Warning: Please don’t read this post if you are looking for a gourmet recipe. This is one of my family heritage recipes and is as “down home” as you can get. My family has been asking me to post this for years. I haven’t reinvented, adapted or changed a thing. This is just how my Aunt Mary made her green beans every Thanksgiving (and any other time we convinced her to make them).
Aunt Mary hailed from Southern Indiana. She grew up raising her own vegetables and canning the produce she grew. She stocked her freezer with locally sourced meat meat (she personally knew the farmer) and made the most from all of the bounty surrounding her. Her meals were legendary. She and my Uncle Jack would have everyone that needed a friend, a family or a meal over to their house for Thanksgiving…including their niece whose parents had died and was living with them (that’s me). I watched her cook almost every day when I lived there and learned a LOT…including how to make her famous beans.
I have been making these for years, and our Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be the same without them. Now, please don’t try to change this recipe…I did so many years ago and it just wasn’t the same and actually will taste bland in comparison to the real thing. I know, many of you will struggle with using canned green beans. Believe me, I’ve tried fresh and they just don’t work (but of course Aunt Mary always used beans and tomatoes that she had canned herself). Also, don’t try to shorten the cooking time…the beans need to meld with the flavor of the ham, onion and tomato. If you’ve ever been down South and had a mess of anything green with anything smoked, you know what I’m talking about. You just need to put them on the back burner and forget about them for a few hours. Have your steamed, sauteed or grilled veggies another day…Thanksgiving belongs to Aunt Mary!
Country Style Green Bean Recipe
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Green beans rich with smoking goodness.
4 - 14.5 oz. cans of green beans (do not drain liquid)
1 - 13.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes (do not drain liquid)
1 - smoked ham or pork shank
1 - large onion, peeled (but not sliced)
Salt and pepper to taste (see note below)
In a large pot, add shank and onion then cover with the beans and diced tomatoes, stir to combine. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer and cook covered for at least 2 hours.
After 2 hours, remove ham and let cool. After ham is cool, shred small pieces of meat from the bone. Add back to the beans and tomatoes and stir.
Serve piping hot.
Please note: If you use beans and tomatoes that contain salt, I personally don't feel that you have to add any to the recipe. You may also add a few fresh grinds of black pepper as well.
After the wedding, Jeff and I thought that a change of scenery would be an excellent idea. We hadn’t been to Pennsylvania since before Dana was born, but we have fond memories of our trips there…so, off we went on a perfect Autumn getaway.
Our first stop was The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm. This is where we stayed previously and we knew from experience that it was a good base from which to tour the area. It seems that The Inn had been sold a few times since our last visit, but it was great to see that the new owners, Mark and Deanne, are proud first time innkeepers and that their standards are as high (if not higher) than the previous owners. They have ambitious plans for the future; including a new state of the art kitchen for their chef. Sadly, they only serve dinner Wednesday through Saturday, so we missed out on what sounded like delicious locally sourced meals from an up and coming young chef.
This Bucks County landmark was originally part of the William Penn Land Grant. The historic field stone manor house was built in 1740. Almost 200 years later it became the country home of Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, George S. Kaufman. Kaufman collaborated with other talented writers to produce some of Broadway’s best plays during the golden age of theater; such as: The Man Who Came to Dinner, You Can’t Take it with You and the Marx Brothers classic, Animal Crackers. In the sitting room of The Inn is a display case of memorabilia including pictures of his celebrity house parties. I have a feeling that many Sunday Suppers were held here surrounded by lots of laughter. I chuckle just thinking what Harpo’s antics might have been at the dinner table.
Speaking of the dinner table…we were hungry and the kitchen was closed. We consulted Deanne and were sent into Doylestown to Slate Bleu, a French Bistro which thankfully was one of the few restaurants open on Monday. We were delightfully surprised to find a bit of Provence in a cozy brick building on Main Street. Later we found out that the chef came to the area after working at La Grenouille in New York and the food reflected that classic culinary heritage.
We had a delicious dinner that included many small plates of French inspired goodness that all started with a savory amuse bouche that I’ve recreated here. Bursting with butter, cheese and egg, it was perfect with our first sip of wine. I thought that it would make a lovely appetizer for your next Sunday Supper with family and friends and these are perfect for the holidays.
