We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Green Bean Casserole from Scratch (GF)

by Michelle

Romona and Maddie on Thanksgiving day 2018.

   I received a text from my daughter today on behalf of her dear friend, Romona who was inquiring after this recipe as a possible contender to bring to a company potluck. Our family had the great honor of hosting Romona last year for her first Thanksgiving dinner. I tend to forget how tasty an "old standard" can be for the uninitiated and that's why I haven't posted it until now. But the fact is that this casserole is a mandatory dish on many, if not most Thanksgiving tables.
   For Thanksgiving I have tweaked almost all our family's traditional side dishes to be vegetarian and gluten-free. The traditional green bean casserole is a dish that even a novice cook can throw together by simply opening a couple of cans of green beans, a couple of cans of Campbell's Condensed Mushroom Soup, and a can of French's Fried Onions. Easy peasy. This recipe isn't that. And while it's not difficult, it does take a little time and effort to make the Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup from scratch.
   This dish can be conveniently assembled twenty-four hours in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for about a half hour before baking. Leftovers reheat beautifully, too.

Foreground without toppings and background with toppings. 
Green Bean Casserole from Scratch

The homemade cream of mushroom soup can be made ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator for up to two days.

1 medium onion, diced
pinch red chili flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 Tbsps olive oil
7-ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1-1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, or 6 cans green beans (drained)
3 cups homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup grated cheddar (my family loves Tillamook)
1 can Gluten-Free French-Fried Onions
freshly ground black pepper

So delish!
1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. In the meantime, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Add beans to boiling water and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge the beans into the ice bath to stop cooking. When the beans have cooled, drain beans and set aside.

2. In a skillet warmed over medium heat, add the olive oil, then the diced onions and a pinch of red chili flakes. Saute for about 8 to 10 minutes until the onions have softened and are starting to turn golden. Add the garlic, saute for 30 to 60 seconds until fragrant and then add sliced shiitake mushrooms. Continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the mushrooms soften. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

2. Combine beans with 3 cups homemade cream of mushroom soup, onion-mushroom mixture, 1/3 of the French-Fried Onions, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer mixture to a casserole dish sprayed well with olive oil.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake casserole 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Top casserole evenly with 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1 cup shredded cheddar and the rest of the French-Fried onions. Bake five minutes or until onions are golden brown. Serve immediately. Leftovers reheat nicely the next day.

Yup, there's green bean casserole on that loaded plate.
This is why we eat pie for breakfast.

Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

by Michelle

   When my sister and I went gluten-free many years ago we had to find new ways to prepare old family-favorite recipe. Back in the day it seemed so overwhelming to convert recipes, but in truth, we discovered it isn't too difficult. Once you know how to swap rice flour for all-purpose wheat flour and tamari for soy sauce and a few other tricks, everyday recipes become easy to make gluten-free. I'll tell you what's difficult, going Paleo is much more of a challenge. But even then, there are so many resources today to help us navigate our food journeys that practically everything is "figuroutable".

   Every once in awhile, Linda would get a hankering for Tuna Noodle Casserole or Green Bean Casserole, but she absolutely refused to let Campbell's Condensed Mushroom Soup pass through her lips, which were pursed in disapproval. I came up with this recipe to meet Linda's dietary requirements and she was quite thrilled to once again enjoy some foods that she had previously given up. They say, happy wife, happy life. But in my world, it's happy sister, happy life.

Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

   If you prefer to use less dairy, you can opt to use 2-1/2 cups chicken broth and a half cup of 1/2 and half or cream.
   A can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup is 10.5 ounces (298g). This recipe yields 40-ounces (5 cups).

To cook the mushrooms:
1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced shallots, or diced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsps unsalted butter
2 tsps low-sodium tamari (gluten-free)
a few grinds black pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry

For the soup:
4 Tbsps unsalted butter
1/4 cup rice flour (for gluten-free) or all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups milk (and maybe a little more), I prefer whole milk but 2% works well too
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh
1/4 tsp celery seed
three to four dashes Tabasco
pinch of grated nutmeg
1-1/2 tsps sea salt or low-sodium tamari (gluten-free) or to taste and a few grinds black pepper

1. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for one to two minutes until fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sherry, cook another minutes and then transfer mushroom mix to a bowl.

The mushrooms are roughly chopped. 
Retain all the liquid from cooking the mushrooms. 
2. Return saucepan to burner, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour, and whisk constantly to make a roux. Stir continuously for a few minutes to ensure flour is cooked and the mixture turns a light peanut color. While continuing to stir, slowly add milk, a little at a time, stirring to dissolve lumps. When all the milk is added, continue stirring slowly and constantly over medium heat until the mixture reaches a boil. 

3. Add mushroom mixture and collected liquid to the the soup. Stir to mix well. Add seasonings and taste. Adjust seasonings, if needed. The sauce should be thick, but I like it when it is still fairly pourable. If the soup is too thick, thin with a little milk or chicken stock. Remove soup from heat; use immediately, or cool and refrigerate. The soup can be made two days ahead. Store covered in the refrigerator. Yields 5 cups, or 40-ounces.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bánh Mì (Vietnamese Sandwiches) - GF and Paleo Versions

by Michelle

   My first encounter with Bánh Mì was at a corner market in downtown San Jose, California.  The small store featured a tiny counter where the thinly layered sandwiches were made to order. What makes Bánh Mì special and crave-worthy is the lightly pickled vegetables that top the choice of savory filling. The sandwiches were inexpensive and it wasn't uncommon for my male work colleagues to order more than one for lunch.
   Bánh Mì can be difficult to source in my stretch of the Sonoran desert so I went about creating a recipe that I could make easily at home. Traditionally, the sandwich bun is very light in consistency and texture. When I'm too lazy to make baguettes, I buy hoagie rolls. I've been known to slice the rolls open and remove some of the inner crumb to make the bread lighter.
   The rolls in San Jose weren't toasted, but I like to toast the buns, then slather a bit of pâté across the bottom bun. Unless you absolutely despise pâté, don't skip it. The pâté adds a special flavor that you're not going to add in any other way. I've made Tartine Bakery's quick chicken liver pate, and I've also used a tasty vegetarian mushroom pâté from Trader Joe's. Layer on thin slices of protein, top with the pickled vegetables and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves or arugula. If I had to choose between the cilantro or arugula, I'd choose arugula.
  Everyone I have served this sandwich to loves it. This is a great make ahead meal and I wouldn't hesitate serving Bánh Mì buffet-style for a party. You can grill the meat a day or two ahead of time. Then all you need to do is make the pickled vegetables on the day your serving and thinly slice the cold meat. The vegetables will hold beautifully in the brine for many hours in the refrigerator. If you have leftover vegetables, they'll still be tasty the next day but they do lose a little crunch with aging.
   If you make this recipe, let me know if you love it as much as I do. Also, I'd appreciate reading about your favorite sandwich in the comments.

Bánh Mì (Vietnamese Sandwiches) - GF and Paleo Versions

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