maandag 23 maart 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Double-Smoked Bacon

This is one of our all-time favorites, created by Chef Charlie Palmer. A true scene-stealer!

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts (about 5 cups), stems trimmed and outer leaves removed
1/4 pound double-smoked slab bacon or other smoked bacon, cut into lardons (1/4-by-3/4-inch rectangles)
2 cups pearl onions, peeled
10 chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and quartered
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add enough salt until the water is salty tasting. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside. Cook Brussels sprouts in boiling water until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes; they will still have some bite to them. Drain sprouts and place in ice bath.
When cool, remove sprouts from ice water, halve lengthwise, and set aside. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add bacon in a single layer and cook over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside; reserve pan drippings.
Add onions to the pan and reduce heat to low. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they turn a deep golden color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add chestnuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated and well coated with bacon fat, about 2 minutes.
Increase heat to high and add bacon and Brussels sprouts and stir well. Add chicken broth and cover. The contents will quickly come to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until Brussels sprouts are heated through. Stir in butter and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.

vrijdag 20 maart 2009

Brussels Sprouts Soup with Tofu Sour Cream

500 grams (1 1/4 lbs) brussels sprouts, trimmed.
1 large onion peeled & chopped.
1 large potato peeled & chopped.
4 cups chicken style (vegetarian) stock.
200 mls (large can) coconut cream.
silken tofu
lemon juice

Blend Silken Tofu with lemon juice to taste.
This is the tofu sour cream.
Put the first four ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil.
Simmer covered for 10 minutes, or till vegetables are tender.
Cool until the temperature is suitable for a processor or blender.
Process till smooth.
Return to pan and add coconut cream, reheat and serve.
Put a dollop of tofu sour cream into each serving.
This is also good served as a chilled soup.

woensdag 18 maart 2009

Oven baked Brussels sprouts

500g Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 smaller red chili, finely chopped
~5 thin slices of Pancetta
2 tbsp butter
25g pine nuts
50g coarse breadcrumbs (e.g. from stale baguette)
serve with some grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Preheat the oven to 200°C (~390°F).
Wash the Brussels sprouts, trim the stems and remove dowdy leaves.
Cut in halves, then quarters, each time stem to top, so the quarters don't fall apart.
In a bowl carefully mix together the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper, the Dijon mustard and the finely chopped red chili until everything is well distributed and evenly coated.
You could also add the pine nuts now, but in my second batch I browned them in a later step together with the bread crumbs, which I think is even tastier.
Transfer the Brussels sprouts into a baking dish and distribute the Pancetta - cut in small stripes - over it.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning them once or twice. (Take samples: when the edges start to turn brown to early and the Brussels sprouts are not done yet, you may cover the baking dish with aluminum foil)
Meanwhile prepare the breadcrumbs.
Heat the butter in a larger pan, add the slightly crushed pine nuts and the coarse breadcrumbs as soon as it starts to sizzle.
Allow to gain a golden brown color, then remove from the stove and put aside for serving.
When done, remove the Brussels sprouts from the oven and sprinkle generously with the breadcrumbs/pine nuts mix and some Parmesan.
Best eaten straight from the oven!

dinsdag 17 maart 2009

Brussel Sprout Casserole

18 oz potatoes, cut into bit-sized pieces
1.5 pounds brussel sprouts
4 tomaotes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons oregeno
2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons thyme
1 pinch chili pepper
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces mozzeralla
1.5 ounces parmesan
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Oil large caserole dish.
Cook potatoes in a medium pot in salt water for 15 minutes (until just barely soft).
Cut crosses into the bottom of the brussel sprouts and steam for 10 minutes.
Build the following layers in the caserole dish:
-brussel sprouts
-chili & herbs & capers
-slices of mozzeralla
-dots of butter
Bake for 15 minutes.

donderdag 12 maart 2009

Vegetarian cooking books

Someone asked me yesterday if I knew of any good vegetarian recipe books.

Here are some I love. You can order them direct from Amazon by clicking the link.

The New Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen's Classic Cooking)
Absolutely fabulous recipies that are extremely simple to prepare. The names of the vegetarian dishes are inventive and somehow make the recipes really come to life.

