Thursday, June 15, 2017

Great Green Things


Need an easy side dish to bring to your Father's Day Celebration? Need a dish that won't make you feel like your house has been propelled Wizard of Oz style down to the equator? Then try this delicious roasted Haricot Verts (that's the skinny, French version of green beans) recipe. 

I purchase a big bag of them already trimmed at Costco, but I find they are also available in smaller cellophane bags at most supermarkets. If you want to make use of the summer's fresh bounty and are lucky enough to find regular green beans at your local farm stand, by all means use those instead. The plumper American beans are a bit tougher than the slender French ones though (yes, there's a metaphor there).

I prefer to prepare these the night before and serve them chilled. I don't like reheating vegetables that are meant to have a bit of crispness to them, and prefer to eat them cold rather than risk a limp, tasteless version of the veg. They may be prepped several hours in advance and kept in a plastic container or Ziploc bag. They're great for tossing on the grill (see recipe below), alongside your grilled chicken and burgers for a bit of an upscale BBQ side dish.

What I love best about this recipe is there isn't even a bowl to wash as it's all mixed on the baking pan in which it's cooked!

Garlic Grilled Haricot Verts (Green Beans)

1 pound haricot verts (these are available in a cellophane bag in the supermarket already trimmed)*
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed or minced or 1 rounded tablespoon jarred, minced garlic
fresh sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Oven Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 420F degrees. 

Spread haricot verts in a thin layer on a large non-stick rimmed cookie sheet (I line baking pan with Reynold's Non-stick Foil for easier cleanup).

Drizzle beans with oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat evenly.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Toss and bake an additional 10 minutes.

May be served hot or cold.

Barbecue Directions:
Prepare beans as directed above, except place in a 9x13 disposable aluminum pan. 

Heat grill to medium-high heat.  Place beans on grill and close lid.  Cook for approximately 15 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat when beans are fork tender

*Note: You may substitute regular, fresh green beans; just rinse and trim ends.

Bonus Recipe:
If you have any leftovers make a delicious main course salad by tossing the roasted haricot verts with romaine lettuce, crumbled goat cheese, or seasoned tofu, and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds for crunch.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dads and Grads


A small kitchen appliance or gadget is great gift for the Dad who dabbles in cooking, or the new graduate that will be moving into their own apartment.  But choose wisely, an ice cream maker or pasta maker may be infrequently used, and take up precious cabinet or counter space.

I love kitchen gadgets of every stripe, but I have  a very small kitchen without a lot of storage space. As  a result, I have to be judicious when choosing which gadgets I let into the coveted space. You will not find a specific container to store half an avocado, or a special gadget to slice watermelon---I have one, it's called a knife!  I always ask myself if this gadget will a) be frequently used and b) will it make my life qualitatively better?

My two new electronic gadgets answer both these questions.  One is the Capresso milk frother, which I purchased for just under $40 at Costco.  I've seen it online for as high as the $70.  I made a few passes by the aisle, came back another day, and finally decided to treat myself. And, it was a great buy. I use it almost every day, sometimes more than once a day. Besides making amazing frothy or cold, that seriously will put the foam at Starbucks to shame, I found it makes a mean hot cocoa. There is no silt at the bottom, and I don't have the messy bubble over like I do when I make hot cocoa from scratch in the microwave. If making the variety from a packet with water, I can mix and heat the water to a nice temperature at the same time...all in about 3 minutes.   An added nutritional bonus is that my kids are not big milk drinkers.  But, if I give them foamy milk (which looks like whipped cream to them, but is 100% sugar free) they'll drink it with breakfast.

My second purchase was the result of Rosie's recent avid interest in quesadilla's. We normally use a small fying pan, thus avoiding gadget clog up in the kitchen. But when I saw the Hamilton Beach Quesadilla Maker at Kohl's on sale (and having had a great coupon and Kohl's cash) it was only about $14. Less than the cost of lunch for two at a Mexican restaurant (although Margaritas are not included).  When Rosie makes quesadillas I have to carefully monitor her time at the stove, save burning tortillas in the nick of time, and pull it off the stove just in time for optimal cheese meltage. The electric quesadilla maker indicates 2-3 minutes of cooking time is perfect for the perfect quesadilla...and it is. If you use the recommended 7-8 inch tortilla (such as Trader Joe's Rice Flour Wraps or Udi's brand Large Plain Tortillas), the edges will seal nicely giving you 6 perfectly sealed little triangles bursting with filling. If you use the 6" corn tortillas the edges don't seal, so you have to check to make sure the melted cheese doesn't sploosh out.

This machine worked really well with the Daiya shredded cheese for a great dairy free quesadilla. It melted perfectly!

Either of these are great gift ideas for Father's Day next week or an upcoming graduation!

Check out my You Tube videos demonstrating these great products: