Brussels…Love ’em? Hate ’em? Try them!

I find that many people are divided about their likes and dislikes with food.  Texture is a big deal.  Some prefer more or less spice.  But one food seems to really divide people and that’s brussels sprouts.  People seem to love them, hate them or won’t try them.  This is definitely a case of depends on how you prepare them.  No one likes anything cooked to bitter mush, which is what some people remember them tasting like as a kid.  They are overcooked or boiled and lifeless.

I’ve shared a favorite brussels sprouts recipe before for brussel leaves.  However you don;t always have time to peel.  This year I’ve been making a quick roasted brussels sprouts recipes that are enticing people not ask for an actually try (and enjoy) brussels sprouts.

First there was a “feast” at my son’s school.  This was very cute as each child brought in a favorite recipe to share with the class.  They each got up and told why they brought the dish, when they usually eat the dish and if there was any significance to their family.  They are next making a poster with the written recipe with a photo of them with their dish.  Recipes had to be approved by the teacher first because otherwise we would have all been eating our favorite family desserts only.  My son asked me to make stuffed grape leaves and while I loved the suggestion I was short on time.  Next he asked for brussels sprouts.  I loved this idea because I am always asking people to try them.  And in the class there were a few kids (and adults) who tried them for the first time.  Especially cooking for babies, getting to be there for a first bite is so fun.  It’s still fun for me if it isn’t babies.

The sprouts were eaten, with the exception of about 5 pieces, and my daughter polished those off in the car on the way home from school.  We had a potluck for my son’s tae kwon do that night and wasn’t sure what to bring.  It’s always a lot of pizza and desserts.  We decided to head to the store for more brussels sprouts and I made them again for that night.  It is not even the holiday yet and I made two batches in one day.  I thought my kids would be burned out on these, but my daughter asked yesterday, “Can you make brussels sprouts for Christmas?”  Sure I will.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Choose small firm compact heads with tight fitting leaves that are bright green in color for the freshest taste.

1 lb. brussels sprouts

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon rosemary sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Trim bottoms of brussels sprouts, but keep leaves intact.  Cut each sprout in half lengthwise.  Place sprouts in a plastic bag or bowl with oil and toss to coat.  Place sprouts on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, turning halfway through.  Bake until outside leaves begin to brown and crisp, and inside is fork tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve warm.

 

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This Year’s Thanksgiving Challenge….The Flu

So my challenge last year was the vegan menu.  However if you’ll recall (see last year’s post) I was pleasantly surprised with all the dishes and everyone – vegan and carnivore – seemed full and happy.

This year’s challenge is that it’s only a few days before the big turkey day and my son has the stomach flu.  Poor kid.  I got a touch of it last night, but nothing like he has.  His grandparents have already bowed out of coming for the holiday.  I certainly understand.  Who wants to come to a potentially guarantined household?  And that’s the problem for me too.  The wondering who else may be sick on Thanksgiving?  Will I get worse?  What about my husband and daughter?

Being that I try to make dishes ahead, I already have cranberry sauce made, as well as a tart crust.  I opted out of the lackluster pumpkin pudding (see previous post about test) for a pumpkin ginger tart instead.  At least we have something, right?  I could put the cranberry in the pie tart and call it a cranberry tart.  I feel like everyone remembers the sweet stuff anyway.  How bad could that be? 

I’m thinking positively and today I picked up my heirloom turkey.  It was already ordered, so I really didn’t have much of a choice.  Because our group is so small this year (and getting smaller), I decided I’m going to try brining the bird.  I feel like I’m the only person to have never brined a turkey.  I’m feeling confident because it’s not a 15 pounder.  I’m not going to worry about making space and the bag leaking all over my fridge, since I’ll be able to get my petit 9 pounder in a large stockpot.

At the very least the turkey will come in handy for turkey noodle soup if we all get sick.  Here’s crossing my fingers our planned menu goes somewhat as planned.  But if it doesn’t happen, we’ll do it another night. 

Here’s our favorite brussels sprouts recipe for Thanksgiving or the rest of the year.

Leaf Us Alone Brussels Sprouts

(pg. 205, Petit Appetit: Eat Drink and Be Merry)

Although they are one of my favorites, I realize Brussels sprouts are not welcome by many. I think they get a bad rap because they are usually boiled, bland, and still rock hard in the center. Peeling the leaves and discarding the center core, makes for an entirely different taste and texture. And yes, you and your kids may even have a new green favorite. Note this takes time and patience, but little hands make great peelers.

