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Taking Note....

Ever think of leaving your child unattended while in the vicinity of your neighborhood coffee shop? 

Well, think again! 

I recently spotted this little notice tucked away in the corner of one of my favorite local coffeehouses:

Consider yourself warned!

Of course, in the case of my children, they would have no doubt been delighted...

Pan-Roasted Parmesan Sprouts

It is common knowledge that Brussels Sprouts are not a favorite at our family table.  While they make an occasional appearance, to most of my family they are like a weird uncle; tolerated but not exactly welcomed. They may show up on holidays, when all dressed up they keep company with the fruitcake or congealed salad, but they are seldom asked to join in for a casual weeknight meal. In fact I remember my son once describing a new flavor he didn’t like by grimacing and loudly insisting it tasted “all Brussels sprout-y.”

That’s why I was surprised to get an email from a friend who wanted to share “The Very Best Brussels Sprout Recipe There Ever Was!”  She assured me that this recipe was a very welcome dish at her house one that her college-aged son even asked for specifically when he came home to visit. She thought we might like it too.   With that kind of recommendation I had to give it a try.

Her recipe turned out to be easy to prepare and, as promised, it was very tasty!  I knew that I would like it but I was surprised to find that my son actually tried it too, and then ate a full serving.  He even said he would eat it again, no problem.

I think the cheese works wonders in this recipe, blending with the pan-roasted caramel-y goodness that comes from browning those halved Brussels sprouts, and transforming the flavor into something unexpectedly delicious. The result is nothing short of impressive, especially when you consider that the ingredient list is so short.  

Pan-Roasted Parmesan Sprouts
from Lynn’s kitchen

1 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 - 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 - 2 Tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Wash and trim the Brussels sprouts. Pat them dry, slice them in half and place them in a bowl.

Toss the sprouts with enough olive oil (up to 1 Tablespoon) to coat. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Heat a large sauté pan, or skillet with lid, over medium heat.  Add the butter and remaining olive oil in equal measure, enough to generously cover the bottom of the pan.

When the oil is hot arrange the Brussels Sprouts in the pan, cut side down.  If they will not all fit on the bottom, layer the rest on top of the others.

Cover and let sprouts cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, without stirring. The time may vary but you want the sprouts that are face down on the bottom of the skillet to become very brown. The sprouts will begin to shrink as they cook. As this happens push any that are on top down onto the skillet bottom to brown. Add a little more oil or butter if necessary.

When the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts are deeply browned, stir them and allow to cook a little longer until tender throughout. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat, and set aside. 

About 5 minutes before serving, sprinkle the top with grated parmesan cheese.  Cover, allowing the cheese to melt and coat the sprouts. 

Serve and enjoy!

Simply Asparagus

I’m told on good authority, the new year is here.  2013 arrived all bright and shiny well over a week ago now.

And where am I?  Running behind the mainstream, as usual; getting there in my own sweet time.

I must confess….. I am a slow starter in most every new year. I can rarely even blame an exuberant New Year’s Eve celebration as the cause.  I guess that’s just the way I approach new things; with guarded curiosity.

Like most new years this one has found me pausing to sweep out the old before I jump into the new. I have been collecting items to donate to Goodwill as I try to lighten my load in the pursuit of simplicity.

Stirring a pot of Black-eyed Peas on New Year’s day I began to shift my focus from rich menus and pretty confections to simple ingredients, simply prepared.  It feels good to choose a few vegetables at the market, wash them, trim them and very simply apply heat to bring out their natural goodness. 

This roasted asparagus is an example. It is beautiful and so easy to prepare.   It can scarcely get any simpler than this.

Roasted Asparagus

1 pound asparagus spears, more or less
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Wash and trim asparagus.

Drain asparagus spears and pat dry.  Arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with the olive oil turning them until they are completely coated. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Place asparagus in the oven and roast at 400F  for 15 – 20 minutes, or until tender. 

Arrange asparagus on plates and serve.

Note: If your new year inclinations inspire you to dress this up just a little, drizzle on a few drops of balsamic vinegar, a quick squeeze of lemon juice or dust with a bit of grated parmesan cheese, as desired.