Green Beans with Chestnuts

serving in casseroleThis Thanksgiving side dish incorporates the Native American foods chestnuts and pine nuts tossed with Blue Lake green beans, red onion, shallot, and  roasted almonds in a butter bath.

Ingredients:

One pound, more or less, Blue Lake green beans

4 Tb (1/2 cube) salted butter

1/2 red onion

1 shallot

5.2 oz package chestnuts, peeled and precooked (available at Trader Joe’s and Berkeley Bowl)

3 Tb pine nuts

About 1/4 tsp salt to taste

Several grinds black pepper

1/4 cup roasted almond pieces (available at Berkeley Bowl)

Directions:

boil beans

Fill a 3 1/2 or 4 quart pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Cut the ends off the green beans and cut into 2 inch pieces. Boil for 5 minutes, until they turn bring green.

While waiting for water to boil, fill a large bowl with ice and ice water. When beans have finished cooking, drain them over a colander then plunge into the ice bath.’

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Thinly slice the red onion and shallot and saute in the butter over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until they are soft.

chopping chestnutsSlice chestnuts and toss them and pine nuts into the onions for a few minutes. Add salt black pepper

mix in large pot.jpgDrain green beans, and be careful to remove any pieces of ice. Put green beans into a large pot. Scrape all the onion chestnut mixture over the green beans and toss well with toasted almond pieces. Adjust salt.

Spoon into a flat casserole dish if planning to reheat.

Serve as is, or make ahead and reheat in the microwave.

 

 

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Chunky Kabocha Soup with Appeal

chunky-kabocha-soup-with-appeal

Kabocha squash has a delicious green peel.  My friend Randi turned me on to kabocha soup with chunks of squash with the peel. We cut it up and roasted it with the peel immersed in a 1/2 inch water bath until it was tender. This recipe can be made vegan with vegetable stock.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Ingredients:

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1 medium kabocha squash

1 small piece of ginger root, grated to make 2 tsp (more if you really like it gingery)

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

14 oz. can coconut milk

1 quart (4 cups) broth (chicken or vegetable stock)

a few grinds black pepper

1 tsp salt to taste

about 1/4 cup of roasted green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350′

cutting-stem-off-kabochaRinse off Kabocha and dry with paper towel. Cut off the stem.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Cut squash into about 16 pieces. cut-kabocha-in-water-bathPlace in 8″ x 11″ x 2″ pan and fill pan with 1/2 inch water.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp melted coconut oil.

Roast for 45 minutes until squash is tender.

Let cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

While squash is cooling, grate ginger, discarding fibrous part. Saute it in 1 tsp coconut oil in a gallon size heavy pot.

After a minute, add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.

bite-sized-pieces-of-squashAdd the small pieces of squash to the broth. Stir in pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the softened squash into the broth. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with roasted pepitas.

Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

kabocha squash coconut soup with pepitasThis smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with a hint of ginger. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. Brandy Giggey, my student in the Episcopal Community Services CHEFS program, http://www.ecs-sf.org/programs/chefs.html, helped me develop this recipe, and critiqued each batch. After a particularly gingery batch, she suggested that I saute the ginger to mellow out the flavor.

I’ve tried this recipe with both regular and light coconut milk. The regular milk gives a more pronounced coconut flavor, but the light is lower in calories. I’ll let you choose what’s right for you.

You can roast the squash and vegetables and/or make the vegetable broth ahead of time. You can cook the vegetables in the broth ahead of time, and then blend and heat before serving.

makes 3 1/2 quarts (15 cups)

IMG_3902

Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth (recipe below) or chicken broth

1 small kabocha squash

14 oz can coconut milk

2 cups 1% milk (To make this vegan, use milk substitute)

3 large carrots, peeled

3 large leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed well.

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tb olive oil

1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

a few grinds pepper

¼ cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and roast for 30 minutes. Toss white part of  leeks and peeled carrots with olive oil on a foil-lined heavy pan. Leave squash in the oven and roast all the vegetables for another 30 minutes.???????????????????????????????While vegetables are roasting and cooling, prepare vegetable broth: Heat about 5 cups of water to boiling. Soak green parts of leeks in salad spinner and rinse at least 3 times, making sure to remove all the dirt. Roughly chop them and 4 celery sticks, and put in boiling water. Season with 1 tsp celery seeds, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp salt, simmering 1 hour. Pull out green leeks and celery with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain broth into a large bowl, then pour back into pot to boil. (If you prefer, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.)

Cut top off roasted squash then let cool. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod. Cut flesh from peel and into 1 inch chunks and slice carrots.  Saute the minced ginger in coconut oil for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown.

Heat broth and coconut milk and then add roasted squash, carrots, white part of leeks, and ginger. Simmer vegetables for about 30 minutes, and then  cool enough to blend.

