Perfect Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Beautiful Brussels Sprouts by Keenan Loo on Unsplash.

This recipe from Mark Bittman is a really delicious way to prepare Brussels Sprouts.  It’s perfect for big events like Thanksgiving, because you can get it totally prepped the day before and then roast it the day of. It’s also vegan and gluten-free!

Mark made it slightly differently – he browned the brussels sprouts in a cast iron skillet first, but I wanted to make a larger batch, so I just roasted them in the oven.   The key is to let them get so dark they appear to be burning.  But that just brings out the sweetness that makes them so delicious.

2 lbs brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1/3 cup olive oil
5 big cloves of garlic, cut into thin slices
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional – I forgot it and the dish was still delish!)

Mix oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a ziploc bag. Add brussel sprouts and shake well to coat the sprouts.

At this point, you can refrigerate them until you’re ready to bake or go ahead and roast them on a rimmed baking sheet at 450 for 30 minutes.  You may want to go in halfway through and shake them up a bit.  Check seasoning and serve. They will literally disappear.

Rich Custard for Maya

This recipe, which seems too simple to be so delicious, has always been an integral part of my Strawberry Trifle recipe. But my daughter Maya asked me to list it separately, so it’s easier and quicker to find. So here you go, Maya!

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 cups whole milk
4 eggs, well beaten in a medium sized bowl
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Blend sugar, salt, cornstarch and whole milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly. Once the custard reaches the boil, remove from heat and add 1 cup to the eggs in the bowl, stirring vigorously so the eggs don’t cook. Add another cup of milk mix to the eggs, and continue stirring.

Return the whole thing to the saucepan and put back on medium/low heat. Heat for 1-2 minutes until the custard is just starting to bubble a little. Don’t leave it for a second at this point or it will curdle. Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Let cool before adding to trifle dish.  It will thicken as it cools

This recipe also makes a lovely pouring custard. Just add another cup of milk. We don’t eat pouring custard much in the US, but it’s delicious dessert sauce. Just a bowl of fresh fruit with pouring custard poured over – it’s simple and wonderful.

Potato Poblano Bundles

There is something about a potato that’s been baked in a buttery, spicy sauce that is incredibly warming and satisfying.  This dish is easy and cooked in little foil bundles that are super fun to open at the table.

The recipe is from The Pioneer Woman magazine with slight variations.

2 lbs. thin skinned potatoes cut into 1″ chunks
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
1 stick of butter (or 1/2 cup Olive Oil for a vegan version)
1/2 cup half and half (or veggie broth for vegan version)
2 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix butter, half ‘n half and all seasonings. Mix well, and add the potatoes, onions and peppers.

Take aluminum foil and cut off 8 18″ pieces. Place 1/8 of the mix in the middle of each foil square and fold up the edges to create a pouch.

At this point, you can grill them for 25 minutes (you’ll have to turn them so make sure they are tightly sealed.) If you prefer you can also bake them at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Check one for doneness – the potatoes should be super soft.

Serve right in the foil packets.

 

Ali’s Slow-cooked Rustic Pasta Sauce

Ali brought this over the other night and Kumy and I had it over pasta with a little fresh parmesan. It was soooo good. Ali said it’s fairly time-consuming, but for this sauce it is totally worth it!

1 lb. bulk hot italian sausage (or use sweet if you don’t like things too spicy)
little water
1 red onion, diced
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1/2 glass dry white wine
1 14 oz can whole San Marzano Tomatoes with liquid
1 can tomato paste
4″ rind of parmesan cheese, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
salt & pepper to taste  (1 tsp and 1/2 tsp?)
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp anchovy paste
1 cup chicken stock

In a good sized frying pan, cook sausage in a little water, stirring often. Once cooked through, remove from pan and add onion. Saute onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir a minute more, then add the white wine and stir to deglaze the pan.

Crush the whole tomatoes with your hand to break them up and cook them down until the liquid has reduced.

Add tomato paste, salt and pepper, bay leaves, cheese rind and anchovy paste. Cook down until quite thick.

Add reserved sausage meat and one cup chicken stock and simmer on low heat for 2 hours. You can add more chicken stock if it’s getting too thick.

It has this ridiculously rich, complex flavor that is just amazing!!

Caitlin’s Supreme Pesto

Pesto

My son’s fiancee, Caitlin is a wonderful cook – and she shared her great Pesto recipe with me a while back.

I love how flexible it is and how simple it is to make! The ridiculous cost of Pine Nuts has kept me from making traditional Pesto, so I love this version – especially with the combination of basil and cilantro.

 

Ingredients

1 handful fresh basil
1 handful fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 cup of mixed nuts (any nuts)
1/2 to 1 cup olive oil (depending on the nuts)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
big pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Put everything in the food processor and blend until you get the consistency you like. Start with a half cup oil, and add more until you get a smooth consistency. You can also add more salt to taste.

Caitie’s note says: Put on everything and enjoy!

Grilled Flank Steak with Charred Eggplant and Mint

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Eggplant by Deviyahya on Unsplash

This is another great recipe from the Slow Food Fast column in the Wall Street Journal,  from chefs Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hersheimer.

We made this with the last of the eggplant from the garden tonight and it was easy and good. It’s also a great way to use mint before the first freeze.  Makes enough for 4 hungry people.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. flank steak
6 tbsp Olive Oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 small globe or Japanese eggplants, halved. (If you use regular size eggplants, cut them into 1″ slices, lengthwise.)
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, smashed or 1/2- 1 tsp garlic powder (use more if you love garlic!)
a good pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Pat steak dry and use a sharp knife to lightly cut a crosshatch pattern on both sides. Drizzle with Tbsp olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a big bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the eggplants and stir until everything is well coated. Remove the eggplants to a plate and to the remaining sauce in the bowl, add garlic, red pepper flakes and mint leaves. Stir gently to blend.

Grill steak on high heat until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, then remove from heat, cover and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

While steak is resting, lay eggplants cut side down and grill 4-5 minutes. Then flip and grill 4-5 more minutes. Remove from heat and add back into the bowl with mint sauce. Toss gently to coat.

Slice steaks thinly across the grain, and serve with eggplants and mint sauce. So delish and so fast!

Note: this recipe would also be wonderful with lamb, or for a vegan version, with cauliflower steaks!

Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

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Butternut Squash Image by Nick Collins on Pixabay.

I’ve made this salad from Ina Garten a dozen times and it is so good there’s never any left.  It’s a perfect fall salad with all the gorgeous colors of the squash, arugula and walnuts.  Thank you Ina for another wonderful recipe!

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp real maple syrup (you can substitute honey if you want to)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp Craisins

For the warm cider vinaigrette:
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice (I use Martinelli’s Apple Juice in the little apple bottle if we don’t have cider on hand. It’s so good – you should keep some in your pantry.)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 oz baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  (use Vegan Parmesan if you wish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbsp olive oil, maple syrup, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Place squash on a sheet pan and pour mix over. Toss with your hands until well coated.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender, turning squash over after 10 minutes. Add Craisins for last 5 minutes. When you add the Craisins, add a small baking pan with the walnuts and let toast for 5 minutes. Watch that the walnuts don’t burn!

Let squash sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes while you make the vinaigrette.

In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 6-8 minutes until about 1/4 cup is left. Take off heat and whisk in mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Pour 2/3 of the vinaigrette over and toss well.  (We don’t like our salad dripping with dressing but if you do – be bold and toss it all in.)

Serve immediately while the dressing and squash are warm. So good!