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Cook in the Moment: Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados


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 Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados as well as my thoughts on the art and science of good stuffing. I gave the jarred pre-roasted chestnuts a try and found their flavor to be sweet and rich with a nice meaty texture. If you’ve never cooked with chestnuts, working with the roasted and peeled ones is a great start. Once you get to know them, you can give roasting and peeling fresh ones a go.

Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados

Sweet and savory caramelized onions add depth to this chestnut stuffing with juicy apples. Calvados is an apple brandy from France that infuses the stuffing with a warming, comforting flavor. I always use brioche for my stuffing because I love the buttery character and texture- crisp and golden on the outside, soft and moist inside. I believe you can never have too much herbs in your stuffing, so this recipe calls for a generous amount of sage and thyme. If you forget to spread the bread cubes out on a tray to dry out overnight, simply dry them in a 200 degrees Fahrenheit oven for a few minutes.


10 Ways Tuesday: Chestnuts

Chestnuts (c)2011

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with chestnuts in Autumn:


1.  Soup

Chestnuts combine beautifully with mushrooms in a velvety, thyme infused soup from Martha Stewart’s New Classics. Chestnuts are actually a wild food, like foraged mushrooms, which inspires this pairing. The Chestnut-Mushroom Soup  is sure to warm you through and leave you satisfied, ready for a nice, cozy nap. Anne Willan shares a recipe for Cream of Chestnut Soup in her book, The Country Cooking of France. Roasted chestnuts are left whole, cooked in veal broth and milk, for a rich and warming soup. Earthy lentils and sweet chestnuts pair beautifully in Lidia Bastianich’s Abruzzese Chestnut & Lentil Soup in Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy. It’s the perfect Italian example of what grows together goes together.


Ingredient of the Week: Chestnuts

Chestnut (c)2011

I’ve never seen a chestnut tree. I’ve never tasted chestnuts roasted on an open fire. Here in Boulder, Colorado, there is no street vendor selling freshly roasted chestnuts in a roll of newspaper. So how come chestnuts are the ingredient of the week here at la Domestique? With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I was looking for some seasonal inspiration. Something to get me in the mood. I came across chestnuts and my curiosity took hold. These little tree nuts have a history. To many people, especially Europeans, chestnuts are associated with the holiday season. The aroma of roasting chestnuts is powerful for people, bringing back childhood memories. Here in the U.S. chestnuts are popular as an ingredient for stuffing the turkey on Thanksgiving. I’ve never eaten chestnut stuffing- it’s a mystery to me. I suspect that unless you’re from the northeast, you don’t know much about chestnuts either.


This Past Week at La Domestique: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts (c)2011

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.


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!


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.


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.


10 Ways Tuesday: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts (c)2011

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with Brussels sprouts:


1.  Raw in Salad

I appreciate the Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual for its simple, straightforward cooking that celebrates good ingredients. It’s the Italian way of preparing food. Their recipe for Shaved Raw Brussels Sprouts with Castelrosso is inspired by, as the Frankies put it, “a basic equation from the Italian kitchen-fresh veg, olive oil, and a little bit of Italian cheese…”. Thin strands of Brussels sprouts leaves are tossed in lemon juice, olive oil, and the Frankies signature touch of white pepper. Finish the salad with crumbled Castelrosso, a cow’s milk cheese from Piedmont.

2.  Roasted with Mediterranean Flavors

I didn’t know Brussels sprouts could be sexy and loud, punchy and savory, until I came across Michael Symon’s version in the November issue of Food & Wine Magazine. In the article, Heartland Thanksgiving, he shares a recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts and Anchovies that threatens to steal the show from all other side dishes. The Brussels sprouts are simply roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, then tossed with a honey-mustard vinaigrette. Mediterranean flavors of fresh garlic, shallots, anchovies and capers bring new life to the Thanksgiving table. Toasted walnuts add crunchy texture. I doubt there will be any leftovers to fight over.


Ingredient of the Week: Brussels Sprouts

BrusselsSprouts (c)2011

Here in Boulder, Colorado, we’ve already enjoyed our first snows. The nights are chilly and days are crisp and sunny. It’s the perfect time to harvest the ingredient of the week, Brussels sprouts. These tiny cabbages grow in clusters on a thick stalk, much like broccoli. The smallest buds are the sweetest and most tender. Their delicate sweet flavor is only improved by the first snow of November. Those of you who don’t like Brussels sprouts are probably scratching your head, wondering if I’m confused. Delicate? Sweet? Delicious? What is she thinking?

It’s true, boiled to death or allowed to languish in the refrigerator, Brussels sprouts develop a noxious, sulfurous, awful flavor. Overcooked Brussels sprouts are sad and mushy, certainly not pleasant. Cooked properly, Brussels sprouts are a beautiful, even charming, late season vegetable. Unless you are going to roast them and deeply caramelize their leaves, it’s best to quickly steam or sauté them. Treat them with care and you’ll be rewarded with tender, crisp leaves with a sweet, nutty flavor. This week at la domestique we’ll explore the many ways to cook with Brussels sprouts and some really interesting flavor combinations you may never have tried before. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching there will be simple recipes with festive flavor that beg to be served alongside you turkey and stuffing. If you’re having a vegetarian Thanksgiving, I’ll also have delicious ideas for incorporating Brussels sprouts. I’m excited to begin this festive season, cooking in the moment with you!


This Past Week at La Domestique: Beer

Beer (c)2011

This past week at la Domestique was dedicated to cooking with beer, from pale lagers to black stouts. We explored all the unique flavors beer contributes to soups, braises, breads, and even cakes. Beer can be hoppy, bitter, fruity, herbal, sweet, or rich, among other flavors. It adds body and bite to autumn stews. We learned what flavors pair best with beer and found plenty of great ideas for cooking with beer.

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


Monday:  Announcing beer as ingredient of the week.

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

Wednesday: Cook in the moment with a recipe for Shellfish in German Beer Broth.

Thursday: The story behind beer- how it’s made, cooking with beer & flavor pairing.

Friday:  Baking with beer- Anise & Guinness Bread recipe.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!


About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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