Friday, January 4, 2008


So, the winter holidays have come and gone in a flurry of vacation, fun, and even a little snow. Oh, and food. A lot of food.

I ate ham and biscuits, corn soufflĂ©, and fried chicken at a Winter Solstice bonfire. Those were washed down by gin and tonics that were a tad too cold for the evening. I ate homemade pesto, organic cheese, kale, and other delightful foods at my dad’s house—all the foods that remind me of my childhood and adolescence. Then there was my mother’s potato latkes a couple of weeks too late for Chanukah. And on Christmas day, there were pancakes with dried beef gravy, sauerkraut with pork, stewed tomatoes, mashed potatoes, and ferociously spiked eggnog.

And that’s not all! There was also chicken and white bean chili on Boxing Day and milk shakes on New Year’s Eve. And lasagana, peppermint stick ice cream, and homemade hard cider in Connecticut. Oh, and could I forget the cheddar cheese and apples, and the creamy-smooth gruyere and crackers?

All in all, good eating.

I came home to Philadelphia after ten days away and was genuinely at a loss for a little while. What did I want to eat? What did I want to cook?

The answer: Brussels sprouts. I’m obsessed with Brussels sprouts. Last night I washed a handful of them and sliced them while sweet onions sweated over low heat until they were translucent. Then I added the sprouts with a splash of water and let them cook until they were tender and so incredibly sweet. Then I served them up with a side of spaghetti (liberally tossed with herbs de Provence), sprinkled with fontina, asiago, and parmesan cheese. So delicious.

The key to good Brussels sprouts is to not overcook them. Overcooking not only causes bland and mushy sprouts, but also deprives them of their not inconsiderable nutrients. I liked my dish from last night mostly because it was a nice—but beautifully simple—variation on normal steamed Brussels sprouts. I think the recipe could be tweaked by using shallots, for a more delicate onion taste, or a splash of white wine instead of water.

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