I have a terrible time leaving caprese alone. I just keep messing with it. Adding this and that. Changing it up. Or Down. In part, I’ve just been overrun with tomatoes, so why not eat them fresh while they’re heavy, fragrant, juicy, and ripe? Make hay while the sun shines.
When brussels sprouts (note spelling) first came back in vogue (they were vegetable non grata for a long time, right?), I put off making them. It seemed everything was being thrown into the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Was there anything you couldn’t cook that way? Brussels sprouts joined in the olive oil-oven fun all over the food world. I waited.
As a kid, I didn’t like brussels sprouts. Did anyone? As a young bride, I occasionally bought a package of frozen ones (just for something different) as there weren’t fresh ones available at the places I shopped. As time went on, they just disappeared from my repertoire until a few years ago when I began to see them fresh in tiny bags or right on their very own totem poles at Whole Foods. (illustration courtesy Merriam-Webster)
A few special recipes began to be part of our regular meals as I developed not one, but several ideas for these special tiny lovelies. (I share a couple of them below- one with potatoes and one without.) Cooked slowly in a sauté pan, the inherent bitterness dissipates into the air, and the gentle beauty of brussel sprouts begins to shine in their sweet, tender nuttiness. Carmelization might be the word. Makes them wine-friendly, too.
PAN-ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS with New Potatoes and Parmesan
- 2T olive oil (regular is fine; don’t need extra virgin)
- 12 fresh brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, cut in 1/2
- 6 red potatoes- 1/4d if large, left whole if small
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths
- Kosher Salt, freshly-ground pepper, pinch of crushed red pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in large shards with a potato peeler (skip for vegan version)
- Heat oil in a 12- inch skillet over medium heat. Add brussels sprouts, potatoes, and onions. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and add just the pinch of crushed red pepper. Stirring frequently to avoid burning, but still to brown nicely, cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add Parmesan to the pan. Turn heat down to medium-low and cook until vegetables are fairly well-done, but still somewhat crispy. Take care to not burn the Parmesan but it should be quite brown; some of it will be almost chip like. This may take another 20 minutes or so, depending on how hot your skillet is. Taste; re-season if necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- Cool completely before storing well-wrapped leftovers in refrigerator for 2 days.
- To re-warm, place in a skillet over medium heat with a tiny bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Heat, stirring often, until hot–about 10 minutes.
Saving the best for last, here’s my pan-roasted brussels sprouts mixed up with only very crispy shards of Parmesan and topped with pumpkin seeds for crunch. Cooked slowly and thoroughly, the sprouts become a little nutty and the Parmesan turns into something akin to chips. Scrumptious. Even if you never wanted to eat brussels sprouts.
- 12 fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed (Take l layer of leaves off, cut off bottom tiny core) and cut in half
- 2T olive oil
- 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in long pieces with a potato peeler
- 1/4 c pumpkin seeds
- Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper
|I’ve served these brussels sprouts for many occasions, but particularly like them for my fast Thanksgiving dinner.|
everything you didn’t want to know about brussel sprouts
Brussels sprouts, or Brassica oleracea gemmifera, are related to other better-known vegetables in the Brassica genus like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are part of the cruciferaeor mustard family, so known because of a four-part flower in the shape of a cross.
HISTORY: Sprouts were believed to have been cultivated in Italy in Roman times, and possibly as early as the 1200s in Belgium. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with was first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name “Brussels”sprouts) as early as 1587, with their introduction into the U.S. in the 1800s.
NUTRITIONAL INFO: Brussels sprouts are a very good source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and folate. They are especially high in Vitamin C. (Click here to see the nutritional label) They, along with their other cruciferous cousins, have been shown to have some very beneficial effects against certain types of cancer, as they contain many different ingredients that are believed to help prevent the disease
These recipes originally available on More Time and Dinner Place in separate blogs.
38 Power Foods is a group effort! Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved. If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood
|Miss Gab watching Ina with me.|
I’m busy developing and testing recipes for the soup cookbook. This week, I’m working on
Pozole (Mexican stew–mine’s made with pork tenderloin, corn, and hominy) and Tom Kha Kai (coconut/chicken from Thailand). I’m finding the most difficult part is figuring out how this whole thing goes from a Word doc (actually becomes a pdf first) to the 6×9, 100 printed page.
