Recently I’ve taken on writing the seasonal column for Just Food‘s monthly newsletter. It requires me to pick a seasonal piece of produce, write a review of a recently published cookbook and select a recipe from the cookbook featuring the selected produce. Hard work, I know. When Angela over at Just Food asked for my help, I couldn’t have been happier. An excuse to think about what I’m already always thinking about, plus an excuse to read more cookbooks! I was a bit nervous as to what would fund these new cookbooks and where they would fit in my apartment, until Angela casually mentioned, “The library is a great place to find cookbooks”. THE LIBRARY! Why had that never occurred to me before?! I check out regular books from the library, why had I never considered cookbooks. Think of all the money (and space) I could have saved over the years. Hmm, if you can’t find me for a while, now you know where to look.
I know what you’re thinking. Your read the title and automatically interpret one word–FATTENING. Well you’re wrong. There isn’t an ounce of cream in the stuff. Cheese, yes, but not an overwhelming amount. Mostly healthy veggies, milk and a dash of Parmesan. I made this recipe as part of my “let’s make Brussels Sprouts a feature food” project. Over the last few years I’ve come to love the bright green crunchy morsels and am sick of them cast off as a side dish. Grilled hanger steak WITH Brussels sprouts. Striped bass GARNISHED with shaved Brussels Sprouts. Brussels sprouts are forever the sidekick. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride. RoCCA was one of the first restaurants I saw that featured an appetizer that was purely Brussels sprouts. I was intrigued and inspired. If they can do it, why can’t I? I resolved myself to creating a dish that would finally put Brussels Sprouts in the spotlight.
When you tell someone you’re having sirloin with a port reduction sauce, it sounds fancy, and something you shouldn’t attempt on a weekday night. Yes there are meals that you slave over for hours, days sometimes, and serve to a small dinner party. Complements fly, you graciously accept them responding with things like, “oh it was nothing” or “no, I really just love cooking” in your simple but stylish attire. No one has to know that you changed out of your oil and spice covered cooking clothes, showered and primped only minutes before they walked in the door. The party starts at 6pm, but you’re secretly hoping the party starts to break up around 9pm so you can don your fluffy pajamas, crawl under the blankets and sleep for days after your 48 hour cooking marathon. And then there are those days when you come home after work, exhausted, and whip something up in less than 20 minutes for just the two of you. Well here’s one of my biggest secrets. What if you could make fast look fancy?
The last time I worked with the Bay Ridge Food Coop’s distribution, I was stocking the produce and made an off comment that I didn’t like cabbage. I was working with two other members and both their heads turned. “How can you not like cabbage?…It’s so healthy?…I love cabbage…I guess you’re not very Eastern European” was some of the feedback that shot back. I sheepishly told them I was 100% Polish but quickly jumped to defend myself claiming my family had a tendency to cook things to mush, especially green stuff like cabbage and it just wasn’t appealing. “Well, that doesn’t mean you have to cook it that way”, a member said. And I immediately knew she was absolutely right. So that’s how I got shamed into buying a head of cabbage.
Honestly, if I went back in time and told my 10 year old self I loved Brussels Sprouts, she’d probably cry. No, I wasn’t really one to cry. Kicked or bitten would be more like it. Luckily she’s back there, and my present self is safe so I can go back to shoveling mounds of Brussels Sprouts into my mouth.