November 21, 2011

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Rosemary and Aged Cheddar

Now if you're one of the 80 percent of the world that won't eat Brussels Sprouts, I compel you to take a moment and re-evaluate.

What is it about these tasty little bundles that you hate? They've barely got any flavour, so it can't really be that. They have a similar texture to some household favourites, so it can't be that. Does it stem from the fact that when you're Mom served them up there were, maybe, more interesting items on the plate? Turkey? Roast beef? Mashed potatoes and gravy? Yorkshire puddings?

For whatever reason, the fact that Brussels Sprouts seem to often accompany a special family dinner, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, means something. It means they are a decent side dish. Until now.

I've been wanting to try this recipe since I saw it in my Fine Cooking mag. Last night, I served this showstopper to Nathan, not as a side dish, but as the main meal - the only meal. Do yourself a favour and see why Brussels Sprouts are no longer a decent side dish but rather a wonderful complement that will make anyone come back for seconds.

4 tbsp butter
1 - 1.5 lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 large shallots, halved
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup Aged Cheddar Cheese
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs 
2 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan, grated

1. Heat oven to 375 F, with rack positioned in centre. Using a food processor, slice the shallots and Brussels Sprouts. 

2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown and starts smelling nutty. Reserve 1 tbsp of melted butter. Add Brussels and shallots to pan and toss while cooking until softened, about 6-8 mins. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, add cream, milk, cheese, cayenne pepper and nutmeg and heat over medium heat until cheese is melted, whisking occasionally, without boiling. 

4. Mix the panko, rosemary and parmesan with the reserved butter. Put brussels mixture in a pie plate, add sauce (gently jiggle it to mix), top with panko mixture. 

5. Bake for 15 or so minutes until breadcrumbs start to brown and edges are bubbling. Let sit for 5 minutes before dishing up. 

Serve and prepare to take your praise!

November 17, 2011

Bistro Steak with Horseradish Dip

Scalloped potatoes. Here, they're called potato bake. If only I grew up here. I spent the first half of my life hating scalloped potatoes. The reason for my hate was obvious to me - I hated, and still hate, seafood. I wouldn't dare touch a dish with scallops or any other fishy grossness. One fateful evening I learned something. My Mom said, "Why do you hate scalloped potatoes?" when she saw me not eating them. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and explained something that I thought was dead obvious, "Mom, I don't like seafood!" Finally it was explained to me that scalloped potatoes didn't actually have scallops in them, they are called that after the cut of the potato! (I know, what?!)

Anyway, other than the fact that this recipe would go great with scalloped potatoes, this is a completely irrelevant story. I simply thought of it when I thought of how much food I used to hate, (or thought I hated), that I now love. Like horseradish.

It all started on a now routine trip to wine country. We were in Langhorne Creek this time headed to lunch and were recommended a winery/horseradish farm (you heard it here first). They had all sorts of amazing horseradish dips and spreads, I fell head over heels right then and there. Now I am likely addicted. I used one of them in this recipe, a horseradish mustard mix. However, I understand not everyone has access to a winery/horseradish farm, but no worries mates, you can just use plain horseradish and wholegrain mustard as I have reflected in the recipe.

2 thick cut rib eye steaks (in Australia: scotch filet)

Marinade - a flavourful but not too overpowering marinade that just brings out the best of a good cut of steak
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

3/4 cup low fat sour cream
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow glass dish. Coat steaks in the marinade and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the fridge. (If marinating in the fridge, let sit at room temperature for 30 mins before grilling.)

2. Meanwhile, mix up all the dip ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Grill steaks over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, turning once, until desired doneness. 8-10 minutes for medium rare.

4. Serve steaks with cold dip on the side.

Serve and prepare to take your praise!

November 02, 2011

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

I am pumped up on salads right now. I think it is because it is Spring, and what accompanies bbq food better than a fresh salad made with all the season's best ingredients?

I've made a bunch of salads in the past few weeks and I will try and post them all soon. This particular salad was intriguing to me because I don't often use fruit as a main salad ingredient. I made it twice in the last week...nuff said. Give it a shot - you won't regret.

Juice and seeds of 4-5 roma tomatoes - discard rest (by discard I mean load with pepper and feed to whoever is around)
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
S & P to taste

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1.5 cups watermelon chunks
3/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped coarsely

1. Place juice, shallot, sugar and vinegar in small saucepan. Simmer until reduced, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Mix salad ingredients together in bowl. Toss gently with dressing.

Serve and prepare to take your praise!