Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Carnage in Gingerbread

Every year, ToastSister assembles a gingerbread house for Christmas display. This year, she felt compelled to construct (deconstruct?) an homage to Hurricane Katrina. In gingerbread. Yes, what you see above is a nutcracker in a chalk outline felled by a piece of besprinkled roof. Yes, I fear for her sanity.

Friday, December 01, 2006

New York Times Brussels Sprouts

Taking a page from The Wednesday Chef, I decided to make a recipe clipped right from the New York Times. It was a Thanksgiving suggestion, designed to "Take The Meal Beyond Tan." Obviously, the ToastFamily wouldn't put up with something as wildly unorthodox as brussels sprouts on Turkey Day (or as some would have it: The Most Adored Food Holiday in the Land)--or any non-tan, non-traditional foodstuffs at all. Later, though, the austerity of these lemony sprouts seemed just the thing to counteract all the carbolicious extravagance.

I was right to take a chance on this recipe. The result is not at all brussels sprouty, but instead more like a lemony version of those sharp-tasting salad you can get at Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. I followed the recipe very nearly to the letter, only dividing the quantities in half, so I've just cut and pasted from the NYT below, though I also own the magnificent cookbook whence it came.

Hashed Brussels Sprouts With Lemon Zest
Adapted from ''The Union Square Cafe Cookbook,''
by Michael Romano and Danny Meyer (HarperCollins, 1994)
Time: 25 minutes

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus grated zest of 1 lemon
2 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds or poppy seeds
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place lemon juice in a large bowl. Cut bottoms off sprouts, and discard. Halve sprouts lengthwise, and thinly slice them crosswise. The slices toward the stem end should be thinner, to help pieces cook evenly. As you work, transfer slices into bowl with lemon juice. When all sprouts are sliced toss them in juice and separate leaves. (Recipe can be prepared to this point and refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 hours.)
2. When ready to serve, heat oil and butter over high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all sprouts. When very hot add sprouts, garlic and seeds, and cook, stirring often, until sprouts are wilted and lightly cooked, but still bright green and crisp, about 4 minutes. Some leaves might brown slightly.
3. Add wine, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Turn off heat, add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the lemon zest, reserving a little for top of dish. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining zest and serve.
Yield: 10 servings.