Posts Tagged ‘101 cookbooks’

In Praise of Brussels Sprouts

December 9, 2009

Flickr photo by cbcastro courtesy Creative Commons attribution license.

Since I spent two hours Monday outside in the freezing cold chatting with a couple of West Marin farmers as they cut, cleaned, and boxed some bodacious-looking brussels sprouts (more on the growers at Gospel Flat Farm later this week),  I thought it timely to weigh in on this most delectable and much-maligned member of the Brassicaceae family.

Yes, many of us have memories from childhood of horrid-smelling, bitter-tasting, floppy-looking boiled brussels rolling around our plates in all their unappetizing glory.

Banish that image from your mind for good. Perhaps one of the simplest ways to enjoy this cruciferous vegetable, is simply tossing it in some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and then roasting these green balls of goodness at super high heat — we’re talking 475 or so degrees — until they’re tender and their caramel-like sweetness releases. For a complete how-to on the subject check out this quick roasting recipe from Farmgirl Fare or this gorgeous-looking, Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts offering over at 101 Cookbooks.

I picked up a killer recipe for the humble sprout when I chaperoned my kid’s kindergarten class on a field trip to veggie mecca Berkeley Bowl, where each child got to pick a piece of produce to take back to the classroom for follow-up fun.

My boy opted for the brussels sprouts clinging to their stalk, not because he loved ’em but because of their cool alien-from-out-of-space appearance. A fellow produce picker shared his fave way to eat this cabbage-like veg, a dish that included pecans and gorgonzola cheese. This recipe at Kalyn’s Kitchen is pretty similar. Try it. I swear you’ll never think of these leafy green buds in the same negative way again. (I like to toss in some dried cranberries too for a little festive touch. And switch in hazelnuts for pecans, if you’d prefer.)

Flickr photo by Ed Bierman courtesy Creative Commons license.

Here’s a handy dandy tip: If you decide to boil or steam your brussels sprouts take care not to overcook them as that releases a chemical with the unwieldy name glucosinolate sinigrin, and it’s this pesky substance that produces the stench, I mean, sulfurous odor, that you’ll recall from your youth. Cutting these buds in half before cooking can also help minimize the smelly chemical, apparently.

Before I leave you with some more ways to enjoy these verdant veggies, any copy editors/language gurus want to weigh in on whether it’s Brussels sprouts or brussels sprouts? The New York Times recently had its say on the matter and although it’s French fries the gray lady says its brussel sprouts and lima bean. Go figure.

Below, a smattering of recipes designed to help you change your mind (if that’s necessary) on the merits of these little orbs of loveliness.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pears from Food Blogga
Love the combo of pear, ginger, and thyme in this simply satisfying side.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin from A Veggie Venture
Brussels sprouts, cream, and breadcrumbs. What’s not to like?

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Apples 101 Cookbooks
With or without tofu (which makes this into a one-skillet meal).

Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Poppy Seeds
Lighthearted Locavore
Another mighty fine taste combination.

Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Gratin Serious Eats Channels Bon Appetit
Cheese, cream, pine nuts, and parsley baked with two nutritious veggies in one delicious dish.

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What’s for Dinner? Find Answers on the Web

November 4, 2009

How many of you have found those email chain letters in your inbox asking you to share a recipe with a dozen or so others? How many of you actually respond?

I’m not entirely sure why, but I never seem to reply to these recipe requests (sorry Anne, Katherine, Ellen, et al.) and wind up feeling a bit guilty about it.

Maybe they’re too much pressure — you feel the need to cast around for the perfect dish to share with the masses. Maybe it feels too time consuming and thus goes into the to-do list, and then too much time passes or you forget…Who knows.

I suspect many of them are generated by busy working parents (mostly moms), who want help with that perennial post-work-school-pick- up-race-to-martial arts/dance class/soccer-hustle and the inevitable, ravenous question: “What’s for dinner?'” as soon as you walk in the door.

It’s hard to resist the urge to say something snippy like “What are you cooking?” or even “Who the hell knows?” but that won’t get dinner on the table. And when time is short, you’re hardly about to start browsing through your library of cookbooks for inspiration.

But what if you took a few minutes out of your day to check out a couple of online recipe resources. That sounds doable, right?

So in the spirit of sharing recipes via the ‘net (if not email) I offer web links to click to find nutritious & delicious dishes you can fix for your family in a timely fashion.

There are a zillion food sites and blogs out there. Many look gorgeous, some are very funny, lots are beautifully written. For this post I want to highlight a few that consistently offer recipes that could work on a school night when everyone is tired, time-starved, and very hungry. (Which doesn’t means these aren’t pretty, witty, and wise as well.)

No doubt you’ll have your own bookmarked recipe links you’ll want to share. Feel free.

As for those recipe exchange emails…okay, alright, already, I’ll reply…maybe there’s a blog post in what happens after I hit send.

Five Online Food Resources

Simply Recipes Elise Bauer’s six-year-old, award-winning web blog is chock full of easy-to-fix, healthy suggestions for family meals. The site is easy to navigate, the recipes easy to follow, and it’s easy on the eyes as well, with lots of lovely photos. Browse categories that meet your family’s needs, whether budget, vegetarian, or gluten free.

Try Spinach Frittata, Enchiladas, or Sauteed Swiss Chard Ribs with Cream and Pasta.

101 Cookbooks Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Cooking, serves up evocative images of wholesome vegetarian offerings on this much-lauded site, started as a way to work through recipes in the vast number of cookbooks Swanson had amassed at home. This blog is a snap to get around too.

Consider Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, or Carrot, Dill and White Bean Salad.