How can I be sure that the pagination makes sense or that recipes are on one page? Or that the margins are accurate? Did I consistently use “t” or “tsp” for teaspoon? You get the picture! Slowly, I’m starting to see how it works. I have a bunch of home-testers cooking away. If you have a testing recipe and I haven’t heard from you, I’m looking forward to a response pretty soon. Test on!
|It’s NW blueberry time; I’m eating all I can get and freezing the rest.|
|You can see how easy it is to move around my kitchen.|
|In Colorado, we have time for movies with the grandkid. Thanks, God.|
|Just for grin and giggles, I made homemade mayonnaise for a dressing for a steak and fresh potato chip salad. Dear.|
That’s all she wrote.
|What if you wanted beautifully written recipes, tastefully conceived, and perfectly photographed–all from home cooks–for home cooks?||What if you wanted those cooks to have worked professionally (catering, restaurants, magazines) and to have traveled the world so they could bring the best dishes back to you?|
|Order book here|
Enter Canal House Cooking, La Dolce Vita, #7 in a series of self-published volumes from a multi-talented duo who have worked at food, cooking, and food writing/photography most of their lives. After leaving behind the corporate publishing/food world in order to spend more time at or near their homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Melissa Hamilton (above, right) and Christopher Hirsheimer (above, left; she’s a she) began cooking together daily in a warehouse and keeping a record of it. Out of that commitment comes this lovely, popular series of books that is their gift to those of us in the home-cooking “business.” An article from WSJ tells the story more thoroughly here.
To really get to know these women a little more, watch an enchanting tiny video about them and their food in Italy (basis for the most recent book)….Here.
And, when you’re done reading and watching, it’s time to cook with Melissa, Christopher, and me….
So that you can spend more time at the table (who are you inviting?), we’re making:
meatballs with mint and parsley makes 24
Cook’s Note: I made one meatball first and cooked it to test the seasoning; I had gone easy on the black pepper and had not added any salt at all. My thought was to maintain the freshness/lightness of the meatball so that the herbs weren’t overwhelmed. On tasting, I did add a bit more pepper and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt. The rest of the batch was perfect. You could do anything you typically do with meatballs with these, but I do think they’re special and complete all on their own. I served them with broccolini sautéed in olive oil with crushed red peppers and slices of garlic thrown in the last 2-3 minutes. We started with a little very simple green salad.
Here’s a bit of the easy journey in photographs:
Just for fun, here’s a sample from the Canal House #7 book and their “on location work:”
We rented a farmhouse in Tuscany —– a remote, rustic old stucco and stone house at the end of a gravel road, deep in the folds of vine-covered hills. It had a stone terrace with a long table for dinners outside, a grape arbor, and apple and fig trees loaded with fruit in the garden. There was no phone, TV or Internet service, just a record player and shelves and shelves of books. It had a spare, simple kitchen with a classic waist-high fireplace with a grill. It was all we had hoped for. It was our Casa Canale for a month.
Back in the states, Melissa and Christopher are eating lunch together every day as they take a break from cooking, working, and writing. Read their blog that chronicles those noon-time meals.
Listen to their interview on edible radio.
Want to cook more food from Canal House? You can do it if you….
Check out our team of great bloggers writing about 50 Women Game-Changers in Food
Sue – The View from Great Island
Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan – The Spice Garden
Heather – girlichef
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney
Mary – One Perfect Bite
Barbara – Movable Feasts
Jeanette – Healthy Living
Linda – Ciao Chow Linda
Linda A – There and Back Again
Martha – Lines from Linderhof
Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen
Annie – Lovely Things
Nancy – Picadillo
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook
If you liked this, you might like my Bacon-Caprese Salad with Fresh Cheese.
|Make your own cheese!|
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood return soon…Woof from Gab and Tuck.
Food photos: copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012. Recipe, book and author photos courtesy Canal House.
|Whirr, whirr, done. Talk about no cook. It’s done PRESTO!|
If it’s mid – late summer, I’m gunning for basil. (If it’s earlier, I’m planting it and watering it.) I’ve got pots full myself, but I also have to hit the farmer’s market for more. At a buck for a big bunch, I get arm fulls.
|My piano teacher and I hit the farmer’s market.|
Here it is taking a bath in my kitchen sink with the Japanese eggplant and yellow zucchini I’m cleaning for the ratatouille I blogged on the Dinner Place blog (The Solo Cook.) They really like to get in the tub together. I loved looking at this gorgeous mix of veg. Could the colors get any better?
What is pesto? Lots of you DO know. But! If you don’t:
Take the basil, whirr it in the food processor (traditionally mortar and pestle) with lots of garlic, pine nuts and/or walnuts, olive oil, Parmesan, and you have saucy green love. In Italy, it’s pesto. In France, pistou. And it’s Presto! (Very quick, indeed, in the language of music) wherever you make it.
