Tag Archives: balsamic vinegar

Blissful Brussel Sprouts

14 Apr

 

Growing up I was not a fan of brussel sprouts. They only graced the dinner table in my midwestern childhood home on Thanksgiving. And they were of the boil in bag variety. In other words, boring, limp and swimming in “butter” sauce. It became, for me, a dish to pass along quickly-without taking any.

Times have changed. Brussel sprouts have become a fav of not only mine but my kids as well. I still won’t eat the boil in bag sprouts, but now I like them raw and shaved in salads. The most delectable way to enjoy them, however, is roasted. With bacon. YUM.

Savory roasted brussel sprouts are so easy to make there is no reason not to start making them. Let’s get started with a look at what is needed for this recipe.

The ingredients needed are fresh sprouts, olive oil, lightly cooked and crumbled bacon, balsamic glaze, and salt and pepper. That is all you need for this heavenly side dish. Don’t eat bacon? Leave it out. No big deal. You can customize this recipe to suit you.

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These simple ingredients are all you need for this delectable recipe!

The brussel sprouts were whole, and I wanted them more in bits size pieces. Halving them would work here,  but first things first. They needed to be washed.

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Wash those sprouts!

 

After they are washed, pick out the bad ones. Hey, nature being what it is, you will have some unusable sprouts.

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Toss any brussel sprouts like this one that are blemished or soft.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. This is a high temperature but these will roast to perfection. Next spend a couple of minutes cutting these in half.

Cut these in half. After cutting them, lay them on paper towels to dry them off.

Lay them on paper towels to dry. This is an important step. If you don’t dry these before going in the oven, they will steam instead of roast. That is not what we are going for here. So lay them on paper towels and dry them on the top as well. Place them on a large baking sheet, a flat pan. Drizzle the olive oil over them. Dust with salt and pepper and scatter the bacon over top. Time to pop this into the oven. We will need to check on them, so set the timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, take the sprouts out of the oven and give them a good stir. They should be starting to brown and crisp up. Resist the urge to nab one off the baking sheet and sneak a quick yummy taste. Put them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. It is that easy. When they are golden brown they are done. Pull them out of the oven, put them in a pretty bowl, and drizzle with balsamic glaze and enjoy!

These delectable little nuggets of yum are irresistible.

You can use these for a side dish along just about anything. Another option is to let them cool, drizzle a light vinaigrette over them, and serve them as a cold salad. So many ways to go with this simple side! Let me know what you do with them! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Recipe:

  • 12 ounces fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 slices bacon, lightly cooked and crumbled
  • 1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together, place on baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Serve immediately, or cool and use in a veggie salad.

Recipe note-

I microwave a couple of pieces of bacon to crumble in this recipe. Easy with very little clean up.

 

 

 

 

Epicurean Evenings

29 Oct
My education and career trajectory is in clinical nutrition, dietary management, and healthcare business strategy, but cooking is definitely my passion. I love the creativity of decadent ingredients, plate presentations, fresh flavors, and lingering over home cooked meals filled with spirited conversation.  My enthusiasm for food, at times, mingles with my love of writing, and that dwells in the core of my spirit.
I have several outlets to feed that need, and at one point I spent time writing for a food and wine magazine. Sometimes my editor (and friend) Katherine would come over to chat about upcoming assignments. I was not inconvenienced by having to answer the door when Katherine stopped by. Always welcome and with a quick “hello I’m here” knock, in she came.

A few years ago on a cool fall afternoon she popped in. A few steps in the door she stopped, her head slowly floated back as her eyes closed, and drew in a deep breath. Then her eyes slowly opened and she said “I just love coming into the house of an epicurean. It always smells so good!”

At the time I wasn’t completely sure what an epicurean was. When I finally understood what it meant, the comment from Katherine turned into an intuitive compliment-one that I savor to this day. What is an epicurean? If you go to the dictionary you will find something like this:

adjective
1. fond of or adapted to luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasures; having luxurious tastes or habits, especially in eating.
Yup, that describes me. I am an epicurean. But what was I cooking on that cool fall afternoon that elicited such a reaction from Katherine? I was teaching myself how to make a brown butter sauce. Dinner that evening included wild mushroom ravioli, and I had decided to stretch my skills by learning a new sauce.
Want to know how to make a brown butter sauce? You’ll be happy you did-it has endless possibilities! High quality European butter is the key here. I always use unsalted for 2 reasons: Salt is a preservative, so unsalted butter is fresher, and I like to adjust my own seasonings.

