The last couple of years I've been assigned the squash dish for Thanksgiving dinner. However, this year green beans were requested. I always have an interesting time finding things that are intriguing taste-wise but will travel well (I have the furthest to go usually in transport) and be easy to serve without taking up too much oven or stove-top space prior to dinner. In any case, here's this year's choice, which was both well-received and easy to make as well as to serve.
Green Beans with Coriander and Garlic
(as seen on Sara's Secrets on the Food Network)
2 pounds tender young green beans, washed and tipped
3 quarts boiling water, with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt added
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
5 to 6 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice
3 to 4 TBSP cider vinegar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Cook the beans in the boiling salted water in a large covered saucepan over moderate heat 10 to 12 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, place the garlic and coriander in a large heatproof bowl. As soon as the beans are done, drain well, return to moderate heat, and shake the pan 30 to 40 seconds to take out all the excess moisture. Place the hot beans on top of the garlic and coriander and let stand 10 minutes. Add 5 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss well to mix; cover and marinate in the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours, or better if overnight.
About 45 minutes before serving, bring the beans from the refrigerator and let stand still covered, on the counter. Just before serving, add the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, and the pepper. Toss well, and add more vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, if needed.
Grilled Lamb Chops with Spicy Chili-Cilantro Sauce
from Bon Appetit (June 1998) - adjusted
2 TBSP chili powder
1 1/2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 TBSP dried oregano
1/2 TBSP ground cumin
3/4 tsp garlic powder
2 lamb shoulder chops (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 TBSP chopped garlic
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Combine chili powder, cilantro, oregano, cumin and garlic powder in small bowl. Coat lamb chops with spice mixture. Place lamb chops in glass baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add red wine and beef stock. Boil until sauce is reduced to a bit less than 1/2 volume, about 30 minutes. Remove sauce from heat. Add butter 1 piece at a time, whisking until melted after each addition.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Grill or broil lamb chops to desired doneness, about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Notes: I made one goof-up while following this one. I neglected to reserve any chili powder for the sauce (as per the magazine's instructions) and instead put the entire amount in the rub. It worked out just fine (actually quite yummy), but obviously I'll have to try it the other way to see if there's any noticeable difference.
Last night, by request, I made Yogurtlu Basti, which seems to have become something of a favorite around here. In fact, it's popular enough that it surprised me to discover that there was a way to make it even better. Because I was busy making couscous at the time, I ended up letting the chicken and onions braise a bit longer, indeed there was the barest amount of water left in the bottom of the pan. The onions were browned and had started to roast so when I swirled in the yogurt sauce it came out darker and with a more complex flavor. From the reaction, this is apparently the way I'll be making it from now on.
Inspired by Ming Tsai's "Asian Marinated Pork Loin with Gingered Sweet Potatoes and Five-Spice Apples", I put this together the other night.
Pork Chops with Five Spice Apple Dressing
a Jennifer Original
2 TBSP olive oil
1/3 cup chopped red onion
3/4 tsp five spice powder
1/2 TBSP brown sugar
1 Granny Apple, diced
1/3 cup baby 'bella mushrooms
1 1/2 TBSP apple juice
additional 1/2 cup apple juice
1 TBSP butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onion in olive oil (approximately 8 minutes or until they start to turn brown). Add five spice powder, brown sugar, 2/3rds of apple, mushrooms, and 1 1/2 TBSP apple juice. Heat through (about 2 minutes).
Season pork chops with black pepper. Make a pocket in the pork chops and stuff spiced apple-mushroom mixture inside. Secure pockets with toothpicks. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, return remaining unused stuffing to heat. Add 1/2 cup apple juice and reduce by about 1/2 liquid volume. Just before serving, whisk in 1 TBSP butter. Serve sauce mixture over top of baked pork chops.
Notes: The difference in texture between the interior and exterior mixtures made this complex in the mouth. Oh, and what to do with the remaining bits of apple? Actually I never diced them and just munched on them while cooking.
10/1/05 - edited to add photo from meal on 9/28
I'm definitely overdue to remark on the occasion afforded me the evening prior to my birthday for dinner and concert in New York. The aformentioned took place at Borgo Antico, located at 22 East 13th Street (details on the latter can be found here).
