18 May 2011
So, tonight was the night ! Tonight was the night that I re-visited the brussel sprout for the first time in my adult life.
Like many others of my generation, I was served boiled brussel sprouts when I was a kid. This is, clearly, not the way to eat brussel sprouts. In fact, it should be completely BANNED - it can onnnly end in bitter disaster.
During dinner at Orto recently (new local), I enjoyed their side of brussel sprouts, carrot puree + other things. Without a hint of the acridity that I remembered of the brussel sprouts of my childhood, I really enjoyed the freshness of the vegetable + felt like this could be a new taste of autumn.
I thought I would share what I did with the sprouts tonight - it was simple, tasty + made for a quick (and v seasonal!) midweek meal.
If you're a market go-er, try and get the little green gems at the markets over the coming weeks - direct from the farmer, they are so fresh + have often been so delicately handled, they are a complete delight.
sprouts with parsnip mash
(this would, of course, also work with a buttery potato mash.)
Slice leek + soften in the pan with olive oil. Place halved brussel sprouts in pan, cut-side down. Place lid on and allow sprouts to soften. After a few minutes, take off lid and leave on low-med heat to allow to caramelise. Increase heat and add sliced smoked ham (or similar) and toss. After a minute or so, add pieces of (FRESH) walnuts + toss. Keep on heat for a few more minutes to allow flavours to mingle. Check for seasoning.
The mash is completely based on Maggie's mash that was in the first MasterChef masterclass.
Grate the parsnip + put in a pan with some butter + a little salt. Put on lid and cook on medium heat until soft. Add small amount of water, replace lid + continue to cook until parsnip starts to break down + is very soft. Check for seasoning + stir through small cubes of (beurre bosc!) pear.
Take out your (pre-warmed) favourite wintry comfort food bowl, add hot parsnip mash + a generous spoonful of the sprouts over the top.
Leeks should be verrry sweet, embracing all the other autumnal delights in a delicious celebration of the humble sprout ! Makes for cosy eating - enjoy.
06 May 2011
Yep - I somehow ended up in the Top 50 of series 3 of the Australian MasterChef. After a spectacular brain-flip, I managed a gloriously early exit. However, what a wonderful time it was, whilst I was there.
Food-love seems to attract a certain type of person, I think. What I really didn't expect from the experience, was to meet just SO MANY delightful and like-minded people. In attempting to explain this to people afterwards, I figured: if you really enjoy cooking and cook often, it's unlikely that your 'joy' in cooking comes from simply cooking delicious things just for yourself over and over. Rather, I think that there is some element of human GENEROSITY inherent to a love of cooking. The most JOY in cooking is derived from cooking for others - sharing the fruits of, sometimes, hours and hours of 'labour' with family and friends - old and new ! Then, of course, there is the AESTHETIC element. A food-lover delights in all the delicious flavours, colours, shapes, textures and even sounds ! Not to mention the CREATIVITY required to elegantly draw these elements together. I used to say that my favourite thing about cooking was the amazing creative process it represented - from conception through preparation, to presentation and enjoyment - the whole process is such a relatively short one ! Before you know it, you're sitting down to a glass of wine and your delicious meal with friends, who are dutifully and very happily enjoying the output of your work !
So, if the majority of MasterChef contestants are marked by generosity, aesthetic appreciation and creativity... that's probably not a bad group of people to meet. Even more so, if you're about to share with them the most surreal (or hyper-real), unpredictable, stressful but FUN week you're likely to have...
The things you do... !