Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

This post could be called many things. Balsamic Brussels. Bed. The Bachelorette. Blogging again after a life-imposed hiatus. You know. But for now, let’s just stick with Brussels. Because they’re easy and delicious and I’m actively shoveling them into my maw like there is no tomorrow. Except, of course there is tomorrow. A day full of projects, work, the gym, on and on. And hopefully, likely, probably…Brussels.

My weird love for Brussels sprouts has already been discussed here, but it bears another look because of tonight’s addition to this tried and true recipe: balsamic vinegar. Most chefs, and even regular people who simply love to cook, all have a “secret ingredient” – that thing they reach for, again and again, that makes their dishes sing. Lemon juice, siracha, red wine, cayenne – the list is endless. For me, it’s balsamic vinegar. I put it in omelets, over pan roasted carrots, in bruschetta, in pasta salad, even over a plain hunk of warm bread, straight from the oven. I once put it over strawberry ice cream and I’ll tell you something: it was disgusting. But I don’t blame the balsamic, no. I blame the strawberry ice cream. I not so secretly really hate strawberry ice cream.

But let’s get back to balsamic Brussels sprouts. Something about the sweet, tangy blend that is balsamic vinegar dances a little duet with the nuttiness of the sprouts, and the result is an umami explosion, a flavor that is at once both complex and completely down home. I wish there were another, less cheesey way to describe what’s happening in this dish, but there isn’t, so there. As a pepper addict, I also lean very heavily on the freshly ground black pepper and a little bit of grated parmesan to pull it all together. You could also use grated pecorino, if you are a schvancy person who has pecorino on hand, but for we, the less schvancy, a few teaspoons of parm do this up right nicely.

If you have any questions or need me later, I’ll be here, with my giant bowl of Brussels sprouts, in bed (yes, I eat in my bed, THE HORROR!) and watch last night’s episode of The Bachelorette. My brain might be filled with junk, but my belly is full of warm veg goodness. For tonight, that’s more than good enough.

BALSAMIC BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Ingredients:

. One stalk of brussels

. EVOO

. Four tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, plus an extra splash for serving

. Kosher salt

. Ground pepper

. Freshly ground parmesan

Instructions:

1. Cut the sprouts free of the stalk, and then cut the rough bottoms off. Halve them longitudinally, or like you’d cut an avocado, not an orange.

2. Rub EVOO into the flat sides of the sprouts, while also heating a glug of EVOO in a big, flat skillet with a lid.

3.  Put the sprouts into a large bowl once they’ve been EVOO’ed and coat them with salt, pepper and four tablespoons of balsamic.

4. Once the skillet is nice and hot, put the sprouts flat side down in the pan, reserving any outer leaves that have come off in the EVOO process. You’ll definitely want to cook those too, just not at first, or they’ll get too crispy and black.

5. Lid the pan and let the sprouts roast anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes. Keep monitoring them and checking the undersides. Once they start carmelizing and turning golden brown on the bottoms, you can start to flip them over.

6. Lightly oil the leaves and add them to the pan, tossing everything up so the sprouts lightly brown on the outsides and start to pop.

7. Dump the whole mess into a bowl, add that extra splash of balsamic if you’d like, and top with the cheese of your choice. Eating in bed, watching crap reality TV, is optional.

Whipped Potatoes

You read that right, whipped. Like naughty school children in the days of yore. I’m over mashed potatoes. I didn’t know it until last weekend, but mashed potatoes are dead to me now.

Remember when I started this blog? And I was all about embracing imperfections and accidents and horrible cooking, because it happens? Yeah. So, that’s been happening a lot lately. For instance, when I made these, my hand mixer died. Right in the middle. Oh joy. And on the evening of Friendsgiving last Saturday, I found myself about an hour short of the time needed to properly boil six pounds of potatoes. So I did what any good cook would do: panic.

I didn’t boil long enough, I didn’t boil fast enough, and I didn’t mash nearly thoroughly enough. I didn’t measure, I just threw butter and cream at the problem (like that ever solves anything) and ended up 45 minutes later, standing at my stove, sweaty and near tears, potato masher in one hand, giant spoon in the other, with buttery smears of pepper on my forehead and a big ol’ pot of something I’d never want to serve to anyone. With a broken hand mixer and a sorry excuse for biceps, what’s a girl to do?

