Green Beans Amandine + a Sneak Peek at The Lost Family by Jenna Blum #TheLostFamilySupperClub #Sponsored

This week a handful of bloggers are gathering together to give their thoughts on Jenna Blum's latest novel The Lost Family and to share recipes inspired by the book. I've had the pleasure of spending the past few weeks immersed in the fictional life of Peter Rashkin, owner and head chef of Masha's, a restaurant that caters to New York's elite.  

The book starts off with a bit of dark humor as Peter meets the second love of his life, where else, but at his Manhattan restaurant. The restaurant is named after his late wife, whose life was lost in a concentration camp during the Nazi regime. By the time 1965 rolls around Peter is considered one of the most eligible bachelors in Manhattan, but despite his notoriety, we soon find out that all that glitters in his life is not gold.

This novel takes the reader on a winding journey that covers the death of Peter's first wife and twin daughters during World War II, his harrowing journey to America to start his life over, and his struggles not only with figuring out what comes next after the loss of his family, but with how to make peace with the mistakes that have haunted him over his lifetime. Over 40 years pass in the span of roughly 400 pages and the story within those pages held me captivated right up to the very end.
 

Where to Purchase


Amazon - The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

 Don't Forget: Jenna's book will be released on June 5th 2018. Click on the banner above to see what tasty dishes the other members of The Lost Family Virtual Supper Club have dished up for you this week! 

Don't Forget: Jenna's book will be released on June 5th 2018. Click on the banner above to see what tasty dishes the other members of The Lost Family Virtual Supper Club have dished up for you this week! 

As part of The Lost Family Virtual Supper Club I was tasked with developing a recipe based on the novel. For my inspiration I had to look no further than Masha's Fall Menu from 1965, which is printed at the beginning of the book. The dishes listed are mouthwatering! Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans, Blue Cheese, Lardons & Black Truffle Mustard Vinaigrette and Breast of Duck with Kirsch-Flambéed Cherries and Oranges top my list of favorites. There is even something for the vegetable haters out there—Hamburger Walter: Ground Chuck au Poivre & Flambéed in Brandy, Accompanied by Pommes Frites & No Vegetables of All.

Since I am incapable of eating a meal without vegetables I decided to settle on recreating one of the tasty side dishes from the menu—Green Beans Amandine. My version comes from a little passage in the first chapter where the prep chef sets out Peter's mise en place with bowls of shallots, parsley, garlic confit, lemon zest, and kosher salt. I used those ingredients as a jumping off point for the development of the recipe you see below. Enjoy!

 DISCLOSURE: This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income.   This book was sent to me for review purposes by HarperCollins, as part of the The Lost Family Virtual Supper Club hosted by The Book Club Cookbook. As always, all opinions are my own. 

DISCLOSURE: This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income. 

This book was sent to me for review purposes by HarperCollins, as part of the The Lost Family Virtual Supper Club hosted by The Book Club Cookbook. As always, all opinions are my own. 

 

Green Beans Amandine

makes 4 - 6 servings

 

Ingredients


1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
⅓ cup almond slices, unsalted
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
lemon zest


 

Directions

 

  • Blanch the green beans in a pot of salted, boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes. When finished transfer the cooked green beans to a mixing bowl full of ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve the brilliant green color. 
  • In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add unsalted butter and almond slices. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the almonds are dark brown, taking care to stir frequently so the mixture doesn't burn.
  • Add the shallot and garlic, then continue to cook for another minute or two, until the shallot is slightly transparent. Turn off the heat, then season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste.
  • Remove the cooked green beans from the bowl of ice water and transfer to the skillet. Do not dry them off, you want a little bit of water to help form the sauce. Heat over medium and continue to cook until the green beans are warm. Stir well while they are cooking to help incorporate the almond butter sauce.
  • Once the green beans have throughly heated sprinkle with lemon zest and serve immediately. 

 

Notes


The key to this recipe is making sure that you don't over cook the butter. You want it brown and speckled looking, but not smoking or burnt. If you're unsure, it's better to under cook the butter rather than over cook it.

While the book mentions garlic confit, I decided to take the much quicker approach and add my garlic to the butter along with the shallots. It saves about 2 hours of prep time to make garlic confit! If you happen to keep some on hand it does make a tasty addition.
 

