Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Have To

As some of you know, I've joined a 'gourmet' cooking group. We don't have a name yet I'm afraid to report. We get together about once a month and contribute dishes resulting in a usually-fabulous dinner. This last meal was themed Classic Holiday Feast. The lovely Mallory hosted, and let me tell you, enchanting! Her home is adorable, eclectic and really, just super fun to take in and look at! It inspired me in many ways, as did she. In true hostessing fashion, Mallory was garbed in a dress, heels, and vintage apron when we arrived. The table was so delightfully festive and completely decked out in all things red! Her and her bf made Martha Stewart's Tissue Balls in red and white, so those were staggered and hung over the table. They created a really dramatic focal point and screamed PARTY. The table also had special paper place mats, tulle, red Christmas lights, and little Christmas tree bulbs strewn everywhere. It was truly lovely! I snagged a couple pictures from Mallory's blog (with her permission of course) so you could see for yourself...

I wish I had had my camera to take pictures of the food! Next time, I guess! Anyway, we started the night off with fresh-juiced Pear Martinis. Our glasses were dipped in crushed Jolly Ranchers which was a fun and tasty surprise. Martinis were then followed by several courses, the first being a roasted pear stuffed with ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, dates, and celery. Then it was onto Roasted Red Pepper Soup and homemade sun dried tomato and mozzarella bread. The main part of the meal involved something I've always wanted to try... Beef Wellington. Mallory prepared the main entree and it was so delicious! For those of you that don't know what Beef Wellington really is, it's a very tender cut of beef topped with mushrooms and in this case some bleu cheese as well, then the whole thing is wrapped in puff pastry. You then bake it at a high temperature until the pastry puffs and browns, while the inside of the meat stays pink and rare. It's slightly retro but so luscious! The beef was served with mashed potatoes,gravy and the most amazing brussel sprouts- which I have to share with you. The night was swept away with cider and Devil's Food and Peppermint cake. If you stay tuned, my next post will pay it's respects to this amazing cake. Trust me, it deserves it's own story.

Okay, these brussel sprouts. I have two words for you. Creme. Braised. I know, we Americans are supposed to spell that creme as cream. But you see, I like to pretend I'm foreign and exciting so I choose creme as my spelling of choice. Now that we've covered that small issue, back to these mouth-watering and utterly orgasmic brussel sprouts. I came across this recipe during a cooking class I took. The class was titled Misunderstood Vegetables and was taught by Orangette and her hubby. We tasted and learned about some really outstanding and to me, new ways, to prepare some of the more unpopular veggies. Among these, and at the end of the samplings, came something so simple and explosive in it's greatness. Creme-braised Brussel Sprouts. I knew right away that this recipe would stay by side. That could also be taken quite literally, unfortunately!

Brussel sprouts can be so boring and understated when prepared in the usual ways. Sure, I've sauteed them with shallots, raisins, and bacon. And they were good. But not great. This recipe ensures that you will have the best brussel sprouts of your life. I promise. They are caramelized and then slowly cooked in a lovely pool of creme until they are fork-tender. A splash of lemon juice, enough salt and pepper and voila! These are so delicious. I insist that YOU HAVE TO MAKE THEM and soon. They are perfect. And here is the recipe and a gorgeous photo to accompany them. Of course it's Molly's too... I just kept the recipe exactly the way Molly has it written on her blog. So make these asap, and while you're at it check out Orangette - she'll have you back in the kitchen in no time. I'm sure of it.

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts

Adapted from All About Braising and Molly from Orangette

1 ¼ lb. Brussels sprouts

3 Tbs unsalted butter

¼ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

First, prep the Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem end of each sprout and pull off any ragged or nasty outer leaves. Cut the sprouts in half from stem end to tip, and then cut each half in half again. Ultimately, you want little wedges.In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5 minutes or so. I like mine to get some good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor.Pour in the cream, stir to mix, and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low or medium low: you want to keep the pan at a slow simmer. Braise until the sprouts are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 30-35 minutes. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.Remove the lid, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Let the pan simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the sprouts. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 comment:

missmallory said...

Thank you for the flattering comments, you're such a gracious and lovely woman! I had such a wonderful time both hosting our holiday dinner and our fun faux gingerbread night. I wanted to warn you, I've posted a link to your wonderful little blog here. Instead of giving my readers the cake and brussel recipes I sent them your way, since they're all ready to go over here.

Merry christmas, travel safe and have an amazing holiday trip!