Pour soup and milk into a large bowl. Fill blender half-way with liquid and then add vegetables. Liquefy and return to the pot. It took me about 3 batches to blend.  If you have an immersion blender, use that instead.

Add a few grinds of pepper, Stir in about 1 tsp sea salt, to taste, then simmer for another 15 minutes and serve.

Toast pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet at medium heat and toss on top of soup to garnish

Drunken Pecan Sweet Potato Pie

pieA pecan walks into a bar, orders a shot of Jim Beam and jumps into the glass. The bartender looks at it, shakes his head and says “You’re nuts.”

This has got to be the best sweet potato pie I have ever tasted. It combines a pecan pie topping made from bourbon soaked pecans atop a creamy, spicy, sweet potato filling. I infuse the cooked yams with cinnamon sticks just after baking to give it an earthy cinnamon flavor. It’s lower in fat than most sweet potato pies and not overly sweet.

This recipe works best when the cook is singing along with Ray Charles and James Taylor’s  “Sweet Potato Pie” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzZle2RDzTc

Ingredients:

drunken-pecans

FILLING

3 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, such as Garnet (also called yams)
6 thin cinnamon sticks
3 large eggs
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne

PECAN SOAK
3/4 cup raw pecans halves
3 Tb Jim Beam bourbon

PECAN TOPPING
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, put in just a pinch)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon                                                                                                                                      1 Tb heavy cream

Pour bourbon over pecans and let soak for 3 hours.

Make a single pie crust in a standard 9-inch pie pan or a tart pan and freeze it. Blind bake it just before filling.

Roast pierced sweet potatoes on a  foil-lined cookie sheet at 375° for about 1 ½ hours until very tender when pierced. Half-way through cooking time (45 minutes), turn the yams over.

cinnamon stick in yamI

Immediately after you pull them from the oven, pierce each end of the potatoes and insert a cinnamon stick lengthwise all the way through each end. Cover yams with foil and let cool. You can do this part a day before. Peel potatoes and remove cinnamon sticks. Purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. Measure 2 cups.

Set oven to 350°. Beat eggs in a mixer until frothy. Pour pecan-infused bourbon from pecan soak into the eggs. Beat in remaining filling ingredients until well blended. The filling will be thick. Pour into a hot pre-baked 9″ pie crust and spread level. Use a pie crust protector or wrap pie rim with 4 strips of foil  to prevent it from burning, and bake pie for 30 minutes.
caramelized-topping

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and heat to boiling. Let boil for just a minute, then turn off heat. Add cream and stir until smooth. Stir in pecans, coating them well with the caramel syrup..

pecans-coated-with-toppingStir in pecans,
Take the pie out of the oven and remove foil from pie crust. Make 2 concentric circles of pecans around the pie. Spoon extra caramel topping over the pecans.

ready for the oven

Continue to bake until center jiggles only slightly when shaken gently, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 2 hours.
Enjoy topped with maple-syrup sweetened whipped cream.

Fresh Pumpkin – Kabocha Pie with Maple Syrup and Garam Masala

pie with fluted edgeI added kabocha squash to fresh pumpkin and sweetened this pie with maple syrup. A bit of the Punjabi spice blend garam masala adds an exotic highlight to this Thanksgiving favorite.
I make the pie on Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. I like to roast and puree the pumpkin and Kabocha squash on Tuesday night so it will be all ready on Wednesday.

Prepare a pie crust ahead of time and freeze it
DSC03214I use a Sugar Pie pumpkin. Just the name gets me singing Sugar Pie Honey! These are available at farmer’s markets and produce markets such as Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market in Berkeley. They are slightly smaller than a basketball. They have more flesh and are less fibrous than a Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin. You will need about 1 3/4  pounds per pie.

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I add kabocha squash, which is sweeter  than the pumpkin. Its texture and flavor resemble chestnuts.

You can do this part ahead of time. Pierce pumpkin and kabocha several times and place on oiled roasting pan. Roast at 450◦ for 45 minutes until soft. Place it on a large plate and cut off the stem. Use a knife to coax the peel off; it should easily come off.

Let the pumpkin and kabocha cool enough to handle. Discard the seeds and stringy pulp.

???????????????????????????????Put the flesh of the pumpkin in the food processor. Process until smooth.

??????????????????????????????? Since the puree is too watery for pie, pour it into a fine sieve over a bowl. Place a bowl on top of the puree and several heavy cans on top of the bowl. Let it drain for an hour.

Measure 1 1/4 cups of drained puree. Reserve the liquid  to add to squash soup such as Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup or butternut squash soup. You can put extra puree in those soups or save it for Fresh Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

Puree about 1/2 cup of the kabocha squash and measure the pureed squash to be sure you have 1/2 cup. You can put extra Kabocha in Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup .

