Creamy Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Brussels BlanchedBrussels are so underappreciated.  They’re like the dentist of vegetables. Everybody needs them, nobody likes them, which is too bad because they’re a superfood and should be a staple in the vegetable rotation.

Part of the problem is that brussels are often overcooked. When this happens, they turn to mush and taste rather cabbagey…. Too bad really, because when they’re properly prepared, they’re soft, maybe even a little al dente, and sweet. Yes, sweet!

I confess, until several years ago, I was a hater.  But Mr. Kitchen Diva convinced me otherwise one evening when we were out on a date. I tried some of his- perfectly roasted, carmelized with cranberries & bacon, and I fell in love. We eat them regularly now, especially in the winter months when they’re in abundant supply here.

Tired of the same ‘ole, same ‘ole I started working on something new. Thanks to a perfect confluence of ideas from The Flavor Bible (if you don’t have a copy, get one!) and a segment I was reading in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which is incidentally now available as an ebook) magic happened and we ate the whole bowl for dinner. The recipe relies on techniques outlined in the Legumes (vegetable) section of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but the implementation I’ve come up with is my own. I’ve created the recipe using ratios because some of you may want just a few brussels as an accompaniment to a protein, or you may want to go whole hog like we did and make a big bowl. I used 3 lbs of brussels. We’re brussels fans, and will eat that much with dinner, but for most people, that would be a great amount if you were bringing these to a potluck or hosting a dinner party of 6-8. The ratios are really easy to double and triple, so make whatever portion works for you.

Brussels with Cream and Bacon

One of the secrets of this recipe is taking the time to blanche the brussels prior to the main cooking. Several weeks ago we had a fabulous meal at a local restaurant here, and the roasted brussels came out brilliant green. Dying to know what they did, I begged our server to find out. She came back to report the chef said it’s all in the blanching.  Even though it adds a few more minutes to cooking, it’s worth it for the stunning visual effect- Bright green is so much nicer to eat that brownish-green.

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe- it is well worth the few extra minutes of time.


Gluten Free Crepes

I love crepes. As a child when it was my turn to pick a special restaurant for a birthday, The Magic Pan always won. Hands down. Ten years ago on my first trip to Paris, after getting diagnosed with celiac, but before coming to terms with what that really meant for my body, I stood on a dark, damp street corner behind Notre Dame Cathedral and greedily ate nutella and banana crepes from a crepe stand. The frosty night air was momentarily chased away by the hot, sweet melting in my mouth, and it warmed my hands and insides as I spent the evening walking through the City of Lights. There will be no crepe stand experience for me when I return this time to Paris……sigh……

I have seriously considered packing my gluten free flours and charming some streetside vendor with my poor command of french and my endearing smile. I will happily teach one of them to make a gluten free crepe so that I can return the following night and relive one of my favorite memories of France.

France aside, if you’re a gluten free crepe lover in or near Kansas City, Chez Elle is about to make all your crepe dreams come true. They now make a gluten free crepe batter that is quite delicious and stands up to both savory and sweet fillings. My husband and I spent the culminating hours of our first weekend alone in almost two years enjoying their gluten free crepes.  Be forewarned, visiting Chez Elle on a Sunday morning is not for the faint of heart. The lines are long and the food wait is longer. But, the quality of the food and the smiles of the staff make it worth the wait. I’ll be returning, but perhaps at a less crowded time.  We’ll be having crepes for dinner tonight, because right now, I just can’t get enough of them.

This gluten free crepe recipe has been adapted for Gluten-Free use from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (pg 191). This cookbook is a fantastic, entertaining resource and I will be posting additional Gluten Free adaptations of her recipes. If you don’t own this book, run, do not walk, to your nearest independent bookstore and buy it. You’ll be glad you did.