Monthly Archives: April 2013

Asma’s Brussel Sprouts

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My friend Asma brought this dish to a book club party a few years ago.  I have never seen brussel sprouts be elevated to rock star status, but they were that night.  If you are not eating brussel sprouts, I have to insist you try them again.  Forget the mushy, smelly mess of your childhood.  Now think complex, nutty, roasted goodness instead.  This recipe takes that one step further by making a little crunchy topping for them.  I have adapted Asma’s recipe and feel free to do the same.   Also, feel free to only do parts of it.  Sometimes I just do the topping and skip the dressing.   Oh, and don’t be intimidated that there are 3 parts to this recipe.  You can make the dressing and topping while the brussel sprouts are roasting and still have time left over.

I know brussel sprouts are more of a winter vegetable, but since spring is taking soooo long to come around, brussel sprouts are still looking like good options to me in the grocery stores these days!

Ingredients:

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trim the bottom and halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

For dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
Lemongrass, thinly sliced and soaked in soy sauce, optional
1/4 cup water
pinch of red chili powder
2 T finely chopped mint
2 T finely chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (1 1/2-inch) fresh red Thai chili, thinly sliced crosswise, including seeds
Lemon or lime for taste

For puffed rice
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil (I do a pinch more just to make it easier)
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
1/2 cup crisp rice cereal such as Rice Krispies

Roast brussels sprouts:
Preheat oven to 400°F.  Put down some parchment paper on a backing sheet or preheat your cast iron skillet in the oven.  Put the brussel sprouts in the pan and toss with oil.  Arrange in a single layer, cut side down and spaced out as much as possible.  Bake for 20-30 min until they turning brown and the cut sides look nice and toasted.  While the brussel sprouts roast, make the other 2 parts.

For the dressing:
Stir together all dressing ingredients.  Taste it to make sure it tastes good.  Adjust any flavors to suit you.

For the topping:
Heat the oil over medium heat in a small frying pan.  Mix in the spices until you start smelling them, then add in the Rice Krispies, stirring constantly.  When the Rice Krispies are coated and begin to turn a golden color, about 3 minutes, transfer to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally.

Finish dish:
Put Brussels sprouts in a serving bowl, then toss with just enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle with puffed rice and serve remaining dressing on the side.

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Herbed Butter and Sliced Radishes

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We are still not getting spring here and it is making me a little stir crazy.  So I thought I’d post this springy/summery recipe.  I served this at book club and the butter was mistaken for cheese because it is just that tasty. Here is a picture of this with a couple of cheeses as an appetizer platter.  You could also use some nice thinly sliced whole-wheat bread to make open-faced sandwiches for lunch.  You’ll want to use the butter on everything,  and should.  It would be great if you steamed or roasted veggies and then tossed a little of this on it to finish them off.

Herbed butter (center), sliced radishes and sliced baguettes along with some cheeses

Herbed butter (center), sliced radishes and sliced baguettes along with some cheeses

1 stick of unsalted butter (really, unsalted, it makes a huge difference in this one!)
1 tsp kosher salt (the larger grains make a difference here)
2-4 T Chopped fresh herbs – like chives, thyme, rosemary, dill, tarragon, parsley.  Whatever is fresh and you can get your hands on.  You can do just one or any mix that smells good to you.  I like chives and dill, but pick out what you like.  Altogether, you’ll need at least a couple of tablespoons.
1 bunch radishes, as fresh and beautiful as you can get
Baguette

Soften the butter by leaving it on the counter for about an hour.  Using a mixer, whip the butter until it is fluffy.  Mix in the salt.  Mix in the herbs.  Taste the butter and see if it tastes good to you.  If not, add more salt and/or herbs.  Put the butter in a serving bowl.  You can use it right away or put it in the fridge.  It will harden in the fridge, but if you want it fluffy later on, just make sure you take it out of the fridge in time to resoften before using.

