. I saw this recipe on Simply Recipes and really, anything breaded and fried is OK by me. I’ve never had the traditional Wiener Schnitzel because I don’t eat veal, but this seemed like a compromise. I paired it with a braised cabbage recipe from How to Cook Everything, and it all turned out fine. Not spectacular, I will admit, but good.

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Sunday dinner. The last chance to cook something nice before the week starts and any overly complex recipes are deferred to next weekend. I saw the new recipes from Gourmet for March and everything about the Panfried Smashed Potatoes sounded amazing. So I decided to pair them with the rest of the broccoli I had and a chicken recipe I stumbled across this week with cardamom and honey.

The potatoes were delicious – crispy on the outside, cheesy and salty. I used small Yukon Golds instead of red potatoes, with no discernible downside. The chicken came out perfectly too, despite a sputtering oil burn I sustained on my arm (beware hot oil and chicken with a marinade!) and a slightly longer cooking time in the oven than I’d anticipated. I made 4 chicken breasts so that I would have some leftovers to make chicken sandwiches tomorrow and probably Tuesday for lunch. I realized my problem with leftover chicken is more about reheated leftover chicken – when it’s part of a chicken salad or sliced on a sandwich it doesn’t seem to have that gamey flavor that grosses me out.

Two cardamom-centric recipes in one day! It’s a really interesting spice…glad I’ve added it to my repertoire.

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Whenever I’m in a pinch for something to eat that’s relatively quick, easy, filling, and nutritious, I get yams. They’re good in so many forms, and such a perfect side dish. I needed something to fill out my lunch tomorrow so I decided to make roasted yam medallions – which I then seasoned with some leftover jalapeno cilantro butter and a splash of lime juice. The ones that got really caramelized (they look black and burned but they aren’t) are so sweet, almost like candy (I don’t know why anyone would ever add a marshmallow to a yam) and the tartness of the lime and slight spice of the jalapeno are a nice counter to that.

I peeled the yams, then sliced them about 1 inch thick. I coated them with a little olive oil and salt and roasted them at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. I flipped them halfway through so they browned evenly. You could eat them as-is, add a compound butter, or any variety of spices. This is my new favorite yam preparation!

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