When you buy items from the Amazon links below, we get a small percentage of the sale. That helps us fund the site. And we like you a lot.

  • The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
    The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
    by Deb Perelman
  • Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients
    Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients
    by Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafito
  • Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion
    Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion
    by Alice Currah
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
    The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
    by Ree Drummond
  • Bouchon Bakery
    Bouchon Bakery
    by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel

Entries in Brussels sprouts (3)


Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Ham

We threw our Christmas tree out the front door on December 26th. Just 24 hours after all the presents were unwrapped, we were done. It may have had something to do with a comment made by Karen’s hair stylist who said he had heard you carry the karma of the previous year into the new year if you have your tree standing when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st.

We’re not big believers in karma (or much else, for that matter), but we have no desire to repeat 2011. Karen said it best when she suggested 2011 deserved a punch in the face and a kick in the ass.

And that’s why our Christmas tree is lying naked in our front yard. Best not take chances, you know, given our recent history.

So. 2012. Onward. To bigger, happy things. To having our best year yet. To planting roots in a new place. To making new friends. To claiming our current situation as our own and making the absolute best of it. Better than what we thought. To holding our kids close. To laughing harder. To cooking with them. To putting an excessive amount of Hello Kitty bandages on scraped twin knees. To knowing the entire Star Wars history better than any person should because that is what makes the boy happy. To playing a game in which to win one must feed a plastic toy dog a series of neon yellow “treats,” only to expel these treats out the other end of the dog on to little plastic toy shovels,amidst howls of laughter from the kids. To silent moments of trips to the potty with each of the twins while they are sleeping so there are no accidents in the middle of the night, dancing them back to bed and telling them they are funny and smart and strong and can do whatever they want to do when they are older. To getting older with the most beautiful woman in the world, whose smile melts me because she puts up with my shenanigans and still loves me.

To being better. And stronger. And calmer. And peacefilled-er. And more of whatever else we need to be.

2012 sort of feels like it’s gonna be our year. No matter if it agrees with us or not. It’s gonna be better.

It has to be better.

As I head up north to Indiana to visit my parents and brothers and their families, just me and the kids in the blue minivan and Tangled and How to Train Your Dragon on repeat, leaving Karen in Atlanta to have a break from all that 2011 was, we thought we’d share some love with you.

Before recent events, the National Pork Board asked us if we wanted to do a little giveaway with them. We said yes, because they’re swell people and kind and also, you know, bacon. They’ve got a great collection of recipes for celebrating,  and knowing how much we like Brussels sprouts,they asked us to take their sprouts recipe created by Jill Silverman Hough for a spin and see what we thought.

And we liked it. We really, really liked it.

Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Ham from Jill Silverman Hough and the National Pork Board

Frizzled ham. It’s our new favorite thing. Thinly sliced ham cut into fettucini-sized strips of porky goodness, dropped into sizzling hot oil. That popping sound of the pork as it browns in the pan...there’s no other word for it that “frizzled.” A pile of sliced sprouts (the food processor slicing blade is your friend), garlic, and a fresh and happy kick from the zest and juice of Clementine oranges (they’re the only citrus we had in the house, and they worked well). Tarragon vinegar for the final punch, and the buttery+nutty flavor of pine nuts. Topped with the frizzled ham and served steaming hot.

This is a kicked up side, that while completely different than our SproutKraut, is just as satisfying. I’m making it for parents and brothers and their families this weekend while we celebrate a late Christmas together.

So Jill and the National Pork Board have a whole set of recipes for you to check out and devour. And one of you lucky readers was going to get a little bit of something fun to start the New Year right.

But. And I’m not saying we believe in karma.


To start the New Year off even righter, one of you will win the entire thank you package the National Pork Board sent our way and the something fun originally planned. Here’s what the entire prize package now includes:
That prize package totals just over $200. That’s fun.

Here’s how to enter:
  • Check out the recipes from Jill Silverman Hough from the National Pork Board.
  • Leave a comment below telling us your big wish for you and your loved ones for 2012. That’s it. It doesn’t have to involve pork (but most of our wishes do).
  • Leave your comment by January 3, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Please see the section below entitled “Here’s how to lose.” It contains the one thing you can say to automatically be disqualified.
  • All qualified entries are entered to win the amazing awesomeness from the National Pork Board and the two of us.
  • We will choose the winner randomly via from all qualified entries and announce on January4, 2012.
Here’s how to lose:
If you tell us why throwing out our Christmas tree on December 26 is a bad idea and why you leave yours up through the first week of January, blah blah blah, you’re disqualified. I’m joking. Except I’m not. I’m sort of joking. But no, really, I’m not. You are totally disqualified.

