Brussels Sprouts Star in a Great Fall Side Dish

For years I overlooked Brussels sprouts when teaching or writing about food, mainly because I was worried that most people just didn’t like these small green spheres that resemble mini-cabbages. That is certainly not the case today. Countless chefs and home cooks have discovered how creatively this vegetable can be used.
For instance, a recipe for Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Apples has become a favorite for many readers of my book, Sunday Roasts. For this dish, which takes only about a half hour to assemble and cook, sprouts are halved, blanched, and then sautéed along with sliced Golden Delicious apples and bits of salty bacon. The assertive taste of the Brussels sprouts, the sweet note of the fruit, and the salty hint of bacon form a winning combination.
This dish would be a colorful and delicious accompaniment to roasted chicken, pork, or lamb. Or, you might try it with grilled sausages or sautéed turkey cutlets. The days are getting cooler and crisper, and the choice of vegetables fewer at the produce counter, but verdant little Brussels sprouts are plentiful this time of year. Don’t’ let them go unappreciated!
Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Apples
1 pound Brussels sprouts
Kosher salt
4 ounces thick bacon slices (4 to 5 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
1. Cut off and discard the bases from the Brussels sprouts, then halve the sprouts. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the sprouts and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook until the sprouts are tender but not mushy when pierced with a small, sharp knife, for 8 to 10 minutes or longer. (Cooking time can vary depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts.)
2. Strain the sprouts in a colander, then place them (still in the colander) under cold running water until completely cool. Pat them dry and set aside. (Brussels sprouts can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)
3. Sauté the bacon in a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove it with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour off and discard all but 2 teaspoons of the drippings in the pan. Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter. When hot, add the apples and cook, turning often, until softened and just lightly browned, for about 5 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and bacon to the frying pan. Stir and cook until all ingredients are heated through, for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
4. Mound the vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.
Serves 4
Cost: Inexpensive
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Start to finish time: 35 minutes
From Sunday Roasts by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2012)
Photo by Susie Cushner     

Summer Peaches Are Not Just for Desserts—Try Them in Salsas!

This past week, while teaching two cooking classes, one in Massachusetts and the other in Maine, I featured cumin-scented pork tenderloins topped with fresh peach salsa from Sunday Roasts as the centerpiece for each menu. My students loved the refreshing taste of peaches used in a savory instead of a sweet role.
For the salsa, diced peaches are combined with chopped red onions, minced jalapeno peppers, and both lime juice and zest. Some chopped cilantro adds more color and rounds out the flavors. The pork tenderloins are rubbed with a mixture of ground cumin, coarse salt, and pepper, and then roasted for a mere 20 minutes.

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Cooking in a Small Paris Apartment Kitchen

Photo from Sunday Roasts by Susie Cushner

The kitchen in the Paris apartment we rent is tiny without much counter space, but it does have a 4-burner gas cook top, a dishwasher, and a garbage disposal (a rarity here).
The oven is my real challenge. It measures only about 18 inches wide by 14 high and is not deep. Try roasting in it. There are no temperature settings, just numbers with French names accompanying the figures–5 is for “cake,” 6 and 7 are marked “white meat, veal, and soufflés,” while 8 says “flans,” and 9 indicates “red meat.” Go figure!
Over the decade that we have been staying in this Left Bank place, I’ve learned how to turn out successes from this “ovenette.”

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The Great Lobster Debate

Perfectly steamed lobsters ready to be devoured.
Though lobster is one of my favorite foods, I’m not an expert at cooking this crustacean.  A transplant to New England, I grew up in the South far from the shore and spent many years in the land-locked Midwest. So last week, when Catherine, a good friend who had been in Maine for the summer, offered to bring a cache of fresh lobsters for an overnight visit, I called my pal, Karen, a life-long Cape Codder, for cooking directions. (I also decided to use a recipe from my new book as a sauce for the lobsters.)
Without missing a beat, the Cape cook rattled off the number of minutes for lobsters from 1 1/4 to 3 pounds. She was adamant that I steam, not boil, the critters. “Use a large pot with a lid, fill it with 4 inches of water, and bring it to a boil,” she explained. Most important, though, she told me to grab each lobster by the back and hold it head down over the pot for several seconds until it stopped flapping and the tail relaxed. Then you drop it in; when all have been added, cover the pot. For 1 1/2-pounders the steaming time was to be 18 minutes.
Catherine holding a lobster above the pot to relax it!
Well, that was my plan, until our houseguest arrived.
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Sunday Roasts has arrived!

I can’t believe I’m holding two copies of Sunday Roasts in my hands. It’s my 9th book, my 5th with the wonderful people at Chronicle, and I love the way it turned out.

Susie Cushner did the gorgeous photos, Maggie Ruggiero was the talented food stylist who made all those roasts so tempting, and Randi Brookman Harris provided the exquisite props for the pictures.

When my assistant, Diana, arrived last week, the first thing I did was to tell her about the early publicity for Sunday Roasts in the September issue of Country Living! Check out the digital edition or pick up a copy at your newsstand.

Editor’s note, October 2, 2011:

I’ll be signing copies of this new book in October and November here, or you find copies at Amazon!