This season the restaurant is featuring specials focused on wild game, though not everything on their website is available each evening. On the night we ate there, I chose a pasta dish with a venison ragu, and Michael had the wild boar stew. Both were very, very tasty. And for dessert we went out on a non-chocolate limb and had a lemony bread pudding that was just marvelous.
The downstairs level has a bar and open tables that promote a friendly atmosphere. The upstairs - where we dined - is a cosy and warm affair conducive to conversation. And I certainly enjoyed myself very much.
Thursday night's menu....
Lebanese Baked Kibbeh
1 pound lean ground lamb (or beef)
1/2 cup bulgur
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 TBSP walnuts
2 TBSP water
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Rinse and soak bulgur: Place bulgur in small bowl and cover with water. Pour off through a sieve (or cheesecloth). Repeat until water runs clear. Cover bulgur and let soak about 10 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
Combine meat, bulgur, onion, and spices. Process by hand (similar to kneading meatloaf) until doughy.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 inch square baking dish. Press half the meat mixture into the pan. Sprinkle in nuts. Cover with remaining meat. While still in pan cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Brush oil over top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until firm and browned well. Serve from pan or invert onto platter.
Notes: There are other variations of this common Mediterranean dish, including a fried version. And a raw one. The first few bites of this were odd to me. I think I was expecting it to taste differently. But then the spices started to mingle in the back of my mouth and I liked it better with each bite. Also, I served it with a cucumber yogurt sauce that I think helped make it more complex. Otherwise, it might be better as a first course and not a main course.
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber, seeded and diced
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP garlic, minced
1 tsp ground white pepper
Mix all ingredients and let sit at least 1/2 hour.
...which apparently translates as "Chicken with Tomatoes and Honey." This is a Moroccan tagine.
Djaj Matisha Mesla
from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
3 1/2 - 4 lb chicken, cut into quarters
3 TBSP peanut or vegetable oil
1 large onion, grated
2 pounds tomato, peeled and cut into pieces
salt and plenty of pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered saffron
2 TBSP clear honey
3/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted
2 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted
Put all the ingredients except honey, almonds, and sesame seeds in a large pan. Cook gently, covered, turning the chicken occasionally, for about 1 1/4 hours, or until the flesh is tender and can be pulled off the bone easily.
Remove chicken and continue to cook the sauce over medium heat until reduced to a thick sizzling cream. Stir as it begins to caramelize, and be careful it doesn't stick or burn. Now stir in the honey, return the chicken to the sauce and heat through. Serve hot, covered with sauce and sprinkled with almonds and sesame seeds.
Notes: I made this with four generously sized chicken legs, and since I didn't have the saffron on hand, I left it out. The work is in the waiting as the delicious scents fill the kitchen. But after a plate full of tender chicken, it was well worth it.
A stone's throw from the capitol building, this brewpub has three additional branches. Luckily, this place was far less crowded than we expected. So, we had a chance to sit and relax and enjoy the meal. We began with the eastern shore crab dip (a spinach and artichoke mix with crab added) -- very tasty. For the main entrees: bistro beefsteak garni (a lovely tender center cut with a peppery garlic seasoning) and a salmon stack (maple glazed filets on couscous). Both were delicious and my only complaint might be that I wish the portions had been larger. We rounded out the meal with the sampler of the local brew - the porter didn't prove to our liking (but I'm never fond of that), and the pumpkin ale was a spicy surprise (and much more appealing than my one and only attempt to homebrew the same). The other three flavors were smooth if perhaps a bit too similar too each other to warrant more mention. Overall, a fun place for dinner and the kitchens are to be complimented for not letting the brew carry all the load.
Located in the Capitol Hill area at 633 Pennsylvania Ave SE, this Turkish restaurant is one in a string of nearby ethnic eateries. The food was appealing, though the extremely tender lamb shank doesn't strike one as middle eastern (it's rather almost Irish). But the kebab was authentic enough. And the meal was entirely saved by the tasty baklava. Overall, though, I'd have to say that I'm spoiled by The Istanbul Cafe in New Haven where the hospitality and the amazing food make one feel as if they were being welcomed into a traditional home for dinner.