Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

When I discover a great dish at a restaurant I have to try to recreate the recipe at home. Susan and I spent the weekend in St. Louis a couple weekends ago at the Moonrise Hotel on the Delmar Loop. While there, we ate at a wonderful restaurant called Nico where Susan ordered their Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad. It was fantastic and she immediately told me that I needed to recreate it. She thinks I came extremely close. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

1 pound Brussels sprouts

½ ounce Maytag Blue Cheese

1 oz dates finely chopped

1 oz sliced almonds

2 tablespoons walnut oil (olive oil may be used)

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Wash and cut the stems off of the Brussels sprouts and then remove the outer layers of leaves. These tend to be somewhat bitter. Finely slice the Brussels sprouts avoiding the very inner core. You could use a mandolin slicer set to the finest setting but I feel more comfortable using a chef’s knife. Toss into medium sized bowl to separate the layers. Crumple the blue cheese and add it to the bowl along with the chopped dates and almonds. Toss to combine. Wisk together the oil, vinegar, and lemon juice to create a vinaigrette. Drizzle vinaigrette over Brussels sprouts mixture and toss until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Rosemary and Thyme Smashed Potatoes

Steak and potatoes just go together. We’ve known this instinctively for years, but now the Plant and Food Research, a member of the New Zealand government owned Crown Research Institute, has shown that consuming the two together helps promote digestive health. I’ll let you read the article. It is linked here: It’s official: steak is always better with potatoes.

One of our favorite potatoes is Rosemary and Thyme Smashed Potatoes.

You can use most any sized red potatoes when making this side dish. I prefer to use B sized red potatoes no bigger than a golf ball in size. What ever size you choose, make sure they are fairly uniform in size as so they cook evenly.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

3 to 4 B sized red potatoes per person
Olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves
Fresh rosemary leaves
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Directions

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they can easily pierce them with a fork. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush the foil with olive oil and preheat oven to 450° F.

When the potatoes are cooked through, place them on the baking sheet a few inches apart from one another. With a flat device such as a firm spatula or even palm of your hand, smash the potatoes flat. Drizzle with a little olive oil then season with Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, thyme and rosemary leaves.

Baked potatoes until they develop a crispy brown color. Remove from oven and let cool a minute or two then serve.

You don’t have to be a sailor to like this spinach side: Garlic Sautéd Spinach

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Popeye would love this side dish because the spinach is sautéed in olive oil. Okay, excuse the terrible pun, but this spinach dish is extremely tasty and cooks up in just over ten minutes. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons good olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Lemon
Sea or kosher salt, optional

Directions

Rinse the spinach very well in cold water. If you have a salad spinner give the salad several good spins otherwise shake off as much water as you can. A little water left on the leaves is okay as it will create steam and help wilt the spinach.

In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pan and toss it with the garlic and oil. Cover the pan and cook it for no more than three minutes. Remove the lid and turn the heat to high. Cook the spinach for another couple minutes stirring with a wooden spoon until all the spinach is wilted. Remove the spinach to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon. Give the spinach a good squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of kosher salt if needed. Serve immediately.

Louisiana Oysters on the Half-Shell

I picked up some Louisiana Oysters today. I made a very quick and simple migonette sauce for them and Susan and I were in heaven. I wanted us to have at least three a piece so I picked up eight oysters just in case there was a bad one. We got lucky and all eight looked bright and smelled like the briny sea so we each got four.

Here’s the simple migonette sauce:

Ingredients

1 small shallot finely minced
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons dry, acid white wine
1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Grind or two of fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate an hour or two to allow the flavors to meld. Spoon over oysters and serve.

Corn Bread from Scratch

On Sunday, I posted a recipe for my Buttermilk Pancakes made from scratch. In the post I questioned why people purchase convenience items like these since they are so easy to make from scratch. Tonight I made some black bean soup and a corn bread. The corn bread did not come from a box; and why should it?

Chances are, most people have all the ingredients for corn bread in their pantry. Why should you spend the extra money on having those common ingredients prepackaged for you?

Here’s all you need to do:

Ingredients

1 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 C cornmeal
¼ C sugar
2 t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 C milk
½ C unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg

Directions

Heat oven to 400° F. Grease 10″ cast iron skillet. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared skillet and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Additional note:

You may use a 9″ square pan instead of the cast iron skillet if you would like. I, however, prefer the cast iron skillet as it heats more evenly and gives the corn bread a crisper crust.

Buttermilk Pancakes from Scratch

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It’s a lazy Sunday mornings and everyone in the house is in the mood for a big breakfast. Mornings like this make me smile as they give me a chance to whip up a batch of my from scratch buttermilk pancakes.

I’ve never quite understood why people purchase certain convenience foods; especially things like any of the “Helper” boxed dinners, Alfredo sauce, and today’s subject – pancake mix. It isn’t because these things are inherently terrible or necessarily bad for you; they are full of unnecessary chemicals and preservatives though. I don’t understand why simply because things like this are just not that difficult to make from scratch. In my opinion, not only do they taste much better, but you control what goes into your food. Here’s my from scratch buttermilk pancakes. You could substitute regular milk for the buttermilk or simply add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each cup of milk and let it set for at least five minutes to make your own buttermilk substitute.

Give this recipe a try. You’ll make some of the best pancakes you ever tasted. You may even start singing, “They’re so light ‘n fluffy-brown, They’re the finest in the town…”

Ingredients

1 ½ C all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 ¼ – 1 ½ C buttermilk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 T vegetable oil

Directions

In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Start with mixing 1 ¼ cups buttermilk to the flour. Add up to another ¼ cup if necessary if the batter is too dry. Add the two eggs, vanilla, and oil, whisking until mixed but still a bit lumpy.

Heat griddle and ladle ¼ cup of pancake batter onto hot grill. When the pancake begins to bubble flip and cook a couple more minutes on the other side.

Additional note

Using a ¼ cup measuring cup to measure out the batter will result in a pancake that measures approximately 4 inches in diameter. This recipe will produce 12 to 15 4 inch pancakes. I like this size because any leftover pancakes can easily be frozen with a piece of wax paper between each pancake. They can easily be taken out of the freezer and reheated for a great mid-week breakfast. Four inch pancakes easily fit in most toasters for reheating which produces a nice crispy cake as opposed to a soggy cake reheated in a microwave.

A Timeless Side Dish: Potatoes au Gratin

Potatoes au Gratin have been a staple of family potlucks and cookouts since God knows when. And why not? Cheese and potatoes just go together. My creation adds a few other flavor profiles not typically found in these ubiquitous potluck standards that I feel give them just enough flavor to stand out. Here is what I do:

Ingredients

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
1 ½ cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 sprig thyme (leaves)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t freshly grated nutmeg
2 C heavy cream
1/3 C course bread crumbs
2 T butter, divided

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat.

While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish with one tablespoon of butter. Melt remaining butter and mix with bread crumbs and set aside.

Place a layer of potato using half the potatoes in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Then layer half the cheddar cheese on top of potatoes. Repeat with remaining potatoes and cheese.  Pour cream mixture over the potatoes. Top with bread crumb mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes.