Monthly Archives: November 2015

Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Salad

Brussels sprouts salad with cranberries

2015 Winter Salad #1! This is the kind of vegetable-based meal I delight in. Manages to feel healthy and hearty at the same time, and provides a good balance of different flavors and astringencies. One important note: DO NOT overcook your Brussels sprouts. This happens fairly easily; I tend to roast vegetables until quite done and caramelized, but that’s not how these work. You want them crisp but still with a good crunch, so watch them carefully in the oven.

Lots of oven time on these ingredients; save time and dishes by toasting pumpkin seeds and walnuts in large batches ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did for future food forays, or averting hanger after a long work day.

I have alluded to this before, but the time has come (the walrus said [Brussels sprouts are a kind of cabbage, so that’s not totally uncalled for. And Europe had kings at one point])! I am off to Germany on vacation next week. Therefore, do not expect a recipe (or non-recipe as is my tendency) from me in the next fortnight. Do continue to follow me on Instagram, I endeavor to post pictures of fairy tale food and other similar adventures.

Roasting pan of Brussels sprouts salad

If you come, they will build it: lessons in supply and demand from our food giants—consumer demand is changing how large corporations are handling their supply chains, labor practices, and additives. Moral of the story: keep asking for better food.

On another note, how about a suffragette cookbook? Cake against injustice (that’s my kind of subversion…)!

Or, vegetables for justice!

Vegetable-based meal rule number one: start with the vegetable (surprise!). Brussels sprouts are truly excellent roasted, as long as you don’t overdo it (remember last year’s Brussels sprouts with bacon? Nom.)

Rule #2: Add protein: nuts and seeds, in this case (otherwise: a small amount of meat (this can add flavor too); eggs; cheese; tofu; grains like quinoa).

Rule #3 (more of a guideline really, but arguably the most important): flavor! Salt is crucial. Here, cranberries and apple cider vinegar create a sharp contrast, and a little paprika on the pumpkin seeds round it out with a smoky note.

Cranberry Brussels sprouts fall salad
1lb or so Brussels sprouts
A few handfuls of cranberries
Salt and olive oil
A handful of pumpkin seeds (pre-toasted if you can)
A handful of walnuts
A dash of apple cider vinegar

Halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts (depending on size), and roast at at least 400ºF with a little salt and oil until barely tender and crispy, not more than 20 minutes. In the last 10 minutes (or right in the beginning if you want them softer), toss in a few handfuls of cranberries.

If pumpkin seeds are not toasted yet (I usually just do it whenever roasting a pumpkin/squash), spread out on a baking sheet with a little salt, oil, and paprika (smoked or otherwise, depending on preference), and toast in the oven for at least 10 minutes, scraping up and flipping halfway through, until golden and crackly.

Toast walnuts on a baking sheet until fragrant and crunchy, about 5 minutes. This can happen while the Brussels sprouts are in the oven.

When sprouts are ready, toss with a little apple cider vinegar, then mix in the rest of the ingredients, salt to taste, and serve.

Other vinegars, like balsamic, would also substitute if you want something a little richer.

Auf wiedersehen!

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Creamy Mushroom Sauce

mushroom cream sauce

Have you been finding any mushrooms in the woods lately?

I haven’t. I don’t feel like I know quite enough yet (working on it though, because wandering through a forest + finding food is a dream life), but! I have a few friends who are adept foragers, and I’ve been fortunate enough to reap the benefits of their forays.

Mushrooms are very strange animals (okay, not animals. But, they might be closer to animals than plants). I used to not like them at all, then finally my dad convinced me to try morels (thanks, Dad). Nutty, textured, with a fantastic scent, they’re probably still my favorite, although it’s been a long while.

P1040009
(not morels)

Regardless of what else I do with mushrooms, usually the first step is to fry them up in plenty of butter. Some kinds soak it all up immediately, and although others don’t need quite as much, my recommendation is to not skimp on the fat. You don’t want them to burn. Besides, eating more delicious, flavorful foods might prevent you from overeating! How’s that for incentive (we all know that fat is flavor)? In all seriousness, there are some foods that make me feel gross post-consumption (mostly sugary ones), and I have never felt unhappy about this.

Quite the contrary.

This sauce is versatile and can be made with pretty much any mushroom (other vegetables too, for that matter). I sometimes add leeks for extra nuance and spinach to get some greenery in there, but neither are necessary, and if you have spectacular mushrooms I would focus on their flavor instead.

mushroom cream sauce

Creamy mushroom sauce
Butter, plenty of it
2 handfuls of mushrooms, any variety (morels and oyster mushrooms are my favorite)
1/2 to 1 leek, or 1 onion (optional)
A few handfuls of spinach (it will cook down a lot; optional)
Cream: maybe 1/2 cup, depending on how much liquid you want
Salt and pepper

If foraged, check the mushrooms for bugs and brush them off (mushrooms soak up water, so use minimal water). Tear apart with your hands, chop with a sharp knife, or leave whole, depending on the variety and how big they are. Wash and chop leeks, if using—I like mine in thin strips a few inches long. Wash and roughly chop spinach.

If using an onion, thinly slice and caramelize—sauté over high heat stirring frequently, then turn down heat and cook until soft and dark brown. You can add the mushrooms right to this, then continue with the cream.

No onion: melt butter in a pan. Sauté mushrooms over high heat, until they start to brown and soften. Add leeks, and more butter if needed. Stir in salt to taste. When leeks are soft (this will take some time), pour in cream, stirring, then add the spinach and turn off the heat. The spinach will wilt, the cream will thicken and darken from the mushroom coloring, and the whole thing will have this mouth-watering dark rich smell.

Serve over pasta, or whatever else you like eating with creamy deliciousness, and crack some pepper on top. Shave on some parmesan if you’re feeling it. You will be quite happy.

mushroom cream sauce on pasta

P.S. If you’ve been following some of what I write about the overall food system and are upset about it, here’s 5 things you can do right now.