Ever Eaten Raw Brussels Sprouts?

16 Nov

It never would have occurred to me to eat Brussels Sprouts raw. Leave it to Oprah, or chef Colin Cowie to be exact, to give this classic holiday veggie a surprising new twist.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Almonds & Parmesan is pretty healthy, easy to make, and comes together really quickly. If you like Brussels Sprouts–and I appreciate that not everyone does–you’ll probably enjoy this dish. Plus, even if you don’t typically like cooked sprouts, you still might enjoy this.

Note that the recipe (found here or on page 24 of The Oprah Magazine Cookbook) makes 10 servings. Divide appropriately if you’re cooking for a smaller army. Essentially, here’s all you need to do:

1. Roast 1 cup of slivered almonds at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes;

2. Whisk together 3 Tbsp. olive oil plus 1 Tbsp. truffle oil, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. chopped chives, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper;

3. Toss with 30 ounces of Brussels Sprouts, your toasted almonds, and 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan.

4. Serve!

I must say that the drizzle of truffle oil adds a nice touch. Luckily, my in-laws ferried us back some of the good stuff from their recent holiday in Italy. (Thanks, guys!)

Chad loved this salad and for us it’s definitely a make again. In fact, since it’s taken me a few days to post this entry, we already made it again last night. 🙂


Quick & Healthy Garlic-Orange Spinach

7 Nov

Well, it’s official, my maternity leave is over, and I’m pleased to report that I had a great first week back at work. I liken it a bit to following a show like Young & the Restless…even if you hadn’t watched it in a year, you could probably still tune in and pretty much pick back up where you left off. There would be some new characters and twists in the plot, to be sure, but still…It’s good to be back. 🙂

That said, I haven’t dusted off my Oprah cookbook in far too long. These work/grad school/volunteer commitments really seem to be cramping my culinary style! 😉

So tonight, to complement the beautiful steak Chad BBQ’d us, I made Michel Nischan’s Garlic-Orange Spinach. This side dish is super simple, super fast, super economical, AND super healthy. All good things. It’s pretty tasty, too. Click here for the recipe, or see page 173 of The Oprah Magazine Cookbook.

The only change I made was using cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil instead of the grapeseed or rice oil the recipe called for. Not sure what the taste or texture difference would have been (?) but the olive oil worked just fine.

Even though this “just wilted” citrus spinach isn’t the best side dish I’ve ever had, it’s definitely a make again. Why? Because it’s super good for you and can be whipped up in about 5 minutes. Just perfect for a working mom! 🙂

Orange-Ginger Pork Medallions & Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Honey Mustard Dressing

30 Oct

Honestly, it’s hard to concentrate on anything but treats in the days leading up to Halloween. 😉 Plus, with my return to work this coming Monday–following a full year off on maternity leave–Oprah’s been a bit far from my mind. Not so far, mind you, that I don’t want to share a couple of new recipes with you. 🙂

First up, Laura Pensiero’s Orange-Ginger Pork Medallions. See page 98 of The Oprah Magazine Cookbook or click here for the recipe. We’d never made pork medallions before, but my mom happened to give us a couple of pork tenderloins, so we figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give these sweet-and-sour morsels a try.

The verdict? Delicious. The flavours of orange juice, peanut oil, fresh ginger, shallots, red pepper flakes, chicken broth, and soy sauce all came together quite nicely. And, since they were pan-fried, they were surprisingly easy. I think this dish would make a good workday family staple. (Ha! I may rethink that statement after I’m actually back to work.) 🙂

The second recipe (I guess we were in a festive mood) was April Bloomfield’s Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Honey Mustard Dressing, which you can find on page 177 of the cookbook, or by clicking here.

Essentially, these were boiled and pan-fried sprouts drizzled with a lemon, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and thyme dressing.

The dressing was quite tasty, but I did find it a bit too time-consuming given the end result. For example, the recipe said to boil a lemon in water for a full hour (?) PLUS called for fresh chestnuts (a novelty for us–we found them at Kin’s) which also required boiling, simmering, draining, and peeling. Again, pretty time-consuming given the end product.

I’m not sure what effect it would have, but next time I might consider using the lemon without boiling it first, and also substituting canned chestnuts. I’d welcome any other suggestions!

Don’t get me wrong, these would make an impressive and welcome addition to the holiday dinner table. I just think I prefer the roasted Brussels Sprouts, lemon and pancetta recipe our CEO shared with us one year. I’ll have to be sure to get that recipe again before the Christmas holidays roll around.

Speaking of holidays, it’s official, this weekend Jax is going as a Jax-o’-Lantern, and Hiro is channeling Super Hiro! I hope your weekend is magical, delightful, and sweet. Happy Halloween!

Sweet Potato Salad & Mango Cocktail

24 Oct

Well, it’s been a while since I last blogged because life’s been a characteristic whirlwind of late. Chad also just completed a mini renovation project that had our kitchen in quite the state of disarray. To make up for my hiatus, I have some great new recipes to share with you! 🙂

The first is a Halloween-coloured Mango Cocktail created by chef Colin Cowie, featured here, and on page 44 of The Oprah Magazine Cookbook. Oprah suggested we “kick-start the evening with these tangy cocktails spiked with vodka and Cointreau.So, last night, that’s exactly what we did.

