About This Blog

This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.

Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...

Thank you and enjoy!

Cast Iron Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips, and Carrots

This is a variation on my basic method of roasting Brussels sprouts in a cast iron skillet. I change the mix of vegetables, condiments, and seasonings nearly every time I prepare it. This is just my latest variation. I don't state a time that it takes to roast the vegetables because it varies depending on how large the sprouts are and how full the skillet it, but generally it takes about 30 minutes, more or less, until the vegetables are browned and tender.

About 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
About 1/2 pound parsnips, scrubbed and cut into chunks
About 1/2 pound carrots, scrubbed and sliced into thick diagonal slices
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon coarse grained mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and put a 12-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat also.

Toss the Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and carrots in a bowl with the olive oil and salt to taste. When the oven has come to temperature, carefully remove the cast iron skillet and add the butter, swirling until the butter is melted and starting to brown. Add the vegetables and toss to coat with the butter. Return the skillet to the oven and roast, stirring the vegetables after about 10 minutes and then about every 5 to 7 minutes after that. Roast until the vegetables have become tender and have browned on some sides.

While the vegetables are roasting, stir together the mustard, syrup, and vinegar in a small bowl.

When the vegetables have cooked to your liking, carefully turn the into a serving bowl and toss them with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Makes about 4 servings.

Basic Recipe for Cast Iron Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This is my basic method for roasting Brussels sprouts in a cast iron skillet. I don't specify exact amounts because I've never measured. The key to this preparation is to not crowd too many sprouts into the skillet. Use enough sprouts to fit in one layer in the skillet, this ensures that the sprouts get nicely browned on one side and that they don't steam too much in their own juices. The sprouts get nice and browned but not overcooked when they get started in a HOT skillet. Adding the condiments half way through insures that those don't get burned.

The recipe  is really flexible. When sweet onions are available I like to add some thick slivers to the mix at the start so that they become brown and tender. Parsnips and/or carrots are great additions. The bacon or pancetta is totally optional, as are the nuts and pepper flakes. Pumpkin seeds are a nice substitute for the pine nuts. Experiment with different vinegars, balsamic vinegar is tasty although its dark color stains the veggies. Chunks of fresh apple added to the mix from the beginning add a nice sweetness and some apple cider vinegar reinforces the apple flavor. Add some dried fruit, such as cranberries or tart cherries to the condiments. The variations are endless.

About 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Some chopped onion, shallots, scallions and/ or garlic
A few slices of pancetta or bacon cut into small pieces
A handful of pine nuts
A pinch of pepper flakes
Vinegar to taste

Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet in a 400ºF oven. Toss the sprouts with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Turn the sprouts into the hot skillet and use some tongs to turn as many of them cut side down in the pan as will fit so that the cut side browns nicely. It's important to not crowd the pan too much or the sprouts will steam in their own juices and you won't get that nice brown side. About half way through the roasting, about 15 minutes, add the chopped onions (I'itoi is great), bits of pancetta, pine nuts, and pepper flakes, without stirring the sprouts. After another 10 or 15 minutes remove the skillet from the oven and toss the sprouts in the skillet with some good quality vinegar. One of my favorite vinegars to use for this is the Late Harvest Honey Viognier from Katz, it is both sweet and tart with a nice honey flavor.

Makes about 3 or 4 side dish servings.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Squash with Crisp Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Another recipe for the Brussels Sprouts Challenge. This time I chose to roast them in an oval gratin dish along with some chunks of winter squash and topped it all with a seasoned breadcrumb mixture. Simple and tasty.

8 ounces peeled winter squash cut into approximately 1-inch chunks
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, halved
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons melted butter for the veggies
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from stale rustic bread (part whole grain) with the crusts retained
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt packed, rinsed and drained, chopped
1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes, optional
1/2 ounce (1/4 cup) grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter for the breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Toss the prepared veggies with a pinch of salt, not too much because the topping is salty, and the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Place in an oval 12x8-inch gratin dish or similar sized baking dish. Place a piece of parchment paper that is cut to fit in the dish on top of the veggies. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the veggies are baking, toss together the breadcrumbs, capers, oregano, pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. Toss with the tablespoon of butter.

