Good morning, good readers and good cooks. A recent, and frequent, visitor to Chattanooga has a passel of questions from that visit. "Can you get the recipe for the Hatch Green Chili Sauce served at Chuy's? I also sampled a cake pop with a nice thick icing and would like a recipe for that, as well as one for homemade ice cream sandwiches."
A familiar handwriting covered the manila envelope that arrived this week postmarked Henagar, Alabama. It came from "E," full of recipes from The Gadsden Times, including this "fresher take on green beans."
Modern Green Bean Casserole
Crispy Shallot Topping:
5 shallots, very thinly sliced
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Kosher salt to taste
Line a plate with paper towels. Place the 5 sliced shallots in a small saucepan, and pour in canola or vegetable oil to cover. Place the pan on the stove, turn the heat to medium and allow the shallots to cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn medium brown. Drain them in a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the oil for another use, then turn the shallots onto the plate lined with a paper towels and blot with another paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
2 pounds haricots verts, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, wiped clean and roughly chopped (any kind of mushrooms — button, cremini, wild, whatever you like)
3 shallots, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or chervil to garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a shallow 3-quart casserole. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Fill a large bowl with water and some ice. Plunge the haricots verts into the pot of boiling water, and cook for about 5 minutes, just until crisp-tender. Drain, and plunge the partially cooked green beans into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Sauté the mushrooms until they're browned and any liquid they have released has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add the 3 chopped shallots, and sauté for another 2 minutes or until the shallots are slightly softened. Sprinkle the flour over them, and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes until the flour coats the mushrooms well and turns golden. Slowly pour in the broth while stirring. Stir in the half-and-half, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens. Add the partially cooked green beans. Season with salt and pepper
Turn into the prepared casserole. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the crispy sliced shallots over the casserole, and bake for 5 more minutes until shallots are hot and re-crisped. Serve hot, garnished with parsley or chervil if desired. Makes 10 servings.
CCL asked about gluten-free breads to purchase at restaurants and groceries and to cook at home. Two answers arrived in short order.
Christie Towns began. "I just read your article in the May 30 newspaper about finding gluten-free. I have been celiac for almost 16 years here. There are not any gluten-free bakeries that I am aware of. There are no gluten-free restaurants, but some restaurants can make something gluten-free. I usually just ask the chef. Mellow Mushroom and the new Your Pie (out near [Hamilton Place] mall) have gluten-free pizza. P.F. Chang's has gluten-free. I have had wonderful meals at Acropolis too. Many downtown restaurants can do it if you ask. I buy Udi's bread at Walmart, but Whole Foods, Earth Fare and some other grocery stores have it too. Walmart sells a bread under Sam's Choice on the bread aisle that I just discovered that tastes and feels like regular wheat bread. There are other brands also. If she wants good gluten-free restaurants, then she may have to move back North. Wish that was not the case here."
Lauren Pieniaszek joined the discussion from Ooltewah. "Unfortunately, I don't bake, but I certainly do shop. I have found that Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free 7-Grain Bread is one of my favorites. So many of these breads are much better toasted than just plain for a sandwich, but this one is really good either way. I find it in the freezer section at my local Publix market, along with their bagels. Hope she tries it and likes it as well."
Hopefully this discussion will continue with ideas for the cooking as well.
The next request was for information about ghee, and Valerie Bowers started the conversation. "Ghee is butter that has been cooked long enough to remove the moisture and butterfat solids. It is similar to clarified butter but cooked longer. This gives it a more caramelized taste. It does not have to be refrigerated and is great for sautéing foods or cooking eggs, drizzled over vegetables and even popcorn. Studies have suggested that it may lower LDL cholesterol and protect arteries from plaque buildup. It has been used for centuries in India. It can withstand higher heat than butter and definitely should be in your cabinet along with other healthy fats/oils like olive and coconut."
Watch this column next week for more about ghee.
JUST A DASH
Susan Potts began with a compliment to all who contribute to this column. "Wednesday's paper is the one I look forward to all week, and I head first to your column. Mr. and Mrs. Sunday's comments on boiled eggs caught my eye recently, and I wanted to share with you my new-found secret to boiling easy-to-peel eggs.
All my life I've put the eggs in cold water and bought them to a boil. Recently, however, I read that the secret is to put the eggs into water that is boiling.
"Once the eggs are in the boiling water, boil for 13 minutes. Then remove the pan from the stove and drain the water, replacing it with ice and cold water. Leave the eggs in this ice bath for five minutes.
"Every single time I've followed these directions, my eggs are unbelievably easy to peel. The shell comes off in great big pieces, sometimes almost half the shell at once. It has worked for me whether the eggs are fresh or have been in my refrigerator for a while. Another bonus is that the yolks are so pretty and yellow and have none of the green tinge that you sometimes see. I can't believe it has taken me so many years to find this simple and successful way to boil an egg."
Simple and successful every time: Nothing better in the kitchen than that. Come back next week for more of same.
* Chuy's Hatch Green Chili Sauce
* Cake pops with thick icing
* Homemade ice cream sandwiches
To Reach Us:
Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send, as we cannot kitchen-test the recipes printed here. Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org