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

This book was sent to me for review purposes by HarperCollins, as part of the The Lost Family Virtual Supper Club hosted by The Book Club Cookbook. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Vanilla Bean Infused Peach Slices #fijchallenge #CanItForward

Just shortly after I returned from Ireland a friend let me in on a little secret: There were some excellent blueberries to be had in town and if I was lucky the person selling them may just have some plump Georgia pecans too. Unfortunately by the time I managed to get out the door the pecans were all gone, but I lucked out and in addition to my blueberries I was able to bring home a bushel of over-ripe Georgia peaches for half off. Never one to pass up a deal, especially on peaches, I happily handed over my hard earned money and spent the next few days finding creative ways to preserve them.

And then I ran out of steam... What was I thinking buying 48 pounds of peaches?

After making two cases of pie filling in a variety of flavors and playing around with a new flavor of peach applesauce I decided to cut my creative endeavors short. Everything I had left got sliced up and preserved with a vanilla bean infused syrup, which just may be one of the simplest ways to preserve peaches. 

Vanilla Bean Infused Peach Slices | Not Starving Yet

Vanilla Bean Infused Peaches


makes 9 pints


Ingredients

6½ cups water
¾ cup sugar
4½ vanilla beans, cut in half and sliced down the center (see notes)
11 pounds yellow peaches
Lots of ice, to help with peeling

Directions

  • Before beginning, sterilize your jars and rings in the dishwasher. As per the new canning guidelines lids no longer need to be sterilized if they'll be in the water bath for more than 10 minutes.
  • Prepare a light syrup made of water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the vanilla beans to the hot syrup, turn off the heat, and allow the vanilla beans to infuse while you peel your peaches.
  • Dip the peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 30 - 60 seconds, or until the skins start to loosen. Quickly drop the peaches in a bowl of ice water and slip the skins off. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit, then slice into equal-sized pieces. 
  • Add the peach slices to the sugar syrup and bring to a boil. Fill your sterilized jars with fruit and a slice of vanilla bean. Once the jars are full add syrup, making sure to leave ½ inch headspace at the top of the jar. 
  • Tap the jars gently to remove any air bubbles that may have become trapped, wipe the rims of the jars to remove any access syrup, then add a new canning lid. Make sure to tighten the ring securely before placing the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (pint jars) or 25 minutes (quart jars.)
  • Remove the jars from the water bath and set them on a dish towel to cool. After the jars have cooled completely check the seals and refrigerate any jars that do not have a good seal.

Notes

I have occasionally run out of syrup when canning peaches, but it's easy to make more as needed without making up a full batch of syrup. 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and ½ a vanilla bean is usually enough to fill the last jar should you run out. Any extra syrup can be refrigerated and used later, as long as you remember to bring the refrigerated syrup to a full boil.

If you want to put up a large amount of peaches I suggest trying to find the freestone variety, the pits practically fall out when you cut the peaches in half which saves a surprising amount of time. 

Chestnut Stuffing

I'm pretty sure numerous wars have been fought at the dinner table over which type of stuffing (or dressing) reins supreme and with so many varieties to choose from, it really isn't any surprise that my family frequently finds itself debating their various merits. Personally, I've always been a fan of my grandmother's mushy breadcrumb dressing, but mine never tastes quite as good as hers, so I decided it was time to start the painful process of coming up with my own recipe. I've spent years cycling through various styles—sausage stuffing, cornbread dressing, variations on bread stuffing—I've tried them all (well, except oyster stuffing since it would cause me to stop breathing forever... stupid shellfish allergy.) It took me roughly 6 years of rejecting recipes before I finally discovered chestnut dressing and I haven't tried another recipe since.

What I love is that this recipe has a fairly simple ingredient list made up of things I typically keep in the pantry, plus it's flexible and can be dressed up to suite a variety of tastes. I've added additional things like fennel, pancetta, or fresh herbs—just to change things up a bit, but it's perfectly tasty just as it's written. It's been served alongside deep-fried turkey, honey-roasted ham, and most recently whole roast duck. It's always the first thing to disappear from the table, so if you want to have leftovers you'll need to make a double batch.

Chestnut Stuffing | Not Starving Yet

 

Chestnut Stuffing
 

makes 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

1lb loaf stale sourdough bread, torn into chunks
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 - 3 stalks celery, diced  
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 stick salted butter
1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
13 ounce package peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large skillet add onion, celery, shallots, and butter. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until the celery is tender. Add poultry seasoning, bread, and chicken stock, then mix until all of the liquid is incorporated. Add additional stock as necessary if you still have dry bread or want your stuffing to be more moist.
  • Chop or crumble the chestnuts, add salt and pepper to taste, then mix everything together.  Transfer the finished stuffing to a baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 - 30 minutes or until the stuffing is slightly brown on top.