Remove the veggies from the oven and uncover. Scatter the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the veggies and return the dish to the oven, uncovered, and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and the breadcrumbs are crisp.

Serve immediately.

Makes about 4 servings as a side dish or 2 servings as a vegetarian main dish.

Winter Squash Flans

This is the lazy or time challenged cook's method to make a flan with winter squash. With time running short before I wanted to have dinner and a big winter squash demanding some attention before it spoiled and a desire for something custardy and cheesy I decided to try making a squash flan without using baked squash puree. And now that I look at the ingredients and proportions I can see that it is essentially the same as the crustless quiches that I also make. So call it what you will, flan or naked quiche, it's tasty and not too time consuming to make. The ratio of milk and cream is flexible, use more cream if you want a rich dish or use just use milk for a lighter dish.

4 tablespoons butter, plus additional for buttering the dishes
4 ounces chopped sweet red onion
1½ cups peeled and grated Buttercup Squash
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 ounces grated truffle Gouda or other such cheese

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Thoroughly butter 4 individual souffle dishes. My dishes have interior dimensions of about 4 inches by 1.25 inches. In a small skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When it begins to foam, add the onion and sauté, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the squash, season with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and cream until well blended. Portion the squash mixture into the prepared souffle dishes and top each one with 1 ounce of cheese. Divide the custard mixture amongst the dishes. Place the filled dishes on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake until the tops are puffed and golden, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately or let cool slightly. They can be kept in the refrigerator in the dishes and reheated in the oven or microwave.

Makes 4 servings.

Stracciatella Soup with Brussels Sprouts

The Brussels Sprouts Challenge continues. Stracciatella is an Italian soup that in its most simple form is hot broth into which you stir a mixture of beaten eggs and parmesan cheese. The eggy mixture form shreds or rags, i.e. stracciatella. I've seen riffs on the soup that add spinach or basil or pasta or white beans, or rice, or bread crumbs, or semolina, even tiny meatballs. You get the drift, it is endlessly adaptable. So why not Brussels Sprouts?

I used the sprouts that I had on hand in the fridge which came out to 7 ounces after shredding them on a mandoline. It was probably about 8 ounces before shredding them because I keep the stems long to use as a handle when slicing them on the mandoline and then the stems go into the compost bucket. My homemade stock tends to be a bit concentrated so I added water. Plenty of Italian recipes I read use bouillon cubes instead of stock. Do whatever works for you. I love the flavor and umami of Vietnamese fish sauce (Red Boat is the best IMO), but it's totally optional here. Lot's of recipes added some lemon zest to the egg mixture as well as nutmeg, I thought a hint of cinnamon might be nice instead and I did like it.

2 tablespoons butter
About 1/3 to 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots (I didn't actually measure)
7 ounces, more or less, Brussels sprouts sliced 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline
1 quart stock, chicken, meat, or veggie or use instant bouillon
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fish sauce (totally optional but the extra umami is great)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 ounces grated parmesan cheese, plus additional
freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of ground cinnamon, optional
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until the shallots are soft. Stir in the Brussels sprouts and add the stock, water, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the sprouts become tender or are done to your liking. Taste the broth for salt, remember that the parmesan is salty so don't add too much.

Beat the eggs with a whisk and then whisk in the cheese, nutmeg, and cinnamon if using it.

Bring the soup back up to a near boil. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the soup while stirring the soup with a whisk. Continue stirring until the eggs are completely cooked. Serve immediately with grinding of black pepper over each bowl, top with additional cheese if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 portions.

Brussels Sprouts Galette

Brussels Sprouts Galette
The Brussels Sprouts Challenge, aka What To Do With A Glut of Brussels Sprouts, continues. This time I adapted another favorite basic preparation, a savory galette, to feature the tasty mini cabbagy things. Being a rather lazy cook I decided to try making it without first cooking the Brussels sprouts, an additional advantage to that, to my thinking, would be that the sprouts wouldn't get overcooked. And the decision paid off. The shredded sprouts wilted down but didn't become mushy and strong tasting. I also thought that some apple would add a nice flavor and indeed it did, it added a touch of tangy sweetness that I like with Brussels sprouts but it was not overwhelming. Actually, I didn't tell my husband that I had put apple in the filling and he didn't seem to notice. He did declare the galette a winner.

