Bitchin’ Brussels Sprouts, So Not Meh

Fresh Farmer’s Market Brussels Sprouts

Last week, Joe Biden reminded us all of a different time. A time when ‘malarkey’ was an

Joe Biden Malarkey

That’s Malarkey!

effective way to call someone out on a lie, an untruth. A time when someone could say ‘malarkey’ and everyone would know what he meant. Joe thought some of what that other guy said was simply, malarkey.

Languages evolve and colloquialisms come and go. At some point, ‘eh’ was replaced by ‘meh’ – meant to convey indifference and signify a sense of ‘whatever’ or ‘not so much’. ‘Meh’ is so much in use that this past weekend’s New York Times Magazine actually included ‘The Meh List’…certainly a sign that ‘meh’ is on its way out.

I remember a few years ago when I asked my nephew where my niece was, he, then about 10, told me that his sister was ‘lolly-gagging in the kitchen with Mommy’ – Hmmm, ‘lolly-gagging’? And, no, by a few years I don’t mean that I asked him this question in 1950. He must have picked that up somewhere, and it sounded funny out of a 10-year old in 2008.

Other words and sayings that have sadly and not so sadly fallen out of favor:

Golly…as in ‘Golly, Davey, if we lie…Dad…And, the Lord, will be mad at us’

Davey and Goliath

Golly, Davey!

Piss-Ant, as in ‘Mom! Mary-Ellen called me a Piss-Ant’

Before Mary-Ellen ever whispered those evil words

Groovy…as in ‘Hey there, groovy chicks. You’re all hep in far out ways’

Groovy Johnny Bravo

And others:

Loosey-Goosey

Willie-Nillie

Fuddy-Duddy

Whipper-Snapper

Interestingly, many of these long gone expressions rhymed…maybe a sign of happier times when Opie skipped by a watering hole toting his fishing pole, whistling on his way home after a long day at school.

Another thing that evolves is the way we prepare foods…The way you first experience a food can sear an impression about that food forever. Like when it was all the rage to boil vegetables until they drooped and sagged, lost all color and even more taste. No wonder kids hated vegetables.

But, thankfully, this trend has passed and is no longer a hip and rad way to prepare veggies. Even the most daunting of greens when prepared well, can be a lot more than just nutritious.

Bitchin’ Brussels Sprouts (side dish for 4)

1. Slice the bottoms off of about 20-25 Brussels sprouts and peel off the outer layer of leaves. You can keep these outer leaves and quick fry them – they’re like chips! Or, toss them

2. Slice each sprout in half lengthwise and submerge cut side down in a bowl of ice water with the juice from one half of a lemon. The acid from the lemon will kill any critters hiding between the leaves…eww

Acidy Water Kills Bugs

3. Melt 2 TBSP of butter in a medium fry pan over med/high heat. You can sub 1 tbsp olive oil for 1/2 of the butter…

Melt that Butter!

4. Remove the soaking sprouts from the ice bath and pat dry with a paper towel

5. Carefully place each sprout cut side down into the simmering butter bath

From Icy Bath to Butter Bath

6. Cook until well browned and then carefully flip each sprout over

sprouts vegetables

I Totally Flipped for them!

7. Whisk together 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and 1 TBSP of Dijon mustard

Steaming Liquid

Steaming Stock and Dijon Mixture

8. Pour the mixture over the simmering vegetables and allow to steam the sprouts to tenderness. You can at this point add salt and pepper to taste – bear in mind that if you used chicken stock, it’ll be salty enough.

Vegetable Side Dish

Simmering Sprouts

9. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, sprinkle about 1 TBSP of freshly grated parmesan cheese over the sprouts, transfer to a dish and serve

Vegetable side dish

Table-Ready

These groovy sprouts are totally bitchin’ and quick and easy to prepare. So, any of you old fuddy-duddies who think you hate Brussels sprouts because you suffered over-boiled vegetables in the 1970s. Don’t lollygag or dilly-dally, get out there and sear, simmer and saute your sprouts. They’re totally not meh. And that’s not malarkey!

Advertisements

If You’re Talking Thai, Talk Thai

Thai Salad

In navigating the unknown, one good approach is to stick to the theme. I’m not suggesting that you sport tennis togs and carry a bunch of racquets when attending the US Tennis Open – that’s so Forest Hills. But I am saying, that you might not want to hang a crystal chandelier in your kid’s playroom.

The unknown can be especially intimidating when the unknown is what’s for dinner. Stick to the theme. So, if you’re cooking lasagna, don’t make a pork steamed dumpling appetizer. When making roast chicken, don’t serve enchiladas on the side.

Last night’s dinner was based on my attempt to go Thai. I had already decided to make something curry-ish as a main course. My girls were coming over to solve the world’s problems with wine and stories and wine and wine and I thought it was time to try something new.

But, I hadn’t figured out what to do for a vegetable side. I just couldn’t decide. I went to my mental rolodex and looked for what sides I had enjoyed when dining out at Thai restaurants….not really any that memorable. Some steamed veggies with an oddly slimy sauce and pepper flakes is really all I could come up with. And, since I don’t really want to know what’s in the oddly slimy sauce nor do I really like hot pepper flakes, that wasn’t going to happen.

When I left for Whole Foods, I had a list that said just ‘vegetable’. While I can ‘wing it’ in almost any situation, I’m not one of those people who decides what to make based on what looks good in the produce section that day. So this ‘vegetable’ item on the list unnerved me a bit.