Now, go read the sweet recipes from Jill Silverman Hough and the National Pork Board and download the PDF version for your files.

And go dream of a pork-filled year.

And something better soon.

Here’s to 2012.

Remember, leave your 2012 wish for you and your loved ones in the comments below. And don’t mention the Christmas tree.

Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Brussels sprouts are nature’s cargo truck for fat and salt. And now, the sprout truck is delivering gin.

Back that thing up right over here, please.

I grew up in a Brussels sprouts-free home. My dad had a deep, searing hatred for them, so my mom never, ever made a batch. I think they may have included that in some informal prenup.

So my first taste of them was roasting them a few years ago in the oven with pancetta, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Crispy, salty, and a slick coat of olive oil, Brussels sprouts seemed created to deliver everything that makes me happy in a meal.

So when a few bloggers decided to blog about recipes in Melissa Clark’s new book, Shove This in Your Face Now: OMG THIS IS GOOD FOOD, we jumped at the sprouts. Melissa’s book is also known as Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make. We prefer our title, but whatever.
(As an aside, if you were sitting with us at our dinner table, eyeing the wine bottle for a second glass, as I am this evening, I would tell you that Melissa Clark is magic and genius and probably poops kittens but this is an unverifiable fact by us, non-family members, but sweet baby j, we like her so much and her food is spectacular every time and I took her book to Brussels, Belgium OMG I am so not kidding I went to Brussels and now we’re making something inspired by her Brussels sprouts recipe in her second book but I took her book with me which was the only thing I took to read on the plane and it is full of magic and perfect writing and I want to be her at least her writing, if one can be like someone's writing, when I grow up, but that’s borderline creepy to say so I won’t but I do and also I need more wine.

That is an actual conversation you would have with us. We understand if you don’t ask for a dinner invitation.)

Melissa’s books, over the last year, have become our go-to recipe source for great food that never fails. Ever. So when we saw her latest book was coming out at the beginning of October, we pre-ordered on Amazon and then counted down the days.

We’ve made six recipes so far. Buy the book, as soon as you can. You need more good food in your life.

When Shauna at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef asked if we wanted to do an interpretation of Melissa’s Brussels sprouts, we jumped at the chance. We don’t make up our own recipes, so creating something new from the ingredients in Melissa’s recipe was a challenge, only for our lack of creativity. Go look at their version of Melissa's for realz Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Caraway

Then it struck us...SproutKraut. Melissa, in her introduction to the recipe, talked about looking at the pile of shredded sprouts and thinking about sauerkraut. That inspired her to include caraway seeds along with pancetta. Getting closer to sauerkraut with the caraway.

We decided to take it the whole way to krautland (differnt than Birdland, thank you Manhattan Transfer), at least a quick one. And the results made Karen think about childhood Thanksgiving in Baltimore. Every year, along with turkey and oyster stuffing, her grandmother’s Thanksgiving day table included sauerkraut. Whenever Karen sees or smells sauerkraut (her grandmother’s made with a nice slice of fatback), she’s transported back to South Baltimore near Brooklyn Park, not far from her grandfather’s welding shop. This makes her happy, so I’ve tried to learn to love sauerkraut

When we saw Molly Wizenberg’s
gin-soaked sauerkraut inspired
by her own Baltimore roots, we knew we had to try it. And I finally loved sauerkraut. The results were so good, we decided to use it as an additional inspiration for Melissa’s Brussels sprouts sauerkraut. Gin, pancetta, caraway, shredded sprouts, and sherry vinegar.

We ate it out of the pan. All two pounds (we made a double batch) of gin-tinged, tangy, salty, perfect Brussels sprouts. Make this for your holiday table as the kicky punch of happy.

Melissa Clark, in addition to the perfect pie crust recipe, gives you food that is full of flavor, easy to make, with a giant punch of happy. Cook This Now. And go be happy.

Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced small (about ½ cup)
1 cup gin
½ cup water
¼ - ½ cup sherry vinegar (depending on how much punch to your face you want)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Remove the uglyish leaves from the sprouts. Cut off the weird core thing where it attaches to the stem. If you’ve got a food processor, insert the slicing blade and go to town. If you don’t have a food processor, go ahead and slice the sprouts by hand and hate people who have food processors because they sort of suck. Set the sprouts, and your seething anger, aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a very large pan. Like really big. Not roasting pan big, but big. Also, it should have a cover. Maybe use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a cover.

Add the pancetta and cook until a nice shade of tan/brown and then remove the crispy pieces with a slotted spoon. Place the crispies on a paper towel.

Tell everyone that you removed the pancetta fat from the pan but secretly leave it all in there because fat tastes good and people should live a little. Not like have a heart attack, but this fat tastes good and maybe don’t serve this to people with heart conditions. That’s our recommendation.

Add half the vinegar to the pan. It will let off very aggressive steam that feels uncomfortable and makes you cough. Carry on and scrape the brown bits of pancetta off the bottom of your pan until they’re all up in the vinegar/fat swirling goodness. You’re welcome, you just added a lot of flavor to your SproutKraut.

Add in the other ingredients except for the remaining vinegar. Hold on to that mother until you see how everything tastes after some cook time.

Place the cover on the pan. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Drink some gin.

When the timer goes off, remove the lid. Drink more gin and set the timer for 10 more minutes. Maybe 15. You’re looking for just a little liquid at the bottom of the pan. Sprouts will have a tiny bit of crunch to them.

Uncover and taste. Start adding in the vinegar and some salt and pepper until you’re happy. Stir in half of the crispy pancetta.

Place SproutKraut in a serving dish and top with the remaining pancetta for crunch and awesomeness.



friends and sprouts

I have very few friends in my life that I have stayed in close contact with over the years. Maybe I'm a bad friend (I hope not). Maybe it's because Karen and I have moved so much over the last thirteen years that we've been married. New challenges, new jobs, new communities to connect with and find a place to belong. But there are friends that remain, that you cling to, and to whom you return to know who you are and who you were.

Which brings me to Brussels sprouts.

Our good friend, Lori, hates the sprouts. When I posted on Facebook that I was making them, she threatened to hide my updates, at least the sprouts-related ones. When I told her she could make this same recipe with cauliflower, she asked if I was going to keep naming things until I got to cupcakes, because then she'd be willing to try it.

Lori and her husband, Chris, have known us for long time now. Chris is a teacher, and a good one. He's the kind of teacher that makes you think in more ways than you could ever thought possible. And when he drove me in his car on my first day of me being a teacher, we talked musicals and Sondheim and I knew I found a friend. Later that year, we moved two blocks away from them in Goshen, IN. Proximity wasn't the major factor, but it certainly helped. He and Lori made room for us in their lives. Lori's probably the smartest person I know with the driest sense of humor I've encountered. I remember holding their first son and weeping, knowing just how hard they'd love that boy. Now they have two, and their pictures on Facebook make us miss them more.

I left teaching and Karen and I moved constantly the next few years with new jobs and new adjustable rate mortgages, but we never lost touch with Chris and Lori. Then Chris did a national tour this summer, watching every Shakespearean play in forty days. He stayed with us, and I took him into NYC on a walking tour of food from Penn Station to the East Village, because I knew he had to try David Chang's Momofuku. We ate Berkshire pork ramen and pork buns, and really, it was perfect. They seated us at the counter, and I got to stare at the hands of the chef as he did final prep on dishes flying past us. Art and craft and a razor blade to slice the scallops.

The one thing we missed at Momofuku that we really should have tried was the Brussels sprouts. Crisp burnt edges (but in a good way) from their time in the deep fryer (we bake ours, which is a Chang-approved alternative), coated with a salty/sweet/spicy dressing, and showered with cilantro and mint. The final touch is crisped rice cereal that is seasoned with Chinese seven-spice powder. It's an ugly-beautiful concoction that tastes better than you could ever imagine. It's one of those things that you cannot stop eating, and you're looking at the other person's plate to see if they have any crispy bits left on their plate.

Chris, Lori, and the boys are coming to visit NYC this summer. We really can't wait to see them. And I'm sure we'll be eating sprouts. And cupcakes.