<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Fanny. No really - that is her actual name. She is a massive massive massive foodie, and would like to share with you all the adventures on all of the things she puts in her mouth. Wait, no - not like that ... I mean ... well, you know what I mean. Aw shucks, just hit it already Fanny ... </editorsnote>
#TalkNerdyToMeLover's Fanny Slater
as i smoothed down olive's salt and pepper colored coat, hundreds of threads of excess fur floated around my apartment. "damnit olive! why can't you be made of something that i wouldn't mind being scattered all over the place....like.....powdered sugar." and then i got to thinking...
last week we talked about unexpected flavors (insert shameless plug here for last week's post). i wanted to continue along with a similar theme that is centered around the idea of doing something unpredictable. i'm not talking about break dancing in the middle of a busy street or quitting your job to become a full-time beekeeper. today i want to tickle your brains with the idea of rearranging. i don't mean the kind of rearranging my best friend does to her closet every two weeks. i'm talking about a kind of rearranging that is done entirely for the sake of a yummy meal.
with turkey day right around the corner, the typical conversation between los angeles implants has been invaded by one very specific question: "are you going home for thanksgiving?" seeing as 9 out of 10 people you meet in this city aren't actually from here, when the holidays come around--everybody is wondering who's traveling back to their mainland, and who's sticking it out on the west coast. this november marks the second holiday season that i've lived away from home. with my older sister sarah living even further west on the beautiful island of oahu, that leaves the thanksgiving responsibilities entirely up to my parents back in north carolina. it's not just that my dad doesn't have me there to be the twice baked potato scooper, or my sister there to clean (eat) the fallen pieces of stuffing on the cutting board. it's the fact that without sarah and fanny, our kitchen table will only be set with two place-mats. and my mom loves our place-mats, so it really wouldn't be fair for her to not get to use all four...
being the kind of family who is semi-food-obsessed, thanksgiving is like our version of a marathon. each dinner during the year might as well lead up to this extravagant feast. everyone enjoys thanksgiving and looks forward to it, but we might as well have a team name and headbands. the idea of the four of us celebrating this wonderful holiday on all different coasts seemed absurd, so we decided to rearrange some things. instead of thanksgiving falling on the fourth thursday of november, we decided to move it and have our very own thanksgiving in decemeber when the four of us are all in one place. the tradition for us doesn't lie necessarily in the food--seeing as every year we try a few new twists--but in the fact that we are all there together as a family to enjoy it.
....all of us.
although i have a handful of my dad's thanksgiving recipes up my sleeve--from stuffing with prosecco marinated apricots to cranberry sauce with vanilla and fresh orange zest--the one i want to share with you today also falls into our "rearranging theme." after mentioning chicken marsala in a blog post a few weeks ago, i couldn't seem to get the damn thing off of my mind. so i went to the grocery store and bought all the essentials: chicken, mushrooms, shallots, marsala.... just as i was entering the self-checkout i realized i had forgotten something essential. diet root beer. what? ew no, not for the marsala. i just really like root beer.
on my way to the soda isle, i zig-zagged through the produce and something green caught my eye. it then occurred to me that i didn't have any sort of vegetable side-car for my chicken marsala. i headed straight for the asparagus, but then stopped mid-grab when i saw the price. if i was already making an extremely flavorful dish like chicken marsala, i just needed a simple side that could act as a supporting character. i didn't need the julia roberts of the produce section. it was at that moment when a B-list vegetable entered my cart and changed the very way i looked at side dishes. i've never been a big green bean fan. there's been a few instances where they've been buttered perfectly to my liking, but for the most part--they're a vegetable that i tend to overlook. as i let my chicken marsala simmer away, i decided i wanted to give these green beans a chance. i'm not a southern cook--so i had no idea how to take them to the salty delicious level that my best friend's mom is a master of. i knew that the future and the flavor of these green beans was lying entirely in my hands.
well, i don't know how you spell flavor, but i do it like this: g-a-r-l-i-c.
spicy roasted garlic green beans with lemon zest:
1. cut off ends of green beans
2. roast at 375 with olive oil, salt, and pepper until lightly browned and caramelized
3. roast garlic cloves in olive oil and salt until tender--mash roasted garlic on cutting board and then mix in a bowl with butter and roasted red pepper flakes
4. in a sautee pan, toss green beans with spicy roasted garlic butter
5. top with lemon zest
6. call me and thank me
as for the chicken marsala, it was a very basic recipe: dredge chicken breasts (i like bone-in for more flavor) in flour with salt and pepper. sear chicken in a pan with olive oil/butter 2-3 minutes per side. remove chicken. add more butter and olive oil, sautee shallots and mushrooms (i used cremini and oyster mushrooms) *foodie note: cremini mushrooms are simply baby portobellos*. add thyme, de-glaze the pan with equal parts chicken stock and dry marsala wine. add chicken, simmer covered for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken). remove chicken, stir in a pad of butter to your sauce and pour over chicken. call me again and thank me.
now remember, the whole point behind today's story was about rearranging. if i had never decided to rearrange my asparagus with a less expensive ingredient--i never would have stumbled upon green beans that can only be described as "the side dish that clearly fell from heaven." similarly, had my family never decided to rearrange thanksgiving, i wouldn't get to enjoy this beautiful plate of food every year.
don't be afraid of changing things up. you never know what you might be missing. okay olive, now let's make you that powdered sugar coat.