I can think of few things that wouldn’t be made better when slathered on a piece of crusty bread. Actually, maybe I can’t think of any. Perhaps it’s my recent half marathon training (and the extra carbohydrates that are encouraged as part of the training diet) that has led me to believe that every meal should include thick slices of bread. But whatever it is, toast is on my brain these days and it just makes me happy.
Hello again! I have returned from my winter hibernation, and am now ready to take on more cooking, photographing and generally obsessing about food. This installment is inspired by this weekend’s high holiday: Easter. I always associate a few key memories with Easter Sunday. One is being dressed up as a young child in coordinated, puffy-sleeved bow dresses with my sisters (complete with headbands and those frilly white socks) and hunting for plastic eggs on a giant lush lawn. The other is mimosas and fine brunch foods, which I think should always include ham and asparagus. I may be not the traditional Easter observer, but I think we can all agree on champagne and pork, no?
Whipped carrot custard. Pecan streusel topping. Yes.
Put this up against any pie at a holiday feast and I predict you’ll have the crowd favorite. I say this following careful study. By that I mean, I made it for a work Thanksgiving potluck and saw more than one person asking, “how did you make this?” as they bypassed the pumpkin pie for another scoop. It’s become a regular on my family’s Thanksgiving table and we serve it with dinner because, well, it’s a vegetable (ehhhh?). But it would be a great addition to any party if you want a dessert disguised as a side dish, or just a twist on a classic crumble. Label it any course you want, it will be delicious. I love the airy texture with the crunch topping, and that striking orange perfume that cuts the richness (there is more than a little butter in here).
Ms. Paltrow is reported to follow a fairly strict diet, based around locally sourced, seasonal and organic food. She stays away from processed foods, red meat, sugar and dairy for the most part. She also does things like soak raw almonds in water before she eats them to allow for better digestion. If you’d like a first-hand (and highly entertaining) account of what it’s like to eat like the Goop goddess, please read Rebecca Harrington’s The Cut article. While I’m not signing up for veganism just yet, eating a full bowl of colorful veggie and seed goodness, free of impurities (and sadly cheese, meat, bread and all the other things that generally excite me) makes me feel like I’m following in her amazingly youthful footsteps. And like I deserve a pat on the back for all my good deeds.
I’ve read that chefs who can make a truly addictive vegetable dish that makes you want to forgo meat (that is, if you like meat in the first place) have a special kind of culinary imagination. Sure, anything you add bacon to is going to taste good, if not transcendent. But it’s what you can do without the duck fat, rib eye steak and fried chicken bits that can really set you apart. I’m starting to believe that more and more, especially when I come across dishes like this.
Last month my two sisters and our close friend went to Chicago together and had some memorable food experiences. They recapped almost every restaurant excursion for me, but the one dish they kept mentioning over phone, text and email was the Magic Beans at Top Chef Winner Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat. Next on my vacation wish list is definitely a long, expensive food weekend in Chicago with stops at Alinea, Next, The Publican and of course, Girl & the Goat. I considered not making these beans for about four seconds, in a fit of “you left me behind to have all this amazing food” rage, but I’m so glad I came back to reality. They were stop eating and steal the plate of beans good.
Essentially, these are blistered green beans cooked with shallots, tossed in a briny, soy, garlicky, crack-like sauce, then topped with aioli and toasted nuts. Now, if you didn’t read all that and immediately add green beans to your shopping list, please trust me on this one. But I warn you, serving these will draw attention away from whatever else is on the plate. I made sure to have our friend Lisa (one of the Chicago travelers) over to dinner the night I attempted these for the first time, to see if my re-creation was on point. She said they were just as magical, and the pile of beans was gone before we finished our turkey burgers.
Izard says to use cashews here, but I liked the look of slivered almonds with the beans, and I thought they complemented the flavors well. I had quite a bit of extra dressing and aioli, so I used the aioli later in the week as a dipping sauce for artichokes. I’m pretty sure it would make anything extremely addicting, so don’t let it go to waste.
1 lb green beans
1 shallot, sliced
cashews (or another nut if you prefer a different one, I used toasted almonds)
green bean dressing
yields 2 cups
4 oz. lemon juice (about three lemons)
5 oz. fish sauce
2 ½ oz. soy
1 tablespoon dijon
3/4 teaspoon sriracha
3 cloves garlic
4 oz. canola oil
yield: 1 cup
1/3 cup green bean dressing (from above)
1 cup mayonnaise
Blend lemon juice, fish sauce, soy, dijon and sriracha and garlic. Once smooth, pour in canola oil in a steady stream to emulsify.
Whisk together green bean dressing and mayonnaise to make aioli. Set aside.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of canola oil in a frying pan, just enough to coat the bottom. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the green beans. Toss for a minute or two, then add the shallots.
Once the skin of the beans has started to blister, add a half of a cup of the vinaigrette to the pan and let the beans steam until they are tender.
Transfer beans to a serving platter and top with toasted nuts. Drizzle with aioli and serve hot.
Source: Stephanie Izard