Monday, November 24, 2014

roasted brussels sprouts with capers, walnuts, and anchovies

The Best.  It's a bold statement, right?  To say something is the BEST you've ever tasted.  People throw the phrase around too loosely and apply it to things that simply don't deserve such high praise.  "This is the best corn dog I have EVER tasted!" "Have you tried this burger! Best burger ever!" "OMG, this cheese may be the BEST CHEESE EVER."  And we all know that the chances of that corn dog, burger, or piece of cheese being the BEST EVER are pretty slim.

I feel like the word "best" is losing the grip on it's definition.  So when I say something is the best I've ever tasted, I really want to mean it.  So, here goes:
I'm pretty sure these are the best Brussels sprouts I've ever tasted.

My friend Karen introduced me to this recipe last year and it's the only way I ever want to eat Brussels sprouts anymore.  When I serve these to friends, they often approach the dish with reservation.  Brussels sprouts?  Anchovies?  Honey?  Say wha?!  But my FAVORITE part is watching them taste their first bite.  That's all it takes.  The flavor of the golden roasted Brussels sprouts paired with the salty, briny, slightly sweet vinaigrette and crunchy walnuts is genius.  It

Roasted Brussels sprouts has been at our family's holiday table for many years.  But this year, I'm going to introduce this new twist on the old family favorite.  And I can't wait to watch them take their first bite!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Anchovies, and Walnuts
(Recipe courtesy of Karen Wilken)
3 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or a grainy mustard)
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, mined
2 tablespoons anchovy paste (or one 2-ounce tin of anchovies, drained and minced)
(1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a shallow baking sheet or pie plate and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes, until golden and fragrant.  Once cool, coarsely chop and set aside.
(2) In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread the Brussels sprouts on to large, shallow rimmed baking sheets and roast for 35-40 minutes, tossing with a spatula halfway through cooking.  They should be golden and charred in some spots. 
(3) In the same large bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, and honey.  Slowly whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil until the mixture is emulsified.  Add the capers, garlic, shallots, and anchovy paste.  Taste, then season with salt and pepper as necessary.  Add the sprouts and the walnuts, toss well and serve.

xo h


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

chocolate-dipped orangettes

Happy Halloween, little goblins!  This post represents a departure for Chena Girl.  I've been called many things over the course of my life.  Heidi, for starters. But, cook, forager, social butterfly, Suzy Homemaker (by my sister Holly), loud (by my brother Erik), fisherwoman, hostess, but...candymaker?  Nuh-uh.  Never. 
Hey! This post is making history!

May I present to you...the world's ugliest kitchen counter!  I'm thinking of creating a Kickstarter campaign for a new kitchen.  Thoughts?
I think it's healthy to push your personal boundaries in the kitchen.  In fact, I think pushing your boundaries is healthy in most aspects of life.  Even if you end up pushing it just a LITTLE too far.  Like the time I was trying hard not to dress too "matchy matchy" last year and showed up to work wearing nearly every color of the rainbow. Blue tights, a red printed dress, and a bright yellow scarf.  I was a walking fashion catastrophe/perfectly dressed for directing construction traffic.  I looked so ridiculous that my secretary called me "the elf" the rest of the day.  True story. 
[In fact, I used to have the photographic evidence to prove it.  But as I flipped back through the pictures on my phone, I realize that my Back to the Future Self must have deleted it in a clear attempt to save Future Self from the public shaming that she surely would have submitted herself to.]
But I digress.

I was home one Saturday folding laundry while watching TV when I noticed a woman making these seemingly easy candied orange peels dipped in chocolate.  I had 3 naval oranges on my counter, and all of the ingredients in my pantry.  So I finished the laundry, and then got to work adding a new title to my resume: Candymaker.
And they turned out GREAT!

In fact, they turned out a little too good.  My plan was to make a huge batch of them, save a handful (5-10 tops) for myself, and give the rest away as gifts to family and friends.
I'm sure my friends and family would have loved them.  Maybe next time.

Chocolate-Dipped Orangettes
(Adapted from Julia Baker)

4 oranges
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup corn syrup
3 cups water
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

(1) Slice the rind off the oranges and slice into desired thickness. Place orange slices in a wide skillet or pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain.  Repeat this process a total of three times. 

(2) Heat the sugar, syrup, and water in a medium-sized pot.  Once the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is warm, submerge the blanched orange peel in the syrup and cover with a lid that is one size smaller than the pot (this way, every peel is completely submerged).  Simmer for 60-90 minutes.  Place a wire cooling rack over a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Remove the peels from the syrup (which you can save for Italian sodas!) and place them on the wire rack- the parchment/foil will catch drips and make for easy cleanup.

(3) Melt 2/3 of the chocolate chips in the microwave, stopping to stir the chips every 30 seconds.  (Be careful NOT to microwave them too long!)  Once the chocolate chips are melted, stir in the remaining 1/3 of the chips (called "seeding" the chocolate, which results in a smoother melted chocolate), and stir until melted and smooth.

(4)  Dip orange peel into chocolate and cool on parchment paper.  Sprinkle orange peel "tails" with granulated sugar, if desired.

xo h