Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

It's getting to the tail end of Brussels sprouts season. They are a cool weather crop so now's the time to get some before they disappear for the summer. I know, you hate Brussels sprouts. So many people have only had them boiled to death, and I have to say, they are horrendous little cabbages when overcooked. But, roasting brings out their sweetness and they maintain their crisp texture. There's just a little bit of bacon in this, enough to impart the smokey flavor but not much actual bacon. My favorite bacon is Farmland brand; it's not as salty as many of the major brands, but still very tasty.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
(serves 6)

1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts, rinsed and cut in half
2 slices thick sliced bacon (or 3 slices regular thickness), diced
2 large shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
2 Tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
1 ½ Tablespoon fruity vinegar like Sherry, red wine, or balsamic

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed cookie sheet large enough to hold them all in one layer. Distribute the bacon and shallots. Drizzle on oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss it all around a bit. Roast for 10 minutes. With a wide pancake spatula, mix it all around. Roast for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the vinegar. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated but they will smell more cabbage-y when reheated and the texture will be softer.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Next Class: Sushi

Peterjhpark at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons

Doing a bit of research for my next class. My University of Colorado students requested sushi. We probably won't have raw fish but we will make this recipe. No raw fish, though technically, smoked salmon is raw because it's cold smoked. It's bagels and lox in Japan without the bagel. To make it more like bagels and lox, I'll use capers instead of pickled jalapeƱos (though the pickled jalapeƱos sound interesting too).

Still working on other recipes for easy sushi. Anyone have any ideas they want to share?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

St. Patty's Day Shepherd's Pie

OK, this is a mash-up. As far as I know, there is nothing traditional about a shepherd's pie recipe that includes corned beef and cabbage. But, why not? Corned beef and cabbage is the traditional St. Patrick's Day dish, though I couldn't find it in any Irish cookbooks. No matter, in the US, it's the dish of choice on March 17, whether you are Irish or not.

Traditionally, shepherd's pie in Ireland is made with lamb. Many recipes on both sides of the pond include lamb, though beef is a more popular choice in the US. Corned beef is tasty but it is very salty. Don't add much (if any) salt to the filling; the corned beef will add plenty and lots of that distinctive corned flavor as well.

This may be a mash-up of shepherd's pie and corned beef and cabbage but it's a mighty tasty one! And, for those of you who don't want to deal with a big 'ole corned beef brisket, this is a fun way to get your corned beef and cabbage from the deli case corned beef.

St. Patrick's Day Shepherd's Pie
(serves 6)

non-stick cooking spray
1 lb. carrot, chopped
1 cup chicken broth, preferably unsalted or low-sodium
1/4 medium head of cabbage, cored and chopped
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
7 oz. corned beef, chopped
2 Tbl. oil
2 Tbl. flour
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbl. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Spray an 11x7x2" baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the carrots and chicken broth in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until carrots tender, about 15 minutes. Place the cabbage, peas, and pearl onions in a large bowl.   Start the potatoes cooking in a large pot of water.

When the carrots are done, pour them and the cooking liquid over the other vegetables. Place the saucepan back over medium heat. Add the oil. Sprinkle in the flour and mix with oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the vegetables, all the liquid in the bowl, corned beef, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix to combine and pour into baking dish.

When the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes), drain them, and put back in the pot. Add milk, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until fairly smooth. Spread on top of filling. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle on shredded cheese and bake until cheese has melted.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Irish Apple Crumble

Why is this Irish? Because it's on the menu for my St. Patrick's Day class! No, that doesn't really make it Irish, but corned beef and cabbage is considered Irish and I couldn't find that in a single Irish cookbook. I did find lots of recipes for apple desserts and recipes using oats. Whether you consider it Irish or not, it's still quite delicious.

Irish Apple Crumble
(serves 9)

8 large tart apples, like Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced about ½" thick
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
⅔ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
a large pinch of salt
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar (light or dark), packed
½ cup rolled oats (not quick)
⅓ cup toasted wheat germ
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons milk or apple juice

cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9"x9"x2" baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and combine.

Combine all the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon) for the topping in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until it holds together to form crumbles. Add a little more milk or juice if it won't clump together. Pour the filling into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping over the apples, covering the whole top evenly. Bake for 40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes to let it cool slightly. Serve plain, with vanilla ice cream, or a little heavy cream.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Michelle Obama and Will Ferrell pitch for Let's Move!

I'll admit it, I'm a big fan of Will Ferrell. This video for Let's Move with the First Lady only makes me like him more! The kids are awfully cute too.

The video was made to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Let's Move!, a program to improve the health of American children through better nutrition and more physical activity. They have a lot to celebrate this year. The First Lady just unveiled new standards for nutrition labels. The nutrition label standard has only been changed once in the last 20 years. The changes are not huge, but I think they make the labels simpler and easier to use. The move to label products with meaningful serving sizes is a huge improvement.

Kudos to First Lady Michelle Obama for working so hard to improve the health of American kids!