Recipe: Green Bean Saute ….

We are going to take a bit of a break from Motivational Mondays as we enter the holiday season.  I figured why serve you up some inspirational sayings about the holidays and keeping calm when I can show you how to do it!

I stress out about many things; work, relationships, global warming, will Olivia on Scandal ever find true love….you know, those important things in life.  However, one thing I don’t stress out about is holiday meals.  Maybe it’s because I spent years planning corporate events or my brief stint in culinary school but I created some “rules” to insure I don’t end up in some corner clutching a turkey crying.  I mentioned last week that I was lucky enough to share those rules with the ladies at in a video segment on how to host the perfect party.

One of the questions during the show was about how to handle ensuring that food comes out at the same time and is still warm.  Unless you have a commercial size kitchen, it can be difficult to time it perfectly to ensure that all your food comes out precisely 5 minutes before dinner begins.  I recommend you invest in a good quality chaffing dish and think about what items can be served at room temperature.  I love making side dishes that can be served hot or at “cold” for a meal.

I recently perfected my recipe for green beans with mushrooms and roasted red peppers and couldn’t be happier with it.  Fancy enough to serve during the holidays yet super quick to put together.  However, the best part is that it tastes even better at room temperature or out of a fridge for a late night ‘nosh fest……

Green Bean Saute #2


  • 1 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Portobello mushroom caps, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 of a cup jarred roasted red pepper slices*


Blanche green beans in salted boiling water for approximately 4 minutes. Drain green beans and place in sauté pan on moderate heat. Add oil and butter to the pan. Add garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Saute mushrooms 3 to 5 minutes and add green beans back to the pan.

Add sherry and simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer green beans to serving bowl and add roasted red pepper slices. Lightly toss and finish with salt and pepper.

*Feel free to substitute home-made roasted red peppers but be sure to add 1 additional tablespoon of olive oil.

[photo credit: photo by adza //recipe & styling: courtney lake]

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Thanksgiving Menu + Recipe for Wild Mushroom Dressing

I feel I need to be honest with you all ….. I don’t like turkey.  There I said it. I will wait for the severity of this to set in…..


Angry Butterball Employees Form a Mob To Tar-n-Feather Me.....

Graphic: AC Wraith

I fully expect stones to be cast through my windows, eggs to be tossed my car and a scarlet letter “T” for “turkey hater” to be scrawled on my door any minute. But in my own defense, I don’t come from a long line of great cooks.  Actually, the majority of folks in my family can’t cook and haute cuisine is considered what can be ordered from the Chinese take-out joint down the street. Yes, I come from a stereotypical middle America town.  A loving community that liked its food bland and boring.  A town where ketchup was spicy.  A little enclave that thought Thanksgiving was dry turkey drowned in salty store bought gravy accompanied by canned green beans and Sara Lee Ready-Bake Rolls.  I can honestly say that growing up I knew the subtle variations between “winter ambrosia” and “summer ambrosia” desserts.  While I was no child genius, it would take a dunce not to know this food sucked in a major way.  So like any self-respecting 8 year old with a refined palette, I piled my plate with salad, mashed potatoes from a box and Stove Top stuffing when Thanksgiving rolled around.  Did I mention, I suffered from malnutrition and was skinny as a rail growing up? I wonder why…….

Flash forward 2.5 decades and I still am not a huge fan of turkey or the trimmings that go with Thanksgiving. I would rather have a steak or a nice roast chicken than the piece of briny sandpaper folks try to pass off as turkey. I would rather eat wallpaper paste then a spoonful of boxed mashed potatoes.  Ironically, I like McDonalds (my guilty pleasure) but bad Thanksgiving food makes me sad. I was all set to simply ignore the holiday and order pizza, but The Partner asked multiple times if were inviting people over for dinner. I took it as his subtle hint that an extra-large sausage and green pepper pizza was not his idea of Thanksgiving.  Taking this to heart, I have created what I think is a fairly easy but tasty menu that can easily be scaled for a small gathering or a full-blown family dinner.