So here is what I did. Into a heavy bottomed sauce pan, I started melting a half pound of lovely french butter on low heat.


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Soon the butter started to brown. I began removing the foam to clarify the sauce. The aroma that began filling the house was amazing. Warm, nutty, rich!

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My sauce continued to deepen. The flavors were concentrating. And the scents wafting around the house were incredible. I kept stirring.

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Do not walk away from this sauce, as it can burn quickly. Let it deepen slowly and keep your eye on it. But that is it. Simple.

The real beauty in this sauce is the ability to adjust it to any taste. You can add garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, almost anything to customize it to your taste. Add it at any point while browning the sauce. How easy is that? Fabulous!!

The first time I made the sauce, I drizzled it over wild mushroom ravioli and sprinkled it with some fresh parmesan cheese. Since I like acid, I also drizzled a balsamic reduction over the ravioli as well. A garnish of fresh basil perfected the balance. I added a salad and some crusty bread. It was a decadent dinner.

I continue to use the brown butter sauce for a variety of finishes. What can you do with it? Send me an email and let me know!

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Zucchini-Grilled

30 Mar

I really like vegetables. Even more than fruit.  Eating seasonally and taking advantage of farm fresh vegetables all year long not only provides great flavor and variety, but eating seasonally is budget friendly. My kids and I are adventurous when it comes to food, so I am challenged to find new ways to cook veggies.

Since it is winter, root vegetables have been the staple lately.  Luckily, my family enjoys carrots, potatoes, squash,beets…all the delicious colorful winter vegetables.  Did I say all?  Um, I meant most.  My kids aren’t crazy about one winter vegetable…brussel sprouts.

My kids tend to delight in normal kid stuff like, well, farts.  Brussel sprouts, closely related to cabbage, are notoriously gas producing.  Shouldn’t that be my number one selling point in adding brussel sprouts to our dinner repertoire?  I mean, what could be more fun than that for my kids….seriously.  With their competitive nature, I see this as a win win food offering, if you catch my drift (waft, hang time…).

And that’s how I tried to sell it to my kids. They know enough to know what a cruciferous vegetable is, and what that produces.  Slow roasted fresh brussel sprouts gently browning in the oven smell, well, cabbage like.  Rats.  That wasn’t going to sell my kids on these delicious sprouts.  Of course my mouth is watering, but the kids are scrunching their nose up.  So in the interest of family peace, I now reserve brussel spouts for when I dine at a restaurant.   So I took the sprouts out of the family dinner rotation, but continue on a quest for a fresh seasonal change.

Still wanting variety, I reverted back to another inexpensive vegetable…zucchini.  I like to roast these with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with perhaps a few shreds of fresh parmesan.  But on this particular night, I was pinched for time and looking for a quick veggie option.  I still used zucchini, but took it in a super quick and easy direction.

Splitting the zucchini down the middle, I then pulled my cast iron grill pan out and heated it up.  I drizzled with zucchini with olive oil, and onto the grill pan it went.  I seared it much like a piece of meat, not quite knowing how it would end up.   After searing one side, I turned it over and seared the second side.  I then put a bit of fresh parmesan cheese on top.  The result was fantastic.

Grilled zucchini in my (very inexpensive) cast iron grill pan.  It was sizzling and searing.  Yum!

Grilled zucchini in my (very inexpensive) cast iron grill pan. It was sizzling and searing. Yum!

I flipped the fleshy side of the zucchini up and put a little freshly served parmesan on top.  Ooh!  So good!

I flipped the fleshy side of the zucchini up and put a little freshly served parmesan on top. Ooh! So good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a keeper.  It was super quick, hardly any ingredients, and oh so tasty!  It was beautiful on the plate as well.  So look for variety not only in your food, but in ways to prepare them.

Oh, and  you may want to take a page out of my book and order your brussel sprouts out at your favorite place Saturday night!