Crispy Dijon Brussel Sprouts

For all the thinking and planning I’ve been doing the last couple weeks regarding a Thanksgiving menu, the holiday sure snuck up on me. I can’t believe it’s next week! I have a few more recipes to share this month, so check back to see what else I have planned.

If you happened to catch the new Yakima Magazine, which came out last week, I shared two recipes for pie that are literally fail-proof. No fussy crust and ingredient lists a mile long. Pick up a copy when you’re out an about this week (or just scroll down from this post) and bookmark those recipes if you’re looking for something new and different for dessert this year. Bonus, there’s a great local gift guide and so much more included in the magazine.

But let’s get down to business, this week it’s all about Brussel sprouts. I love Brussel sprouts. I make them all the time at home but often struggle to cook them perfectly. They are easy to overcook and the resulting mushy sprout is disappointing while an undercooked tough bitter sprout is even worse.

I watched a tutorial online about how to sear Brussel sprouts starting with a cold pan. You cook the sprouts in a generous amount of olive oil with the lid on. The vegetables sear and steam at the same time, giving the vegetable a deeply brown and crispy outside while softening and cooking the sprout all the way through. In literally five minutes, your pan of Brussel sprouts is finished cooking. I don’t think I’ll ever cook them any other way going forward.

This also means while your turkey is resting and your oven is warming up the rest of your Thanksgiving dishes, you can throw this Brussel sprout dish together quickly and easily. Adding a bright, tasty vegetable is a nice balance to all the rich decadent must-have dishes already at the table. Even better, this easy recipe can be made year-around and pulls double duty as a quick weeknight dish as well.

Crispy Dijon Brussel Sprouts   (recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

• 1-2 pounds small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

• 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

• 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

• 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

• ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

• kosher salt

Look for Brussels sprouts similar in size, with small, tight heads, as they’re likely to be sweeter and more tender than larger sprouts. For a large batch, you may have to do two batches, simply follow the instructions, transfer sprouts to a plate and start the process over.

Arrange Brussels sprouts in single layer, cut sides down, in a large nonstick skillet. Drizzle oil evenly over sprouts. Cover skillet, place over medium-high heat, and cook until sprouts are bright green and cut sides have started to brown, about 4 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook until cut sides of sprouts are deeply and evenly browned and paring knife slides in with little to no resistance, 2 to 3 minutes longer, adjusting heat and moving sprouts as necessary to prevent them from overbrowning. While sprouts cook, combine mustard, sugar, vinegar, cayenne, and ¼ teaspoon salt in small bowl.

Off heat, transfer sprouts to shallow serving dish. Coat them with mustard sauce and sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve immedietly.

Pie Anyone Can Make

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought I would offer a couple of desserts you can easily make for the holidays. I have a little confession to make. I am terrible with pie crust. The ability to form the crust and make it look even halfway decent is seriously out of my wheelhouse. So instead of fighting what seems impossible, I’ve learned to improvise. Instead of a perfectly shaped pie, I make crostatas or galettes which is simply pie dough rolled out, and then piled high with fruit. The edges are folded rustically around the fruit and then baked. No pie dish, no edging. Simple, delicious, and pretty in its own way. The other way I get around pie crust is to make a cookie crust. There’s something special about this pumpkin pie recipe. The crushed gingersnap cookie crust is a lovely compliment to the creamy and sweet pumpkin custard.


Pumpkin Spiced Apple Crostata

• 2 cups flour

• ¼ cup granulated sugar

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

• 6 tablespoons ice water (3 ounces)

• 6 cups thinly sliced apples (mix of sweet and tart)

• 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

• 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

• 2/3 cup brown sugar

• Juice of 1 lemon

• ¼ cup pumpkin puree

• Pinch of salt

• 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water

In the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse 12-15 times until the butter is the size of small peas. Do not overmix! You want chunks of butter. Turn the food processor back on and slowly pour the ice water in, stopping the machine as soon as the dough forms. Take the dough out of the food processor and place on a heavily floured cutting board. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator while you prep the apples. (You can make the dough a day or two in advance. When you’re ready, take the dough from the fridge and allow it to rest on the counter for about 30 minutes until it warms up enough to be workable.) I have long trusted Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame with my pie crust needs. This is her recipe, which I’ve made for years and it’s never failed me.

Cut apples into thin even pieces. No need to peel the skins but go ahead if you would prefer. In a large bowl gently mix the lemon juice with the apples. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, spices, salt and pumpkin. Pour over apples and mix until the apples are evenly coated.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll pie dough out into a ½-inch thick rectangle (don’t worry too much about shape, just get it as close as you can). Place dough on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1-inch border of dough all around the perimeter. Fold and seal the edges of the dough over the fruit. In a small cup whisk together one egg with a splash of water and brush the edges of the crust with the egg wash. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples are cooked through and the sauce is bubbly. Use a toothpick to make sure the apples are soft.