Thanksgiving Menu 2010

Turkey Breast Roulade stuffed with Wild Mushroom Dressing

Ginger Glazed Carrots

Cauliflower Gratin

Sauteed Green Beans

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

I have made the Turkey Roulade once before and found that it was one of the few times I enjoyed eating turkey. Because its rolled, I find the white meat stays moist and the stuffing imparts a large amount of flavor. It also helps to salt the HECK out of it.  This roulade recipe is quite versatile and can be used with a variety of different stuffings depending on your preference.  The Partner is absolutely CRAZY for mushrooms, while I couldn’t care less about the edible fungus.  But being that I am a sucker for a cute face, I caved in and am making mushroom version based on Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.

Wild Mushroom Stuffing – Yields About 2 to 2.5 cups


1 cup fresh white bread, crust removed and cubed

1/2 cup whole milk

2 bacon slices, chopped

1/2 onion – approx 3/4 cup finely diced

1 rib celery – approx 1/4 cup finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups assorted wild mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, etc)

1/4 cup dry Marsala wine

2 eggs

1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme

1/2 tablespoon chopped oregano

Salt & Pepper


In a small bowl, soak bread cubes in milk

In saute pan, saute bacon over medium high heat until crisp and fat has been rendered.  Add onion, celery and garlic and cook until softened.  Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released their liquid and are soft, approximately 4-6 minutes.  If using re-constituted mushrooms, add some of the mushroom water to the pan.  Deglaze pan with Marsala wine and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Squeeze excess milk from bread and place bread in large mixing bowl.  Add eggs and mix well, breaking up pieces of bread.  Add mushroom mixture, chopped herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

At this point, the dressing can be baked on its own or used to stuff a bird or roulade.


Mushrooms: I found that using dried shiitake mushrooms is just as tasty and economical alternative to fresh wild mushrooms.  They can normally be found in the Asian food section of your local super market. However, I beg you, don’t use the white cap mushrooms – they impart ZERO flavor to this dish.  In fact the white cap mushrooms are the same price as the dried shiitake, so you have no reason not to get the shiitake mushrooms!

Quantity: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you want to make it as a side dish. If you do increase the quantity, watch the amount of Marsala wine used. If you double or triple it, I would suggest keeping it to half a cup and then tasting to see if you need more.  I find that more than a half cup gives the dressing a boozy flavor.

Milk: Don’t feel that you need to use whole milk.  I just think it tastes better, but remember, I am from the Midwest and have an unhealthy love affair with fat.

Recipe: Mushroom & Soft-Cooked Egg Salad with Hollandaise

I am currently taking the Skills One course at school which consists primarily of learning “cooking fundamentals” ranging from thickeners, stocks, grand sauces and their derivatives.  The class also has the dreaded knife cut demo trays where each student gets a variety of vegetables that s/he must fabricate into different classical cuts within a time frame.  Let’s just say that of the 9 items on my tray the first day, only 4 got done in the hour and a half they gave us.  Thankfully, I have sped up  since then and yesterday received my first 9.5 out of 10 on one of my cuts!


This is my life for 40-50 minutes every day.....jealous?

What  I am finding most interesting in the course are the sauces, which is something that I always avoided in my home cooking as they scared me.  After a solid week of them, I have come to realize they are not that mysterious or difficult, just a bit time-consuming.  However, the October issue of Sunset Magazine has a simple and delicious recipe for a mushroom salad using a quick hollandaise sauce.  I think it would make the perfect brunch salad on a weekend as it combines all the elements of a brunch menu onto one plate.


Mushroom & Soft-Cooked Egg Salad with Hollandaise

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes


4 large eggs

3 teaspoons melted buttered

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quartered

4 ounces each of chanterelle and oyster mushrooms, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest


About 6 cups watercress with stems removed


– Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.  Using a slotted spoon, gentle submerge eggs into water.  Simmer 5 minutes.  As the eggs cook, prepare a cold water bath for eggs.  When eggs are completed cooking, carefully immerse them in cold water bath.

– Heat 1 teaspoon of butter with the oil in a 12 inch frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 8 minute, then season with salt.

– Whisk together crème fraîche ,mustard and lemon juice with zest in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter to make the hollandaise sauce.

– Divide watercress among plates.  Top with warm mushrooms, then drizzle with hollandaise.  Crack an end of each egg and peel a quarter of the shell.  Using a spoon, carefully loosen eggs from their shells and scoop onto salad.

– Season to taste with pepper and salt.