Veggies in disguise
Here are a few words rarely heard in the annals of culinary lore: "If you're not going to finish those Brussels sprouts, can I have them?"
I'm always trying to improve my ways, though, and one approach I've found helpful is to play "disguise the veggie," inventing creative ways to present the same old, same old as something new and interesting.
Today, in place of the usual detailed recipe, let's talk about procedures I used to make two often-shunned vegetables into something that might just make you want to come back for a second helping.
You can use these strips very much like short strands of spaghetti. Steam them briefly, until just crisp-tender, or sautee them in olive oil with a little garlic, then sauce with your choice of toppings. Marinara or Italian meat sauce would be nice; I went the quick and easy route by simply tossing the shreds with a splash of heavy cream (a couple of tablespoons) and a shake of ground cumin, salt and pepper, stirring over high heat until the cream thickened a little.
BRUSSELS SPROUT "SLAW"
Here's a technique that solves the problem entirely by deconstructing the hard balls into a light, quick-cooking "slaw." To serve two, take about 8 to 10 ounces (250-300g) Brussels sprouts (maybe six to 12 of them, depending on size). Rinse them, cut off and discard the stem end, then, starting at the top, cut them crosswise into very thin slices. Put the result in a bowl, stir to break up the slices into individual strands. These can be cooked up very quickly - a quick blanching in boiling salted water or a fast sauté - either way, less than a minute's cooking time is all you need.
You can serve the result as a standard green vegetable, topped with a pat of butter; but once you've come this far, I suggest saucing them with something a little more interesting to turn that once-boring veggie course into something more like a reward. I fashioned a quick bechamel sauce - a quick roux of 1 tablespoon butter, 2 tablespoons flour, whisk over medium-high heat until the roux turns reddish-brown, then add 1 cup hot milk and whisk over medium heat until thickened - then flavored it with 1/2 teaspoon (3g) ground coriander seed, 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons (30g) fresh-squeezed orange juice. Simmer for a few moments to let the flavors blend, then stir the just-blanched "slaw" into the sauce.
WINE MATCH: Assuming these preps are served as a side dish to a main course, you'll choose wine to match the meat or protein centerpiece, not the veggie. If you like to experiment, though, try a "match-likes-with-likes" approach with a herbaceous-style white, perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Sancerre or a White Bordeaux. For a different kind of match, look for a white with floral character - a Spanish Albariño, Portuguese Vinho Verde or French or New World Viognier.
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Thursday, April 27, 2006
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