Green Beans With Filberts, Fennel & Orange

Thanksgiving! It’s less than a week away. I never worry about my menu, because guess what: my family likes to eat the same dishes every year, no matter what. Sure, I might try a new stuffing recipe or add a new appetizer, but if I take out the green bean casserole? It’s over. But I can usually add a new vegetable dish, and this year, it’s Green Beans with Filberts, Fennel, and Orange.

My friend Sara Proctor adapted this from a very different Ottolenghi recipe. It’s zesty and fresh and tart–the perfect thing to cut through the richness of mashed potatoes and gravy. Plus it’s delicious at room temperature!

Green Beans with Filberts, Fennel & Orange

1 fennel bulb, stems removed and thinly sliced, then quick pickled (see below)
2 cups green beans, stems removed and cut in half
1 small blood orange, zested and juiced
2 Tablespoons sesame oil (olive or any nut oil will work)
3/4 cup filberts, roasted (see below)
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Quick-Pickled Fennel:

3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then allow to cool. Pour over fennel and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Roasted Filberts:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In an oven-proof dish, place filberts on the middle rack and roast for approximately 15 minutes, checking and shaking every few minutes. Once roasted, place in a clean kitchen towel and rub to remove skins. Roughly chop.

Main Recipe:

Blanch green beans in boiling water for 4 minutes, then shock in ice-cold water. Drain and towel dry. Place in a medium bowl and add chives, orange zest and chopped fennel. Mix.

In a small bowl, mix orange juice, sesame oil, salt and pepper, and a few squirts of lemon juice. Pour over green bean mixture.

Add filberts, toss, and serve.

Roast pork loin with garlic

Roast Pork Loin With Garlic

Roast pork loin with garlic

Roast pork loin with garlic, so pretty–so tasty–so easy!

This is a very simple recipe–barely a recipe, really–that I put together while on vacation this summer. I wanted an easy dinner I could cook in our rental condo that didn’t require a lot of ingredients that I wouldn’t use up before we went home!

So play it loose. You can use pork loin, as I did, or you can use pork tenderloin. You could add fresh herbs or ginger, whatever you like–or if you’re staying at a rental house, you might have a bunch of “interesting” ingredients at your disposal. Salt and pepper is necessary, of course.

Roast Pork Loin With Garlic

You need:

3 lb pork loin (I used two 1.5 lb pork loin “cutlets,” or you could use pork tenderloin)
10 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Drizzle of olive oil (or a bit of butter)

Preheat your oven to 425. Place your pork on a rimmed baking dish or sheet and rub with the garlic, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil (or top with a little butter).

Roast for approximately 35-40 minutes, until done. I didn’t have a meat thermometer (vacation rental), so I took my pork out on the early side and cut into it to make sure it was cooked through–but not overcooked. Don’t overcook your pork, modern grocery store pork has so little fat in it that it goes tough and dry easily.

When it seems just done, take it out of the oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Slice and serve!

Twin Peaks Gabriel Hardman

Gabriel Hardman Twin Peaks Art

Since we’ve been on a Twin Peaks tear (both on the blog and at home), I wanted to share our newest piece of Twin Peaks art by the fantastic Gabriel Hardman (storyboard artist for movies like Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception, and comic book creator behind Invisible Republic, Planet of the Apes, Agents of Atlas, and much more).

My husband Scott was recently at C2E2, a Chicago comic book convention, when he mentioned to Gabriel that he couldn’t find any Twin Peaks art for our son Sid. Gabriel told him to come back before he left the convention and gave him this incredible piece, featuring Agent Dale Cooper and a very menacing owl:

Twin Peaks Gabriel Hardman

Fantastic Twin Peaks piece by the phenomenally talented (and very gracious) Gabriel Hardman!

Scott quickly got it framed as a surprise for Sid–here’s the finished piece:

Twin Peaks Gabriel Hardman Framed

Portland business Luke’s Frame Shop did nice work!

Sid was excited to see his art, with one condition: he doesn’t want it hung in his room, because he doesn’t want to wake up to that owl every morning. Ha!

Big thanks to Gabriel Hardman: we’re going to hang this in a place of honor in our house!

Want more Twin Peaks action? Check out our Twin Peaks Dinner Party, and get instructions on how to make a Twin Peaks cherry pie and a Laura Palmer cocktail.

Twin Peaks Cocktail

Fire Walk With Us: Twin Peaks Dinner Party

Twin Peaks Dinner Party

Photo by Taki Soma.

Dark secrets. Oddball humor. Moody music. Creepy dreams. Retro fashions. Terrifying violence. Logs. And, of course, some damn fine coffee and cherry pie. For many fans, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is more than just a cherished cult television show–it’s a world they want to inhabit, which is why we hosted a Twin Peaks-themed dinner party!

Twin Peaks Dinner Party

Welcome to our Twin Peaks Dinner Party! Photo by Jewel Mlnarik.

My husband is a huge fan of David Lynch, so when Showtime announced a Twin Peaks revival was coming in 2016, he was ecstatic! However, his good mood was quickly dashed when Lynch later announced that he was leaving the project. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and bring Twin Peaks to us, inviting our friends to dress up as their favorite characters and enjoy Twin Peaks-themed food and decor!

Log Lady Owl Twin Peaks

Our Log Lady as owl painting. Artist unknown, photo by Michael Avon Oeming.

If you know me at all, you know I love to throw a party. So I immediately threw myself into my research, watching Season 1 of Twin Peaks (both seasons are available on Netflix streaming) to brainstorm ideas! Here are just a handful of my notes:

  • Red and brown
  • Plaid!!!
  • Animal heads

As you can see, I was off to a rousing start. So here’s what I came up with:

Twin Peaks Menu

Laura Palmers

Baguette with Brie and Butter

Maple-Glazed Salmon With Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Crash Hot Potatoes

Twin Peaks Cherry Pie

The Laura Palmers were inspired by the classic Arnold Palmer: iced Earl Grey tea with cherry lemonade and vodka. The Baguette with Brie and Butter was taken directly from the mouth of Ben Horne’s brother, Jerry (whose character is constantly talking about food–my kind of guy).

