Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brussels Sprouts: Two Ways

The time to buy Brussels sprouts is when the weather turns cold.  And lately it's been cold enough to bring in the hummingbird feeder at night. Buy fresh sprouts, if possible. Frozen sprouts are often bitter and serving frozen Brussels sprouts can turn people off of this great vegetable. 

When the sprouts are on trees, they may be fresher than loose sprouts, but it's hard to tell how much you're paying when you buy a tree, which is discarded in the end. 

The price shown above is last year's price. This year, the price is between $5.99 and $6.99 for a "tree."  I have no idea how much a "tree" weighs but the tree is fairly heavy and compact, so the true price of the sprouts is probably about twice what the tree sells for, or about $10.99 a pound, making this a "special occasion food" for the frugal or $100 a week food shopper (is that really possible in the Northwest?).

Shallots are pricier than onions, so these are also for special dinners at our house. Could be, they'd both be perfect for Thanksgiving.

Brussels Sprouts, Leeks and Red Peppers with Lemon
(Serves 4)

1 large leek, sliced and washed thoroughly
1 tablespoon canola oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and cut in half
1/2 cup diced red pepper
3 or 4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon Mama Lil's Peppers, chopped, or use 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sea salt to taste
Lemon juice, fresh (use a Meyer lemon, if possible)
Shredded coconut

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and leek.  Stir and cook until leek begins to soften and brown.  

Add Brussels sprouts, stir and cook until sprouts begin to soften.  Add the diced red pepper and Mama Lil's.  Continue to stir and cook until sprouts are fork tender.  Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  Drizzle with fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle with a small amount of shredded coconut. 

And keep them out of reach from your Cooking Assistant.

I cooked this Brussels sprouts recipe with shiitake mushrooms last year.  Now that I look at it, the simplicity of it is very similar to my Brussels sprouts and leeks and red peppers. I like the colors of this year's Brussels sprouts recipe.  

Use whichever version suits you.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shiitake Mushrooms
(Serves 4)

Brussels Sprouts from one tree (about 2 pounds sprouts)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 1/2  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Mama Lil's peppers, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped red peppers
Smoked sea salt to taste
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, tough stems removed and sliced

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut sprouts in half. Toss sprouts and garlic in oil.  Stir in peppers. Layer sprouts in a baking dish. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms.  Stir and cook until they soften. In the last 10 minutes, add them to roasting Brussels sprouts.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Roasted Romanesco

I love autumn--all the squash, chanterelle mushrooms, and romanesco. I'd decided to roast vegetables and when I spotted the chartreuse brassica, I reached for small head.

I decided to roast vegetables in part to talk about a recently published recipe.  I send articles and recipes on a regular basis to Marlene's Market and Deli in Tacoma, which is the best place to shop for organic and vegetarian foods in Tacoma. They publish a monthly newletter called The Sound Outlook.  Check it out, see Marlene. 

The November issue is all recipes.  I love that.  Two of mine were featured, a vegan mushroom gravy and a roasted vegetable medley.

Occasionally mistakes are made when recipes are reprinted, and everybody has a recipe for roasted vegetables.  Really--what's so hard about roasting them.  Spread a pound or two of chopped vegetables in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with a little oil, sprinkle with sea salt and back at 350F to 400F until done.

So I didn't look at the roasted vegetable recipe for awhile, but when I picked it up to read it, I was astonished to see 8 tablespoons of oil and even more shocked to see 2 teaspoons of sea salt and 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary.

Yikes!  Mistakes were made, but where?  I can't find the original recipe because neither recipe is one I submitted for the November issue. It took awhile to find the gravy recipe, and maybe I'll post that one next week. 

At any rate, the lesson here is to remember, when reading recipes, mistakes could have been made. Use your own discretion. This is obviously too much oil and salt for any roasted vegetable recipe, and when you increase the amount of vegetables in a recipe, never double the salt or pepper.  I'm also not sure I get the plastic bag technique.  Can't you just stir them in the pan?  Anyway, I continue the hunt for this recipe.

Okay, that said, we can move on to romanesco. I hadn't tried roasting it until I found this amazing roasted romanesco recipe.  Then, I wished I'd gotten more. You don't know how good vegetables can be until you've tasted this.

We've had it in soups, stir frys, salads, but from now on I think I'll roast romanesco.

Looking at romaneco is like viewing a work of art. 

My Cooking Assistant has decided that he likes.  He loves broccoli and cauliflower so romanesco is  a magnet for him.

Shortly after this he weakened and gobbled a few pieces.  I knew I should have gotten a bigger head.

Seriously, it's the addition of toasted garlic that makes the flavor amazing.

Roasted Garlic Romanesco

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Dash of hot chile powder or cayenne
Romanesco, cut into bite size pieces.
Smoked sea salt or sea salt
Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.   Blend olive oil, garlic and chile powder together.  Lay romanesco in a 9 by 13- inch baking dish. Toss with oil mixture.  Place in oven.  Stir occasionally.  Sprinkle with cheese after 20 minutes.  Return to the oven and continue to bake until tender--about 10 minutes. Season with salt.