Savory French Cheese Puff Recipe
Yield: 32 puffs
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
A savory appetizer that is bursting with butter and cheese, perfect for the holidays.
1 cup milk
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs (1 for egg wash)
1 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded (1/4 cup is for sprinkling on the top)
1/4 cup water (for egg wash)
Pinch of fresh nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together 1 egg and water.
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Stir ingredients making sure that all of the butter has melted.
Add the flour and reduce the heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes while mixing rapidly with a wooden spoon till the mixture pulls away from the saucepan.
Transfer dough into a large mixing bowl and let it cool for about 2 minutes. Start to beat in the 5 eggs one at a time making sure that each egg is thoroughly incorporated and dough returns to the original texture before adding another egg. Add the cheese and nutmeg.
Drop tablespoons of batter onto the lined baking sheets 1 inch apart (you may also use a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip).
Brush the tops with the egg wash then sprinkle on the remaining cheese.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes till they are puffed and golden brown. Bake each batch separately on a rack placed in the center of the oven.
These are great served immediately, but can be made ahead and frozen. Let them cool on wire racks then store in a container in your freezer. When ready to serve, remove from container, place on baking sheets and reheat in a 350 degree oven till hot.
I promised Dana that it wouldn’t snow on her wedding day: “It has never snowed in the first week of October…ever!” Well, at least not in our part of the country. Nature had other plans though, and Chicago set a record for the earliest snowfall EVER on her big day. It was only recorded at the airport, we didn’t see any of it in town, but it was still it was a record-setting day.
Dana and John were excited that the date was 10-4 – a term that means “I understand” – because they’ve truly understood each other since day one. To illustrate that, they co-wrote a note to their guests on the back of John’s beautifully designed dinner menu. (The menu was printed on a small baguette bag.) They told the story of their meeting and talking about food…making a food-centric life together…and how a trip to the farmer’s market produced the best nickname ever!
I’m sharing a bit of this with you now because planning the wedding has taken me away from my blog – I refused to do bad posts just to get something out there. For me, blogging takes quite a lot of effort and care: I adapt recipes, or make my own better; I gather props; I try to take beautiful pictures; and then hopefully, I write something worth reading. I just didn’t have it in me to do all that for the past few months. I’m also a very private person, so sharing all of the highs and lows that we went through weekly wasn’t my style.
In the end, we celebrated Dana and John’s deep love for one another – it wasn’t about the weather, or the dress, or the music. It was about them committing their lives to each other…all the rest was just icing on a very pretty cake.
So now I’d like to share with you a few pictures of the journey we’ve been on these last few months.
Can we find a chapel that will resemble the one in our hometown? Yes, St. James Chapel.
What about a venue? A museum? A park? Can we put them together and find a museum in a park? The Chicago History Museum is perfect!
I was honored to go with Dana to pick out her dress. The first one she tried on was perfect, and even though many others auditioned for the role, the first was the winner. Here she is at one of her last fittings, when it was time to pick out her veil.
Should she wear flowers in her hair at the reception?
How fortunate we were to find that the florist Dana’s been following on Instagram is NOT in Brooklyn, but in Logan Square! Isn’t Kelly Marie from Fleur fabulous?
We were so lucky that John is such an amazing graphic artist who designed and printed everything BY HAND, from the invitations to the menus, for an extra magical touch.
This was her father’s proudest day.
The time is finally here for the most important part…the ceremony.
The first dance is so important…especially when John’s brother is a very talented musician and he’s playing your special song. I can’t fail to mention that we really love John and his family and feel so blessed to have them in our lives.
John sweeps Dana off her feet…literally!
The second dance wasn’t too shabby either!
We were so honored that many dear family and friends traveled to join us…thank you! You made the day even more special…. I only wish I could have talked to everyone longer.
It’s a tradition in our family to take special formal portraits for important occasions…Jeff has never taken any that were so special or more important. Pictures have always been how we’ve recorded our lives. Now we look forward to recording our future.