The unique ingredient in this cocktail is mango puree, which I’d never bought before. I found it–vacuum-sealed and boxed–at Zellers of all places, so I guess it can’t really be that exotic. 😉

The puree gave the drink a really intense syrupy mango flavour, which was a bit too tangy and thick for my liking, even though I’m a real mango lover. But by serving the puree, vodka, Cointreau, and lime juice concoction over a fairly generous (but uncalled for) amount of ice, this turned out to be quite a tasty drink indeed.

If you’re hosting a Halloween get-together this year, this cocktail would be wicked fun served in a martini glass with a plastic black spider on the rim!

Last night we also tried Art Smith’s Sweet Potato Salad. See page 32 of The Oprah Magazine Cookbook or click here. Though it doesn’t necessarily look like much in the photo, this side dish is super tasty and is definitely a make again.

Basically, this salad consists of 3/4-inch chunks of microwaved (easy!) sweet potatoes dressed in a blend of light mayo, dijon mustard, salt & pepper, and tossed with toasted pecans (yum!), fresh pineapple (double yum!), red pepper, celery, and green onion.

Not only is this dish full of super good-for-you foods, it’s simple to put together and has a winning combination of flavours. So, if you or your hubby like sweet potato (for some reason, I’ve never met a man who doesn’t like yams and sweet potatoes), you’ll want to give this recipe a try.

P.S. I just realized that the recipe posted online differs from the one in the book! The one in the book seems way easier. Follow the steps online, except for the following:
1. Halve the recipe (unless you want more like 8 cups instead of 4!)
2. Instead of oven-baking the sweet potatoes (too time consuming) just use a fork to “prick the sweet potatoes in several places. Microwave them on High about 8 minutes or until tender, turning over midway through cooking. Cool the potatoes until easy to handle.”

P.P.S. If you do happen to indulge in a cocktail or two at a Halloween party this year, please remember to drink responsibly. Never drink and drive.

I Cheated on Oprah

18 Oct

Okay, I have a confession to make. Last night I cheated on Oprah.

Yes, it’s true, I made an appy featured in Canadian House & Home magazine (October 2008) instead of my trusty Oprah Magazine Cookbook. For these Roasted Apple and Prosciutto Wedges, however, it was worth it!

To make 4 to 6 servings of this fall-friendly, sweet, salty, and savoury appy, here’s what you’ll need:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 firm apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (try Cortland, Fuji or Honeycrisp)
16 thin slices proscuitto

And here’s what you’ll do:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In small bowl, combine brown sugar, breadcrumbs and pepper.
3. Dip apple wedges in sugar mixture, turning and pressing to coat completely.

Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each apple wedge and secure by skewering with a toothpick. 4. Place on parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until prosciutto and sugar has caramelized. Enjoy!
P.S. Have you seen Sarah Richardson’s gorgeous country home featured in the current issue of House & Home? Fantasy land! 🙂

Curried Cauliflower & Apple Soup

18 Oct

I’ve been in a real soup mood lately–I’m almost tempted to make nothing but these days! My most recent “liquid lunch” was Daniel Boulud’s tasty Curried Cauliflower & Apple Soup with Cilantro Cream. See page 69 of the Oprah Magazine Cookbook or click here for the recipe.

This dish combines the delicate fall-friendly flavours of cauliflower and apple, and is spiced with a pleasant, civilized amount of curry. Though it doesn’t quite have the “wow, this is amazing” quality of the Spiced Butternut Squash and Apple soup I made recently, it’s still very good.

I didn’t make any changes to this other than forgoing the whipped cilantro cream topping. I’m sure it would have made a nice touch but it by no means seemed necessary. One thing not to forgo, however, is the curried diced apple topping. Delicious.

It’s worth nothing that the full recipe would make enough to feed a very large family (10-12 servings) and so I cut it in half. It halved easily and still left us with plenty of leftovers. Luckily, you know how soups & casseroles almost inevitably taste better the next day.

All in all, I found this to be a good seasonal soup recipe. Perfect for anyone (like us!) who happened to check out the UBC Apple Festival this weekend.

Hot Chocolate Memories

15 Oct

Every time I have hot chocolate (which, granted, isn’t very often) it brings back wonderful childhood memories of skating on the Rideau Canal.

The way my dad could always stop so well on his skates, delightfully spraying up ice. Sarah & me tightly doing up our skates, a process that seemed to take forever. Earning my Brownie badge for skating backward. Later, having the luxury of being able to skate to my part-time job downtown, or skate the other direction to attend a class at Carleton University. And I can’t forget the treat of having a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.

We’ll have to take Jax to Winterlude one day. But, in the meantime, tonight we had Classic Hot Chocolate, adapted from Chocolate Bar in NYC. (See page 52 of The Oprah Magazine Cookbook or click here for the recipe.)

It turns out that preparing homemade hot chocolate is remarkably easy. To make enough for 2 people, all you have to do is grate 3 squares of baking chocolate, add the shavings to 2 cups of milk, boil it for 1 minute, and top with mini marshmallows or whipped cream if you wish.

The result is sinfully rich, authentic tasting hot chocolate, perfect for an apres-skating party if you happen to live in an appropriate neck of the woods.

P.S. If you’re a true chocolate lover, I can tell you that the best chocolates I’ve ever had (hands down) are the truffles from Hot Chocolates, a small family-run business on Vancouver Island.

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