During the holidays, I have made various meals from traditional roasted turkey with all the fixins to turkey tamales with all the traditional Mexican inspired fixins. A favorite meal that we have had for Christmas Eve is a very simple one. It is baked ham, green beans with toasted almonds and mashed sweet potatoes with apple pie for dessert. A very "American" meal. As you read through my blog and the recipes, you can see that this kind of a menu is a bit unusual for me because it is simple and straightforward and what I would call "American traditional"
I tend to like deep, rich flavors, a bit of heat and to be somewhat adventurous in my meal planning and cooking. But sometimes, simple is wonderful. I used to work in a hospital in which we could order the entire contents of our holiday meals for a fee and take it home. Everything was cooked....all we had to do was heat it up. The year that I did this, I ordered a ham and did the rest of it myself. the only thing that I had to do with the ham was glaze it and bake it to get that beautiful crust on the meat.
So, this simple dinner was born - baked glazed ham, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans with almonds and shallots, and apple pie for dessert.
The apple pie recipe will have to follow later....I need to make it and have someone write down how much of everything I put into it. Many of my recipes are "feel and taste as you go", so exact amounts can be a bit elusive for many things until someone watches me make something and plays the role of "kitchen scribe".
# 58 - Baked Ham
Go to the specialty Baked Ham store or grocery that has ready made glazed hams, wait patiently, step up to the counter, place your order and pay an arm and a leg. Or...you can go to the regular grocery or your local butcher for a fresh ham (now, you would REALLY be cooking an amazing thing), purchase a nice ham for a fraction of the cost and glaze it with the mixture noted below.
First, begin by placing the ham on a rack inside your baking pan and adding a couple of cups of water to the pan so the juices from the ham, and eventually the glaze, don't burn. You may need to add water as the ham cooks, so keep an eye on the level of liquid in the bottom of the pan. Then, heat the ham using the package directions. Or, for the fresh ham, you can bake it at 350` F until it has an internal temperature of 165 ` F. If you want to glaze the ham, remove it from the oven at about 140 degrees, drizzle the glaze on it and return it to the oven. You can also do the classic diamond cut through the rind and stud the ham with whole cloves before you bake it.
For the ham that is being heated only, when it is about 3/4 of the way heated through, cover the ham in the following mixture and finish the baking process:
2 cups of honey
1 cup of brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cloves
Let this get crusty and crunchy. It may take approx. 30 minutes. If you would like, you can turn up the oven to speed up this part, but you will have to watch it very closely. Once sugar "burns", the ham will not taste the same.
Disaster lesson number one - use the lower rack and do not use the broiler for this portion of the cooking process.
For a great smooth sauce, you can take the pan drippings and strain them via a wire strainer and set aside. In a separate pan, make a roux with 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour and cook until combined. Add the strained pan drippings and slowly add 2 - 3 cups of warmed milk, whisking the entire time. You can add a little spiced rum and some raisins and you will have a wonderful sauce for the ham. You can also adjust the butter and flour ratio along with the amount of milk, depending upon how thin or thick you like the sauce.
#59 - Green Beans Almondine with Sweet Shallots
For this recipe, I like the slender, tender baby green beans, also known as haricot vert. I use 1 pound for this recipe, which is a good amount and gives you left-overs. I will warn you now, this recipe has butter....and a little olive oil in it.
I start by blanching the green beans for only a minute in simmering water, then take them out and plunge them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Then drain off the ice water and set the green beans on paper towels to dry. You will want to be sure that most of the water is drained off of the beans.
1 cup of sliced almonds toasted to a wonderful golden brown. Use a baking sheet in a 350` oven but keep and eye on the nuts and turn them frequently. When they are toasted to your liking, remove them from the oven and then remove them from the pan. Spread them out a bit on paper towels. If you leave them in the pan, they will continue to cook and may get burned, which is never tasty.
6 shallots, sliced thin and sauteed in a large non-stick pan with 1 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until caramelized and very sweet.
Remove the shallots from the saute pan and place on paper towels,
Add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and let the butter melt.
Add the green beans to the pan and toss int he butter and olive oil to heat through
Add the shallots and the toasted almonds along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper. Toss to combine and taste for seasoning.
#60 - Mashed Sweet Potatoes
When making mashed sweet potatoes, the best method for this potato is to bake them. If you boil them, they get watery and lose much of their flavor.
Once baked, and cool enough to handle, peel them and then put them through a potato ricer or a food mill with the plate that has the smallest holes.
For this recipe, I use 3 large sweet potatoes, especially if you want a few left overs.
Add 1 stick of melted butter
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Stir and serve......this makes about six 1/2 cup servings.
Please let me know if y'all enjoy this dinner....I would love to hear from you.
Have a great day!!!
Purple Kitchen Treats
Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.
However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.
My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.
From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,