Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eat Your Veggies - Part 2

I suspect brussels sprouts are possibly the most hated vegetable on earth. And why not? On the rare occasions they were served they were presented as overcooked, mushy, smelly green things. Several years ago when I discovered the pleasures of roasted vegetables, brussels sprouts became more acceptable. But it was when I had dinner at Rivoli, in Berkeley, that the scales really fell from my eyes (and tastebuds.) These sprouts were shredded and caramelized in brown butter, with freshly squeezed lemon juice at the finish. On the way out I stuck my head into the pass-through and asked the line cooks how to make my own sprouts and they willingly gave me the scoop.

In order to take some pictures of the work in progress, I cooked you some
sprouts. I hope you enjoy them!

Ingredients: 4 oz or 6 brussels sprouts per person
About 1 tablespoon or so butter per serving
salt and pepper to taste
good squeeze of lemon juice

Slice your sprouts about 1/8" or so thick.

Brown your butter in the skillet over medium heat. Be very careful not to burn it. This photo shows how brown I let the butter get.

Let the sprouts caramelize, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to keep from burning. When the desired tenderness and caramelization have been reached, shake on salt and pepper to taste and off-heat, squeeze the lemon juice all over. Stir to delaze the pan and serve.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eat Your Veggies, Part 1

Stockton is probably the asparagus capital of the world; at least that is the rumor. It has also been the home of the Asparagus Festival for over 20 years now, drawing large flocks of asparagus lovers. Ok, they love to eat deep fried asparagus and drink aspara-ritas. And beer. I have worked as a volunteer several times as well as lay my money down as a paying guest. I hadn't gone in a while, but this year The Tubes, a crazy band from the 70's and 80's (think White Punks on Dope) were coming to the festival and I had to be there, with Paul and Bob and Rita as my sidekicks. The show was great and I totally skipped the deep fried asparagus, while unfortunately buying a completely tasteless gyro sandwich. Just how does that happen??? I mean the tasteless part.

I do like asparagus, although the steamed variety, even with mayo on the side, is pretty boring. I like my spears roasted or grilled, with olive oil and whatever seasoning sounds good to me at the time.

The weather hasn't gotten hot yet here so warming up the oven isn't a problem for me. A nice hot oven, say 450°, will do the trick. Snap off the hard fibrous ends of the spears and put the asparagus in a baking pan with olive oil and salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning. Bake for 7 minutes, then shake the pan to flip the asparagus around and then bake another 5 minutes
or so, checking for tenderness with the tip of a sharp knife. There will be caramelized spots. This works best for thick spears, not pencil thin ones, which cook much faster. If you use the thin ones, just check them sooner.

You can grill asparagus also, but lay them across the grates so they don't fall through. Skewering 3 or 4 or 5 together crosswise, then oiling and seasoning your asparagus before placing them on the grill works nicely. I like to grill over indirect high heat to avoid flameups. Just check the veg progress in a few minutes.

Now these are Spears that can enhance your life! Enjoy.