Brussels Sprouts are not Evil

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with baconBrussels sprouts have been the bane of every child’s existence since probably the beginning of time. They are, “Little cabbages the size of golf balls all green and slimy”. At least this is what a friend described while talking about them. I can hear the “Psycho” music playing in the background “screech, screech, screech, Ahhhhhh!” end of shower scene, or in this case Brussels Sprouts sitting in front of you on the table.

However, Brussels Sprouts are not evil. For I have tasted them, and they are glorious! “Just add bacon” is probably the key phrase when talking about them. A while back I was watching a show called “5 Ingredient Fix” with Claire Robinson, and she made a dish called Crispy Brussels Sprouts, that looked pretty good. So I took the time to try it myself. My family loved it.

Crispy Brussels SproutsThese are not the green slimy disgusting vegetables that most people think about. These are crisp, full of flavor, and a creative food that brings a new taste to something people have demonized. Start with a slab of bacon cut into pieces and baked for about 10 minutes. Separate the bacon, and bake the Brussels Sprouts in the grease left from the bacon. I used sautéed pecans instead of walnuts, and it added much to the recipe. Mixing everything together makes a wonderful salad or side dish. Best of all, I sautéed the left overs in butter the next day, and it tasted even better.

So remember, “Do not be afraid to bring new life to a food you might fear.”

Check out the recipe below:
Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Rasta Pasta

Rasta PastaOK, so Rasta Pasta just sounds cool. This recipe is from “Fins Up! (Jimmy Buffet) Cooking Class with Leigh Ocs.” This is a wonderful addition to the Tequila-Orange Shrimp that I wrote about last week. It has an unexpected Caribbean taste. But what else should I expect, it does have Jimmy Buffet’s name attached to the top.

I would have never imagined using coconut to make a creamy pasta, but it is exquisite! While the coconut flavor does come through, I might consider adding some coconut flakes to the prepared pasta or using real coconut milk to even further enhance the flavor next time.

I heated the coconut to a boiling point and let it simmer for a little while. Then strained it into a bowl and pushed as much flavor out of the coconut that I could get with a fork. Actually it did not seem like it was working, so I picked it up and squeezed the daylights out of the flakes to get as much of the juice out as I could. After setting the Water/Coconut Milk to the side, I boiled the noodles (Penne Pasta) to an Al Dente state.

While I was waiting on the noodles, I added the red pepper flakes, oil, and garlic into a frying pan. Once heated, I added the noodles, coconut water, and  remaining ingredients. Ultimately it is not a really difficult recipe. The sauce wasn’t as thick as I had hoped for, but the flavor was excellent.

Next time, I will make some changes to the recipe. First, I will use less water when preparing the coconut mix and possibly add some fresh coconut milk. Second, I will print the recipes rather than working directly off my cell phone. I accidentally missed a step toggling between two recipes. I don’t know if adding oil to the Al Dente noodles would have made a difference or not, but I hate to do things incorrectly on my first attempt with a new recipe. These minor changes might make a delicious difference in the future.

Either way, my wife, sister-in-law, and friend all enjoyed the taste and experience. This was a worthy experiment, and I will make it again down the road. Maybe next time I could add some broccoli florets as well.

So remember, “The recipe is not always right; take some time to make it your own.” I know I will.

More Than a Sidekick

Bacon Ranch Potato SaladMarriage is the spice of life, especially when it starts in the kitchen. Last week was Memorial Day, and I got to cater my first luncheon. Well I have cooked for more than 15 people before, but in some ways this was different. I got the chance to enjoy cooking with my wife, and we had a wonderful evening at the same time.

Most often I am cooking while she is entertaining the guests. On this occasion, we got to spend the time together and not be in a rush. Don’t get me wrong. It was late when we finished, but we created a night to remember.

We made Bacon Ranch Potato Salad and Broccoli Salad.

The potato salad was great when it was warm, but it seemed to have less flavor the next day after it cooled in the refrigerator. It seems like a dish that has both ranch and bacon in it would be fabulous, but the truth of the matter is that it was just alright. My wife does not like potato salads with egg in it, so I found one that she might enjoy. She would at least eat this one. It is a fair alternative if you are looking for something different.

Broccoli SaladThe Broccoli Salad on the other hand was a complete success. I am not really sure why they call it Broccoli Salad though, because it has a lot more grapes than broccoli. I guess that “Grape Salad” just does not have the same ring, particularly with  other ingredients, like the villain that broccoli can be for some people. I enjoyed this dish and had several rave reviews regarding it. This dish is easy to make. In fact, all you really do is chop a bunch of produce and stir in some saucy things. After finishing the dish, we snuck a taste. The vinager was stronger than desired, but by morning it had subsided. The flavors meshed together perfectly, and it made a great addition to the luncheon. This is a ‘Grape’ Broccoli Salad!

These are two staple dishes for BBQs and picnics, but don’t take my word for it, give them a try!

So remember, “Even an odd couple can make a SUPER dish!

Click link below for Recipe:
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad or Broccoli Salad

Pesto It’s Magic

Magic has always garnered the interest of both children and adults alike. There is David Copperfield, Houdini, or even just a dad pulling the coin out of a child’s ear. Recently I watched a friend of mine do this to another friend’s daughter, and all I heard was, “do it again.” She just couldn’t figure out how he did it. She wanted to know the secret. That is why I say Pesto is magic. Some dishes are just alright, while with other dishes we scream with glee, “Do it again, Do it again!” We are trying to figure out the secrets of great dining.

The best magic comes with great time, energy, and planning to make some of the greatest and most memorable performances that can be imagined. Most of the dishes that I have made for this blog have been fairly simple. Linguine Al Pesto Alla Moda Ligure from “A Culinary Courses Journey – Princess Cruises“, is not an easy dish to make, at least for a beginner. I think that the “talent-level” verdict is still out on this one, however, this is a delicious dish, and I am sure that there are ways to simplify it.

For instance, in following the recipe, I boiled the potatoes before adding them to the Linguine, but I don’t know that the potatoes are that necessary. I would recommend trying it both with them and without them, just to see what your taste might be. My mother-in-law enjoyed finding the potatoes as she was eating the pasta. Also make sure that you have all the ingredients before you begin. Ensure the herbs are fresh. I had to send my wife to get some things that I still needed and wait for her return. The Pesto can be prepared a day in advance, but more than that will affect the flavor.

I think that the hardest part really was handling it though. The recipe says that it serves 6, but it sure seemed like much more than that. I have a large Wok Pan that was filled to the brim. Trying to sear or cook the noodles a little bit near the end was difficult, because the wok was filled to capacity.

The best part of making pesto is that you do not have to use it for just this recipe. What about a pesto pizza, pesto tortilini, or pesto chicken? Getting creative is the best part of cooking other than getting to enjoy the meal. I say that Pesto is Magic, and you too can create enchanted meals to remember. So remember, “Any cook great or otherwise can create magic in the kitchen.”

Recipe:
Linguine Al Pesto Alla Moda Ligure <– Click here