When I decided to blog pesto, I almost didn’t. Pesto isn’t something new. It may be four hundred years old in Europe and it’s certainly no culinary upstart in the United States.
The first time I ran across pesto was in the late ’70s in THE SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK (by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins with Michael McLaughlin. Workman, 1979; 362p). This was a life-changing cookbook not only for me, but for women everywhere who cooked. If you want to know why, check out the cookbooks that were written and printed before this one. It’s so important in my life that I have nearly worn out my paperback copy and, while I still use it, bought a hardback copy for a back-up and for my kids later on.
The more I thought about it, the more I decided to just go ahead and put pesto on my roster of blog posts. How could something I love so much not be here?
I still basically make pesto from that recipe, though I use others, too–the one from THE GOURMET COOKBOOK (edited by Ruth Reichl and published in 2004 by Houghlin Mifflin) comes to mind. By this time, I’ve adjusted any and all of them to my own tastes (as should you) and am purely and simply summer-happy whenever it’s time to use all that basil.
Pasta with Pesto….the most popular use, I’ll guess:
|Here with 365 (Whole Foods brand) whole wheat pasta|
Other ways to use pesto:
- on/in an omelet
- as a veggie dip
- on grilled chops
- as a sauce for fish or chicken
- on pizza
- with crackers
- on grilled vegetables
- topping lamb chops
- gracing grilled baguette
- dribbled on sliced tomatoes or sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzerella in place of basil leaves.
In Italy, pesto often has cheese in it; in France, not so often. The French version, pistou, is often used as a condiment at table to, well, to create a different or simply more engaging vegetable soup. A simple bowl of fresh vegetable soup and a big bowl of pistou on the table. Everyone helps themselves and no one would deny the pistou makes the meal. Some folks want a teensy bit and others want a big dollop. Just for fun, here’s a recipe for Wolfgang Puck’s Soupe au Pistou; this one happens to have tomatoes in the pistou, which also sounds lovely.
By the way, there are those even in the Italian mode that leave the cheese out of the pesto (to keep it bright green) and grate it on top. There are other purists who only make the pesto from tiny, fresh basil plants with just six or so leaves and use much less basil. Si place; do as you like! (I use the big plants that I love to grow in the garden all summer.) The addition of pine nuts to Italian pesto is a fairly new thing; people couldn’t afford them in years past and used walnuts–as did many Americans. I use a combination of the two as pine nuts are nearly $30. a pound.
No matter how you make it or with what (and you can make it with all kinds of herbs or greens besides basil), enjoy the bounty. And, by the way, pesto freezes. So, if you can, buy extra basil, make copious amounts of pesto (freeze lots) and take some out for New Year’s Day for a quick whiff of summer.
By the way, you can buy ready-made pesto. It’s pricey, though, and it’s not as good. Nor does it keep. So if you buy a quart at Costco, you better plan on eating a quart right quick. Better to make it. Yourself. In July or August. And be….happy. Here’s how:
Pesto a la Alyce, The Silver Palate, and The Gourmet Cookbook makes 2 cups
2 cups fresh basil leaves, clean and very dry (pat carefully with light weight cotton or paper towels)
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
1/2 c pine nuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the basil, garlic, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor (if using a blender, do half at a time) and pulse til well chopped and combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Shut the machine off and add the cheese. Stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir again.
I never told you this: if the pesto seems a tad tame, dot in a few drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce, but don’t tell anyone. Definitely not in the regular pesto regime. Don’t over do it; just give it a bit of body.
Keeps in frig (cover with plastic wrap right on the surface of the pesto) 2-3 days if not using immediately. Freeze for up to six months.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
|Long beans grown by our local farmers: saute or use in stir fry.|
Above: Minnesota summer wildflowers.
|Coming up soon….ratatouille a la Minnesota|
Sing a new song, Alyce
|Italian sausage, red peppers, grilled eggplant, onions, garlic…a little fresh mozzerella. Throw in some pasta and–
Note to readers: for an updated, totally done on the grill version, please click here
Coming off a plane, I’m often greeting thoughts like, “Did I leave anything at home that’ll work for dinner?” I usually stop by the store anyway for fresh produce or something to fix quickly. Yesterday, as I traveled home from Minneapolis, I remembered a couple of eggplants wilting in the crisper. Odd phrase, eh? In other words, they needed to be used. What else? Italian sausage in the freezer that I had put in at Christmas, but hadn’t yet cooked. Sounded like a grilled pasta sauce night to me. Mid-winter, I often am jonesing for something grilled. I have two grill pans: one is a square Calphalon and the other is a large, rectangular cast-iron grill that is flat on one side and ribbed on the other to siphon grease off the food or to provide the ubiquitous grill marks.
