Again, two ingredients used here were unfamiliar to me just a few years ago but have come to be indispensable in my day to day cooking. Dijon mustard, a paste of mustard seeds, is one of them. There is always a bottle of the supermarket variety dijon mustard in my fridge door, mostly for use in salad dressings and sandwiches.
The other is balsamic vinegar. We were on vacation visiting relatives and stumbled upon a specialty store selling nothing but extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, dozens of them all set out in casks with taps so that we could pour some into little cups and taste the different kinds. V's extremely adorable 8-year old niece was with us, and to my surprise and delight, she gamely tasted the oils and vinegars (I would have expected a prompt "eww" from an 8 yr old) and gave us her solemn opinions on which ones were too tangy or too fruity or just right. With her help, we chose a fig balsamic vinegar.
At 15$ for the bottle, I dare say this is one of the most expensive ingredients in my normally basic and frugal pantry but it is very versatile; I'm getting my money's worth. It turns out that this is a very reasonable price for balsamic vinegar; the aged ones can cost hundreds of dollars.
Roasted Green Beans
1. Wash and dry the green beans. Snap the ends off.
2. Pre-heat oven to 425 F.
3. On a baking sheet, toss green beans with olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the beans start getting dark spots.
5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the dressing: 2-3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon honey. Taste the dressing and adjust the balance of flavors to your own taste. Set aside.
6. Once the beans are roasted, pull them out of the oven. Let them rest for 3-5 minutes, then pour on the dressing and mix well. When the dressing hits the hot green beans, it forms a thick glaze. Eat right away.
This holiday weekend, we have a little guest staying with us. This is Carter, he is an 8 month old Beagle mix who was adopted by our friends when he was very very little from a local shelter. We are baby-sitting him for 3-4 days while they are out of town.
Carter is just the most affectionate and active little thing. We are accustomed to Dale (80 lbs, sedate, aloof, strictly rations his licks and wags, does not like to cuddle, wants his space, will not come when he is called) and Carter is everything Dale is not (20 lbs when wet, hyper-excitable, cuddles 24/7, a little too liberal with licks and wags, does not want even an inch of space between him and you, and whooshes to your side when he is called). Carter worships Dale and wants to play with him and reach up and give him little kisses; Dale wears a long-suffering expression and stalks off to another room. Carter is missing his parents very much, so I let the poor pup sleep in my arms at night. I'm not getting much sleep, because I wake up a dozen times to check on him.
For a long time, I felt guilty that Dale is an "only dog" and has no company at home, but I've come to realize that Dale is a lone ranger and is happier this way. He barely tolerates sharing the home with us :D But we love and respect his eccentric ways so it's all good!
To all my friends who are celebrating the holiday, Happy Fourth of July! We'll make some veggie burgers and potato salad tonight, with chocolate ice cream for dessert. I'll see you tomorrow, with the winners of the Kolhapuri masala giveaway.