Friday, March 29, 2013

Broiled Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

Yeah, the picture is lame... I need an actual camera. My iPhone just isn't cutting it. 
mmmmmm. This one is fantastic. It's warm, salty, crunchy and vibrant green, super healthy and very filling.

As for Brussels spouts - I think they're amazing. I've found that people either love them, or hate them. I think this is based on how they're prepared. If you've only ever had them frozen and warmed, or boiled, try this version of broiling them. Or, if you've tried them every way and still hate them, just skip this one. Or swap in chopped up asparagus or broccoli. In this recipe they are not soggy like boiled or frozen ones. They are softened by the heat, that is true, but they retain the bulk of their crunchy goodness.

And an interesting tidbit about Brussels sprouts - they are in the same family as cabbages, and may have very likely originally come from Brussels, Belgium. So, you cultivated devil you, tonight you're going to Brussels!


1.5-2 lbs Brussels sprouts
1/4 c olive oil
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Teaspoon pepper (OR - leave out the S/P and put in 1 Tablespoon of your favorite spice mix. I used a Mediterranean mix on my more recent batch. )

1 lb kielbasa sausage, sliced into rounds. Hillshire Farm is my go to brand.


Preheat oven to High Broil (rack should be about 5-6 inches away from the heating coils/flame).

Clean and halve the sprouts, and toss until coated in the olive oil and seasoning mix. Pour sprouts and sausage onto baking sheet, making sure nothing overlaps more than needed (if at all).

Bake about 10 minutes, checking at 5, and potentially flipping over sprouts.

Serve, and enjoy your salty crunchy goodness. Serves well with sweet potatoes, like this Purple  variation shown below!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

French Onion Soup

It's currently snowing outside. And it's March 19th. This is not too much of a surprise as I am currently in the Upstate New York area. It's beautiful, and I actually really like the snow. It seems that whenever it does snow, the little cook in my heart decides it wants to dance it's way out of my heart and into the kitchen. Today, we cooked up one of my favorite dishes - French Onion Soup.

 Caramelized onions simmering in a full, oniony yet sweet broth, richly soaked bread with chewy melted cheese, and piping hot from broiled in the oven makes this soup 

Also - I normally dislike Swiss Cheese. However, whatever happens when Swiss Cheese hits Onion Soup is one of the most indescribably delicious things I have ever tasted.Whatever magical change allows these flavors to meld together in such a fantastic way is just that - magical. 

So without further fanfare, I give you French Onion Soup. 


2  Large White onions, Sliced. 
1 T salt
1 T sugar (yes, sugar. Trust me.)
4 T butter

4 cups beef stock (it really should be homemade in order to taste as magical as described above). 
1 t thyme
~1 cup Croutons or dried slices of a small baguette (this has a name... I'm just drawing a blank). 
4 Slices Swiss cheese. 

Serves 4 

Add butter, onions, salt, and sugar in a soup pot, and brown on medium. **A note about browning onions. The salt (and in this case sugar) helps them to brown more quickly. They need constantly stirring and should take about 15 mins to become limp, and another 5 or so to brown darkly. For this, you want these guys dark dark brown, but not burned. This does take patience, but it pays off. 

Keep going - these are about halfway. 

Once the onions are browner than a brownie (okay, not quite, but almost), add the beef broth, stir and simmer for 30+ mins. You can let this simmer for a few hours if needed, or even put it in the slow cooker on low for the day. Just make sure you don't reduce it down to an onion syrup. That's a no-no. 

Taste. Add sugar or salt as desired. This should be a rich blend of oniony sweetness, underlined with a savory beef flavor. 

Spoon into dishes, top with croutons or bread, and top with swiss. If you want to do it right, place it in a pre-heated oven on broil. This will allow the cheese to melt onto the bread and create a delicious cheesy crust on top of the soup and really makes the flavors do something akin to magic (seriously - it's amazing) in your mouth. 

you're serving this for a casual family dinner (not trying to impress friends), just serve the cheese and bread on the side, and let people serves themselves everything. 


Brown onions, salt, sugar, and butter 15 mins. Add broth, simmer 30+mins. Divide into ramekins, layer with bread, cheese. Broil til brown, serve. 

Questions on how to make homemade beef broth? Please leave a comment if you'd like me to post my beef broth recipe! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cherry Almond Scones

Both almond and cherry trees have light to dark pink flowers and wonderful green leaves. Almonds are native to South Asia and the Middle East. They are beautiful both shelled and unshelled. The meat (nut) is delicious both raw or toasted, and the shells are used for hundres of reasons (face scrubs are my personal favorite). In this recipe though, sliced almonds are a beautiful contrast to the sweet tartness of dried cherries. 

If you've ever cooked with almond extract before, I hope you've taken a moment to pass the bottle  under your nose once or twice and smell the sweet gentleness that it affords to your senses. There is a kind of muted effulgent scent that seems to seep into your soul, a tangible creaminess that almost comes to life in the form of a small graceful dancer. Add dried cherries to that,  and you have yourself a little bit of elegant pazza for an afternoon tea snack.


In food processor combine the following. If you don't have a food processor, mix dry ingredients, then cut in butter with a pastry cutter. Combine until the butter the is well incorporated, and the dough is crumb-like.

1 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1/2 t baking powder
dash of salt
1/4 c butter


1 t lemon juice (or 1/2 t lemon zest)
1/3 c dried cherries
1/4 c sliced almonds
1/8 c cream
1/2 t almond extract
1/4 t vanilla extract

Mix until well incorporated. It will still be crumbly most likely. Form into a ball, divide into two and roll into 1" thick rounds. Cut into wedges, and bake 20 minutes.

Glaze these sucker while they're hot, add some of your favorite spices to the remaining glaze, and drizzle once they cool down.

1/3 cup powder sugar
1 1/2 tsp half and half
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Glazed, or unglazed, these are crumbly, chewy, and crunchy in just the right ratio. The glaze offers  a little more sweetness to those who crave it.


Short Hand:
Combine dry ingredients, add butter. Add liquids, cherries, and almonds. Roll into rounds, bake at 400ยบ for 20 mins. Glaze.