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. 

Cherry Almond Preserves with No Added Pectin

Cherry season is incredibly short—lasting only a matter of days—so I'll often find myself with gallon bags full of sour pie cherries that need to be pitted, washed, and processed in a short amount of time. Some years it can be a daunting task to turn all of these beauties into something delicious, so I've worked hard to develop a lazy person's recipe for preserves that has a great consistency, yet doesn't need any special equipment or added pectin. Just a small handful of ingredients and a little bit of time is all you need to produce a tasty preserve that can be put up and enjoyed over winter or eaten immediately on a slice of crusty bread slathered in butter. 

Cherry Almond Preserves with No Added Pectin | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Almond Preserves

(makes 1 pint or 2 half pints)
 


 

Ingredients


3 cups sour cherries (or slightly less than 1 pound)
1 cup sugar + additional ¼ - ½ cup, as necessary
1 Tablespoon pure almond extract
 

Directions

  • Remove the pits from the cherries, add them to a large saucepan, and combine with 1 cup sugar. Let sit for at least twenty minutes while the cherries macerate, or release their juices.
  • Over medium-high heat bring the contents of the pot to a boil and allow to cook until the mixture has reduced roughly by ⅓. Take a quick taste and if the preserves still make you pucker add an additional ¼ cup of sugar, or more to taste.

You can leave a wooden spoon in your pot or pan while your preserves are cooking to prevent them from boiling over.

  • Add almond extract, then continue to boil the preserves taking care to stir frequently, until the contents of the pot have begun to thicken. 

Total cooking time varies greatly depending on the size of you pot (anywhere from 20 - 45 minutes) so you'll need to keep a close eye on your preserves while they're cooking.

  • There are a number of methods you can use to tell when your preserves are done cooking. By far the easiest is to take a spoon, dip it in the preserves, and let the liquid run off the spoon. If it immediately drips back in to the pot, you need to keep cooking, but if it puddles at the tip and drips off in a heavy sheet, your safe to turn the heat off. If you're still not quite sure they're done, you can remove your preserves from the heat, place a small amount of syrup on a plate and put it in the fridge to chill. It should form a gel after a few minutes, if it doesn't turn the heat back up and continue boiling your preserves.

It is possible to burn your preserves, so if you're still uncertain after performing these two tests, go ahead and turn off the heat. If your preserves fail to gel after cooling you can always use them on top of a fat stack of pancakes.

  • Allow the preserves to cool slightly before transferring them into a pint jar. Wipe the rim clean, seal, and once cool store in the refrigerator.

Notes


You can use a cherry pitter if you have one, but for small batches of cherries a paperclip, chopstick, or even your hands work just as well. Keep in mind that pitting cherries is a messy process, so wear something dark colored or a shirt you don't mind getting stained.

It's perfectly normal for the preserves to foam while boiling, once they're removed from the heat you'll find the foam dissipates relatively quickly, so there is no need to skim it off the top.

This recipe is safe to can using a water bath, but for such a small batch I don't normally bother. If you'd like to make more than a pint and put some up for later you can use the canning instructions I've included with our recipe for Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves.

Almond Cookies #fbcookieswap

Today happens to be one of my favorite days of the year, do you know why? It's time to reveal my recipe for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap hosted by Julie from The Little Kitchen and Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil. This is, without a doubt, the highlight of my year. I get to bake and eat cookies while I help support an incredibly important cause. My job is so cool sometimes! This is my third year participating in the swap which partners with Cookies for Kids' Cancer to raise money to fund new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer.

For the swap I made a batch of traditional almond flavored butter cookies and sent them out to my three partners in crime: Rachel from Bakerita, Reneé from Kudos Kitchen by Renee, and Elizabeth from Food Ramblings. I've always loved the simple flavor of these cookies and the fact that you can dip or drizzle them in dark chocolate for a little something extra. They're one of the few cookies that go in the cookie care packages I send out to my friends every year—they're always a hit!

Now in return I got to snack on some pretty amazing cookies, so if you're looking for something new to bake you may want to try out these Ginger Crinkles from Shana at Shana Was Here, Chocolate Dipped Walnut Butter Cookies or Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies from Susan at A Life Less Processed, and Egg Nog Shortbread from Tracy at Pale Yellow.

Or you can check out some of our other popular cookie recipes from years past:

If you are a food blogger or know a food blogger who might want to participate the swap next year you can sign up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap mailing list for updates.

Almond Cookies - Not Starving Yet

Almond Cookies
makes approximately 36 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup almond slivers 

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then add the egg and almond extract. Slowing add flour, baking soda, salt and almond slivers then mix until well combined. The final dough will be very course.
  • Place finished dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, roll into a large ball, and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before continuing.
  • Preheat oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Using a cookie scoop form 1¼ inch balls and place then 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Press the balls flat with the palm of your hand, then bake at 325ºF for 14-16 minutes or until edges and bottoms are lightly browned.
  • Allow the finished cookies to cool for several minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Notes

With butter cookies it's important that you don't place your dough on a hot pan or leave it out on the counter while you're working—the cookies will lose their shape. Make sure you refrigerate your dough until you're ready to bake and allow your cookie sheets adequate time to cool down between batches.

For the most accurate results you'll want to roll all of your dough into balls at the same time. Otherwise you can form them as you go, but your may find your yield varies slightly.