Quick-Fix Vegetarian: Healthy Home-Cooked Meals in 30 Minutes or Less
Robin's meals are always innovative and delicious, but these recipes have another advantage - they are quick and easy to make. If you love to eat wonderful meals, but don't like to spend hours in the kitchen this book is for you.

If you like Italian food you MUST get
The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook: 350 Essential Recipes for Inspired Everyday Eating
The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook represents a quantum leap forward in vegetarian cooking by marrying the strong, earthy flavors of Italian cooking with short ingredient lists and simplicity of taste. I am happy to say goodbye to the vegetarian's love affair with meat substitutes and culinary complexity when the bright, fresh flavors of Italian cooking fit the bill handsomely. Why didn't someone write this book ten years ago? -- Charles Kimball, Publisher and Editor, Cook's Illustrated

And last but no least, one of my all time favorites
The Chopra Center Cookbook : A Nutritional Guide to Renewal / Nourishing Body and Soul
This cookbook is great, the recipes are absolutely delicious, but the most important part of this book is the spiritual aspect that goes along with cooking and eating food. Eating is important for all the obvious reasons, but really nourishing yourself is an incredibly important part of living a vital, healthy life.

woensdag 11 maart 2009

Cancer Protection from Special Sulfur-Containing Phytonutrients

Plant phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts enhance the activity of the body's natural defense systems to protect against disease, including cancer. Scientists have found that sulforaphane, one of the powerful glucosinolate phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables, boosts the body's detoxification enzymes, potentially by altering gene expression, thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly.

Additionally, researchers in the Netherlands investigated the effect of a diet high in Brussels sprouts on DNA damage. They compared two groups of healthy male volunteers. Five men ate a diet that included 300 grams (about 10 ounces) of cooked Brussels sprouts daily, while the other five men at a diet free of cruciferous vegetables. After three weeks, the group that ate Brussels sprouts had 28% decrease in measured DNA damage. Reduced DNA damage may translate to a reduced risk of cancer since mutations in DNA allow cancer cells to develop.

Sulforaphane, which is formed when cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts are chopped or chewed, is already known to trigger the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, inhibit chemically-induced breast cancers in animal studies, and induce colon cancer cells to commit suicide. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition also suggests that sulforaphane may help stop the proliferation of breast cancer cells, even in the later stages of their growth.

Sulforaphane may offer special protection to those with colon cancer-susceptible genes, suggests a study conducted at Rutgers University and published online in the journal Carcinogenesis.

In this study, researchers sought to learn whether sulforaphane could inhibit cancers arising from one's genetic makeup. Rutgers researchers Ernest Mario, Ah-Ng Tony Kong and colleagues used laboratory animals bred with a genetic mutation that switches off the tumor suppressor gene known as APC, the same gene that is inactivated in the majority of human colon cancers. Animals with this mutation spontaneously develop intestinal polyps, the precursors to colon cancer. The study found that animals who were fed sulforaphane had tumors that were smaller, grew more slowly and had higher apoptotic (cell suicide) indices. Additionally, those fed a higher dose of sulforaphane had less risk of developing polyps than those fed a lower dose.

Brussels sprouts' glucosinolates have been shown to help prevent the development of colon cancer in response to exposure to heterocyclic amines, the carcinogenic compounds produced when meat is grilled or otherwise charbroiled. In an animal study published in Carcinogenesis, researchers looked at the effects of drinking water supplemented with Brussels sprouts or red cabbage juices on the liver and colon of laboratory animals that were also given a heterocyclic amine carcinogen.

Brussels sprouts reduced the development of pre-cancerous cells 41-52% in the colon and 27-67% in the liver, and drastically diminished the size (85-91%) of pre-cancerous lesions in the liver. Red cabbage moderately decreased (19-50%) the number of pre-cancerous lesions that developed in the liver and markedly reduced (41-83%) the size of those that did occur. These highly protective effects are due to crucifers' ability to significantly increase the activity of enzymes involved in both Phase I (CYP4501A2) and Phase II (glucuronidation via UDPGT-2) detoxification.

Brussels sprouts' stronger protective effects are thought to be due to the fact that this cruciferous vegetable contains 2-3 times the amount of glucosinolates than are found in red cabbage. Glucosinolates increase Phase II glucuronidation activity, one of the primary pathways through which toxins made even more dangerous by Phase I are rendered water-soluble and ready for elimination from the body.