Blind bake foil or parchment covered pie crust with pie weights or beans for 15 minutes at 425◦ While crust is baking, prepare filling

Ingredients: Have all ingredients at room temperature. (You can warm the eggs in a bowl of warm water.)

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree, drained and 1/2 cup kabocha puree. (You can substitute a 15-oz can of pumpkin for both squashes, but it won’t be as good.)
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 ½ cups (one 12-oz can) evaporated milk,
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt

1 egg to brush on crust

Put pumpkin-kabocha puree in large bowl under a mixer.
Add rest of ingredients and beat well.

brush egg on bottom of crustRemove crust from oven, remove pie weights and foil or parchment, and brush the bottom and lower part of the sides of the crust with a beaten egg. This will prevent the crust from getting too soggy. Place the crust back in the oven for 5  minutes until sides are light brown.

Remove crust from the oven and lower oven temperature to 375◦

As soon as oven is ready, pour pumpkin pie filling into the crust. Place a circular crust protector over it so it won’t burn. Bake  for 40 minutes until the center just quivers when you wiggle the pan.

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Cool thoroughly on a rack and then refrigerate until Thanksgiving dinner is over and everyone is ready for dessert..

???????????????????????????????Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream sweetened with pure maple syrup.

Gluten-free Cornbread

???????????????????????????????To make gluten-free cornbread, I substituted masa harina, the corn flour used to make tortillas or tamales, for wheat flour in my cornbread recipe. The result was a fluffy textured cornbread which had a taste of tortillas. I added a bit more salt. You can put rosemary in it if you like.

Ingredients:

masa harinamasa harina

1 cup 1% milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup masa harina

¼ cup ground flax-seed

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (about a one-inch sprig) optional

3/4  tsp salt

1 Tb sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 425’

Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

Sift baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients and rosemary if using, and mix well.

Mix eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then stir in applesauce and oil until well mixed. Pour into dry ingredients. Mix with a large spoon only until ingredients are combined.

Spray an 8 inch square pan with olive oil spray. Pour in batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Delicious out of the pan, or use for making Low-fat cornbread sage stuffing with chestnuts and apples.

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Roasted Mushroom Turkey Gravy

Roasting the mushrooms adds a whole new dimension of flavor and texture to this classic turkey gravy. Stirring the gravy will build up your arm muscles.


Makes about 3 cups gravy

Ingredients:

1 pound crimini mushrooms, cleaned well

About 2 Tb olive oil to coat mushrooms

1/4 cup dry sherry

several grinds black pepper

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Turkey drippings from Thanksgiving turkey

Salt to taste if not using brined turkey drippings

Directions:

Start the mushrooms the day before Thanksgiving. Scrub mushrooms with a soft brush or wet paper towel and rinse well. Chop the woody ends of the stems. Toss with olive oil until well coasted.

roasted mushrooms.jpg

Place on an oiled pan and roast for 15 minutes until they are nicely browned and soft.

When mushrooms are cool enough to handle, cut into fourths or sixths depending on the size of the mushroom. Store in a container with the liquid.

Boil giblets and neck with  1 cup water, 1/2 onion, a celery stalk, fresh thyme and pepper for an hour. When cool, chop giblets finely if you want to add them to the gravy. Store in a container until turkey is cooked.

When turkey is roasted, pick up the turkey on the rack from the pan and place over the serving platter.

If you roasted your turkey without liquid, stir sherry in the roasting pan and heat while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Stir in mushroom liquid, turkey stock and  Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or boxed turkey stock to make 2 3/4 cups.

If using my recipe for Thanksgiving Turkey, use the liquid and roasted vegetables at the bottom of the pan for gravy:

???????????????????????????????Remove large pieces of herbs from the liquid, then pour liquid into a fat separating cup. This is a cup that has a spout connected to the bottom of the cup.  The fat will rise to the top and only the fat-free liquid will pour out. Add reserved turkey broth, sherry and mushroom liquid to make 2 3/4 cups stock.

Measure out 1/2 cup fat left in the cup. If there is not 1/2 cup, then add butter. Pour into a medium saucepan. Whisk in sifted flour over medium heat to make a roux. Cook the roux about 7 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to darken to the shade of peanut butter.

Heat the stock to a boil in a medium pot. Put the roux in a large mixing bowl. Set beaters on low and slowly pour in the hot turkey broth, beating constantly.  Add minced thyme, rosemary, and several grinds black pepper. Beat the gravy on medium high until it is smooth. Pour the gravy into the pot and heat until it is simmering. Stir gravy fwhile it heats to a boil.

Add the mushrooms, and chopped giblets if desired, and cook 5 minutes stirring constantly. The gravy will thicken, although you may not notice it until it cools down, but it should coat the back of a spoon. Adjust salt to taste if necessary.

Thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle food section for their tips on making gravy with roux.