Brussels Sprout Salad with Hazelnuts, Thyme and a Pink Lady

Brussels Sprouts Salad ©2014 La Domestique

Happy New Year! I have a good feeling about 2014. The last year was one of change and transition as my husband and I moved from America to a small town in Ireland. This year holds so much promise! I’m eager to discover everything Ireland has to offer– the artisanal food producers, the natural wonders of Irish landscapes, the culture of the Irish people. I look forward to savoring each season fully and have plans to plant a garden. The theme in my kitchen for 2014 is:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Hippocrates

I’m not a nutritionist, but more and more I’m beginning to understand that the food I eat has a direct effect on my health. In the beginning, food was only for pleasure. Now I believe food may have the power not just to promote health, but to heal. I’ll explore this idea here on La Domestique throughout the year with delicious recipes that celebrate the seasons and nourish the body.

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This Past Week at La Domestique: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This past week at la Domestique was dedicated to cooking with Brussels sprouts, a brassica that comes into season after the first frosts of fall. The smallest buds have the sweetest, most delicate flavor. It’s important not to overcook these tiny cabbages, or they become mushy and sulfurous. Quick cooking in a sautée pan, steamer, or under the roasting heat of an oven is the best way to treat them. Throughout the week we explored flavor pairings and cooking techniques with a lot of inspiration for your Thanksgiving table.

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap:

Monday:  Announcing Brussels sprouts as ingredient of the week.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with Brussels sprouts in autumn.

Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter, and Toasted Walnuts.

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Brussels Sprouts Gratin

It’s Friday and I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. This week has been a doozie, but I’ve got the perfect comforting fall recipe for you. My Brussels Sprouts Gratin is creamy, warm, and rich. Brussels sprouts are halved, then seared in butter for a nice crisp and caramelized texture. Heavy cream is added to the pan of Brussels sprouts with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Once the cream is reduced and thickened, the mixture is transferred into a single serving gratin dish, topped with cheese, and baked off in the oven. The cheese is Gruyére, a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland that’s sweet, nutty, and pungent. It melts beautifully, lending complexity and depth the the creamy gratin. Though the instructions are for a single serving, the recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled. Just increase the quantities, sauté all the Brussels sprouts together in a pan, then split them up amongst individual gratin dishes and bake them off in the oven. I like the idea of Brussels Sprouts Gratin for one. It’s something special that can be thrown together in minutes when you’re just too tired to cook and no one’s going to do it for you. Whether you’re cooking for one or for a group, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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Storyboard: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts look like tiny cabbages growing in clusters along the thick, sturdy stem of the Brassica oleracca plant which is several feet tall. According to the Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion, the name probably comes from the fact that they were cultivated in 16th century Belgium. The plant reminds me of a broccoli plant, a large and leafy brassica that takes up quite a bit of space in the garden. In the book, Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters writes that “Brussels sprouts do not develop their delicate sweet, nutty flavor until cold weather comes, especially after the first frost.”

Purchasing & Storing

Big stalks full of Brussels sprout buds can be found in markets, and these are preferable to loose packaged buds. Whatever you do, make sure and select bright green sprouts with tight heads and no wilted leaves. Avoid large buds, which can be tough and bitter. The smaller the bud the sweeter their flavor. The longer Brussels sprouts are stored, the more intense their flavors become, so it’s best to bring them home and use them within 3 days. Store Brussels sprouts in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge.

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Cook in the Moment: Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter & Walnuts

Each week I contribute an article to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I shared a recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter, and Walnuts. Here is the original article:

This week, La Domestique is dedicated to Brussels sprouts, which are like tiny cabbages growing in clusters along a tall, sturdy stalk. Here in Colorado, the weather has been perfect for growing Brussels sprouts, with a couple of plentiful snows and crisp, chilly nights balanced by sunny days. Brussels sprouts come into season in November, when the small buds develop a flavor that’s perfectly sweet and a texture that’s crisp yet still delicate. In the marketplace, select bright green specimens with tight heads, preferably still on the stalk. Brussels sprouts are not meant for storage, so use them within 3 days or you’ll find their flavor intensified and sulfurous. I like to keep the buds (unwashed) in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper until I’m ready to use them. In Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters writes that cooking Brussels sprouts quickly ensures the best flavor. The quickest method for cooking Brussels sprouts is to separate the delicate leaves and sauté them in a hot pan.

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