New research has greatly advanced scientists' understanding of just how cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale help prevent cancer. When these vegetables are cut, chewed or digested, a sulfur-containing compound called sinigrin is brought into contact with the enzyme myrosinase, resulting in the release of glucose and breakdown products, including highly reactive compounds called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are not only potent inducers of the liver's Phase II enzymes, which detoxify carcinogens, but research recently conducted at the Institute for Food Research in the U.K. shows one of these compounds, allyl isothicyanate, also inhibits mitosis (cell division) and stimulates apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human tumor cells.

dinsdag 10 maart 2009

Brussels Sprouts and Barley Soup

12 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped fresh green beans
1 1/4 cups cubed turnips
1/2 cup chopped leeks
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup barley
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Measure the chicken broth into a large soup pot.
Bring to a boil.
Add the beans, turnips, leeks, carrots and barley; simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and green pepper.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer until the sprouts are tender, about 30 minutes more.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until it starts to brown. Whisk in the flour until smooth.
Stir this into the soup and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

maandag 9 maart 2009

100 posts!!

This is post 100!!!

Brussels sprouts, or Brassica oleracea gemmifera, are related to other better-known vegetables in the Brassica genus like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are part of the cruciferae or mustard family, so known because of a four-part flower in the shape of a cross.

HISTORY: Sprouts were believed to have been cultivated in Italy in Roman times, and possibly as early as the 1200s in Belgium. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with was first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name "Brussels" sprouts) as early as 1587, with their introduction into the U.S. in the 1800s. They were grown in California in the early 1900s, with the first central coast plantings in the 1920s. With the development of the frozen food industry in the 1940s, Brussels sprouts production in California increased to its highest levels over the next 20 years. As production techniques have improved, and as foreign imports have increased, there are currently less than 3000 acres of the tiny cabbages currently being produced in California. This acreage supplies the majority of the U.S. production from June through January, with nearly all of the acreage located in the central coast region, from San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties. Brussels sprouts are also exported to Canada, as they are more popular there than in the U.S.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Brussels sprouts are a very good source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and folate. They are especially high in Vitamin C. (Click here to see the nutritional label) They, along with their other cruciferous cousins, have been shown to have some very beneficial effects against certain types of cancer, as they contain many different ingredients that are believed to help prevent the disease. Click here to see more health information from Health Notes.

CULTURAL PRACTICES: Brussels sprouts are planted in nursery flats in the late winter, from January through May, and spend the first 50-60 days of their lives at the nursery. During this time, the fields are prepared for transplanting by discing and plowing. Organic material (chicken manure) is spread along with lime to raise soil pH to prevent clubroot, and they are incorporated into the soil. The fields are fumigated prior to transplanting with Vapam or Telone to prevent nematodes from damaging the crop. The sprouts are then transplanted into the fields on 36-inch beds at spacings of 13-16 inches apart. They are cultivated several times to prevent weeds from taking over, and are irrigated every 3-4 weeks during the growing season by overhead sprinkler. They are sprayed with pesticides as necessary to prevent aphid and worm infestation. Several new chemistries have been developed in recent years, allowing growers to reduce the use of organophosphates and replacing them with things like Admire (R), which was delevoped by Bayer Crop Sciences. The active ingredient is Imidacloprid, the same thing found in Advantage (R), the drops you put on your pets back to prevent fleas for a month at a time. Sprout growers can apply a mere 16 oz per acre, which is shank injected into the soil during sidedressing for 90 days +- protection from the cabbage aphid, our biggest pest problem. Several new controls for worms have also been developed using chemistries that effect the physiology of the pest but are fairly innocuous for humans. For an excellent compilation of pests and remedies for Brussels sprouts, including photos, check out the UC Pest Management Guidelines. The sprouts are "topped" 50-60 days prior to harvesting by machine; the terminal bud is pinched out by hand to prevent the plant from growing taller and to send the plant's energy into the development of the Brussels sprouts. The sprouts form at the base of each leaf petiole, in a spiral along the stem, where 80-100 sprouts per plant yield 2-2.5 pounds of sprouts per plant. The plant itself grows from 2.5 to 3.5 feet tall. Just prior to harvest the leaves are cut off by hand with a machete (large knife). The plant is then cut off at the ground and fed through a stripping head, which removes the sprouts from the stalk. The stalks remain in the field and the sprouts go on to a cleaning shed, where they are cleaned and sorted, then sized and sent on to our packing facility. The smaller sprouts, 3/4" to 1.25" in diameter, are sent off to the processors for freezing, and the larger sprouts are cooled, sorted again, and packed for shipment to the fresh market.