Makes 6 servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.

Cut off bottom stem or core of each sprout. Carefully peel away the leaves until it becomes too hard to peel. Cut off bottom core again and peel more layers. Continue cutting and peeling until it is too difficult to peel apart.

Place leaves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and stir until all leaves are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir again.

Spread leaves onto prepared baking pan in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until leaves are cooked and start to crisp with golden edges.

Kids Korner

I brought these to the table to peel while my children were having a snack. It must have looked interesting as both my four year old and 18 month old starting peeling, too. I told them they were Brussels Buddies. My son just kept telling his dad “We’re only eating the skins.”

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A New Sous Chef in Town (with Brussels Leaves Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

My son and I have always had a fun relationship in the kitchen. From a very early age (really 3 months) he’s been with me while I recipe test. He used to watch me knead dough from the comfort and safety of his bouncy seat at 5 months old. Later when he was about one year old he would sit in his high chair in the center of the kitchen singing and humming while smelling and (sometimes) tasting ingredients such as lemons, potatoes, and apples. Sometimes he would be at my feet playing with wooden spoons and pots. He was very patient and seemed to enjoy himself and our interactions. I made up lots of songs about vegetables and explained what I was doing with each measurement and task. Kind of a cooking show for babies.

I like to think that my kitchen lessons worked, as my son eats well compared to his friends and likes (or used to) help in the kitchen. Up until recently he would help measure, stir, turn on appliances and wait for taste tests. The recently part changed with the addition of a new sous chef – my daughter Ellery. Up until a month or so ago she wasn’t as interested in being with me in the kitchen. Sure, she’ll play with measuring cups and bang spoons, but not for long. She just always wants to eat and likes to scream at the refrigerator – hoping it will magically open. And when it does, boy she is fast. She’s able to get her little hands in and out grabbing produce, water bottles or anything else within reach. Once she has her prize, then she runs and laughs at me to come chase her. Recently she went running into the living room with tomatoes – popping them in her mouth and squealing with delight as they squished down her shirt and across the carpet. My son just said “yuk”.

While baking for the holidays my daughter seemed to notice how my son helps, and now I think she’s trying to take over his position. Literally as he’s standing on his stool, she climbs and forces her way next to him. He yells “no, no!” and she yells “see, see!” I thought “great”, she’s 18 months old so I’ll pull her high chair in and she can watch us. Nope. In the highchair she just wants to stand up. I find myself holding her to do a task and letting her watch. Then set her down quickly when I need both hands or have something requiring heat or cutting. Let’s just say she is not happy during the set down. It’s amazing how much moms can do with a child on their hip.

However, I found an activity that everyone can do together. You’ll never guess… peeling Brussels sprouts. My son and husband prefer to eat the individual leaves rather than the whole head. They come out kind of crisp and light, as opposed to the heavy texture of the whole sprout. Unfortunately it is labor intensive to peel each sprout leaf by leaf. Here’s how I, surprisingly, enlisted help. My daughter and son were eating a snack at the table. I sat with them and started to peel the spouts. I never said anything. My son asked what I was doing and he immediately volunteered to help. Once my daughter saw my son helping she reached over for a sprout too. I gave her one, thinking she would try to eat it then push it away. But she actually starting peeling it. (At this point everyone was whisked away to the sink for extra hand washing). And she was good at it too. Even copying her brother by saying “cut!” when she couldn’t peel anymore and needed more leaves loosened. We finished the job in about 20 minutes and I dubbed them the Brussels Buddies. I hope my new kitchen “line” will have this much fun the next food prep task.

Organic Brussels Leaves Recipe

1 pound organic Brussels sprouts
¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line a jelly roll pan with foil.

Cut bottom stem or core of each sprout. Carefully peel away the leaves until it becomes too hard to peel. Cut off bottom core again and peel more layers. Continue cutting and peeling until it is too difficult to peel apart.

Place leaves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon and stir until all leaves are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir again.

Spread leaves onto prepared baking pan in a single layer. Cook in oven 10 – 12 minutes or until leaves are cooked and start to crisp with golden edges.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: BBC Good Food
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