Tasty Kitchen The brainchild of the hilarious blogger Ree Drummond, aka as The Pioneer Woman, a self-described spoiled city gal who left the urban life to marry a cattle man and homeschool four children, Tasty Kitchen is a recently launched site for home cooks to share their favorite recipes. Good place to park those email recipe exchanges, maybe?

Check out Pumpkin and Pear Soup, Ratatouille, and California Style Sushi Rolls.

super.cook.logoSupercook is a cool newish web tool equipped with a search engine that helps you prepare meals with the ingredients you have on hand. Just plug in what you have in your pantry, say rice and lentils, and within seconds you’ll get a recipe or maybe several from its database of 300,000 and growing. You can comment on whether you like or dislike a dish and even add your own to the mix. Another potential home for those avid recipe exchangers! Named by Time.com as one of the 50 best websites for 2009.

Will Write for Food Speaking of bests, several “best food blogs” lists are worth perusing when you’ve got a little more time to surf around to find a recipe resource that appeals. My pal Dianne Jacob over at WW4F has gathered links to five of these best ofs in one place.  The website delish also keeps a comprehensive list.

Check back for a future post when I finally put together my very own favorite foodie bloggas blogroll.

Flickr photo by dcdan used under the Creative Commons license.

Five Fabulous Fruit Desserts

July 14, 2009

I’ve been waxing on a lot lately in this space about food films and food books. And I’ve been digging doing blogs about resourceful residents who grow and forage in the urban jungle.

But it’s time to talk about cooking again. The weather has turned positively balmy in Berkeley this week and we’re heading into the lazy days of summer (for some) so it seems a good time to reintroduce recipes into the rotation, don’t you think? Let’s start with dessert and dish about some of the great-tasting fruit in farmers’ markets right now.

My son got things kick started by suggesting we make a lemon blueberry bundt cake for a backyard barbie our neighbors threw last weekend. He was trying to cheer me up. I was hot (my little cottage is like a proverbial oven on steamy days, when the inside temps can hit close to 90 degrees), hormonal (i.e. cranky & crabby), and a herniated disc was giving me hell. (Taking a poll: Should I try a steroid shot for a bad back that’s been nothing but grief for 6 months now? Opinions? Experience? Horror stories? Do tell.)

I was also covered in flea bites from a trip to a public pool. (Word to the wise: When swimming at an unfamiliar spot dry off on the concrete and avoid the green stuff, no matter how inviting it may look. Scratch. scratch. Word to local readers: Stay off the grass at Temescal Pool.) What better way to beat the blues than to bake a cake with your sweet son who does not, thank you very much, want to go to the beach, the samurai exhibit, or the pool?

Gabe sourced the blueberries from Lance & Nancy’s bushes next door and plucked a couple of Meyer lemons off our tree and away we went. My son thinks a bundt tin is a cool contraption and loves watching what happens when you pour buttermilk into the mix. He was chuffed with the end result — remember, I’m a card-carrying member of the baking-challenged brigade. The cake was a hit at the party and the leftovers got scoffed up the following day by Gabe, his buddy Griffin, and sister Nora, who were ravenous after running around at soccer camp all day. A soccer camp, mind you, that serves mostly organic, healthy lunches and snacks. How fantastic is that???

We’re also a bit partial to a fruit crumble, crisp, or cobbler in my house — my standby recipes for crisp or cobbler come from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. We use whatever fruit combo we happen to have on hand. Nectarines and blueberries are swell together, as in this Blueberry and Nectarine Cobbler from Nicole at Baking Bites. Or try this Nectarine and Peach Cobbler from Elise at Simply Recipes. Or this Plum and Peach Crisp from 101 Cookbooks, which goes easy on both the sugar and butter and includes yogurt to keep things moist.

My friend Marge, channeling her inner Martha, excelled last week at a scrumptious crumble with strawberries, rhubarb, orange rind and juice, sliced almonds, and oats, among other ingredients. Maybe if we beg her she’ll post the recipe here. We ate at her place while we played the board game Apples to Apples. But alas, no camera in tow to record this delectable dessert — the kind that almost gets eaten in one sitting but there’s just enough left over for brekkie — in bed! — the next day. Play hard. Eat well. Don’t forget the cream.

Here’s my list to get you jazzed about whipping up something fruitful some time this summer. And do share the wealth, fellow fruit lovers. I wanna know: What’s on your dessert menu?

The List

1. Glazed Lemon-Blueberry Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Recipe from Cooking Light. Garnish with fresh blueberries and ribbons of lemon rind. Especially appealing for afternoon tea with a cuppa.

2. Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen or try this version Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble from Eating Well. Either way, serve with lashings of cream laced with vanilla essence.

Recipe from Margaret to come (no pressure my friend;).

3. Pavlova with Berries, Kiwis, and Passionfruit

The pav recipe I routinely turn to is in Sydney Food by Bill Granger. My sister, Amanda, and sister-in-law, Alice, also make to-die-for versions. But between them, Mand and Ali have seven kids, demanding jobs/lives, and they’re not too sure about this blogging business so you’ll just have to take my son’s word for it: Their pavlovas rock. Regardless of whether this dish actually harkens from Australia or New Zealand it’s a Down Under delight. The version here, from Stephanie at Joy of Baking, looks pretty darn delish. Plus the girl has created a chocolate pavlova. Oh my!

4. Baked Peaches

What could be simpler or more scrumptious than a baked peach? My sis-in-law, the aforementioned Alice, dots the top of each peach half with butter and brown sugar. In the version here, Jamie Oliver stuffs ’em with raspberries.  Works wonderfully with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, also found in Sydney Food. Apartment Therapy’s the kitchn offers a grilled version, topped with bourbon vanilla whipped cream, for you outside cooks.

5. Lemon Sorbet

Refreshing. Easy. Fast. Say no more — other than you do need an ice-cream maker. This version comes from Tori at Tuesday Recipe.