I did run in for veggies for a chopped salad…bibb lettuce, radicchio, cilantro, parsley, red pepper, tomatoes… I already had a little blue cheese.
Right now, the eggplant is sliced, salted and dribbling its dew (weeping copiously? bawling like a baby?) into a towel. I’m about to start the pasta water, heat the grill, and start grilling cut pieces of sausage. Oh, and a Seghesio Barbera’s waiting on the table. (If you don’t know Seghesio, grab one of their zinfandels next time you’re in the wine shop and try that with grilled sausage and peppers, pizza or anything grilled.) The recipe isn’t written, but will come together as I cook…and I’ll place it below the pics…. Enjoy!
|Slice the eggplant thickly, salt and let drain on toweling.|
|Ah, California wine.|
|Ah, Italian tomatoes!|
|Indoor grilling of cut Italian sausage and eggplant|
|Sauteed red peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes…a little wine didn’t hurt.|
|Cook some pasta.|
|The sauce comes together with the addition of the grilled eggplant and sausage|
|Adding the mozzerella and fresh basil to the hot pasta. Mix this with the sauce and…
Vieni a mangiare! (Come and eat!)
Grilled Eggplant-Sausage Pasta with Fresh Mozzerella serves 6 (8-10 for a first course)
- 1# pasta such as penne, mostaccioli, tortiglione or rigatoni
- 2 T olive oil, divided
- 1# Italian sausage (sweet or hot), cut into 2″ pieces
- 1 large eggplant, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-1″ pieces (salted and drained on toweling)
- 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
- 1 red pepper, chopped coarsely
- 8 oz fresh, whole mushrooms, wiped, trimmed and cut into halves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz can tomatoes (I like Italian-canned tomatoes) or 4 chopped fresh tomatoes-in summer only
- 1/4 c red wine or water
- sprinkle ea of salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
- 1 T honey
- 1 pint container of fresh mozzerella
- 1/2 c fresh chiffonade (julienned) basil (or 2t dried basil); save out a little for garnish
- 1/2 c Parmesan, grated (opt)
- Bring pot of well- salted and peppered water (10 qts) to boil, reduce heat and hold. (Bring it back to boil soon as you get part-way through making sauce.) I like 1 T dried or fresh basil in my water, too.
- Heat oven to 250 F and place oven-safe bowls or plates in to warm.
- Heat grill to medium (10 min) and wipe with an oiled paper towel. Add sausage and eggplant.
- Meantime, heat saute pan with rest of oil and add onion, red peppers and mushrooms. Cook until nearly tender and add garlic. Saute together for 1-2 minutes and add tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, red pepper and honey. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. (More salt and/or honey will cut the acidity of the wine and tomatoes.)
- Bring water back to boil and add pasta. Cook 11-13 minutes or til al dente. Drain and place back in pot. Add mozzerella and most of the basil, saving some for garnish. Cover and hold.
- When sausage and eggplant are done, chop eggplant coarsely and add both to sauce. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings again. Add sauce to the pasta mixture and stir gently, breaking up large hunks of mozzerella.
- Serve in warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with reserved basil. Pass Parmesan, if using.
Cook’s Note: If you’re making this in the summertime, why not grill all of the ingredients and just use fresh tomatoes (skip wine/water, honey) for a very light al fresco meal? You could cook the pasta in the morning before the temperature rises, store it in the frig, and bring it out in time to let it warm to room temp.
Two-Dog Kitchen or What’s Goin’ on in the ‘Hood:
Back from Minnesota trip where we almost froze literally; my skin is still peeling. The day I left Colorado, it was -20 in St. Paul. We’re not talking wind-chill. I was so glad Dave wasn’t coming that day. A 6 hour delay in our airport first…. Hey, I had a wonderful time reading the NYT cover to cover, getting a good start on a novel, enjoying a long lunch, and–not so fun–listening to my fellow travelers talking on the phone all day. (There are so many private spots in the airport; why?)
House hunted for the third time! and this time made an offer on a house:
|The view from what might be my new kitchen window. Lots of birds!!!|
Still job-seeking…like a million? other Americans. I’m grateful to our president for his positive, healing speech last night.
More travel soon….family birthdays, inspections on new houses… and so on.
Sunny and warm here. Ah, Colorado!
Happy 80th Birthday to Gene Morgan!
|Here’s Dave’s Dad, Gene, and his Mom, Lorna, at Emily’s college graduation–all smiles.|
Sing a new song,