Archive for brussel sprouts

addendum to: brussels sprouts

Posted in vague recipes with tags on December 2, 2009 by thatwasdelicious

Last night, Lilli and I trooped through the cold night to Nick’s house on 4th and Pine. The reason we were gathering was to make the 2009 ADVENTure Calendar. When we arrived, Nick had cider on the stove, a creamy, eggy, mutmegy, pie on the counter and some delicious brussels sprouts in the oven. He had roasted the brussels sprouts and mushrooms with some rosemary and olive oil. Delicious….

brussels sprouts

Posted in delicious stories, vague recipes with tags on November 28, 2009 by thatwasdelicious

Brussels sprouts have been a staple at our Thanksgiving table since Claire, my mom, and I decided one year that we were going to start our own Thanksgiving traditions. Their tightly curled, cabbage selves can be sweet or bitter depending on your luck, savory or sweet depending on your design, and brussels are something that Claire and I look forward to each year.

The traditional way of preparing brussels sprouts in our house is to take the brussels sprouts and mix them with some toasted hazelnuts. Simple, but delicious. For our traditional recipe you first chop off the ends of the brussels sprouts and score the bottom with an X. Then you boil a pot of water, add a little salt to the water, and plop the brussels in. Boil until they are a bright and brilliant green. Then run under cold water. I have recently discovered what a wonderful idea it is to run cooked veggies under cold water, especially if the next step is to sautee them. Running the vegetables under cold water stops the cooking process right where you want it. If you keep the vegetables in their warm water, they are going to keep cooking and shift from that bright, popping color to the overcooked, limp, altogether unappetizing pale green. While the brussels are boiling away, you can toast some hazelnuts in a dry pan. Then, take the hazelnuts and rub them in a clean, dry, towel, to make sure that the skins come off. After the brussels are boiled and the hazelnuts are toasted, you simply take some butter, melt in the pan and toss the hazelnuts and brussels in together. Let them sautee for a bit, add some salt and pepper to taste and a dash of lemon juice and you have the Lutz girl’s traditional, delicious, Thanksgiving brussel sprout dish-buttery, crunchy, salty, with just the hint of sweetness from the brussels sprouts and toasted hazelnuts.

This year, Claire has been living in upstate NY and taking advantage of the offerings of a local CSA. Now ’tis the time for brussels sprouts and she has since learned several variations on our favorite brussels sprout dish. So, when I told Joe’s mom that we would be taking care of a vegetable dish, Claire proposed that we make brussels sprouts in a way that she had recently discovered and loves. This recipe takes advantage of the sweetness that can be coaxed out of a seasonal brussels sprout and also skips the step of boiling those little buggers.

For Claire’s recipe you take an apple or two and chop it/them up. The apple and some garlic gets tossed into a hot pan with some olive oil and maple syrup. When the apples are soft but not mushy, they get removed from the pan and the brussel sprouts (which have been chopped up so they are more like shredded cabbage) get tossed into the pan with some more olive oil. When the brussels are soft and the edges are a little golden, the brussels get pulled off the stove and the apple mixture gets stirred back in. Add salt and pepper to taste and I found some lemon juice added at the end helped to cut some of the sweetness of the apples and the maple syrup.

An absolutely delicious variation that is even a little sweeter and crunchier.

(Here is Claire enjoying a batch of sauteed brussels on her lunch break at work)

I have also heard rumor from one Alex Jones that there are some amazing recipes for brussel sprouts that involve bacon, figs, and possibly some nuts….? Since there are still branches of brussel sprouts in the markets, I will be sure to try a few more dishes and report back.

Delicious Thanksgivings and Thanksgiving left-overs to you all.

MUAH,

W

and a kitchen makes four

Posted in delicious stories, vague recipes with tags on May 3, 2009 by thatwasdelicious

I was and still am the child who believes in magic. One of my first romantic fantasies was rooted in the belief that all boys are Peter Pan and that the object of my affection would in fact come to my window in the night and take me away. My first notebooks are filled with stories that describe the fairy king of tiger lilies coming to life and fairy women dressed in the flimsy, sparkling beauty of sea foam and moonlight guarding their flower children. For my 8th birthday, I requested three books–all somewhat practical herbals that read a little like a witch’s Book of Spells. From these books I learned that if you bathe in rosemary scented water you will become irresistibly attractive and if you place an apple seed in a fire while saying the name of a future lover and it pops it means that he is the man for you. I learned every wish granting trick in the book–times of day, shapes of the moon, appearance of stars would prompt a wish and it was usually the same one–bring me the love of my life. Even the failure of Peter Pan to appear, rosemary to transform, or apple seeds to accurately predict my future husband (unless there are some real surprises in store for me) has not and did not shake a deep rooted belief that magic exists.