VARIETIES: There are several different varieties of hybrid brussels sprouts currently being grown in the US. Hybrid varieties replaced the open-pollinated types produced prior to the 1960's because of the need for more uniform maturation of the plants due to the switch from hand harvesting to machine. Some of the original varieties developed, particularly Jade Cross, had several characteristics that were desirable, though they were fairly bitter tasting. The current varieties have an improved taste, as some are almost sweet. The first variety of the season in California is a hand-picked variety called Oliver. It matures rather rapidly, allowing harvesting to begin approximately 90 days after transplanting. The sprouts mature from the bottom of the plant up and are usually picked 4 to 5 times over 8-10 weeks. Oliver is a medium green color, less dense than the later varieties, and has a fairly mild taste. This variety is harvested from late June through early October. Following the Oliver comes the first of the machine-harvested sprouts. The first variety that matures in 130-150 days from transplanting is Content. They are slightly darker green, denser, with tightly wrapped leaves. These are usually available from October through November. The late season varieties are Genius and Rampart, with Genius a newly developed variety that has replaced Rowena. Genius takes from 180-195 days from transplanting to harvest, and they are available from December through January.

vrijdag 6 maart 2009

Baby Carrots And Brussels Sprouts Glazed With Brown Sugar and Pepper

2 pounds baby carrots
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and scored
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper

Blanch carrots in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer carrots to bowl of ice water using slotted spoon.
Return water to boil.
Add sprouts and blanch until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to another bowl of ice water.
Drain vegetables, and refrigerate if making ahead.
Bring stock, butter or margarine, and brown sugar to a boil in a heavy large skillet.
Stir until sugar dissolves.
Boil until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
Can be prepared 6 hours ahead; return to boil before continuing.
Add carrots.
Cook until almost tender and sauce begins to coat, shaking pan occasionally, about 6 minutes.
Add Brussels sprouts and pepper.
Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

donderdag 5 maart 2009

Brussels Sprout Salad Recipe

Shredding the sprouts on a mandoline gives them a wispiness that is harder to achieve with a knife.

1 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, freshest you can find
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup fresh chives, minced
2-3 big pinches of salt
1 1/3 cups hazelnuts, smashed just a bit and toasted
2 ounces hard, salty, aged cheese, shaved (pecorino, dry aged jack, Parmesan, etc)

Shred the brussels sprouts whisper thin using a mandoline, or alternately, a knife.
Five minutes before serving, place the shredded sprouts in a large mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, chives, salt, and hazelnuts.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon juice if needed, keeping in mind the cheese will bring a salty element to the salad.
Add the cheese and toss once or twice to distribute it evenly throughout the salad.

woensdag 4 maart 2009

Cream of Brussel Sprouts Soup

5 C young, tender Brussels sprouts
3 C fresh or canned chicken broth
6 Tbs butter
4 Tbs flour
3C milk
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ C heavy cream
A few drops of Tabasco sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Trim off the tough ends of the sprouts.
Drop them into boiling chekcen broth and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the sprouts and leave the cooking liquid.
Blend the sprouts in a food processor or blender.
Melt half the butter ina saucepan and stir in the flour, using a wire whisk.
When blended, add the reserved cooking liquid, stirring rapidly with the shisk.
When blended and smooth, simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the milk and nutmeg.
Add the blended sprouts, creams, Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste.
Swirl in the remaining butter and serve piping hot.

maandag 2 maart 2009

Brussel sprouts with bacon & almonds

4 Strips of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs of Bussel Sprouts (ends removed, cut in half and then sliced - each half sliced into 1/3rds)
1/2 cup of almonds
1/4 tsp of salt
freshly ground pepper

Saute bacon in a skillet until cooked (slightly crispy) about 6-8 minutes - do not drain the fat.
Add Brussel Sprouts into bacon and saute for another 5-6 minutes.
Add almonds and saute for 1 more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.