Category Archives: brussels sprouts

Roasted Chestnuts, Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potato

Earlier this week, I woke up one morning and saw this little hare under the falling snow right outside the bedroom window (perks of the rural living vs when you see a homeless person urinating on your luxury condominium (well, at least from my personal experience…)).  I realized that Christmas is in less than two weeks. Clearly, this year I am so dans la lune (French for spaced out) that not even Michael Buble’s soundtrack in the stores could alert me about how close I am to my favorite holiday. I guess the rabbit was my jingle bell to get ready for my réveillon.
It’s time to roast our holiday boon (chestnuts), mount a Christmas tree and get enchanted with the Holiday spirit and Nat King Cole. With that in mind, I’m going straight to this year’s holiday recipes, which, hopefully, will be taking the same direction as my 2014 New Year’s Eve resolutions in draft. 
Naturally, I mean food and health-related resolutions (there are simply not enough pages on this blog to list all the others).  OK, let’s begin (wish No. 1): I wish I will eat more vegetables and nuts. ‘’Your wish is my Command!’’ Wow, that fast? Is that me, or are YOU for real?  
And I just happen to have some chestnuts, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on my kitchen counter. In my head I am adding olive oil, shallot, Spanish paprika, salt, pepper to this trio and it seems to me that the mix will be a delicious treat for today’s lunch or a holiday side dish. And I’m not even talking about nutritional bonus of all three. Hands on…
Ta-Dah! 40 minutes later I sit down with the plate of steamy veggies and roasted chestnuts. Excellent dish for an established vegetarian, but since I am not the one yet, it’s (me) asking for some extra things. What would it be?  A plate of home-made potato-sage gnocchi with hazelnut glaze sounds like a good idea (thumbs up, I’m still pushing in vegetarian direction).  Both dishes make a perfect company for someone busy to decorate a house and/or a Christmas tree. Are they festive enough though for a holiday table?  N-nay…
My autopilot is pushing me to start kneading for some traditional classics, which I do – no problem with that.  And while I am doing that, some ideas finally start visiting me.  I might reveal them this weekend. In the meantime, have a happy shopping, work-partying and decorating time!

 Stay tuned, have a great one and be excited!

1 lb sweet potatoes in cubes
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb Brussels sprouts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
¾ tsp. sea salt
Pinch of Spanish paprika (optional)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup freshly roasted or vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to  400F. In a bowl, toss cubed sweet potatoes with a tbsp. olive oil and Spanish paprika.  Spread evenly in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes or until potato is soft but not mushy.
 In the meantime, coat a baking sheet with olive oil. In a bowl, mix Brussels sprouts, 1 tbsp olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.   Toss well to coat, spread evenly on the sheet and bake for 20 minutes next to sweet potatoes, stirring once.
After 20 minutes, remove both from the oven; incorporate Brussels sprouts with sweet potatoes, top with sliced roasted chestnuts and toss slightly to distribute evenly throughout. Return to oven and bake until Brussels sprouts are tender and golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve very hot.

Indian Summer Dinner

‘’Ya quilt y’all?’’ – asks me an old Native gift shop-keeper. ‘’Not really, but I would love to … one day,’’ I say sounding more like a schoolgirl than I want to. There is a display of gorgeous ethnic quilts on the wall and a row of huge quilting machines lining behind the Native lady like cannons. ‘’So, what’s y’all deal here?’’ she continues with all the nonchalance of one discussing the weather. ‘’I just stopped for a gas and decided to buy some dream catchers. It’s a very nice shop you have. Your quilts are impressive…’’ Always be polite and extra courteous when visiting a Native American reservation – they have their own laws that are sacred to them, so you never know. ‘’S’peiti ya’dunn quilt cuz y’all dunnow what y’all missin’.  Sammer’s fixin’on ra:d – perft thame to quilt y’all…’’ she goes with a strong Southern drawl (read: ‘’It’s a pity you don’t quilt, because you don’t know what you are missing. Summer is fixing on the ride – perfect time to quilt’’), which I just adore: it sounds like a lullaby for me (that’s why I am always ready to re-watch No Country For Old Men or Mud again and again). I can tell she was born in Southern US and/or most of the time resides there. 
Two younger Native women enter the shop with baskets full of squash, green beans, spinach and Brussels sprouts.  They give them to the old lady, saying ‘’Too many this year and they keep popping up, so here you are.’’ ‘’A’ll have’m for dinneh,’’ she lady responds in gratitude. I totally get it now: she is not just a shop keeper. She is a Matriarch.  ‘’How will you cook them?‘’ – my curiosity has no limits (and that’s why it killed a cat). ‘’Bake’m and eat’em. Thæjət would bɪjə $23.99,’’ the old Native lady wraps up our communication. That is good enough for me to have an idea of what will be my supper for the next few days. 
I am driving away from Kahnawake thinking about what Natives do as Mother Earth prepares for her long winter slumber. The Matriarch lady, the quilt, the dream catchers, the baskets of the fall bounty, the colorful trees and the growing carpet of leaves… 
It’s the Indian summer when the weather is breathtaking, the spiders make webs and the time stands still. About this time Natives are going to their last Powwow to connect with each other and the spirits of nature. Curiously (and by pure symbolic coincidence in in this case), in many European countries the Indian summer is called ‘’The Old Ladies’ Summer’’: a few days of unusually warm and sunny weather following the first fall’s frost. 

According to the Lakota legend of ‘’Why the Leaves Fall’’, many moons ago when the world was still young, the nature was enjoying a nice summer weather. As the days went by the autumn set in, and the weather became colder, so the grass and flower folks who had no protection from cold, asked the Creator for help. The Creator said that the leaves of the trees should fall to the ground, spreading a soft warm blanket over the tender roots of the grass and flowers. To pay the trees for their loss, he allowed them one last array of beauty. Since that time, each year, during Indian summer the trees take on their pretty farewell of colors red, gold and, brown. After this final display they turn to their appointed mission covering the earth with a warm rug against the chill of winter. 
So how about I’ll have what she has and include squash, Brussels sprouts, spinach and perhaps some kind of poultry. Coq au Vin sounds like is a good idea to add some substance and comfort to our Thanksgiving table. Here is my quilt of belonging representing a bounty and colors of a humble fall dinner: a butternut squash soup; Brussels sprouts with walnuts and orange zest; spinach mushroom puffs and no fuss Coq au Vin. Please stay tuned for the recipes as I have to go host a Thanksgiving dinner.
In the meantime, Happy Indian Summer and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, with my best wishes for joy and never-ending feast. Cheers!