Notes

You'll want to lay your bread out several days before making this recipe so it will have time to dry out. I put mine on a cookie sheet, then let it sit in the oven for at least two days. If I need to use the oven I toss it on the counter while I'm cooking and put it back in the oven once it has cooled off. If you decide to make stuffing at the last minute you can always bake your bread for 20 - 30 minutes, then let it cool off before you tear it into chunks.

The amount of chicken stock you'll need can vary, so make sure to have extra on hand. If your stuffing comes out of the oven a little dry you can always add a little bit of extra stock to moisten it up a bit. Just remember not to add cool or room temperature liquid to a hot ceramic or glass baking dish as it can cause thermal shock. This will break your dish and render your stuffing inedible (because no one wants to accidentally munch on glass shards.)

Chestnuts can be hard to come by, if you can't find them at your local supermarket talk to someone in customer service and most times they'll be happy to order them for you. Otherwise, check out your local asian market, many of them carry chestnuts year around.

Sriracha Potato Salad

May weather can be unpredictable in Wisconsin. Our days are either cool and rainy, warm and sunny, or in the case of one year in recent memory, full of snow. Fortunately this year we've had absolutely beautiful weather, so I've decided to declare Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer.

As we always do, we kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a visit to Brat Fest, which is a uniquely Wisconsin thing—a festival dedicated to bratwurst. Now a festival dedicated to brats in and of itself is amazing, but what I really love is that it's staffed by some incredible volunteers. Instead of being paid to work the event their salary goes to support over 100 local charities. With over 3,200 volunteers working the event for a combined total of 16,495 hours they raise a significant amount of money to help ensure our local charities can continue giving back to our community throughout the year.

We spent a good part of the weekend gorging ourselves on brats, soaking up some much needed sunshine, and listening to live music—although sadly we missed out on seeing our favorite 80s cover band, Cherry Pie and Travis Tritt. Baring the slight snafu with security who decided my keysmart posed a security risk, yet couldn't explain why they considered a set of keys a weapon and wouldn't let me enter the festival, a good time was had by all. Just don't tell anyone that I hid behind a horse trailer and pocketed my contraband keys—that's a secret for you, me, and the rest of the internet—no one else ever has to know.

Sunday morning after we had consumed more brat cakes (brats wrapped with pancakes) than any one person should in a single sitting, we headed home to pack up the car so little man and I could head off for Oklahoma to visit family. We left the husband behind, with a fridge stocked with enough beer, brats, and sriracha potato salad to feed a small army—or a hungry husband for a day or two, possibly more if he decides to enjoy the time off and play video games instead of doing yard work.

Speaking of sriracha potato salad, if you happen to be looking for a summer side dish to shake things up, this is my suggestion—it's a huge hit with my friends and family. Although if spicy isn't your thing, you might give our Creamy Summer Coleslaw or Loaded Potato Salad a try instead, you really can't go wrong with any of these summer side dishes.

Sriracha Potato Salad | Not Starving Yet

Ingredients


3 pounds red potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon siraracha, or more to taste
⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup celery, finely diced
black pepper

top with:

scallions
 

Directions

 

  • Peel potatoes, cut them into ½ inch cubes, then place them in a saucepan full of cold water. Add two tablespoons of kosher salt, then bring the water to a boil. Let the potatoes cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Keep in mind that larger chunks of potato will take longer to cook, so you may need to increase the cook-time a bit to compensate if your cubes are larger than ½ inch. 
  • Once the potatoes have cooked transfer them to a bowl of ice water and allow them to cool. It's important that they cool completely before adding them to the dressing, if you add them while hot the dressing may separate and become oily.
  • In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, siraracha, and smoked paprika. Mix well, then add the cooled potatoes, celery, and black pepper.
  • Allow the potato salad to chill for at least three hours, or over night for the best results. Before serving add additional siraracha to taste and top with scallions.
     

Notes
 


This potato salad is tasty just the way it's written, but if you want to dress it up some try adding some hard boiled egg, Vidalia onion, or bacon. This is one time I'll encourage you to mess with perfection.