1 recipe whole wheat pastry dough
4 ounces red onion, sliced about ¼ inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt
4 ounces or about 1/2 large Pink Lady apple, cored but not peeled
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
8 ounces Brussels sprouts
2 jumiper berries, minced
Freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Comte or Gruyere cheese, grated
1 tablespoon or more heavy cream or 1 egg white lightly beaten

Prepare the pastry dough and chill it while preparing the galette filling.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Saute the onion with a pinch of salt in the olive oil over medium heat until softened, just a few minutes. Set aside to cool.

Dice the apple into 1/4-inch cubes and toss it with the creme fraiche in a large bowl.

Slice the Brussels sprouts 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline. Toss the sprouts with the apple mixture, juniper berries, a few swipes of nutmeg, pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. It is easiest to mix it all together with your hands.

Roll the pastry into a 14-inch circle. Don't worry about the edges, it's a rustic galette and the rough edges look nice. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper set on a rimless baking sheet. Arrange the Brussels sprouts mixture evenly over the dough leaving about 2 inches empty all around. Scatter the onions over the top and then the cheese. Fold the edges up over the filling pleating the dough as you go. Brush the top of the dough with the cream or egg white.

Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and browned and the filling has settled and browned a bit also. Check the galette after about 20 minutes and if it seems to be browning too quickly turn the heat down to 375ºF.

Transfer the galette on the parchment paper to a cooling rack to cool briefly before slicing. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Whole Wheat Galette Dough

This dough has become my favorite for making free form savory galettes. I like to use either freshly ground Sonora wheat or Jamu Jamu whole wheat flour that a vendor at my local farmer's market sells. Whole wheat pastry flour is available at my local market. You can also just use all-purpose flour, or white pastry flour, or a combination of white pastry flour and whole wheat flour (white whole wheat would be my preference but not necessary).

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and butter together in a bowl. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter, leaving pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the water over the top and toss the mixture together, it will still be quite crumbly and not form a ball. Turn the mixture out onto a surface and gently knead the mixture together until it forms a rough dough, there should be chunks of butter still visible, it helps to use a dough scraper. Press the dough into a disk and wrap it in waxed paper. Refrigerate the dough for an hour before rolling it out. Roll it into a 14-inch circle to make a 12-inch galette.

Brussels Sprouts Skillet Souffle

The Brussels Sprouts Challenge continues with this souffle that I adapted from a recipe for a skillet souffle that's packed with herbs. It's not a traditional souffle made with a flavored sauce base, it's more of puffy omelet or frittata. It is more simple to make than a true souffle and goes together very quickly. A skillet souffle is very adaptable to a host of flavorings. In this one I've shredded the Brussels sprouts and stirred them into the base raw so that they end up barely cooked and bright green. Dave declared this delicious and I'm sure I'll be making it again.

2 generous tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs
3/8 cup milk
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 large Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup sliced green onion tops
1/2 cup shredded Comte cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Warm the milk and stir it into the bread crumbs in a large bowl and let them soak until they become pasty, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the egg yolks, salt, and pepper.

Finely slice the Brussels sprouts on a mandoline, about 1/8-inch thick. Add them to the egg yolk mixture along with 1/2 of the cheese, stir to combine thoroughly.

Just before you are ready to cook the souffle, place a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Beat the egg whites until they form very soft peaks. Scoop the whites into the yolk mixture and quickly fold them in. Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to sizzle but not brown. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Immediately put the skillet on the middle rack of the oven and bake the souffle for 15 to 17 minutes, or until it is puffed and deeply browned.

