Friday, October 15, 2010

Sesame Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Chicken

FOUND IT: In Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. If the fact that this book got me to try (and like) Brussels sprouts doesn't convince you to buy it, I don't know what will.

My wife loves to make me try new things and give me guilt if I don't want to. She's told me countless times she doesn't like Brussels sprouts (and I'd never had them), so I set off to find a way to make them as something like revenge.

I don't think either of us expected to find a Brussels sprouts dish we'd make again, but that's what happened. This one was excellent.

  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (I didn't have these on hand so I skipped them)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger (I bought it in a tube.)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, washed and with stems removed
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (or other stock, water or white wine)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce and lemon wedges, for serving*
* - I forgot to put these on the table and neither of us missed them.

Toast the sesame seeds in a large, deep skillet (choose a skillet you can cover) over medium-low heat until they begin to brown but don't burn - 5-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the oil to the skillet and turn it up to medium-high. Add the chicken once it's hot, sprinkle in some salt and pepper and brown it for roughly 5 minutes. Add the ginger and continue to cook for a minute or so, then move this mixture to a plate and set it aside.

Add the sesame oil, Brussels sprouts and stock to the pan, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat so the mixture bubbles slightly but does not boil. Cook until the sprouts are tender - roughly 10 minutes. Add more liquid if needed.

Once the sprouts are tender, uncover the pan and return the chicken to it. Raise the heat to boil off any excess liquid and cook until the sprouts and chicken are glazed and browned. Don't stir too often - let the mixture cook for a couple of minutes, then give it a quick stir, then wait again. Stir in the sesame seeds once it's done and serve.

Potato-Leek Gratin

FOUND IT: In Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook.

We're all familiar with the usual way to make potatoes good: Slather them in butter, cheese, or something else loaded with extra fat. This recipe is simple and pretty good despite the fact that it uses a relatively low amount of those extras.

  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, thinly sliced (I used Yukon Golds)
  • 1 lb leeks, trimmed, rinsed well and thinly sliced (you could probably use onions if you don't have leeks)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried thyme
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
Put the potatoes and leeks in a 9x13 baking dish and toss them with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme, then cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just starting to get tender.

Remove from the oven at this point and give them a quick stir. Then, combine the melted butter and bread crumbs, and crumble this mixture over the top. Press everything down a bit and return to the oven without foil at 425 for 15-20 more minutes, or until the bread crumbs have browned.

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Meat Sauce

FOUND IT: I recently purchased a copy of Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. So far I've made four recipes out of it: Three so good I'm adding them to this site to make sure I use them again, and a fourth so bad I almost ripped the page out of the book so I wouldn't accidentally make it again.

MODIFIED IT: Only slightly to adjust to ingredients I had on hand. Modifications are noted in the ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 lbs eggplant, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 8 ounces ground beef or lamb (I had venison on hand, so that's what I used)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped garlic (I used minced)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 6 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped (or canned and drained)
  • 1/2 cup red wine or water
  • 8 ounces pasta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* - I had one of those small cans of tomato paste. 3 tbsp was about half of it, but I used the whole thing since I hate wasting it.

Combine the eggplant, ground meat, onion and garlic in a large roasting pan, drizzling with the olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 for 40 minutes, stirring once in the middle to continue to break up the meat.

Add the bay leaf, oregano and thyme, then the tomato paste and stir it in. Stir in the tomatoes and wine, then return to the oven for 10-15 minutes more or until the mixture has thickened. Take out the bay leaf.

Cook the pasta, and toss with the sauce. Top with some grated parmesan and enjoy.