Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Green Beans with Bacon and Toasted Pecans

I made this side dish for our dinner Saturday night. We, and the guests, loved it. Something a little different, but still a classic pairing of green beans and bacon. The recipe was in the November issue of Food Network magazine. I don't adhere to the rule of never trying new recipes on guests.  If they're your friends and they're willing to give new recipes a whirl, go for it!

Instead of blanching the beans, I steamed them until tender/crisp.

2 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and washed
Kosher salt
1/2 pound bacon, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the green beans into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until bright green in color and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain the beans and shock in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain the beans again and pat dry.

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy saute' pan until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Spoon off the excess grease, leaving 2 T in the pan.  Add the onion to the pan and saute' until soft and very tender, 4 - 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute' until just fragrant, about 1 more minute. 

Add the reserved green beans and the pecans and cook until heated through, 5 - 6 minutes more.  Return the bacon to the pan, pour in the lemon juice and toss.  Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Asian Grilled Pork Chops (or pork tenderloin)

Super fast meal for a hectic week night.  You can either use a prepackaged teriyaki noodle packet or prepared some soba noodles and drizzle with a little sesame oil and teriyaki sauce.

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t. ground ginger
1 t. dark sesame oil
4 (5 oz.) boneless pork chops, about 1 inch thick

In a large, resealable plastic bag, place oils, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic.  Mix well.  Add pork chops.  Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes - 2 hours.

Remove from marinade.  Grill in a grill pan until cooked through.  Alternatively, you can grill these over medium coals, 6 - 7 minutes per side. 

Heat remaining marinade to boiling.  Boil for at least 3 minutes.  Serve over pork chops, if desired.

Adapted from http://www.food.com/

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

As soon as I saw this on the cover of November's Southern Living magazine, I knew it would be on our Thanksgiving dessert table. If you're not a fan of pumpkin, you may substitute sweet potatoes instead. Awesome!

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
5 T. butter, melted
3 T. light brown sugar
4 (8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened)
1 cup granuated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
Praline Topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides up a 9 inch springform pan. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Beat cream cheese and next two ingredients at medium speed with heavy-duty mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended. Pour batter into prepared crust. Pan will be very full.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. DO NOT remove sides of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 - 24 hours. 

Remove sides and bottom of pan and transfer to a serving plate. Prepare praline topping. Immediately pour slowly over top of cheesecake, spreading to 1/4 inch of edge.

Praline Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 t. vanilla extract

Bring first three ingredients to a boil in a 1 quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Boil, stirring occasionally, 1 minute, remove from heat. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Let stand 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Use immediately.

French Onion Soup

It always amazes me how just a few simple ingredients can be transformed into a dish that is so decadent and satisfying.  The secret to a great French Onion Soup is to let the onions slowly caramelize until they are soft, golden and sweet.  I adapted this recipe from a Williams Sonoma version and it received great reviews at last night's dinner party. 

2 1⁄2 lb. yellow onions
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. canola oil
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups light red or dry white wine
6 cups beef stock
1 can beef consomme'
1 bay leaf
2 t. dried thyme
6 slices coarse country bread, each 1 1⁄2 inches thick
3 cups shredded Gruy√®re cheese (Please don't use Swiss!)
Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice the onions lengthwise. Set aside.

In a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, adding the sugar and seasoning with salt and pepper, until the onions are meltingly soft, golden and lightly caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.

Add the wine, increase the heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the stock, consomme, bay leaf and thyme, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer, uncovered, until it is dark and fully flavored, about 45 minutes. If the liquid is evaporating too quickly and the soup seems to taste too strong, add a little water, then cover the pot and continue cooking.

Just before serving, preheat an oven to 400° F. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast, turning once, until golden on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup and discard. Arrange 6 ovenproof soup bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the hot soup into the bowls. Place a piece of toast on top of each bowl and sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and the toasts are lightly browned around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.