Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Magazine Wednesday - Martha Stewart Living - Haricots Verts with Pecans and Lemon

I have a ton of food magazines, but Martha Stewart Living is one of my favorite magazines to find food inspirations and recipes. One thing I really love about Martha Stewart Living is the pull out recipe cards. It has been years since I started collecting them and I'm still going strong. Every time I get a new Martha Stewart Living magazine I read through the whole thing once, then remove the recipe cards and put them in a safe place.

I love green beans. They are one of my favorite vegetables and probably the green vegetable I serve most in my kitchen. They are simple and delicious and I'll often eat a bunch of them before I even get them to the table. Green beans are kind of like really great french fries to me. I usually cook them very simply - blanching them for a few minutes to get the "raw" taste out, a tiny bit of butter, salt, fresh cracked pepper, sometimes fresh garlic or garlic powder.

One year I used the recipe for haricots verts that I found in Martha Stewart Living and thought it was just great. It really dresses up your average green bean into something worthy of a dinner party. Plus, it's insanely pretty!

Haricots Verts with Pecans and Lemon
via Martha Stewart Living, October 2004
prep time: 10 mins. total time: 20 mins
serves 4

coarse salt
1 pound haricots verts or this green beans, trimmed
½ cup pecans
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 425°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt and haricots verts. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes; drain. Transfer to a serving dish.

Meanwhile, spread pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop nuts when they are cool enough to handle.

Whisk vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl; season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until emulsified. Just before serving, gentaly toss beans with vinaigrette and chopp nuts; sprinkle with zest. Serve warm.

The vinaigrette could easily be used on other vegetables - like asparagus - and be equally as great.

Here's to Martha and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Dinner - Carnitas Soft Tacos

When it comes to tacos, I love soft ones. I think they hold their stuffings much better than hard taco shells. I don't eat tacos very often, but sometimes I get a bit of a craving for them. With all the upcoming wonderful seasonal vegetables expected to show up in markets in the next few months, tacos would be a delightful treat. When I was poking around on TasteSpotting I found cookingontheside's soft tacos and knew I'd be trying this recipe out.

Photo from cookingontheside

Carnitas Soft Tacos
via cookingontheside
Adapted from the National Pork Board’s Arizona Carnitas with Green Chiles recipe on a pork shoulder package

Serves 8-10


  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin slivers
  • 1 4-oz. can diced green chiles, undrained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Flour or corn tortillas

Recommended Toppings:

  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream


Heat oven to 350° F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in ovenproof heavy large covered pot over high heat. Add half of the pork cubes; sprinkle with half of the salt and half of the black pepper. Cook pork until starting to brown, stirring often. Remove pork. Repeat with remaining pork cubes, salt and black pepper, adding more oil if necessary. Drain drippings from pot.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same pot over medium heat. Cook onion in hot oil until tender. Stir in undrained chiles and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Return pork to pot. Add chicken broth. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pork in tortillas topped with toppings.

You could definitely add some fresh hot peppers like jalapenos or habanaros depending how spicy you like things and of course salsa.

Here's to peppers and full bellies.

- Cait

Spotting Lunch - Red Lentil Soup

Sometimes I crave a good bowl of soup. Something rather new to me (my parents weren't too adventurous with foods when I was growing up) are lentils. I had lentil soups several times thus far and greatly enjoy it. When I was looking up some soup on TasteSpotting and found rhyleysgranny's soup, I was rather excited. I saw a dish with lentils cooked on Barefoot Contessa the other day, and finding another recipe for using them is going to inspire me to try cooking with lentils.

Red Lentil Soup
via tea and wheaten bread


250 gms/8 oz smoked streaky bacon
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 medium potato chopped
2 or 3 carrots chopped
2 red/orange/yellow pepper chopped (The more wrinkly they are the sweeter they are)
225g/8oz red lentils
1 teaspoon of paprika
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
A 400g/14oz can of tomatoes
900mls/1 1/2 pints approx. chicken stock (Keep some more to the side in case you find the soup too thick)
Black pepper
A little oil

Add any veggies around that need using up.


Cut up the bacon and fry gently in the oil.
Add onion and spices and cook slowly until soft.
Add the carrots potatoes peppers and tomatoes then the lentils.
Give it all a good stir.
Add the stock and simmer until the lentils are nice and soft.

Using a stick blender, purée the soup.
Add more stock if you find it too thick.

It freezes well too if you are like me and incapable of making a small pot of soup.

I love how simple this recipe is - a great thing for trying a new major ingredient! One of my favorite ingredients is crème fraîche, which would be perfect to top the soup off. I'd have a simple salad and some bread with this bowl of soup to make a nice lunch.

Here's to new ingredients and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Breakfast - Scones with Honey and Dried Fruit

Sometimes I'm not in the mood for a full blown breakfast. That feeling really kicks in after something like a holiday weekend filled with all kinds of food goodies. I often enjoy a muffin or scone and a cup of tea or coffee instead of a whole meal, so when I saw carina's scone with honey and raisins on TasteSpotting I thought it would be the perfect addition to a morning checking e-mails or editing photographs. Not only did the scone itself look amazingly yummy, but carina's photography is breathtakingly beautiful. The only downside is that carina's website "carina-forum" isn't in english. The recipe is kind of "funny" looking because of the google translation, but it looks simple enough to mess around with to figure out.

Photo from Carina-Forum

Scones with Honey and Dried Fruit
via Carina-Forum

400 ml wheat flour
2 st.l. honey
50 g cold butter
2 st.l. orange liqueur
200 ml natural yogurt
70 g dried fruit
50 g chopped walnuts
1 ch.l. baking powder
1 ch.l. baking soda
dried peel of half an orange
1 egg
pinch of salt

preheat oven to 200 degrees C (392 degrees F)

cut dried fruit into pieces and put into orange liqueur

toast nuts in frying pan until golden

mix flour with baking powder and baking soda

cut butter into flour mixture

add orange peel, lightly beaten egg, yogurt, salt, honey and knead dough

add fruit and nuts last

sprinkle work surface with flour and roll dough to 3cm thickness

use circle cutter to cut scones

line baking pan with parchment powder, and put scones in a single layer

bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown

slice and serve with butter or jam

* carina's notes - The amount of flour depends on the thickness of the yogurt you use. It's better to use very thick yogurt.

I'm not super sure about the tempature. I'd probably choose to round it up to 395 degrees F and make sure to keep an eye on the scones. I'm going to have to experiment with this recipe... It was disappointing to find out the website wasn't in english, but I couldn't use that as an excuse to not post about the scones.

Here's to google translations and full bellies.
- Cait