Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

It is no secret I love to roast vegetables (and fruits) in the oven. It creates such a deep, rich flavor and is so easy to do. But when I roast Brussels sprouts it puts Maddie over the edge. She just can't stand the way it makes the house smell. So I had to find a new way to cook these baby cabbages because I love them. Recently, I had lunch with a dear friend and we shared a fabulous Brussels sprouts salad. The Brussels sprouts had been quickly sautéed. Bingo! That was my answer to having your Brussels sprouts and eating them too, without offending anyone.

I think Brussels sprouts are a dreaded vegetable for a lot of people because they are often overcooked. This recipe just barely cooks them leaving a little bite that keeps them fresh and vibrant. Toss in some crunchy almonds, sweet dried cherries, tart apple and finish with a balsamic drizzle and the flavors explode in your mouth. The balsamic reduction really brings together the flavors. I first used it in the Roasted Tomato and Onion Soup with Balsamic Drizzle recipe. This time I left out the basil, but that version would work as well.

Whether you consider this a salad or a side dish I think it would be a lovely addition to the Thanksgiving table. You will be surprised how people who hate Brussels sprouts won't be able to resist this flavorful dish.

Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts about a 1/4 inch (.635 cm) with a sharp knife. You can use a mandolin slicer, but I think it is easier to cut by hand. Cutting the Brussels sprouts allows them to cook really quickly.

I did not include proportions for this salad except for the Balsamic Drizzle because it depends upon how many Brussels sprouts you want to cook. Just use your eye to judge. An apple will be enough and a generous handful of dried cherries and almonds, too.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

Brussels Sprouts
tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
dried cherries
Marcona almonds or blanched almonds
olive oil
salt & pepper
balsamic drizzle

Wash the Brussels sprouts and slice about a 1/4 inch (.635 cm) thick. Put some olive oil in a skillet and sauté over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes to brown the outsides and just barely cook the Brussels sprouts. Remove from the heat toss in apples, dried cherries, and almonds. Season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if needed to coat the ingredients. Put on a serving dish and drizzle with balsamic drizzle. Serve. The salad doesn't need to be hot it is fine warm or at room temperature.

Balsamic Drizzle

1 cup (250 ml) balsamic vinegar

Put the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to a third of the original amount. (Be sure to use an exhaust fan as the fumes are quite pungent.) It will be thick and syrupy. It will get much thicker after it has been refrigerated. Store left-over drizzle in a glass jar in the refrigerator. (The recipe can be doubled.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Apple Cider Donuts with Vanilla Bean Cider Glaze

When I worked at the bakery we did not make donuts. In fact, when asked we would respond we don't do donuts with a bit of an air. At the time it wasn't an acceptable member of the pastry family. This was back before chefs were considered celebrities. Thankfully, once they achieved such star status a few clever chefs added the lowly donut to their repertoire and donuts began springing up (pun intended) all over the place. While superstar chefs may have turned the pedestrian donut into chic pastry, it is our mothers and grandmothers who knew all along that nothing says loving like a homemade donut warm from the fryer, still dripping with glaze. It is the ultimate comfort food.

These cake donuts get an autumn twist with apple cider and some warm spices. Although there isn't any yeast the dough does need to rest for an hour or two. Or the dough can be made the night before and left to rest in the refrigerator overnight then fry the donuts hot and fresh for breakfast. The glaze can be made ahead, too and refrigerated. Warm slightly to bring back to the correct glaze consistency.

The only trick to making donuts (or any fried food) is the keep the oil at the correct temperature so keep a thermometer in the oil and keep an eye on it. If the oil is too hot you will burn the outside before the inside is cooked. If the oil is too cold the dough will absorb the oil and the donut will be greasy. As with all donuts they are best eaten the day they are made, but that shouldn't be a problem, as these tend to disappear quickly.

Apple Cider Donuts with Vanilla Bean Cider Glaze
makes about 20, 2 1/2 inch (6.35 cm) donuts

3 1/4 cups (455 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
2/3 cup (130 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (160 ml) apple cider
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60 g) unsalted butter, melted
Oil for deep frying

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer beat eggs and sugar until light yellow and thick. Add vanilla beat to incorporate. Alternate adding the flour mixture, apple cider, and butter in two additions. Mix just until incorporated after each addition. Cover the dough and chill for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Roll out the dough to about a 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into donuts with a 2 1/2 inch (6.35 cm) round cookie cutter and a 1 inch (2.54 cm) cookie cutter for the center. Heat oil to deep fry on a thermometer 375℉ (190℃). Fry donuts a few at a time until golden about 1 minute per side, turning once with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Cool. Dip in Vanilla Bean Cider Glaze.

Vanilla Bean Cider Glaze

4 cups (about 1 liter) apple cider
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup (120 g) dark or light brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60 g) salted or unsalted butter
1 cup (125 g) confectioners sugar

Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrap out the seeds. Put the seeds and the vanilla bean pod in a skillet with the apple cider. Cook over medium high heat until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml). Add brown sugar and butter. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in confectioners sugar until smooth and the consistency of glaze. It may take more confectioners sugar. Use to glaze the Apple Cider Donuts.

Monday, November 3, 2014


There are times in our lives that are magical, but we often do not recognize them until they are gone. I am not talking about big life events, but the small daily moments that become so dear in reflection. When I peruse my recipe file full of recipes penned by dear friends and family, some of whom are no longer with me, happy memories flood my mind.

I met Kelly many years ago at a party at my neighbor's home. Truth be told I did not want to go to the party because other than my husband and my neighbors I did not know any of the people. It turns out Kelly felt the same way. Her husband knew our neighbors, but she was in the same boat. So after being good guests for a reasonable amount of time the four of us were edging our way toward the front door when we struck up a conversation. Lucky for me that chance meeting turned into a long, beautiful friendship that has greatly enriched my life. It just goes to show the importance of getting into the things we can not get out of, which was my husband's motto. 

I have learned so much from Kelly who is talented in countless ways. I have enjoyed many happy times with her, but my favorite is the delightful ritual of afternoon tea that Kelly introduced to me so long ago. This delicious shortbread is her recipe and the first treat she ever made for me. We sat in her beautiful garden sipping tea, nibbling shortbread and getting to know one another. It began a friendship that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, we no longer live in the same city and thus cannot enjoy those simple daily pleasures together, but I only have to open my recipe file and close my eyes to remember all those happy times we shared.


1 1/2 cups (12 ounces/345 g) salted or unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
4 cups (560 g) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325℉ (160℃). Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Add flour one cup at a time and mix well.

Divide dough into fourths. Shape each piece into a round about a 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick. Put two rounds on each baking sheet. Cut each round into 6 wedges, but leave together and prick all over with a fork.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until firm in the middle and the edges are lightly browned. Rotate the trays once or twice for even baking. After removing the shortbread from the oven carefully cut through the wedges again. Cool on the trays for 5 minutes then move to a rack to cool completely. The shortbread will keep for several days in an airtight tin.