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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking in Season’

Cooking in Season: Brussel Sprouts | Winter 2012-13

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

Photo by Andrew Wellman.

With recipe-testing assistance by Sarah Strauss

Like many people, chef Sevie Cartularo did not fall in love with Brussels sprouts at first bite.

“My grandmother would make them for Thanksgiving,” recalls Cartularo, of Buono Appetito, in Shelburne. “They were boiled and just the smell of them made me hate them.”

Chef Dennis Vieira of the Red Clover Inn in Mendon did not grow up with Brussels sprouts, which is perhaps why he more easily appreciated the bite-size green globes when he first cooked them in a Boston restaurant. He admits that the duck fat in which they were caramelized probably helped.

Both chefs agree that the common home cooking technique of boiling them down to mush does not do sprouts any favors.

In early fall, Vieira likes to buy the first tiny marble-sized sprouts on the stalk from local farms such as Radical Roots, Boardman Hill Farm or Alchemy Gardens, and sauté them whole with toasted garlic for a nutty flavor. He leaves them a little crisp and yes, he’s likely to use a little pork or duck fat to help them out.

In winter, when local greens are at a premium, Vieira might feature the larger more mature sprouts raw in the salad he shares below, their slight bitter edge balanced perfectly with sweet nuggets of butternut squash, reduced cider and rich bacon and mushrooms.

Despite his early scarring experiences with Brussels sprouts, Cartularo’s eyes (and palate) were opened to their potential while cooking in a San Francisco restaurant where they were deep-fried. He tweaked the recipe and introduced it as a winter appetizer special when he came home to run the kitchen at his family’s third-generation Italian restaurant.

Cartularo started evangelizing on the sprouts’ behalf while working the bar on Sunday nights. “I can probably count 15 regular customers I’ve changed from Brussels sprouts haters to Brussels sprouts lovers with this dish,” Cartularo says. “I’m kind of scared to ever take them off the menu.”

Among the fans of his fried sprouts with crispy capers, garlic and parsley is Cartularo’s mother, who eats them tossed with spaghetti.

Despite the success of this particular recipe, Cartularo has yet to fully embrace the Brussels sprout. “It’s probably the only way I’ll ever cook them,” he admits.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Fried Capers and Garlic
Adapted from executive chef Sevie Cartularo, Buono Appetito, Shelburne
At the restaurant, Sevie Cartularo uses the deep fryer to separately fry each ingredient, but it comes out very well with a high-heat roast, too. Do as Cartularo’s mother does and toss them with spaghetti for a satisfying main dish.

1 pound (about 24 large) Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup olive oil
5 fat cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 ½ tablespoons capers, rinsed well and patted very dry
½ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fine salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Trim the base of each Brussels sprout and slice each in half through the root and then into quarters. Place them in a serving bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, tossing once.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, heat the cup of olive oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. (It should be about ¼-inch deep.) Prepare a plate lined with paper towels. When the oil is shimmering, carefully add the (very dry) capers to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until bloomed (yes, like a flower) and crispy. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon to the prepared lined plate.

Drizzle the sliced garlic with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and toss it into the pan of roasting Brussels sprouts. Roast for 4 minutes and then toss in the parsley leaves. Roast another 4 to 5 minutes or until the outer leaves of Brussels sprouts are very dark and crisp, the parsley leaves are crisp and the garlic is softened and golden (it will be dark in some spots). Transfer the Brussels sprouts mixture to a serving bowl and add the lemon juice and fried capers. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt if desired. Toss and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Photo by Andrew Wellman.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Squash, Mushrooms, Bacon and Cider Dressing
Adapted from chef Dennis Vieira, Red Clover Inn, Mendon
This beautiful salad is rich with contrasting colors, textures and flavors. Presented on a platter, it will impress and wake up the winter palate.

1 cup apple cider
1 pound (about 24 large) Brussels sprouts
¼ pound bacon, sliced into matchsticks
6 ounces butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced small (¼-inch cubes to yield about 1½ cups)
2 cups (4 ounces) finely sliced oyster or (stemmed) shiitake mushrooms, or a mixture
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons snipped chives

In a small pot, set over medium heat, bring apple cider to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Trim Brussels sprouts and remove any tough outer leaves. Slice each in half and, with cut side down, finely slice each sprout. (Alternately, after trimming, run whole Brussels sprouts through the slicing blade of a food processor.) You will have a mix of slices and fine shreds. Place shredded Brussels sprouts in a serving bowl that can handle hot ingredients.

Set a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the sliced bacon. Cook, about 5–6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon just starts to turn color. Add the diced butternut squash and toss with the bacon and fat. Continue to sauté, 4–5 minutes, until the squash starts to color. Add the sliced mushrooms, toss, and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp, the squash is cooked and the mushrooms are golden, another 6–7 minutes. Stir in the thyme leaves and sherry vinegar and cook, stirring, another 30 seconds.