Let the crostata cool on the counter. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.


Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust with Spiced Whipped Cream

• 8 ounces store bought gingersnap cookies

• 6 tablespoons melted butter

• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 eggs

• 1 cup canned pumpkin purée

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup heavy cream

• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

• ½ teaspoon nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

• Pinch of salt

In a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies until they are broken into a fine crumb. With the food processor on, pour in the melted butter until a dough ball starts to form. Sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice and pulse three more times.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Press the gingersnap dough evenly into the pan forming a crust. In a large bowl mix the brown sugar, pumpkin and spices together until well-mixed. Stir in heavy cream. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust. Bake the pie for about 40 minutes, rotating it in the oven halfway through. Use a toothpick to check doneness. When the custard does not wiggle anymore and the toothpick comes out clean, the pie is done.

To make the whipped cream, place 2 cups of cold heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer. Add two tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Turn the mixer on high, mixing for about 5 minutes until peaks form in the cream. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Allow the pie to cool on the counter. Store in the refrigerator covered until ready to serve. Slice pieces and garnish with a dollop of spiced cream.

Maple and Harissa Roasted Carrots

I spent a couple hours sitting on I-90 just east of North Bend over the weekend while the wet blanket of surprise snow was cleared from Snoqualmie Pass along with a few overly confident drivers who ended up spun out in a ditch.

It seemed somehow appropriate, if not a bit ironic, to watch the snow fall on the same day we set our clocks back for Daylight Savings. The silver lining to all that waiting was guilt-free time scrolling the internet for fun and interesting Thanksgiving recipes. I’ve got a few tried and true recipes for the turkey and mashed potatoes but I love to add a new dish to the table each year.

Last year I made garlicky brussel sprouts with lemon-scented bread crumbs. Another year it was a kale salad with slices of grapefruit, spicy fennel and pomegranate seeds.

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, I’ve been bookmarking recipes and jotting down little notes when inspiration hits. I am hosting a group of about 25 this year, a mix of children and adults and I want the menu to meet everyone’s needs. Of course, our guests will bring things from appetizers to pies and side dishes. But I’m always looking for a couple of things that are new and interesting to add to the mix of favorites and must-haves.

Maple roasted carrots with harissa is just the bright unexpected dish I was looking for. Full of flavor with sweet and spicy notes, this recipe is easily adaptable to individual tastes and preferences.

Harissa is a deeply red slightly smoky chile pepper paste originating from Africa. You can buy it at specialty food stores, Trader Joes (if you make it to Seattle or Spokane), or of course, order it from Amazon. Harissa is quite spicy but you can control the spiciness of the dish depending on how much you add. I only used 1 teaspoon which gave the carrots a little bit of spicy heat without being overpowering. You could certainly add more or less depending on your tastes or skip it all together.

The dish comes together in just a few minutes. Garlic and cumin seeds add smoky rich flavor while the brightness of the lemon and sweetness of maple syrup balance the spiciness of harissa.

Maple and Harissa Roasted Carrots (adapted from Bon Apetit)

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons harissa paste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 pounds rainbow carrots, scrubbed, tops trimmed and outer layer peeled
  • 1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley and chives, finely diced (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, cumin seeds, harissa and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the carrots and slices of lemon with maple syrup mixture spreading evenly on the baking sheet.

Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the carrots are tender and the lemon caramelized. Stir carrots at least once halfway through to ensure they cook evenly. Remove carrots from oven and allow to cool briefly on pan, about 2-3 minutes. Put carrots (and lemon slices) in serving dish and sprinkle with fresh herbs. If you don’t have fresh parsley and chives, use a ½ teaspoon of dried parsley or skip it all together. Serve immediately. Also, if you can’t find rainbow carrots, just use orange ones. If your carrots are large, consider cutting them lengthwise in half so they cook quickly and evenly.

 

Thanksgiving Recap

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I don’t know about you but it’s full on Christmas explosion at my house. We’ve got the tree and poinsettias and an advent calendar and I’m fairly certain every hard surface in my entire home is covered in a fine dusting of glitter (seriously where does it even come from??).

And it’s awesome and I am ready to jump right in but before this space jumps head-first into Christmas cookies and homemade marshmallows, I want to pause for one second and link a few recipes from our Thanksgiving meal.

It was such a surprisingly delicious, fairly easy meal that I want to remember the meal and also have a place to go back to find these recipes again. And because the Christmas season is full of family get-togethers, parties and another giant meal; if you need a little inspiration, here are a few dishes I highly recommend and can say without a doubt I’ll make again and again.