Clutching my list, I battled my way through the tourists at the Time Warner Center and elbowed myself on to the escalator into Whole Foods. City-perfect bi-level shopping cart procured and I went straight to produce. It’s fall and the produce section is teeming with squash and I’m like so over squash – for now. I looked around and lamely decided upon broccoli – easy and generally a crowd pleaser. A total cop out – but it would have to do. I needed to find a bunch of other stuff that I hadn’t ever bought before.

As an afterthought, I grabbed a small carton of sprouts figuring that I could put them on top of the curry dish I was preparing. Because sprouts feel super Thai to me.

I got everything home and still felt a little bad about the boring broccoli.

Inspiration!

Then while writing yesterday afternoon as The Food Network droned on in the background, I heard something that gave me an idea. Rachael Ray was making a sweet-ish (not Swedish) salad dressing. And, though I didn’t do what she did, I knew that Rachael was on to something.

And suddenly Broccoli schmoccoli….Became:

Thai Salad (serves 4)

The Salad:

  • 2 large carrots peeled and shredded – best bet to use your Cuisinart shredder blade
  • 3 large broccoli stalks only peeled and shredded (save the florets for a boring broccoli side at another time)
  • a handful of bean sprouts as is
  • Toasted cashew nuts crushed up a bit

Toasting the Nuts:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spread 1/2 cup of cashews on a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil.
  • Spray the nuts with an olive oil cooking spray and gently salt.
  • Put into oven for :15 minutes, tossing the nuts every :05 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn quickly…

Add Some Crunch

The dressing – And this is really what makes the salad so so good

Mise En Place – doesn’t the shallot look like a mouse?

  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 1/2 shallot – grated
  • 1/2 tsp of Balsamic Vinegar

Whisk together until creamy looking then…

Whisked Together

  • Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the shredded veggies, nuts, sprouts and dressing together and serve as an intro to any Thai feast.

Uhmmm Delicious Thai Salad

To be honest, the salad turned out to be the hit of the meal. The sleeper success of the supper, if you will.

So, when confronted with the unknown, stick to your theme. I had never cooked Thai before – but I had a theme. And, you know what? I found out that:  Annie can cook Thai. Annie cooked Thai real well.

What the Kale? Not so Super Super Food.

Kale Greens Red Russian

Red Russian Kale Greens

I don’t love sharing my age…and here’s what I will say: in the ’70’s I rocked a pair of moon boots. They were pretty much the most awesome moon boots ever. Striped in shades of the rainbow and puffily filled with polyester to keep me warm in the dead of winter, I was the envy of all my friends – at least that’s how I’m telling it. Moon Boots back then weren’t all techy like they are now. It was a free-love fashion statement for kids who were too young to know about free-love. Moon Boots showcased one of the iconic symbols of  the ’70’s – the rainbow. And we all wore our own twist of rainbow on whatever we could.

Rainbow Moon Boots

I also had a pet rock. I could solve Rubics Cube in four minutes. I wore totally flammable, Danskin clothing. I cut a 45 out of the back of a Honey Comb box and played it on a flip down record player. I had a CB Radio Handle (“ShortCake” – after Joanie from Happy Days, not some porn star). I could rock a creepy crawler. I never squeezed the Charmin and Gee My Hair Smelled Terrific.

I liked a good fad. I still do.

So, when everyone was all like ‘OMG! Kale!’ and ‘Kale! The Amazing Super Food!’ Kale in many iterations started to appear on menus and people were comparing Kale recipes while boasting about how much Kale and how often Kale, I had to check it out.

While I’m not a salad fan…I do like a good bitter green – give me some arugula, spinach or even endives…and I’m good. Wait, I can put cheese on them, right?

But Kale? Kale…I just wasn’t sure. So I gave it a shot in what seemed to be the tamest form I could find: Kale Chips. Chips is one of my favorite words. What could be the harm?

Kale Chips (appetizer)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Take 1 large bunch of Kale and remove the center vein. I used Russian Red Kale…Might have been a mistake.

3. Tear or cut (your call) the leaves into bite sized pieces and arrange on a baking sheet covered in tin foil and sprayed with an Olive Oil cooking spray. (Pam Olive Oil spray was on sale yesterday at Food Emporium – like $2 off on sale! – it’s the little things that make me happy)

Kale Chips Pre-Oven

4. Spray the Kale pieces with Olive Oil spray and then sprinkle with sea salt

5. Put in the oven for 10-12 minutes – turning the pieces about halfway through the cooking process. Total cook time really depends upon your oven’s accuracy. Goal is crispy.

6. When they reach the desired crispiness, remove from the oven and carefully transfer to a serving bowl

7. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve

Kale Chips with Parmesan

UHHHHH, they were good, I guess. They were crispy and bitter with a good degree of saltiness. They were pretty.

But, probably the biggest selling point was that we all felt better. We felt better because we were eating the most super of Super Foods….

Like I said, I’m hip to a food fad and I’m not going to dis such a super food as Kale. So here’s what I’ll say – make sure you cook them to totally crispy and they mimic the crispy spinach at China Grill (though not as oily). Serve them alongside other appetizers and they’ll provide a nice, rich color to your assortment and make your guests feel better about eating snacks before dinner.

But, at the end of the day…Not my fave food fad. I’m all ‘What the Kale?’ And, I’d rather have a pet rock.