Thanksgiving Sides

The traditonal Thanksgiving menu can be updated and brightened with some new variations on side dishes!

(Alaina) This green bean recipe is adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe. It is delicious and I plan to make it for our celebration. I like that it is served at room temperature and the vinaigrette adds great flavor. I wasn’t sure about the mint but it added a whole flavor profile that was amazing.

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1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. minced red onion
3 Tb. plus 2 tsp. Champagne Vinegar
2 Tb. chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper plus additional (for sprinkling)
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1 1/2 lb. trimmed slender green beans (such as haricots verts)
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted, chopped

Whisk first 6 ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Mix in dried cherries; set aside. DO AHEAD Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature; whisk before using.

Fill large bowl with water and ice; set aside. Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl with ice water; cool. Drain. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in paper towels; enclose in resealable plastic bag and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.Toss green beans, walnuts, and vinaigrette in large bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Transfer to platter and serve.

(Stephanie) We are big fans of broccoli around here and I’m always looking for new variations.  This is a tasty, slightly sweet/slightly tangy recipe I created. Feel free to mess around with the honey and mustard quantities to suit your taste.

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2 heads broccoli separated into large florets
6 oz frozen pearl onions
4 slices bacon
1 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
water (optional)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, drizzle melted butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil over broccoli and onions; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a greased baking pan and roast until fork-tender, about 25 minutes.  Place strips of bacon on baking pan and bake until crisp.

Mix together, remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, and minced garlic (if it seems to thick, thin down with a 1-2 tsp of water).

Drizzle honey mustard mixture of broccoli and onions, toss to coat.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Top with crumbled bacon.

Here are some Thanksgiving ideas from previous posts!
Roasted Sweet & Savory Squash
Mashed Potatoes & Turnips
Green Beans & Walnuts w/Lemon Vinaigrette

Real Creamed Corn Pudding
Catherine’s Streusel Cranberry Sweet Potatoes


Off The Shelf: Cooking with Flowers and Lavender

Summer is a great time to think about cooking with lavender and other flowers. This week we have two books to get you started in the right direction. (And, if you don’t have lavender growing in your own garden, you can find it in the spice section of any good supermarket, or health food store.)

The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley has 182 pages full of recipes that ALL use lavender! After the basics (such as lavender rubs, sugar, syrup and butter), there are four chapters devoted to the four seasons with recipes such as: Lavender Scones, Lavender Chicken Breasts, Lavender Lemon Buttered Chicken, Old-Fashioned Cherry Pie with Lavender, California Lavender Pasta Salad, Lavender Lemon Cookies, Hot Lavender Cranberry Punch, Baked Spicy Pork Chops with Lavender and Apple, Lavender Blueberry Banana Bread, and Lavender Roasted Beets.

Not only can you cook with lavender, but you can use a myriad of other flowers to accent and decorate your cooking. This book, with plenty of photos, helps you identify safe flowers you can eat and gives you ideas on how to use flowers such as: yarrow, hollyhocks, borage, chicory, fuchsia, sunflower, day lily, honeysuckle, phlox, rose, red clover, and nasturtium.

I decided to try a green salad with sliced peaches and laced with nasturtium flowers and ‘Alaska’ nasturtium leaves. For the dressing I used a lavender vinaigrette out of the lavender cookbook. The dressing was a nice complement to the salad, and the taste of lavender was not “in your face” as it could have been. Lavender-Honey ice-cream from David Lebovitz was incredible.

(The Lavender Cookbook)
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1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used half canola, half olive oil)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. dried culinary ‘Provence’ lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder (I just chopped them with a knife)

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and lavender.

Makes about 2/3 cup.

(The Perfect Scoop)
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1/2 cup good-flavored honey
1/4 cup dried or fresh lavender flowers
1  1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar (I left this out as it is quite sweet with just the honey)
pinch of salt
1  1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks

Heat the honey and 2 tablespoons of the lavender in a small saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and set aside to steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Pour the lavender-infused honey into the cream through the strainer, pressing on the lavender flowers to extract as much flavor as possible, then discard the lavender and set the strainer back over the cream.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. [If the custard curdles — simply whizz in your blender.] Add the remaining 2 teaspoons  lavender flowers (I left these out) and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, before churning, strain the mixture, again pressing on the lavender flowers to extract their flavor. Discard the flowers, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 1 quart.

Market Fresh: Green Onions

Green onions are gorgeous white with green stalks. Both parts are edible and make wonderful toppings for baked potatoes, soups, tacos, and more. They are a tasty addition to salads and homemade salsa, too. Occasionally I’ll also add them to an omelet of egg casserole but I don’t often use them for much else.

So today I wanted to share a great recipe for using green onions – it’s a Green Onion Vinaigrette. This received wonderful reviews at Easter Dinner. I tossed it with the lettuce and then topped the salad with sauteed pears and pecans. The sweet and oniony flavors went well together and even my boys ate it. The bright green color is all-natural!

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8 scallions
2 small cloves garlic
scant 1/4 c. rice vinegar
1-2 tsp. agave nectar or honey
1/2 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the scallions in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds then shock in ice cold water.

Combine the scallions, garlic, and vinegar in the blender. Process until pureed. Add the agave nectar, salt and pepper. While blender is running, slowly add the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.