Serve it right away, spooned from the skillet, or at room temperature cut into wedges.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Lemony Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad

For a long time I had my doubts about a raw Brussels sprouts salad, I thought the raw sprouts would be too strongly flavored. But a glut of homegrown sprouts had me looking for something new to do with them so I took the plunge and gave the raw sprouts a try. Perhaps the success of this recipe is because I used sprouts that were growing in the depth of winter and had been sweetened up by a few freezing nights plus they were super fresh. Or perhaps the assertive flavors of lemon juice and Parmesan cheese outcompete with the strong flavor of raw sprouts. I don't know, but the salad is addictively delicious. If you like a shredded kale salad then I highly recommend trying a shredded Brussels sprouts salad.

1/2 pound very fresh Brussels sprouts, weighed after trimming
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice but a little less
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Use a mandoline to shred the Brussels sprouts into 1/8-inch slices. Toss the sprouts, cheese, and almonds together, then toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Taste for salt, it probably isn't necessary because of the salty cheese. Serve immediately with a grinding of black pepper.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Variations that I may try:
- substitute pecorino cheese for the Parmigiano or use a combination
- substitute toasted hazelnuts, pecans, pepitas, pine nuts, or walnuts for the almonds
- add citrus segments such as blood oranges, grapefruit, or pomelo
- add some anchovy and garlic for a Caesar salad flavor and don't forget the croutons

Backcountry Brussels Sprouts and Carrot Salad

Detailed Method:

To slice the vegetables use a mandoline to get consistently thick slices so that they dehydrate at the same rate. I have a very easy to use and inexpensive Benriner mandoline (from Japan) that can slice up to 1/8-inch thick slices. For thicker slices I use a big stainless steel mandoline made by Bron in France - it can slice up to 1/4-inch thick.

I used cherry flavored balsamic vinegar because I like the flavor of cherries with brussels sprouts, but regular balsamic is fine also.

Note also that I did not blanch the sprouts first, they are shredded raw and dehydrated raw.

For the Brussels Sprouts
12 ounces washed and trimmed brussels sprouts, leave a bit of stem to hold when shredding
1 tablespoon cherry balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

I used my Benriner mandolin to shred the sprouts 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick. Toss the shredded sprouts with the balsamic and arrange them in a thin layer on parchment paper or a silicone mat on the dehydrator tray. Sprinkle the shredded sprouts with the salt and dry at 125ºF (52ºC) until nearly crisp.I use a few paper clips to attach the paper to the mesh mat that sits on the tray to keep the paper from flopping around as the fan blows over the trays. My old circular dehydrator had fruit leather trays which might work, but I found that food tends to stick to them.

For the Carrots
6 ounces fresh carrots, scrubbed, peeling is not necessary
1 teaspoon cherry balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Shred the carrots on the coarse holes of a box grater. Then use the same method as for the brussels sprouts.

For the Onions
3.5 oz. sweet red onions
1 teaspoon cherry balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Use a mandoline to slice the onions 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick. Then use the same method as for the brussels sprouts.

Store the dried vegetables in airtight bags or jars.

To make the salad. Combine the dried vegetables in a heavy duty resealable bag, add hot water a bit at a time until the vegetables stop readily absorbing the water. Seal the bag and let the vegetables sit until they have cooled. Shake the bag every once in a while to distribute any remaining water over the vegetables. When it's time to serve the veggies add some chopped dried tart cherries, a splash of red wine vinegar and drizzle with olive oil. I didn't measure those ingredients, I just seasoned the salad to my taste. Serve with some toasted salted sunflower seeds.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

I did weigh the vegetables after they were dry and here's the results:

12 ounces* fresh sprouts = 1.8 ounces dried
6 ounces fresh carrots = .8 ounces dried
3.5 ounces fresh onions - .7 ounces dried

*The fresh shredded sprouts were a bit less that 12 ounces because the stems from the whole sprouts got discarded.

Yes! 3.3 ounces of veggies are so much easier to carry in my backpack than 1.3 pounds! (94 grams dried vs. 610 grams fresh)

I definitely like the way the brussels sprouts rehydrated and I'm going to experiment a but further with the salad, using apple cider vinegar and dried apples for another version, perhaps a bit of cinnamon too. I also like dried currants with brussels sprouts so I will try another version with those and some regular balsamic and some toasted almonds or pine nuts. I think the dried shredded sprouts would also be great used in a warm rice or couscous pilaf.