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For the turkey use this dry brine. I’ve used this recipe for a couple years now and it makes such a huge difference in juiciness and flavor.

I made this cranberry sauce. Easy, very quick and flavorful.

These Brussel sprouts were amazing and Scarlet had two helpings. I also loved the article the recipe was included in. It breaks down the whole Thanksgiving meal, and puts everything in order of when to prep, cook, heat each item so everything is ready at the same time.

I decided we needed a salad to go with dinner. My brothers and husband rolled their eyes at me when they saw me pull the bag of kale from the refrigerator but it ended up being just the right amount of brightness and acidity to complement the meal (and they ate it!), not to mention we needed at least one dish that wasn’t made from a pound of butter.

My sister-in-law, who is an amazing baker, whipped these rolls together the morning of. They were light and fluffy and delicious. We all fought over the leftovers the next day because they made the perfect bread for turkey sandwiches.

And for dessert we had pumpkin pie with a gingerbread crust and an apple gallette made with THIS pie dough. We drizzled Copper Pot Caramel sauce on the gallette and topped everything with homemade sweetened whipped cream that I added a touch of nutmeg to. I can’t recommend these two desserts enough.

We had the non-negotiables too. Stuffing (or is it dressing?), which I posted the recipe one post back, mashed potatoes, which is a secret family recipe and something called creamed onions, which I assure you is so outrageously delicious and not at all disgusting like the name might suggest.

So that was our meal. This was our first Thanksgiving in our new house and I loved every minute of puttering and cooking in my kitchen. The uncles played endless games of football in the front yard with my boys, we went for a gorgeous hike, played a few games, watched a lot of football and just relaxed. The only thing I would have changed was a bigger turkey so we could have enjoyed a few more turkey sandwiches. Next year!

 

Sausage and Apple Herbed Stuffing

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Still planning your Thanksgiving dinner menu? I’ve got what you need. This stuffing checks all the boxes: familiar, a tiny bit surprising, savory with just a hint of sweetness.

I think people fall into two camps when it comes to stuffing: you’re either a purist, or an adventurer. The purist wants a vehicle for turkey gravy and mashed potatoes. No fussy stuff, just the basics because it’s not the stuffing’s show. The adventurer is all about the change up. One year it might be fennel and sausage; the next it’s cranberry and toasted pecans. You might even find an oyster or two in there.

I would say I’m firmly in the adventurer’s camp. I am married to a purist. I love the tradition behind the dishes we make and serve during the holidays, and I love the nostalgia and history of the chopping, stirring and baking when so much love gets served up and passed around the table. But — there’s always a but — I love to try new things … to see if a dish we all enjoy can turn into something we absolutely love.

Two years ago I was charged with making the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing for my husband’s extended family; I decided to experiment with a dressing recipe that would complement the rest of the dinner and yet wouldn’t take over the other flavors.

After a couple years of tweaking, I think it’s just about right. The stuffing is moist but not soggy, full of flavor with savory notes from the sausage and a hint of sweet from the cranberries. I like to cook my stuffing inside the bird for extra flavor and moisture, but you certainly don’t have to. If you bake it on its own, I would recommend adding extra chicken stock to keep the stuffing from drying out.

Sausage & Apple Herbed Stuffing
• 1 lb. mild Italian sausage
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 1 large Walla Walla sweet onion, diced
(about 2 ½ cups)
• 4 stalks celery, diced (about 2 cups)
• 1 large apple, diced (about 2 cups)
• 10-12 cups cubed stale French bread
(I buy the bags of pre-made croutons
from the bakery section)
• ¾ teaspoon thyme
• ½ teaspoon rosemary
• 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley
• 2 ½ – 3 cups chicken stock (less if bak-
ing inside the turkey, more if baking
in its own pan)
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3 eggs, whisked
• 2 cups dried cranberries or Craisins
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9×13 baking dish and set aside. Over medium-low heat, brown the Italian sausage, making sure to use a spatula to break up the meat into very small crumbles. Rub the fennel seeds between your hands before sprinkling over the sausage to release the aroma. Cook the sausage until brown and barely cooked through. Remove from heat and drain on a plate covered in a paper towel.
Using the same pan, sauté the apple, onion and celery in the leftover sausage drippings on medium heat. Add the rosemary and thyme and cook until onions are soft and beginning to change color.
In a large bowl, mix the bread cubes, sausage and vegetable mixture together. Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly. In a different bowl, combine chicken stock, melted butter and eggs. Pour over bread mixture. Salt and pepper the dressing and stir in cranberries and parsley. When the stuffing is well combined, pour into buttered baking dish and bake for 45 minutes uncovered. When the stuffing is golden brown and firm to the touch, it’s done.

*Originally printed in The Yakima Magazine, 2015