Saturday, January 5, 2013

Brussels Sprouts Again


Every time I eat brussels sprouts I wonder what happened to me that I now enjoy them so much. The first time I ate them was the last time for about 20 years. Mom got some once, and was very excited about them. She kept saying how she'd loved brussels sprouts, even when she was a little kid. I thought that was a positive sign. She cooked them in butter, and the buttery delicious smell did not prepare me for the sulfurous, bitter, mushy stringy reality of eating them. It was an early example of the many things which were to instil a profound philosophical skepticism in me. So, it's totally awesome and will knock my socks off and all like that, will it? Well, I'll believe it when I see it.

Twenty years later I was washing dishes for a living. One of the kitchen managers (they hadn't got all hoity toity and started calling them 'chefs' yet) decided to make some roasted squash and brussels sprouts. To my surprise, I thought, "hm, those really don't smell like ass the way I remembered". It took me about another year to realize that I actually liked brussels sprouts. I think I've written 3 or 4 posts about brussels sprouts now. Here is another thing to do with them.

1 pound or more brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
handful of raw walnuts
handful of dried apricots
dab of butter
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
tiny pinch of allspice
1 tsp sugar

chevre, because everything is better with cheese.

Put a dab of butter in a frying pan and add the walnuts, salt, and sugar. Fry on medium-low until the nuts are golden and the sugar has begun to form dark brown crunch bits. Toss evenly with the spices and remove from heat. Slice the apricots into sticks and toss them into the pan with the nuts, and give them a stir to get a little of the spices on them.

Put the sprouts in a lidded casserole with a little butter and a sprinkle of water. Microwave 3 minutes at a time until they are bright green and just tender. Toss with the nuts and apricots, serve with a few cheese crumbles.

David asked me how I come up with food ideas. I hadn't thought about it much before, but in this case, it went something like this:

1. I like the aforementioned sprouts and squash.
2. But I was bored with it.
3. So I thought about what it is about squash that makes it tasty.
4. That would be the fact that roasted squash is a little nutty, a little sweet, and has a little bit of texture.
5. So, use nuts, duh. Toasted ones are best.
6. And something sweet, but not very sweet. And not too squishy. Apricots are that, plus they have a nice color.
7. Bacon makes everything taste great, but I didn't have a hankering for that much grease.
8. So I added smoked paprika, which has a bacony smell.
9. But no protein, which is one of the things that makes bacon so good.
10. So, cheese.

And there you have it. Brussels sprouts with walnuts, apricots, and goat cheese.

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