I put a lid on it, hopped on the bus, and hoped that the hosts would have a solution to my problem, and low and behold. They did. Never mind the awkwardness of sitting on the bus with a steaming pot of potatoes, slightly wet because of the rain. Because in my disheveled state, I discovered whipped potatoes. Worth it.

We transferred the lumpy mess into the 11-cup food processor, added a bit more cream, and hit play. Within five minutes, I had a bowl of buttery, creamy goodness that tasted better than any mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. These were the potatoes of my life. Full of air and fluff, they were beloved by all.

And you will love them too. And no need to panic about it – I’ve taken care of all that for you. You’re welcome.

WHIPPED POTATOES

*Note, this recipe serves six, because most people don’t need to make potatoes for 20. If you do, triple it! And leave yourself a lot more time than I did. Be ye not so stupid. Or be ye late to the party. Up to you.

Ingredients:

. Two lbs. russet or red potatoes

. 1.5 cups cream or half and half

. One stick of butter

. Salt and pepper

. A food processor

Instructions:

1. Boil your potatoes in salty water, 15-20 minutes

2. Drain well, and then put them back into the warm pot

3. On low, add half the butter and salt and pepper, to taste, and use your masher to break up the big chunks

4. Remove everything from the pot and put it into the food processor, adding in the cream, remaining butter and more salt and pepper a little at a time.

5. When peaks form and your potatoes look like restaurant potatoes, you’re done.

Eat and enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts

I was seriously pondering putting up a picture of a turkey, but then I was all, “How cliche is that?” Plus, it’s been years since I’ve actually eaten a piece of turkey on Thanksgiving.

Then I thought about a photo of some beautiful, sparkly cranberry jelly, and I almost felt sick to my stomach, because, yes, it’s true: I am one of those creepy people who prefer cranberries from a can. No matter how hard my grandmother works to make her cranberry sauce every year, God bless her, I will not eat it.

Instead, for this week, when it will be all food, all the time on GSG, I thought I’d put up a picture of my favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving: brussels sprouts. Tradition be damned, this oft-maligned, frequently mis-prepared vegetable is my very favorite thing to eat at holiday gatherings. Olive oil, kosher salt, lots of pepper and garlic, and a little bit of pecorino shaved over the top at the end and wowza. You’ll love it.

What are you most excited about eating this week? I’d love to know!

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Ingredients:

. One stalk of brussels

. EVOO

. Kosher salt

. Ground pepper

. Head of garlic, though you’ll probably not use it all

. Pecorino or parmesan, if desired

Instructions:

1. Cut the sprouts free of the stalk, and then cut the rough bottoms off. Halve them longitudinally, or like you’d cut an avocado, not an orange.

2. Rub EVOO into the flat sides of the sprouts, while also heating a glug of EVOO in a big, flat skillet with a lid.

3.  Put the sprouts into a large bowl once they’ve been EVOO’ed and coat them with salt and pepper. As mentioned in every post, I LOVE pepper, so I will say that you should pepper liberally, but use your best judgement according to your personal pepper preferences.

4. Once the skillet is nice and hot, put the sprouts flat side down in the pan, reserving any outer leaves that have come off in the EVOO process. You’ll definitely want to cook those too, just not at first, or they’ll get too crispy and black.

5. Lid the pan and let the sprouts roast anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes. Keep monitoring them and checking the undersides. Once they start carmelizing and turning golden brown on the bottoms, you can start to flip them over.

6. Lightly oil the leaves and add them to the pan, along with the garlic cloves. I would probably use five-ish garlic cloves, but again, do what you’d like. The sprouts will start to pop and expand, which is exactly right. Once the outsides start to have some char marks, you’re all done!

7. Dump the whole mess into a bowl and shave some pecorino or parm over the top. I have also put a dash of balsamic over these, in lieu of cheese, and that was great, too. Either way, you have warm, crunchy, savory sprouts that will be a highlight of your table.

Eat them right away! These are not great cold, so rally those troops!