Pour the hot mixture over the Brussels sprouts in the serving bowl. Add the reduced cider and about 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss everything together. (Depending on the amount of fat from the bacon, you may want to add a little more olive oil.) Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Right before serving sprinkle on the chives. Serves 4 to 6.

Recipe: Corn Fritters With Pesto Sour Cream and Heirloom Tomatoes | Cooking in Season

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

We’ve just heard that Vermont-grown corn has started making its sweet appearance at local farmstands and farmers markets. That means it’s really summer now.
Our summer Cooking in Season column is all about corn with three recipes from Vermont chefs. Here we share the recipe for delicious, buttery light corn fritters from chef and co-owner Emily Wilkens of Black Krim Tavern in Randolph.
For a wonderful corn, black bean and mango (or local peaches, if you can wait for those) salad from the Woodstock Farmers Market or a Cherry Cornmeal Cobber (which features cornmeal) from the team at Fletcher Allen Healthcare, go pick up a copy of the summer issue or subscribe at vermontlife.com.

Corn Fritters with Pesto Sour Cream and Heirloom Tomatoes

Adapted from chef Emily Wilkens, Black Krim Tavern, Randolph

Photo by Andrew Wellman.

At Black Krim, Emily Wilkens makes these fritters with roasted corn kernels and local cornmeal and serves them with a chipotle aioli and queso fresco along a southwestern theme. This version focuses on the classic pairing of basil, corn and tomatoes for something slightly different. They would make a lovely appetizer, lunch or light supper and the fritters are delicious with maple syrup or honey-butter for breakfast or brunch, too.

For pesto sour cream:

¼ cup basil leaves, packed
5 to 8 scallions (depending on size), white and light green parts finely chopped to measure about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup sour cream

For corn fritters:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine or medium coarse-ground corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 egg, separated
1 cup milk (any fat level)
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, slightly cooled
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 cobs), or frozen corn, thawed and blotted dry

Vegetable oil and (optional) butter to fry

To serve:
Assorted heirloom tomatoes, diced in various sizes
Greens such as arugula or mesclun mix
First, make pesto sour cream: In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, pulse together the basil, scallions, peanuts, garlic, salt and lemon juice until finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary between pulses. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil until the mixture is emulsified. Scrape down the sides again, add the sour cream and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and chill until serving.

To make corn cakes: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, corn meal, baking powder and salt. Whisk the egg yolk and the milk into the melted butter. Mix the yolk mixture into dry ingredients. In a small bowl, using a whisk or handheld mixer, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold the egg white and the corn into the batter just until combined. Set a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat and heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon butter (or all oil if you prefer) until it’s hot enough that a tiny drop of batter sizzles. Reduce heat to medium and scoop 2 tablespoons of batter at a time into the hot pan to make 2-inch fritters. Fry like pancakes, about 2 to 3 minutes a side, flipping when bubbles appear on top of the fritter. Repeat, adding oil and butter as necessary to pan, until all the batter is used up. Keep the cooked fritters warm in a low oven if desired. Serve the fritters on greens, garnished with tomatoes and the pesto sour cream. Makes about 24 2-inch fritters, enough to serve 4 to 6 as a main course.

The Fleeting Sweetness of Strawberries

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

Photo by Melissa Pasanen.

This year the strawberries came early — earlier by as many as two weeks, according to Adam Hausmann of Adam’s Berry Farm in the Intervale. (I frequent his stand at the Burlington Farmers Market.)

At least in the Burlington area, the pick-your-own season is definitely winding down this week. I did manage to get my own personal picking crew (three teenage boys) out for a quick strawberry gathering expedition last Monday, down to Last Resort Farm in Monkton, where the berries were small but wonderfully sweet during their last three days of pick-your-own. We gathered about four quarts, a paltry amount in the scheme of things, but we had Mount Philo to climb and the teenagers were growing restless.

It would have been easy enough to eat the berries out of hand, or on buttermilk biscuits topped with soft dollops of whipped cream, as we had enjoyed other local berries I’d purchased for our Father’s Day meal. But I was determined to provide a more special creation to showcase these seasonal gems.

The crowd demanded strawberry-rhubarb pie, but unfortunately I had let my rhubarb bolt into bitterness. Besides, I felt like doing something more elegant, so I turned to “Pie it Forward,” released earlier this year by Vermont-based cookbook author and baking expert, Gesine Bullock-Prado, who contributed her recipe for salted caramels to our Cooking in Season column last winter.

The berries were so naturally sweet I decided to use them uncooked in her gorgeous strawberry tart which starts with a buttery crust filled with sweetened crème fraîche before it is filled with sliced, lemon-zest-spangled berries and then whole berries to finish.

I was supposed to glaze each whole berry individually but I skipped that step. Teenage boys, after all, don’t care a whole lot whether their berries are shiny or not ― and I thought the berries were perfect just the way they were.

For more from Gesine Bullock-Prado including tips on baking pies and information on her book, Pie it Forward (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2012) go to gesine.com or www.pieitforwardcookbook.com.

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