Going Rogue

I’ve gone rogue this month. Honesty, nothing really grows in March, and eating seasonally is a bit of a downer, especially with the six foot high snow drifts lining our street. So for the past few weeks I’ve filled my grocery cart with green, out-of-season things, and haven’t looked back. We’ve had fresh zucchini stuffed with rice and beans, crowned with melted cheese. We’ve had eggplant rollatini, and fresh avocado for snacks. We’ve eaten strawberries nearly every morning, and tonight we enjoyed some mango. And then there were these Brussels sprouts.

Purim Monkey

I guess the sprouts are most “in season” around Thanksgiving, when I posted that Ottolenghi salsa. It looks like last year I posted these Brussels sprouts with shaved parmesan at the end of February. But I know I’m really pushing the envelope with these, but I don’t care. This was a fantastic dish, warm and comforting and great for the end of winter. I sopped the remains of my plate with leftover challah.

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from All About Braising by Molly Stevens

Ingredients

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Directions

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cream, then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low. You want to keep the pan at a slow simmer. Braise until the sprouts are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 30-35 minutes.

Remove the lid, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

Serve immediately.

Perfect for the Fall

The first week in November is a pretty big deal when you’re married to a political pollster. I’m sure some, but not all, of you reading this were frustrated with the week’s results, but Rich’s firm came closest of any in predicting the governor’s race here in Massachusetts, which is a good thing for them professionally.

As you can imagine, he was very busy this entire fall, especially in the weeks leading up to that Tuesday. This meant hosting guests for Shabbat dinner, or even having someone over to watch a game, came to a standstill.

swinging

But after every vote was counted and recounted, we opened our home back up to guests. First up was a Shabbat dinner guest – a neighbor of my aunt and uncle’s who’s moved to town for work. We had eetch, and eggplant with capers, roasted salmon, a broccoli kugel, and this Brussels sprouts salsa. That Sunday night a friend came for a visit to watch The Simpsons and the Patriots. He’d been MIA all year long working on two campaigns. (One had a very happy ending; the other, not so much.) He’s a strict vegetarian, so no leftover salmon for him, but he went gaga over these Brussels sprouts.

climbing

Ottolenghi tweeted this recipe, so obviously it’s fantastic. The sprouts are tossed with sumac and maple syrup, so they’re perfect for the fall. He serves them as a side to charred grilled butternut squash he has you toss with cinnamon and feta. I have yet to make that part of the recipe, and have just been concentrating on the sprouts.

Because this is a British recipe, the measurements are weighted. I suggest cleaning a small pile of them and then doing some weighing as so much of the exterior is just going to end up in the trash. The recipe calls for the sprouts to be finely shredded, but I find that shredding them in a food processor shreds them too much. I sliver each sprout by hand and I think it’s worth the time to do that extra step. I used half a larger red onion last time I made this because a whole one would have been too much. Two large red chiles, even if they are deseeded and thinly sliced, is far too much spice for me, so I use about one half a chile. I’ll leave that up to you.

I’ve started serving this as a side to salmon, but maybe you’ll end up serving them next to turkey on Thursday. Ottolenghi thinks “…this makes it an excellent vegetarian choice for the Christmas meal.” Whatever you serve it with, it’s a great vegetable dish for this time of year.

Brussels Sprouts Salsa from Yotam Ottolenghi

1 medium red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced

Up to 2 large red chiles, deseeded and thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tsp. sumac

1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoon olive oil

2 tsp. maple syrup

230g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and finely shredded

Salt and black pepper

Directions

Put all ingredients for the salsa in a bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix and set aside for 30 minutes to marinate.

 

 

Grab A Seat

I had no idea until a few years ago that people put bacon in Brussels sprouts. Most of the time, the way we eat them is the way my Aunt Bev makes them on Thanksgiving: sautéed with leeks. Sometimes I roast them after a toss in maple syrup. Last year, during the final stretch of my pregnancy, Rich and I went on a date and I had a great Brussels sprouts salad, which I talked about for months afterwards.

Lemonade Brussels sprouts

I actually had to stop talking about the salad, and Brussels sprouts altogether, because during Sylvie’s pregnancy she developed an aversion to them, sort of like a pregnancy craving in reverse. She would basically dry heave at the mere thought of a Brussels sprout. Months after she had Leo, when someone mentioned the two worded vegetable, she had to excuse herself from the kitchen. But last week, after my friend Gayle shared an article with a bunch of really tasty-sounding Brussels sprouts recipes, I felt compelled to test the waters again with Sylvie. Fortunately, she assured me she was back in love with the vegetable.

That’s a relief, because I had a pound of them in the fridge that Rich found on sale, and I had set my sights on a recipe – Brussels sprouts with shaved parmesan and sherry vinaigrette – from The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli. When I told Sylvie about it, she oohed into the phone. I promised I’d get up the recipe shortly.

Sylvie’s reaction to the recipe was basically a miniature version of how I’ve been with nearly every recipe in this book. Beet, pickled onion and hazelnut vinaigrette? Tell me more. Black kale, shiitake and kumquat vinaigrette? Grab a seat. Farro, spaghetti squash and pomegranate vinaigrette? Oh? Honestly, I found myself bookmarking meat recipes because they sounded so amazing. Apparently LEMONADE is a cafeteria that specializes in Southern California comfort food that now has multiple locations, from Venice Beach to Downtown L.A. And yes, there are also actual lemonade recipes, including ones like pear basil and watermelon rosemary. I’m definitely going to be making that last one this summer, once all the snow has melted off our rosemary bush out front.

Lilli has discovered the wonders of pizza.

Lilli has discovered the wonders of pizza.

This recipe takes a little bit of time, if only because Brussels sprouts themselves take a little time to prep. After the prep, you blanche them for two minutes in salty, boiling water, toss them in a little sherry vinaigrette (which you’ll have wisely made before the blanche), and then you roast them in a hot oven. (Hotter, we’ve decided, than the 350 degrees the original recipe calls for.) Once they are room temperature, you toss them with the rest of the dressing and some shaved parmesan. When I told Rich about the blanche-and-toss-while-hot instruction, he reminded me that we’d heard Yotam Ottolenghi on America’s Test Kitchen radio show last month, who said he does the same with his vegetables.

So save your bacon for another time, and go make these Brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts, Shaved Parmesan, Sherry Vinaigrette from The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, yellow outer leaves discarded

1 cup sherry vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Coarse salt (I used kosher)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.

Halve the Brussels sprouts lengthwise and add them to the boiling water. Par-cook for 2 minutes until softened slightly. Drain the sprouts in a colander and transfer to a mixing bowl.

While the sprouts are still warm, toss with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette to coat. Because the sprouts are still warm, they really absorb the vinaigrette and soak up the flavor.

Transfer the sprouts to large baking pan lined with parchment or foil and spread them out into a single layer. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 25 minutes, until slightly charred on the outside and tender on the inside; shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.

Put the sprouts into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. The Brussels sprouts can be easily prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated.

To the cooled Brussels sprouts, add the remaining ¾ cup of vinaigrette, cheese, and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 cups.

Sherry Vinaigrette

1 small shallot, minced

2 Tablespoons honey or agave nectar

3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground ppper

In a small mixing bowl or mason jar, combine the shallot, honey, vinegars, and oils; season with salt and pepper. Whisk or shake to blend. Keep any leftover vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 1 cup.