Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brussel Sprouts

Like most of us who grew up in England after the Second World War, I have a vivid memory of stewed cruciferous vegetables. Boiled cabbage made an appearance at almost every meal, unseasoned and boiled until it was pale green and mushy. I didn't actually mind it too much, but I was relieved on those rare occasions when we had brussel sprouts (always referred to in our family as "Brussel Sprouts" or "Brussels"). In our house they made an appearance at Christmas as a rather neglected companion to turkey.

When I was in a position to cook meals I renewed my acquaintance with brussels, rather intrigued when I discovered that they grew on long stalks. (Maybe that's the way we got them in England, but I didn't put in much of an appearance in the kitchen at home: indeed there was not room for two cooks in our tiny kitchen.) I found them much more appetising when cooked a little more al dente. But then, miracle of miracles—my avant garde son-in-law read somewhere that they were delicious roasted. Tossed with olive oil and spices and roasted in a hot oven they were a food for the Gods.

So was happy when the Wall Street Journal called my name last weekend with an article entitled Brussels Sprouts Break Out. Maybe I could be the first at family dinners to serve an enticing vegetable dish. Doesn't "Fried Brussels Sprouts with Savory Onion Caramel, Garlic Confit, Lime. Mint and Aleppo Pepper" sound great? But Fish sauce? Aleppo pepper, Onion juice? All those steps? A glob of olive oil does it for me. Then we have a dish involving Marcona Almonds, Whole Coriander and Pecorino cheese. Darn, I keep meaning to buy a mandoline, but the dish does look nicely crunchy.

All these dishes look delicious but involve so many steps. In a restaurant I would make a bee-line towards them, but at home? Boiled cabbage anyone?

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