Brussels sprouts, two ways

November 19, 2013

Salt Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Salt-roasted brussels sprouts

I remember the first time I tried a brussels sprout; I actually didn’t know what it was. I happened to be in Sonoma county, and my husband and I had settled in at the bar of a crowded restaurant for dinner. The bartender was telling us the specials, but he couldn’t remember what vegetables were served with one of the dishes. I’ve forgotten what the dish was, but it sounded so divine I didn’t care what the vegetable was that came alongside, so I ordered it. When the dish was served, the brussels sprouts were covered with the dish’s sauce, and I still wasn’t sure what they were. They looked like some small, alien life form to me, and while I wasn’t put off by them, I also wasn’t thrilled by them. I never did ask the bar tender what they were. I ate a few, and that was that.

Fast forward a couple of years and I stumbled across the recipe that morphed into my spuds and sprouts. Upon prepping the sprouts, I realized that this was what I had at the restaurant bar in Sonoma. Luckily, this time I was in love with their flavor, as a huge dose of salt really helps tame any bitterness, and a little sweetness never hurt anything (this recipe contained bacon and golden raisins). So with that in mind, I give you two very easy recipes to make brussels sprouts that most any person will love, even if they’re not a proclaimed fan. Not to mention, for a Thanksgiving side dish, you’ll love that these are fairly hands-off recipes. (more…)

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Perfect pumpkin: Pumpkin and green lentil tagine

November 6, 2013

Pumpkin Tagine

A couple of weeks ago when I walked by a huge pile of sugar pumpkins at the grocery, I couldn’t help myself. I picked one up. In the back of my mind I had this tagine on my mind – green lentils, chunks of pumpkin, spicy harissa paste. Luckily these little pumpkins keep for a while, so it was my sole Halloween decoration for a week or so, before I gutted it and made it dinner.

Sugar pumpkins have a similar texture to butternut squash, which would work just as well for this recipe. I expected the recipe to turn out super spicy due to the harissa, but when I started cooking I realized only a minuscule amount was called for. Of course, I fixed that! (more…)

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A delicious broccoli

November 20, 2012

Broccoli Fantasia

In the book Vegetables from an Italian Garden, this recipe is listed in English as Delicious Broccoli, and that is an apt description. Broccoli, dressed up with a splash of cream, dots of butter, and more than a glug of white wine. It’s the perfect decadent vegetable side for a Thanksgiving dinner or a steakhouse-style dinner. (more…)

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Carrots with Taleggio Cheese

November 14, 2012

Carrots with Taleggio Cheese

How do I describe these carrots? Savory. Cheesy. Souffle-like speckled with bits of orange. My months-long obsession with this picture didn’t set me up only to let me down. This recipe is one that exceeded my expectations and brought a hush over the Thanksgiving dinner table as everyone dug in.

Let’s back up a moment. What is taleggio cheese? It’s an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk that is soft. While its rind looks and smells a bit funky, the inside yields a mild-yet-still-full flavor. The fat content, at 48%, tells you how happy this is going to make your taste buds. Those Northern Italians know what they’re doing.

The recipe is quite simple, though the fact that you will need to chop a lot of carrots and cook them two ways adds on a bit of time. If you’re making these for Thanksgiving (they also make a great steak-dinner side), I would suggest prepping the night before by at least slicing the carrots and grating the cheese. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Menu: Half California Locavore, Half Italian, more than a Hint of Homemade

November 11, 2012

Vegetables from an Italian Garden

Every year when November rolls around, I start to think about what the Thanksgiving menu will look like. With so many options, though, I rarely nail down what the theme will be until a week or two ahead of time. Every year it takes one little thing to propel me direction, and last year it was the cookbook Vegetables from an Italian Garden. While I had picked up the book earlier that summer, it was the picture of baked carrots that had me fully entranced with the idea of an Italian Thanksgiving menu. But what did that even mean? Pasta and meatballs? Of course not. Instead, I decided to take inspiration from the simplicity of Italian cuisine – the best ingredients, fresh because they’re local, simply put together. (more…)

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