Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam

Bacon Jam Brussels Sprouts
Almost blackened, the Brussels sprouts are spicy-sweet-tart-crunchy-soft yumminess

Thanksgiving is about tradition, comfort food and family. But it is also fun to shake it up a little, and I just love this dish for the juxtaposition of the traditional (a roasted root vegetable and bacon) and the kicked-up punch from bacon-jalapeño jam with the surprise addition of dried cranberries. The Brussels Sprouts are almost blackened, the jam provides a sweetness and an almost caramelized texture, and the bite of the jalapeño is balanced by the tartness of the cranberries and welcome crunch of the salty bacon.  Yum! It’s almost a spicy Brussels sprout hash, and passed the Grill-Meister test – he who hates vegetables, and especially root vegetables, had two servings! The double-baconizing of these little root vegetables might have something to do with it.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (you may need more)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced leeks
  • 2 slices of very thick bacon, cut into 1/4 strips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup bacon-jalapeño jam (or pepper jelly if you can’t find bacon-jalapeño jam – see below)
  • more salt and freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450°.  Line a baking sheet with foil, then put the trimmed and halved sprouts on the sheet and toss with the 3 tbsp of olive, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, then roast for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, remove the sprouts and stir them to ensure that they are roasting on all sides, adding a little more olive oil, if necessary. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, and repeat, roasting for about 5 more minutes until they are mostly browned (it may not take this long).

During the last 10 minutes the sprouts are roasting, sauté the bacon and leeks until the bacon is done to your liking (I like it medium-crisp for this dish). If there is excess bacon fat (more than you feel comfortable with), remove it with a spoon and reserve for another use. Add the bacon-jalapeño jam and cranberries and stir to mix, then add the Brussels sprouts and toss to ensure that it is all mixed together. It will be very sticky and almost caramelized.  Add salt and pepper to taste, serve warm, and get ready for the kudos.


About the Bacon-Jalapeño Jam

Followers of this blog know that it is not commercial and I don’t accept ads or do paid endorsements, but I do share info about products that I use and love. You’ll also have heard of Just Pure Flavors, our local (wonderful) purveyor of fresh, professionally made jams. It’s their bacon-jalapeño jam that inspired this recipe, and I highly recommend it. I found Just Pure Flavors a few years ago at our local farmers market in Tomball, TX (a suburb of Houston to the Northwest), but luckily for you, they also do a booming mail order business. You couldn’t get this jam in time for Thanksgiving, but Christmas is another story. In fact, these jams often end up in Christmas stockings at Glover Gardens.

 

Or Un-“Baconize” and Go Vegetarian

Note to my vegetarian friends – you could make a beautiful and tasty vegetarian version by using pepper jelly (or the Inferno Sauce from Just Pure Flavors) instead of the bacon jam, and substituting olive oil and a mix of dried and reconstituted mushrooms for the bacon. A little bit of ground dried mushrooms would also add a wonderful umami depth.  Let me know if you try it!

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Trimmed and ready
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Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes before roasting
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Stirring after the first 10 minutes
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After the second 10 minutes of roasting – getting close!
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Bacon and leeks will add a depth of flavor
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We usually cook bacon on the gas grill outside
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After the final 5 minutes, the sprouts are nicely roasted, almost blackened, and ready to be tossed with the rest of the goodies
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Add the cranberries and jam to the bacon and leeks before the sprouts
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All together now – doesn’t it look delicious?
Bacon Jam Brussels Sprouts
A nice addition to any holiday table, or just a weeknight dinner

Just Pure Flavors has inspired quite a few recipes and been mentioned here quite a bit i click here to scroll through them if you’re interested.  I love supporting local businesses, and in fact, this post is in support of Small Business Saturday, coming up this weekend.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe: Swedish Apple Cake, or “Äppelkaka” 

This recipe was posted on a Swedish news website (SVT.se) and given to me by my mom’s neighbor after he made the cake – and I think I ate half of it myself.

The quote above is from a friend and colleague’s Facebook page, where she posted a picture of the marvelous apple cake she brought to our Thanksgiving potluck at work last Friday. She was happy to share the recipe when I asked (although she had to translate from Swedish, converting the measurements from deciliters), and added:

“It’s super easy to make, with a sort of a sugar cookie base with apples on top. I use Granny Smiths because of their sourness to contrast with the sweet cake.”

Swedish Apple Cake Cover
Photo credit to my colleague

This cake was terrific! The tart green apples balanced perfectly with the cookie-like base, and the texture contrast between the softness of the baked apples and the slight crunch of the crust was also very appealing.  It was a great dessert for our Thanksgiving lunch at work, and would be a perfect addition to any holiday table.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • Rounded 3/4c sugar
  • Scant 1c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large apples or 4-5 small ones
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

Cooking Instructions

Core and cut apples into 1/4″ slices. Toss in a bowl with cinnamon. I also add some nutmeg and allspice.

Whisk Eggs and sugar together. Then add flour and baking powder. Mix well. Will be a very thick batter consistency.

Take a spoonful or so of the melted butter and grease a round baking dish. A large shallow tart pan is best but I have also made in a large pie dish as well. Pour in batter and spread. (Tip: spin the pan on counter top to help the batter spread – it will be very thick)

Arrange the spiced apples on top and pour the remaining butter all over the top.

