Friday, December 26, 2008

Ruth Reichl rocked our holiday table, or Wow, how I hate to prep green beans.

Normally at the holidays my culinary contribution is limited to setting the table, clearing the plates and doing the dishes, and perhaps making a dinner salad. This year, the year of my teaching myself to cook, I wanted things to be a little different. I packed all 5 lbs of The Gourmet Cookbook into my suitcase with the vow to cook a veggie dish for each family dinner.

My mom got a break this Christmas, as my brother in law cooked the roast beast (also from The Gourmet Cookbook, Herbed Rib Roast, page 412, which was roast beast fit for royalty!), I saddled up beside him at the stove to prepare a side dish. Now...I generally lean towards adventurous recipes, but thought that the prime-rip-and-baked-potato holiday meal called for something on the conventional side, so as not to freak the holiday diners out by breaking tradition too much.

Contrary to what one might think, The Gourmet Cookbook actually has many simple, traditional recipes. For this meal I selected the green beans with almonds, and they were delicious.

I did learn something about myself: I really dislike prepping green beans. My mom's paring knife is a little on the dull side, which did not help matters, but my God what a tedious task! 2 and a half lbs of green beans, trimmed and halved. Now I understand why my mom recruited me to take on that task as a child: it's completely and utterly tedious. Just writing about it makes me anxious.

Moving right along....this recipe does change things up a bit, calling for the almonds to be run through the food processor (oh, that divine instrument, the food processor, need to get myself one!), so rather than the almonds being tossed and scattered throughout, they (along with garlic and butter) make a coating for the just-barely-cooked green beans. I will certainly make these again, after I teach my son to cut green beans.

Green Beans with Almonds

1 lb. green beans
2 T unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup skinned whole almonds, finely ground in a food processor
salt and pepper

Cook beans in a 3 quart saucepan of biling well-salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 mins. Drain.

Melt butter in 12 inch skillet over moderate heat. Ad garlic and and stir, cooking until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 mins. Add almonts, cook another 2 mins, til they color slightly. Add beans and cook, until tender and heated through, about 2 mins. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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