03 December, 2011

F is for Feast (Green Beans with Celery-Mushroom Gravy)

Life's events sometime have a mind of their own ... I know I promised to put up recipes for my Christmas feast yesterday, but unfortunately by the time I got to the computer it was almost midnight and I was quite exhausted. So I decided to post all the wonderful recipes today, and tomorrow I will have a double-post for letters G and H.

Let's get to cooking. Time for a


Green beans are not very popular at our house.  As a child, Eric had too many of them and today his enthusiasm for these green guys is quite low.  Yet, every year he is looking forward to my Christmas green beans.  What's the secret?  I think there are two: crispy onions that top the dish and savoury mushroom gravy that adds creaminess and flavour to the recipe.

HOLIDAY GREEN BEANS
(Lightly adapted from VeganYumYum)

I usually begin by making fried onions.  They take a little bit of time to soak and the frying process is not my favorite.  I make them the night before and store in an air-tight container.

FRIED ONIONS
What you need
2 medium onions
2 cup of milk
about 1/4 cup pf flour
oil
salt/pepper/favorite spices


What to do
  • Slice onions thinly into half-moons.  Try making them quite thin and uniform - that will ensure that they will cook evenly
  • Soak onions in milk for 10-15 minutes.  I usually leave them longer, and get to chop veggie for the gravy or clean and cut beans while waiting.
  • Once onions are soaked, it's time to cook them.  Pour a generous amount of oil in a skillet or wok.  Heat it up.  You do not have to put your heat to maximum, onions should be cooking over time, but not too slow.  I find that a medium or medium-high setting on my stove works the best.  Meanwhile, coat onions in flour: just grab a handful, shake off excess milk and mix with flour to coat evenly. 
  • Fry onions in batches.  You are looking for a caramelized, golden brown colour.  Stir them occasional to ensure even frying and be careful not to burn them.
  • Dump cooked onions onto a paper towel to get rid off extra oil.  Sprinkle with salt/pepper or your favorite spice blend.
  • I like to wipe the excess of burnt oil and bits and pieces off my skillet with a paper towel between batches.


CELERY-MUSHROOM GRAVY
What you need
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 celery ribs, diced
4 tbsp butter or vegan margarine
4 tbsp flour
1 cup milk (soy milk for a vegan version).  You could use a mix of milk and broth for  a less rich version of gravy
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme


What to do
  • Saute mushrooms and celery until tender.  Season with salt.
  • Remove vegetables from the skillet. In the same pan melt butter.  Add flour and mix thoroughly over low heat.  You will get a golden roux.
  • Slowly add milk, while constantly whisking to avoid clumps.  Turn the heat up and continue stirring until gravy thickens up.
  • Once the sauce is thick, add mushrooms, celery, thyme and other herbs, if using.


 GREEN BEANS
What you need
1lb green beans (you can use yellow beans as well)
salt/pepper
ice bath
 
What to do
  • Rinse green beans and remove ends with a sharp knife or scissors.
  • Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and blanche beans (they should keep their bright green colour and stay a little bit crispy).  To stop the cooking process, place beans in an ice bath (big pot filled with cold water and ice).
  • Drain beans and set aside.
  • Alternatively, you can steam green beans and then lightly fry them in a small quantity of oil or butter.

To assemble the dish, ladle 2-3 tablespoons of gravy, than put several beans and top with fried onions.


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