We served a signature cocktail at the reception, fittingly called the 10-4. I’ve adapted it here for all of you to enjoy with your family and friends.
Autumn Apple Bourbon Cocktail Recipe
Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon (or any excellent quality Kentucky bourbon)
3 teaspoons cinnamon simple syrup (recipe below)
3 teaspoons fresh apple cider (I used pasteurized)
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Handful of ice
Slice of fresh apple (for garnish)
Cinnamon Simple Syrup Recipe
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Prepare Cinnamon Simple Syrup.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together water, sugar, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, whisking for about a minute. Take off heat and let cool. Skim the film off of the top. (If stored in your fridge in a glass jar with a lid, this will keep for a month).
Chill stemmed cocktail glass.
Add the bourbon, simple syrup, cider and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake hard for about 10 seconds. Pour in chilled glass.
Garnish with a slice of apple.
Thank you to all of our friends who were ready with their smart phones to help us record this wonderful day. I took very few pictures that day because I wanted to be in the moment, not behind the lens, so most pictures that you see of the wedding and reception were taken by:
Jeff Kauck – Formal Portrait – St. James Chapel – Bouquet and Veil
Gluten-free Raspberry Souffle
Spring, the long anticipated season of rebirth and renewal is finally making a tentative appearance. I can’t remember the last time I was this desperate for it to arrive, can you? As I’m writing this and dreaming about the long awaited Spring, I’m reminded of our recent visit to Cumberland Island last month. The weather was just starting to break from chilly gloom to vibrant blue skies and sunshine. A few early blooms were peeking out of a carpet of brown and most heartening of all was that the resurrection ferns were verdant again.
When we were there last December they were brown, withered and looking lifeless, but with a deep soaking rain the fronds unfurl and then once again adorn the trunks and limbs of the trees that host them. They rise again, letting us know that we can soon look forward to the long awaited season of renewal. It is said that these ferns can go as long as 100 years without water, just waiting for the chance to flourish again.
What’s inspiring me in the kitchen now is light, airy and Spring-like…I’m thinking souffle. Souffles make me smile and I love the sense of anticipation. This one will not disappoint. It is light, but with an intense raspberry glow thanks to the addition of the Chambord in the souffle and in the sauce. This is not an easy recipe, but the results and “oohs” and “aahs” of your family and friends will make the effort worthwhile for your next Sunday Supper.
Now, let’s get to work.
First, you need to make the raspberry puree. Combine the ingredients listed and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Place in blender and puree for a few minutes. Place a large strainer over a larger bowl, as shown. Pour in the raspberry puree. Using a large wooden spoon stir and press the puree into the bowl leaving the seeds behind. What you will get is fresh, raspberry puree. You will use 1/2 cup of this for the souffle and 1 cup for the sauce.
For the sauce you will whisk 1 cup of the puree, Chambord, butter, fresh lemon juice and cornstarch in a small saucepan, stir occasionally until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
I like to use 8 – 3 oz. (3 inch) ramekins for this recipe. Butter and dust them with granulated sugar. Important, clean off the rim, or the souffle will not rise properly.
Next, the custard.
In order for this recipe to be gluten-free you need to make sure that your cornstarch is gluten-free. I’ve researched and found that Argo cornstarch is processed correctly.
Whisk together the granulated sugar and cornstarch in large saucepan. Whisk in milk, eggs and Chambord. Over low heat, whisk mixture until it forms the consistency of custard. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and butter.
Now, the fun part.
In a large bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat until eggs form stiff peaks.
Gently, fold in the custard mixture and fill ramekins to right underneath where you cleaned the collar.
Place ramekins on a baking tray and immediately place in oven.
Your oven needs to be 400 degrees…no cheating and popping these in at 375 if you forgot to preheat the oven, or you will be sadly disappointed. Bake until slightly golden on top, about 10 to 12 minutes. Do not open and close oven door to check.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with a few raspberries and serve immediately with sauce.
Gluten- Free Raspberry Souffle Recipe
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Light, airy and intensely fruity dessert, perfect for Spring.