Slice the radishes thinly.  Slice the baguette.  Arrange the butter, radishes and bread on a platter.  Guests butter and top the baguette slices themselves.  If you want this to be a passed appetizer, you could do that ahead of time and serve all ready on a platter.

Chaat/Fuchka

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Fuchka for 2! Our meal of fuchka, potato/veggie filling, chaat masala water, various chutneys and toppings and then samosa and polish sausage on the side

Fuchka for 2! Our meal of fuchka, potato/veggie filling, chaat masala water, various chutneys and toppings and then samosa and polish sausage on the side

I am putting out a teaser recipe to get the blog rolling.  This is an Indian street food that I think is almost hearty enough to make  a meal.  In our usual fusion sort of way, we enjoy this with Polish sausage or kielbasa.  For some reason, Arvind says that it wasn’t a common partner to this dish on the streets of Calcutta!

The dish is made of three parts: a crunchy “fuchka” which is a hollow, fried ball, mashed potatoes with veggies mixed in and a room-temperature broth.  You make a hole in the fuchka, fill it with the mashed potatoes, dip it all in the broth and eat.

This will require a trip to the Indian grocery store.  There are no 2 ways around it.  But to take the terror out of that process, I have taken pictures of all the things you need to buy.  You can even show the pictures from this blog on your phone to the shopkeeper if you don’t see them.  Since this is a really common dish, they’ll have it on hand.  I promise.

Fuchka come in clear packages or in a boxed set with some extra sauces and little crunchies. I prefer the box.

Fuchka come in clear packages or in a boxed set with some extra sauces and little crunchies. I prefer the box.

Fuchka/Pani Puri*
2 tsp (or more to taste) + 1 tsp per person chaat masala *(see picture)
3 medium potatoes
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1.5 c frozen mixed vegetables

Wash the potatoes and stab them with a fork.  Microwave them until they are soft.

Meanwhile sauté the onion in a little oil.  Once the onion starts to soften, clear a spot in the pan make sure there is little oil there.  Add in 1 tsp of chaat masala.  Let it sit for a few seconds until you can smell the spices heating up.  Once you start smelling them, mix it in with the onions.  Then add  in the frozen veggies.  If they are still frozen, cover and let them cook through.

Mash the potatoes in a mixing bowl.  Add in a little chaat masala and a little oil.  Keep mashing until almost the consistency of regular mashed potatoes.  Mix in the onion and veggies.  Taste it.  Does it need more chaat masala?  Add more if needed  Put in a serving bowl.

Chaat Masala is in the aisle with all the boxes that look like this

Chaat Masala is in the aisle with all the boxes that look like this

Fill a bowl for each person with water and add 1 tsp of chaat masala to the water and stir until mixed. If you got the kit with all the little sauces put those in little bowls.  Put the pani puri in a bowl as well.

To eat, take a pani puri.  Push with your thumb on one side.  One of side will give easily, the other will not.  Break a hole with your thumb.  Take some potato mixture and fill the pani puri.  If you have the extras, top the potato filling with those.  Give

the chaat masala water a little stir, then dip the whole thing in the water and eat immediately.  If you got the set set with the extra sauces and fried chickpeas, you can add those in different combos.  Warning – I’m not a fan of their “broth mix”, steer clear – spicy and odd tasting.

It makes for a fun, interactive dinner.  I would think if you could get it to the table without kids noticing they don’t recognize it, they would like it (or maybe make them some without the spices to be more palatable to them).  The fun of stuffing and dipping makes it a very happy meal!

Sophisticated Ladies

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I am currently working on the sequel to my original Sophisticated Ladies, The Cookbook.  This new book (Sophisticated Ladies, Part Deux) will include recipes from Sophisticated Ladies all over the world.  The only problem is that it take a long time to compile and test that many recipes!  And I am devastated that I can’t put all of them in the version.  So I thought a blog might be a good way to add in some extra good recipes and post pictures and commentaries on some of the recipes as I am testing them out.  So feel free to comeback and check out as I add to the blog!