Thursday, December 30, 2010

20 Things from 2010

1. Ayers Creek Polenta
2. A lovely glass of scotch at Laurelhurst Market
3. Getting the poached egg just right
4. Toasted 3 seed bread
6. My walk to work
7. Fresh horseradish
8. Gaffer's Fish n Chips
9. Black Basque beans
10. My namesake
11. Braising greens that I harvested
13. Lobster mushrooms foraged by my neighbor
14. Hannah Bridge cheese from Ancient Heritage Dairy
15. Cranicocktails and brussels sprouts fritters for Thanksgiving
16. Passing around Soul of Chef
18. A single sour orange
19. Fried green tomatoes

Friday, December 3, 2010


I can tell you when I stopped worrying and learned to love brussels sprouts. It was the day they came to the table as fritters.

I come from hearty New England stock. We do not, as a general rule, fritter. Frittering is Bad News. In fact, these fritters may have been the first fritters I ever had. It opened new worlds of frittering to me. With the help of friends, I experimented with frittering on my own. Eventually, there was even Appleflappen, but that's a story best told at a bar with a few drinks in me.

Still, these remain one of my favorite fritters.

Here's the trick about working with brussels sprouts: cook them as little as you can manage. I'm not saying raw, although you could eat them that way, I'm saying don't put them in a pot of boiling water and then walk away until the air smells of sulphur. If this is how you cook your brassicas Captain Cabbage will hunt you down for the villain you are. Also your sprouts won't taste good, and this kind of overcooking is often responsible for people making the yuck face.

Instead, try these fritters.

4 c brussels sprouts*
1.5 c all purpose flour
1 c grated cheese (I used half parmesan, half gruyere following the "It's what is in the house right now" rule of thumb)
2 eggs
.5 c heavy cream plus a little just in case
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
.25 t nutmeg

oil for frying

1. Get a big pot of salted water boiling. Drop those happy sprouts in for 4-5 minutes. Drain and shock them with ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again.

2. Chop the sprouts into small bits. If the sprouts are big, something like an eighth is dandy, very small sprouts can be just quartered.

3. In a large bowl beat the eggs lightly. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese to mix. It will be super thick. Add the cream to thin it. Stir in the chopped sprouts. You want to end up with a batter that is thicker than pancake batter, but not stiff, so feel free to add a bit more cream if you need it.

4. If you have a deep fry rig you could deep fry these, but I don't, so instead I heated a quarter inch of oil in my cast iron skillet to slightly above medium heat. A generous spoonful of batter makes a good sized fritter. Fry a few fritters at a time (I could only do 4 at a time in my pan), leaving plenty of room between each, and flip with tongs when golden brown. Fry until golden brown on both sides, and then place on paper towels to drain. (See, really, it's kind of like cooking bacon, not scary.)

5. Serve these hot, with lemon wedges to squeeze over them. If you have to fry them in advance, you can reheat them in the oven. If you are me, you won't care if they are hot, cold, or from yesterday.

*The recipe that I adapted this from called for 4 cups of brussels sprouts, but I have no idea how much that is actually supposed to be. I don't have time to put brussels sprouts in cups! Instead, I took one of those stalks of brussels sprouts and cut the sprouts off, and used however much that was. I didn't measure it. It turned out fine.