For the Puree:
4 - 6 oz. containers of fresh raspberries (remove 16 for garnish)
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon water
For the Sauce:
1 Cup raspberry puree
1/2 Cup Chambord (a raspberry liqueur)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 Teaspoon cornstarch
For the Custard:
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup raspberry puree
1/2 cup Chambord
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Egg White Mixture:
5 egg whites
1/8 Teaspoon (pinch) of cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Separate the eggs.
Butter the individual ramekins. Dust with granulated sugar. Be sure to wipe off the collar of the dish (as shown).
For the Puree:
Remove 16 raspberries (for garnish). In a large saucepan, add remaining berries, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes till fruit is very soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour raspberries into a blender and blend at the puree setting for about 2 minutes. Place a large strainer over an even larger bowl (as shown). Press the raspberries through the stainer with a wooden spoon. You will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups of raspberry puree.
For the Sauce:
In a small saucepan on medium heat, stir in the raspberry puree, Chambord, butter, fresh lemon juice and cornstarch till sauce starts to bubble slightly. Turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes till sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.
For the Custard:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk, egg yolks, raspberry puree and Chambord. On medium heat, stir constantly until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla.
For the Egg Mixture:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form soft peaks (as shown).
Gently, fold the custard into the egg mixture. Do this step as quickly and gently as possible.
Fill the ramekins to right below the collar of the dish. Place all of the ramekins on a baking tray. Pop tray into the oven for about 10 - 12 minutes till the tops are slightly golden.
Remove from oven, dust with confectioner's sugar and top with 2 raspberries per serving.
Serve immediately accompanied by a container of the sauce.
One Irish dish that’s familiar to almost everyone is corned beef and cabbage. But, did you know that boiled bacon and cabbage is a a popular, traditional Irish dish as well? Actually, the most important meat in Ireland is pork, not beef, corned or otherwise.
Irish recipes are usually based around a few fresh, local ingredients: potatoes, cabbage, oatmeal, dairy, fish, fowl, lamb and pork. For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day supper, I’ve chosen to use a combination of a few classic ingredients with a contemporary food lovers twist.
I’ve taken the dish forward to something most food lovers adore right now…crispy pork belly, and paired it with potatoes, carrots and cabbage. The vegetables are all sauteed in Irish butter till they reach a lovely brown.
If you’ve never prepared pork belly before, it’s actually quite simple. The hardest part might be finding somewhere that sells it in your area. I’d start by calling local butchers and if that doesn’t work, try Whole Foods (which is where I buy mine) or you can find it online. I like to buy pork belly without the tough outer skin. I also look for a piece that has a nice ratio of fat to lean.
Once you’ve found your beautiful piece of pork belly it’s easy to prepare. I recommend that you place it on a rack in a roasting pan, if you don’t have a roasting pan that has its own rack, use a cooling rack placed in your roaster, or even wadded up aluminum foil…you basically need to elevate the meat so that the fat can drain, you don’t want the pork belly to stew in its own juices. Also, it needs to be cooked slowly so that the outside is crisp and the inside is tender.
I like to serve pork belly cut into slices and served over a bed of sauteed cabbage topped with a layer of golden brown potatoes and carrots.
Crispy Pork Belly and Cabbage Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
An easy, delicious alternative to corned beef.
2 lb. pork belly (have butcher remove the tough outer skin)
1 tablespoon salt
1 small head of cabbage, cored and sliced into thin strips
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (as shown)
4 tablespoons Irish butter, divided in half (I used Kerry Gold, but feel free to use any good quality butter)
Salt and pepper
Important: For this recipe you want to use the lowest rack in your oven so that fat does not splash on the heating element.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place pork belly on rack in roasting pan skin side up and sprinkle with salt.
Place pork belly in the oven and roast for 10 minutes, IMMEDIATELY turn oven down to 325 degrees. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the outside is crisp and the inside is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes then slice into pieces (as shown).
In 2 separate large skillets, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. In one skillet add the cabbage, in the other skillet add the potatoes and carrots. Stir occasionally till all the vegetables are golden (about 15 - 20 minutes).
Salt and pepper, to taste
To serve: Arrange the cabbage on a plate, top with carrots and potatoes and sliced pork belly.
Wishing you and your family and friends a very happy St. Patrick’s Day…enjoy!