Green Beans with Garlicky Miso Sauce

As has been my pattern since the beginning with this blog, I haven’t posted in months. 2020 was quite the year. My last post was April 14, 2020. 11 days later, my father passed away, coincidentally on my mother’s birthday. We were only 6 weeks into quarantine and the pandemic and the weeks leading up to his death we were not allowed to see him at all. We didn’t know what we didn’t know back then. The grief comes in waves, especially not having the appropriate closure…

About a month after his passing, my real estate career just blew up. Like many agents around the country, my business fell into this highly competitive seller’s market. I was fortunate enough to be on the listing side for the bulk of my deals and benefited tremendously, finishing the year with nearly $6 million in volume and also achieving the coveted New Jersey Realtors Circle of Excellence award I was striving for since beginning my career.

My dad with my nephews celebrating in last birthday in June 2019 – he was 76

The good news is I’ve been cooking as always. Except for around the holidays where I was ordering takeout because I was so busy, the bulk of my meals continue to be homemade. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pandemic eats.

A couple of months back my boyfriend (still waiting #buythatring) and I were up in Beacon, NY. I had been showing some houses in the area and since we were upstate we decided to go together and make a day of it. We stopped and had lunch at a gastropub. When ordering my sandwich I wasn’t in a french fry mood, and my server raved about their green beans. She was not wrong, they had a luxurious, umami packed sauce. While I haven’t been able to replicate it fully, I do think the magic ingredient was miso paste. Since that outing I’ve been preparing green beans almost exclusively like this.

New Year’s Eve meal with my man – steak with chimichurri, grilled shrimp, and the green beans
Browning the garlic so it’s nutty but not burned in a key to this dish
Deglaze the mixture with a bit of water and you’ll get a luxurious, umami packed sauce

GREEN BEANS WITH GARLICKY MISO SAUCE

This recipe is more about technique than quantity. Taste and feel, season to your individual likes. Quantities are approximated.

In a medium stockpot or large saute pan, bring water to a boil. Add your green beans (about a pound) and cook until just about al dente. Drain and blanche. You’ll be cooking/blistering them in the sauce later, so important not to overcook.

In the same pan, heat a mixture butter and a bit of oil over medium to high heat. Add about 1/4 cup of fresh, chopped garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the garlic starts to brown. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until the beans start to brown and blister a bit. Add a heaping tablespoon of miso paste and stir into the dish. Cook for another minute or so. Finish with about 1/4 cup of water and stir the entire mixture until the miso and garlic are fully incorporated. Adjust seasoning with salt (or more miso) and pepper as needed.

The green beans are best served immediately – piping hot. If serving later or reheating leftovers, be sure to fully heat before serving.

Vegan Creamed Kale

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Months ago I tried a vegan version of creamed kale and it stayed with me – I really wanted to replicate the side dish. In usual fashion I bought too much kale recently and pondered what to do with it, so I decided to take a stab at it. I picked apart some recipes on Pinterest and came up with my own.

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The first thing you need is your cream sauce. I do not know why these ingredients combined together mean magic, but they just do:

VEGAN CREAM SAUCE

1/4 cup homemade cashew butter
1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (I prefer almond breeze)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes (I use red star)
Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper – to taste

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the cashew butter over a low flame – do not allow to scorch. Add almond milk and whisk mixture together until well incorporated and smooth. You can raise the heat to medium and add yeast flakes and seasonings – adjust to your liking. Personally, it needs a good amount of salt. Cool and set aside to use in recipes immediately, or you can refrigerate for up to one week – makes a great pasta sauce as well!

VEGAN CREAMED KALE

1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 cups baby Kale
1/2 cup – 1 cup Vegan Cream Sauce

Over high heat, heat coconut oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Add onions and lightly saute, until softened and slightly translucent. Add garlic and kale and mix with onion. Lower heat and cover skillet for about two minutes, allowing the kale to steam. You can steam longer if you prefer softer vegetables. Remove lid and add cream sauce, mix until all the kale is coated and hot, about one minute. Serve with your favorite vegan entree or just enjoy on its own!

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Mashed Potatoes

Another reason I love fall…mashed potatoes! True, you can enjoy them any time of year, but there is something particularly enjoyable about this comfort food in the colder months. When I used to cater, the company I worked for had a caramelized onion mashed potato that guests loved. I developed my own version, cutting back on the butter and cream and instead using BACON. This is one of my favorite fall side dishes, I made them for Thanksgiving last year and have served them at multiple dinner and dinner parties. Guests are hardly ever disappointed.

It’s hard for me to give you an exact recipe as I always wing this one, but I think I have pared it down for you to try and replicate in your own kitchens.

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CARAMELIZED ONION AND BACON MASHED POTATOES
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 ounces thick cut maple bacon, or any thick cut bacon
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork-tender, drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a nonstick skillet, remove from heat when done. Using a set of tongs or a fork, remove the pieces and drain on a paper towel, reserving the bacon grease. Once cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon into pieces and set aside.
  3. Turn the heat back on the skillet with the bacon grease and add onions. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until browned, constantly moving the onions around, whether by hand flipping or with a spoon, careful not to burn.
  4. Add sugar to the onions and saute until sugar is incorporated and mixture is almost syrupy – the added sweetness is important to the dish. Remove from heat and set aside with bacon crumbles.
  5. Add milk, butter, and more salt and pepper to large sauce pan. Heat until butter is melted. Add potatoes and using a potato masher, start mashing by hand. Texture should have some pieces of potato – the desired effect is more rustic than whipped. Mix in bacon and onions, adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Potatoes can be served immediately or cooled down and refrigerated. When reheating, additional milk may be needed to reconstitute potatoes to desired texture.

Remember this recipe is not an exact science – play around with more bacon, less bacon, more potatoes, more liquid, etc.