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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Brussel sprouts come around again

A friend recently said to me that when he was a kid, Brussel sprouts were boiled—and that was it. Perhaps a little butter, salt and pepper. He hated them, but now, he tells me, his wife has started cooking them several new ways and he’s learned to love them. I think my kids ate them but without enthusiasm and mostly because they could tease their cousin, Russell, by calling them Russell sprouts. But today these tiny green veggies are appearing in all kinds of dishes, from salads to sides. They look like tiny cabbages and are indeed the buds of wild edible cabbages.

If you’re going to cook or make salad with Brussel sprouts, be sure to trim the stem end and pull off any tough outer leaves. They’re good shredded and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then baked at 350 for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan. When I first tried this I followed a recipe that called for baking at 425 for 30 minutes—burned them to a fare-thee-well, a phrase that always makes the Russell in my family laugh.

One of the first “different” recipes with the sprouts that I tasted was made by a friend’s mother, a woman from Canada.   She combined

1 can quartered artichokes
1 pkg. frozen Brussel sprouts (I’d use fresh today)
½ c. mayonnaise
¼ c. Parmesan
¼ c. butter
She baked it all for ten minutes. Rich but so good.

Another recipe akin to that calls for making a sauce of
2/3 c. whipping cream
2/3 c. milk
½ c. grated Parmesan
Trim 1-1/2 lb. Brussel sprouts and slice uncooked
Two cloves garlic, finely chopped
Butter a shallow baking dish. Layer sprouts, half the garlic and pour ¼ sauce over them. Continue to layer. Baked about an hour at 350.

These sprouts, which are and aren’t really sprouts, are often combined with blue cheese.

Cook 16 sprouts, cool and halve
In frying pan heat
2 Tbsp. oil, then add
2 leeks thinly sliced
1 shallot chopped
1 Tbsp. white wine
Sauté all and add Brussel sprouts to mix. Sauté 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with 2 oz. blue cheese and serve


Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in skillet
Add 2 large shallots, halved lengthwise and then sliced crosswise
1 lb. Brussel sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1 7.4 oz. jar steamed chestnuts
Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper and stir for a minute of so.
Add 1 c. low-salt chicken broth (the kind in a box)
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer and cook until sprouts are almost tender—5 minutes
Uncover and boil until liquid is almost gone
Add 1/3 c. whipping cream and boil until sprouts and chestnuts are coated. Stir frequently.
Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp. chopped chives (grow them in a pot on your porch—in Texas, they freeze out and then come back year after year) and
½ c. crumbled blue cheese

Want Brussel sprouts in a salad?

Slice ½ small red onion as thin as possible; dunk onion slices in bowl of cold water
Mix together
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
Sea or kosher salt to taste and freshly ground pepper Let sit ten minutes. Then stir in
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Trim 6 cups Brussel sprouts and slice thinly—a mandolin would be best, but you want something that resembles a fine slaw
Put slaw in bowl, add 1 c. grated Pecorino and drained onions, toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.

This is off on a different topic, but Christian, who I’ve mentioned is seriously vegetable challenged, will eat a bag of radishes at one sitting. I happened across a pickled radish recipe and now have ten large radishes pickling in the fridge. We tried them at dinner tonight, and they were delicious. So easy to do too! No sterilizing, none of that--just vinegar, peppercorns, and I forget what else. If anyone's interested, I'll look up the recipe.

I seem to be on a kick to write about those veggies we don’t eat as often as we should Next time, maybe beets.

What happened to all those people who wanted to guest blog and send me their recipes? Please help me make this an interactive blog. I’m not much on desserts? You have a killer recipe? Send it to me, please at

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