Friday, January 24, 2020

A Different Kind of Franks N' Beans

Yes, Franks N' Beans is quite the American classic, but before you think we at Tonia's Kitchen have lost our gourmet edge, let's back up a little and explain that this is actually a very hearty and delicious recipe for White Beans and Sausage Casserole (get it, Franks N' Beans!)  Amy Traverso with Yankee Magazine told Tonia she adds the twist of a Panko Herb crust, along with the goodness of olive oil and white wine.  Bake it all together, and enjoy what Amy calls a "perfect" casserole.  I think we agree!

  • 6 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 sausages, 1 hot Italian and 1 sweet Italian
  • 2 19-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained, washed under cold running water and drained again (see “Note,” below)
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine


Preheat your oven to 325°. Place the garlic cloves in a small skillet or ovenproof dish and cover with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast until the cloves feel tender when pierced with a small, sharp knife, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Chop the cloves coarsely and reserve the oil.

Remove the sausages from their casings and crumble into a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring and breaking up the sausages, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved garlic with its oil, the beans, the tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley, and cook 10 minutes over low heat. Raise the heat to high and add the wine; simmer 3 minutes. (This casserole can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time up to this point; cover the skillet and refrigerate until ready to bake.)

Preheat your oven to 400° and set a rack to the middle position. Make the topping.

Additional Notes:

To make this dish using dried beans, soak them in cold water overnight. Drain and place in a clean pot, cover with water, add salt and pepper and a bay leaf, and simmer over low heat until tender, 1 to 2 hours. Drain and use.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Lemongrass Chicken...and the Best Wine to Go With It

Admittedly it's not the easiest task, pairing a fine wine with a fine Asian-inspired meal. But celebrity chef Ming Tsia joined Tonia's Kitchen with some thoughts on the matter. Ming told Tonia he's making Lemongrass Chicken Fried Rice these days, and that's a very spicy dish. To counter that, Ming says pair it with a Riesling or other mildly sweet wine. He says the small amount of sugar will tamp down on the spice of the Lemongrass and give a much finer flavor.

  • 8 Ounces rice sticks
  • 1 Pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs and other meat, cut into 1/3-inch-thick strips
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, minced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 jalapeño, cut into thin rings
  • 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices*
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Place the noodles in a medium-sized bowl and fill it with hot water to cover. Soak until pliable but not completely soft, 10-15 minutes.** Drain and set aside.
Season the chicken with salt and black pepper, to taste. Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and stir-fry until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
Return the wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat. When the oil is hot, add the lemongrass, onion, and jalapeño. Stir-fry until the onion is soft, about 1 minute. Push the mixture to one side of the wok, drizzle in the remaining oil, and add the eggs. Stir-fry, breaking up the eggs, until cooked through, about 30 seconds. When the eggs are set, stir to incorporate the onion mixture.
Return the chicken to the pan, add the bell pepper, and stir. Add the fish sauce, lemon zest and juice, and noodles. Stir and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste, transfer to a serving platter or plates, and serve.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Yams...Like You've Never Had Them Before

Try your yams smoked! Chef Tanya Holland, who recently named California Chef of the Year, came by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her delicious ideas of smoked yams. Tanya owns Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, California and told Tonia she begins by steam roasting the yams with water, then smoking them over wood chips for about 15-20 minutes. She says while the yams have a natural sweetness, the smoke adds a different depth of flavor and really makes them pop. Tanya says serve them with Brown Sugar Butter for a unique taste treat!

4 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (often labeled "yams")
 3 cups mesquite chips, soaked in water at least 30 minutes
 1/4 cup virgin coconut butter*
 3 to 4 tbsp. maple syrup
 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  About 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°. Peel yams, then slice crosswise 1 in. thick. Sprinkle wood chips in a large roasting pan. Set a baking rack over chips. Pour in 1/4 in. water. Put yams on rack, cover with foil, and roast until a knife slides in easily, 1 hour.
Mash yams. Stir in remaining ingredients and a little hot water if they seem stiff.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Simple Way to Cook Green Beans

When you sauté most things, the amount of oil you use can mean a somewhat greasy dish, especially if there's no fat to absorb the oil.  Sally Sampson seems to a have mastered the art of the sauté though.  She told Tonia's Kitchen about her method of cooking green beans in a skillet that retains their fresh, delicious flavor.  Sally, who founded the new family cooking magazine Chop Chop told Tonia she uses oil, along with garlic and ginger, but only a small amount of oil.  She also uses a 1/4 cup of water.  The oil works to soften the garlic and ginger, but because it's only a small amount, there's no excessive buildup on the green beans.  Sally says it's very easy to make, and adds up to a delicious, fresh tasting side dish

Monday, January 20, 2020

Cold Weather...Hot Shrimp

Let's face it, for a lot of the's cold!  And while a trip to the Caribbean or even Arizona might help with the bitter chill, that's not always going to happen. But here's something to warm you up! Lee Clayton Roper, who wrote the cookbook Fresh Tastes, stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her recipe for Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Tomato Mango Salsa.  How Tropical! Lee told Tonia there's a number of flavors at work here, including a smoky depth that comes from the Chipotle. There's also a number of colors that combine thanks to the Tomato Mango Salsa. It's truly a trip to the tropics on your plate. If this doesn't warm you up, there's a always a trip to Florida.


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil  
1/4 cup fresh lime juice  
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro  
2 teaspoons puréed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce  
1 teaspoon ground cumin  
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic or shallot  
3/4 teaspoon sugar  
1 1/2 pounds large (21 to 30 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined  

2 small champagne mangoes or 1 regular mango, peeled, seeded and finely chopped  
2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped  
3 tablespoons chopped red onion  
1 (2- to 3-inch) serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped  
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped  
Dash ground nutmeg 
Dash ground cinnamon 
Salt, to taste  
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste  
1/4 lime 
8 (5-inch) flour tortillas, warmed  

Soak 15 (12-inch) long wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.  

To make the marinade for the shrimp: In the bowl of an electric blender, process the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, chipotle peppers, cumin, garlic and sugar until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.  

Thread about 6 shrimp on each skewer, piercing through the head and the tail of each shrimp so they form a “u” on the skewer. Place them in a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet (you may need to turn them on their side to fit). Drizzle with the marinade; turn skewers, making sure each shrimp is coated. Set aside for 1 hour.  

To make the salsa: In a medium mixing bowl, combine mangos, tomatoes, red onion, pepper, cilantro, nutmeg and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the lime over the top; stir until well blended.  

Preheat grill to high.  

Oil grill rack and grill shrimp skewers, uncovered, for 3 minutes (see Tip). When the shrimp no longer stick to the grill surface, flip over. Grill for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until cooked through (watch carefully so they don’t burn). Serve with warmed tortillas and the salsa.  

MAKE AHEAD: Marinade and salsa can be made up to 24 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.