As soon as Claire and I were old enough to be trusted to the fields and backyards of the neighborhood, we would play outside for hours. Our favorite game was to build a fort. The first forts that we made were primitive inns. We would always make sure that the newest fort had a stove and a steady stream of invented guests. Part of the magic that I overlooked while I was imagining fairies and Prince Charming, was the magic of our backyard. I took it for granted. Claire and I would turn weeds into stews and mud into pie crusts. Leaves would become plates and various tubers (actually, now that I think about it we were probably responsible for thinning out the iris patch….) the featured meal of the day. These kitchens of make believe seemed so much realer and so much closer to the hearths of the heroes of my fantasy stories that I preferred them for years to the real thing.

Then fifth grade rolled around and I changed schools and learned that a love of the magical and fantastical might have to take a backseat to a love of glossy magazines and lip gloss. By sixth grade, I had made my first real best friend. We would watch movies like Ever After and talk about boys as if they were already the men that we would actually want to marry. Inevitably, as is the case with most middle school girls, we got to the point in our friendship when we were ready to divulge our deepest and truest secrets. One day after school as Courtney and I were sitting in the cherry tree out in the front of our school and waiting for our parents to arrive, we told the Biggest Secret.

“Okay,” said Courtney, looking to the left and to the right to make sure that there were no spies crouched beneath us, “Who do you like?”

I could feel the heat rise to my face. This was the secret that I had held closest to me during the past months. Part of me thought that Courtney must already know, that everyone must know, because every time I was around a particular boy, I would flush and respond snippily to whatever query had been put my way.

“In our grade?”

Courtney gave me a look. She knew that I was just stalling for time but it truly seemed like there would be no possible way that I could actual own, aloud, my love.

I cleared my throat and looked down at my khaki pants. “Pat.”

“No way.”

It was in that moment that Courtney and I discovered that we had a crush on the same boy. Now, this could have spelled disaster, but in our case, oddly enough, it brought us closer. The fact that we liked the same boy was, to us, proof that we were really meant to be best friends. We decided then and there that we would no longer let our shyness keep us from Pat but that as a team we would get closer to him and then he could chose which one of us he liked. And we promised that whatever his choice would be, we would not let it come between the two of us.

All well and good on paper.

Now, Patrick McIntyre was cool. He was cool in the way that all sixth graders hope that they will be. He had an older sister who dyed her hair and was one of the best Artists in the school. As a result, Pat could walk without fear down the Upper School hallways of our k-12 school while the rest of us cowered in fear of the seniors. He played the guitar and he was the favorite of all the English teachers. He was clearly a rebel, but a loved rebel who got his homework done on time. Just about perfect.

Courtney and I worked our way into his affections slowly. She was the bolder of the two of us and he soon grew accustomed to eating lunch with us and we grew comfortable with his group of friends. Courtney worked her magic by talking about the Simpsons and Seinfield (and therefore sex) and I, I turned to the kitchen.

At some point, we three were talking about food and it became clear that this was a common ground that the three of us could share. I hatched the idea (and this should come as a surprise to no one) that we should all get together and cook a Meal. This would be one of the first meals that I had cooked outside of the fort kitchens and real people, not our pretend guests, would be eating it. I consulted with my mother and for some reason she suggested that I make Brussel Sprout Soup. I agreed. After all, if I could make a delicious soup out of a vegetable that no 6th grade boy would eat in the normal course of life, perhaps I could have a chance at expanding Pat’s other palates.

The day of the arranged meal-making came and I was in a fit of nerves. I can’t remember what Courtney made or what Pat brought but I can remember that we got sparkling cider and popped the cork out as if it were a bottle of champagne. And then there was the soup. First, you have to boil the brussel sprouts to soften them. Then you blend the brussel sprouts with cream and chicken broth and salt and pepper. It is a simple soup and a wonderful green, like the green of lightly steamed cabbage leaves, or good celery. And it was surprisingly delicious. Fresh and creamy. And for a spring day completely suitable.

Now I know that if I wanted to whip up a stew of lust I should have made something rich in ginger and garlic, or heavy with meat and wine, and finished the meal with chocolate. But it is fitting that my first attempt at capturing a man’s heart happened in a kitchen and it happened with the fresh brightness of the tightly folded and protected brussel sprout–no flesh, no blood, no lust, just a swirl of bright green and the innocent hope of falling in love.

No romance ever came of that meal we made. Everyone ate the soup and later we made Pat watch Ever After, hoping that maybe he would get the message that we were trying to send. He didn’t. All through middle school, Courtney and I would pine away and then in 9th grade Pat would fall for Callie and they would become The High School Couple.

Even though one of my first attempts at mixing the alchemy of food with the alchemy of human chemistry did not bear the desired fruit, it was a step in the right direction. The other day I pulled out the blender that I used to make the soup and I remembered that whole strange romance and how important it seemed to me at the time. I had convinced myself at the age of 11 that Pat was the boy for me and that if there was a wide and benevolent universe out there, my wish, to find the love of my life, had been granted. What I hadn’t counted on was the fourth presence there that day, the kitchen, or the fact that the love of one’s life does not necessarily take the form of a man.

Love of my life. My life made here and there sometimes with a recipe and more often than not, without one. Sometimes in the kitchen’s of strangers or friends and sometimes in a kitchen of my own, in the company of good men and good women, good wine, and if we are lucky, good food.

They say be careful what you wish for.

It might come true.