It won't be long before many of us will be baking Easter hams or preparing a lamb feast of spring celebration of sorts for whatever reason we choose, depending on our religion and customs. I know many will bring out the favorite bean and broccoli casseroles, the potato gratins and salads, and the many long established side dishes that indeed is customary on our tables. As for holidays, I say thank goodness for traditions. It is a certainty that makes us all feel good, brings about a feeling of belonging and a steadfast thought in time that even as seasons change, some things can remain steadfast, that is good family recipes.
That certainty is a good thing, one mouthful at a time we enjoy our heritage recipes. And that is really the main drive behind my desire to share my recipes with you, to preserve not mine of course, but the legacy of our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, of all that have passed along a recipe that is so remarkably good, folks come back for second helpings and even ask for the recipe.
This is one such side dish, one from an aunt whose few recipes were recorded, this one on a torn piece of brown paper bag and tucked into a worn, faceless cookbook from the fifties.
Tangy Green Bean Mushroom Casserole
4 strips bacon, chopped
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 -10.75 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 to 3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded American cheese
toasted seasoned bread cubes
Preheat oven to350 degrees F.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and put aside. Add mushrooms to the grease and saute until brown. Remove and set aside.
Add the butter and cook the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the skillet until tender. Stir in the sherry and cook until mixture reduces in half. Stir in the mushroom soup and mix in enough cream (or milk) for a creamy sauce. Stir in the vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, mix the green beans and the creamy sauce together. Fold in the cheese, bacon and sauteed mushrooms.
Scrape into a buttered oblong (9x13-inch) baking dish and bake for 15 minutes uncovered.
Sprinkle with the bread cubes and bake another 10 minutes or until bubbly.
Note: I also like to use a Swiss Gruyère or Italian Fontina for the cheese and sometimes top with the traditional fried onions. For the bread cubes, I toss day-old bread cubes in seasoned butter.