Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Had a Hard Time Titling This, so I Went With "These Brussel Sprouts Taste Better Because Martha Stewart Went to Prison, Though I Bet They Would Have Been Good Even If She Had Escaped to a Non-Extraditable Country.......Like Djibouti." ....Title Dominated

If you ever thought that not much thought goes into the writing here, you should be ashamed of yourself. It took me literally 45 seconds to google countries that don't extradite to the United States. I only know the term "extradition" from television........This is starting poorly.

So Martha Stewart is awesome. Her dripping, absolutely genuine cheesiness should be nauseating, but I find her show mesmerizing. There is nothing in the world that I should hate more, but I just don't. I think I have figured out the reason. No matter how sickly sweet she seems on tv, I know Martha Stewart is a stone cold killer (metaphorically speaking. She probably never actually killed anyone)

It's true, when she got busted for insider trading and got sent to the pokie, everyone got wise to the real Martha. The Martha I already knew about. The one with ice water in her veins and laser beams for eyes. The Martha that was portrayed by Sybil Shepherd in Martha, Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart.

I really don't have an explanation for you as to why I watched this, but it left an impression on me, and I could appreciate her as a person afterwards, and still do to this day. It wasn't hard to imagine her in a prison jumpsuit shivving (or is it shiving?) fellow inmates in the community shower with a modified knitting needle after seeing some of her "alleged" outbursts in that made for tv movie.

I'm getting sidetracked again. The point is, Martha Stewart is awesome. And when she cooks, her food looks awesome. And one of her recipes stuck with me. And I made it. And it was awesome.

I probably saw Martha make Brussel Sprouts with Apple and Bacon about 5 or 6 years ago, and I remember thinking "Blech, brussel sprouts.....But wait....Apples....And Bacon.....Mmmmmm."
I hadn't started my cooking odyssey back then, so I never really planned on actually making it, but I stored it away anyway.......

Fast forward to yesterday. The Artist Formerly Known as Pregatron has been on a zero dairy diet for the last week, and when I wanted to cook yesterday, that presented some challenges. Amy was going to make her Grandpa Ascoli's Famous Meatloaf, so I was only responsible for the vegetable. I wanted a reasonably healthy meal, and we couldn't use any of my staple ingredients like butter or cheese. That's like telling a vampire hunter they can't use a wooden stake, but rather one made of recycled plastic bottles. Wait, that's no good, vampires are so last year. Zombies are the new vampires. Me with no dairy is like telling a zombie hunter that he can only carry a NERF baseball bat. Crap, I'm trying to be ahead of the trends......It's like telling a Chupacabra hunter that they can't use a....well....I don't know much about Chupacabra (Chupacabras?), but I'm sure you get the point.....Assuming you're still reading........fairly giant assumption.

I saw a bag of fresh green brussel sprouts in the produce section, and instantly Martha's recipe for them popped in my head, along with Martha/Sybil screaming at a Kmart representative "I'm not going to sink to your level, I'm going to bring you up to mine."

Here's how it goes.

Brussel Sprouts with Apples, Shallots and Bacon

About 10-15 brussel sprouts (get fresh ones if you can, but frozen ones will work)
1 large apple diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 shallot, sliced
3 strips bacon, chopped
2-3 tbsps red wine vinegar

Brussel sprouts are basically little tiny cabbages. They can be bitter, and when you cook them they stink. But when treated with the following instructions, they make an excellent savory side dish that will surprise you. In a good way.

Slice the sprouts in half if they are small (ping pong ball or smaller) or in quarters if they are larger. Get a pot of roiling, boiling water going and drop the sprouts in. Leave them for about one minute of boiling, and then pour them into a strainer and shake them dry.

This is called blanching, and it starts the cooking process, but then quickly stops it without turning them a dark color or making them mushy. In a skillet, brown your bacon pieces until they are crispy, then add the shallots to the pan.

When they are starting to get translucent, add the sprouts, and turn the heat down to medium. Stir frequently for about five minutes until the sprouts start to get tender, then add the apples.

Season with salt and pepper and continue for about 5 minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, and toss to coat, then serve immediately.

The sweet apples, salty bacon, and sour vinegar really stave off the bitter cabbaginess of the sprouts, and the little petals really soak up the flavors of everything else. This is actually a very healthy dish, and it tastes great. Trust me, I have a trustworthy face.........and I've never been to woman's prison.

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