Twin Peaks Food

Our Black Lodge-inspired table with our Baguette with Brie and Butter appetizers and a Laura Palmer cocktail! Photo by Taki Soma.

I knew I wanted maple syrup in there somewhere, as an homage to the copious amount of breakfast foods on the show, and salmon was the perfect shout-out to the Pacific Northwest locale. As for the Brussels sprouts: they’re not only weirdly trendy, but I thought they added a little ’50s flavor to the menu.

Twin Peaks Food

My fully loaded plate: maple-glazed salmon, roasted Brussels sprouts, “crash” potatoes, and baguette with brie and butter (my favorite part).

On to dessert! Now, I love to bake, and I’m pretty good (I’m really good!) at making many things. But pie is not one of them. So I adapted a recipe I found online, using frozen pie crust (our local Grand Central Bakery offers a superb, all-butter option) and frozen cherries to create a foolproof dessert (and I was just the fool to prove it). I grabbed some fresh-ground gourmet coffee at the grocery store and was good to go!

Twin Peaks Pie

Pie! Photo by Melissa Moser.

Twin Peaks Decor

Since I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on this party, the first thing I did was look around our house and see what I could bring into our dining room/parlor to create the proper Twin Peaks effect, using the Black Lodge and The Great Northern Hotel as my guides.

Twin Peaks Party

Faye Purdum, Joëlle Jones, Ryan McCluskey, Michael Avon Oeming, Melissa Moser. Photo by Taki Soma!

I would have loved to try to recreate the Double R Diner, but since we have a 1908 Victorian house and tons of wood furniture, I would’ve had to buy too many things, and still wouldn’t have gotten it right. If you’re lucky enough to have a mid-century modern kitchen with a formica table and chairs, go get yourself a waitress uniform and go to town!

Twin Peaks Party

Jewel Mlnarik–Audrey–and Melissa Moser–Shelly. Photo by Liza Blackwell.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find I had a lot of elements on hand (mostly because I’m married to Scott Allie). I found a mounted jackelope head in Sid’s room, a sweet felt “deer head” in Sarah’s, and a gorgeous oil painting of (the Rocky?) mountains in our room. I also found lots of animal skulls and bones and an actual log with a face carved in it. Because Scott Allie. As a bonus, our parlor walls are already red, and I have artificial evergreen garlands up year round because I have a Christmas Problem.

Twin Peaks Party

Taki Soma and Liza Blackwell (Nadine!). Photo by Michael Avon Oeming.

Then Scott brought home the coup de grace from his office: an actual painting of the Log Lady with an owl face that a friend bought him at a Twin Peaks art show years ago. It’s pretty awesome. Here are some of the other elements I used:

Twin Peaks Clothing and Makeup

With the food and decor squared away, I was able to get down to important business: what was I going to wear? Unlike Scott, who has a closet full of plaid, all of my clothes were too modern, too short . . . all wrong for the ’50s-meet-’80s vibe of Twin Peaks. Fortunately, I had the power of Etsy at my fingertips and was able to find a plaid Pendleton wool skirt in my size. A sweep of the local thrift stores garnered me a red wool (locally made) cheerleading top from the ’60s that gave me the perfect Audrey Horne aura. Then I used this video for makeup and hair:

However, I was blown away by the costumes my amazing friends put together. My friend Liza came in full Nadine getup (including bringing some blinds), but then topped herself with a costume change after dinner into a hospital gown with leather manacles she made herself. Another notable costume: my friend Ma’at came as the Giant from Dale Cooper’s dream–and was so committed, that she shaved male pattern baldness into her (already close-cropped) head.

Twin Peaks Nadine

Liza as Nadine after her costume change–she made the manacles herself! Photo by Jewel Mlnarik.

Extra retro points went to my friend Melissa, who found a perfect waitress uniform, but everyone really brought their A-game: even our son Sid donned a plaid shirt for the event.

Twin Peaks Party

Scott, me, and Sid! Photo by Taki Soma.

After dinner and dessert, we went downstairs to watch–of course–an episode of Twin Peaks. We selected episode 4, “Rest in Pain,” which had a little bit of everything for the new or veteran Peaks fan: damn fine coffee and pie, some Cooper-Audrey interaction, Laura Palmer’s funeral, and a recap of Cooper’s initial dream.

Twin Peaks Party

Michael Smith and Melissa Moser. Photo courtesy of Melissa Moser.

So there you have it: our Twin Peaks Dinner Party, which was so much fun that we’re planning a Twin Peaks Brunch this fall (so we can have more than 14 people, and so I can go to town on waffles and donuts).

Twin Peaks Party

Tyler Crook as Dr Jacoby, and Ma’at Crook as the Giant!

What Twin Peaks touches would you add? Post your suggestions below!

How to Make Delicious, Easy Clam Linguine

I love clam linguine, and this recipe is perfect: briny, wine-y, salty, tangy, and garlicky–with the fresh flavor of parsley tying it all together. It’s an ideal dinner choice; not only is it quick and easy to make and elegant enough for company, it’s cheap (under $10), and the majority of the ingredients are pantry staples.

My recipe is a hybrid of Julia Della Croce’s Linguine With White Clam Sauce from her amazing The Pasta Book (which calls for fresh clams in the shell) and my own college version (which calls for the convenience of canned clams). You can whip it up in the time it takes to bring a pot of water to boil and cook a pound of pasta!

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