Bake at 350 for about 30 mins or until golden brown. If using a deeper pan, you may need to cover with foil if the top is browned but you can see that the batter is still wet in places.


The only thing that would make this cake better would be to serve it warm with some very rich vanilla ice cream or gelato. But who has room for that kind of decadence after a holiday meal? As made, I can convince myself that this is a healthy dessert because of the apples. Right?

 

 

Glover Gardens “Everything Rub” – Make It Now and Keep It On Hand for … Everything!

Honey-Chipotle Ribs with Chipotle-Fennel SlawI created a spice rub for ribs way back in the spring when I got brave and decided to tackle that venerable barbecue staple (read about them here). They turned out!  I’ve made them several more times and always have a little of the rub left over. I’ve started using it on other dishes, and wow, it is very versatile! A couple of nights ago, it made grilled ahi tuna steaks roar with flavor, and last night, it dressed up simple baked acorn squash. This was an epic accomplishment, because the Grill-Meister, who is not a fan of squash, had two portions!

I’m going to start making up batches of this all-purpose rub for holiday gifts – it’s that good! Spicy from the ground ancho chili peppers and the one-two punch of black and white pepper, slightly sweet from the brown sugar, southwest-tasting from the cumin and rounded out by the touch of nutmeg and coarse sea salt, this rub is a winner! Here are some other uses for Glover Gardens Everything Rub (or any good meat rub that you really love):

  • Mix with a little olive oil, then toss with vegetables before grilling them (think thick slices of onion, rings of bell pepper, portobello mushrooms, corn on the cob – yum!)
  • Toss with Brussels sprouts and olive oil, then roast them in the oven
  • Dust onto thick rings of pineapple, then grill or broil them
  • Season chicken wings
  • Mix with sour cream or cream cheese for a quick dip or spread
  • Spice up pimento cheese
  • Mix with olive oil and walnuts or pecans, then toast them
  • Sprinkle on bacon as it’s cooking to kick it up a notch
  • Mix with ground beef, eggs and some diced onions for a quick meatloaf
  • Toss with olive oil, chopped red onion and halved cherry tomatoes for a quick salad, or mix with oil and cider vinegar for a salad dressing
  • Mix with a stick of softened butter and then chill in a pretty dish for a spicy seasoned butter you can serve with bread or rolls
  • Use as a seasoning for eggplant, as my blogger friend the Pleasant Peasant did
  • And of course, as a dry rub on steaks, pork tenderloin or chops, chicken breasts, or even turkey

Glover Gardens Everything Rub

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This is the brand of ancho chile I use
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp ancho or chipotle chilé powder (use paprika if you don’t like it spicy)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a small mixing bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients.

Store in an airtight container for up to six months (although it won’t last that long!)

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If you make a batch, let me know what you do with it!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Antipasto Advice from Mom and Great Tastes from the Texas Coast

I love it when folks reach out to me for advice about cooking and entertaining; it feeds my soul (pun intended).

It also gives me good topics for the blog and the impetus to pull together a post – from memory, experience or my own food mentors.

So, for the friend who asked for input on an antipasto tray she’s bringing to a party, here’s a special treat: advice from my Mom. She was an amazing cook and hostess and antipasto platters were a foundational appetizer for her parties.  I am so grateful for everything she taught me about entertaining and cooking.  If I’m guilty of ascribing to the “food is love” philosophy, it’s totally her fault.

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Mom and me in her kitchen at the beach / my childhood home, sometime in the mid-to-late 80s, enjoying a glass of wine together. There are so many memories locked up in those treasures all over that kitchen.

Mom has been cooking for the angels since September of 2000 and my Dad joined her in heaven this past summer, but they left me with a wonderful legacy: a cookbook they compiled of their favorite recipes, with additional entries collected from friends and family.  The Great Tastes from the Texas Coast cookbook project took place in the late 80s and was intended as give-away for clients at my Dad’s real estate office on the beach in Gilchrist, Texas. (Dad was a weekend realtor and a high-tech salesman for Motorola during the week.)

You know the kind of cookbook I’m talking about, paper-bound with a plastic binder, worn and torn, stained with use, stuffed with other recipes from family members on note cards and sticky notes that probably should have been in the cookbook (and probably would have been in the next version of Great Tastes from the Texas Coast if there was one).  Oh my gosh, I just got a great idea: that’s the name for my first cookbook, whenever I publish it.

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I didn’t realize at the time what a treasure Great Tastes from the Texas Coast would turn out to be, and now feel so blessed to have many of my parents’ recipes at my fingertips.  That’s my Mom’s drawing there on the front, too.  This bounty of family memories and codified parental cooking advice was the impetus for me to start on the Glover Gardens Cookbook (which eventually became the blog), so that our boys could have the same bounty of family recipes.

While Great Tastes from the Texas Coast is long on value through recipes and their associated memories, it is very, very short on words and and almost devoid of style (other than the cover art). Note Mom’s entry, Antipasto Ingredients, below.  No one could accuse her of being verbose or flowery.  This was serious business.

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But what Mom lacked in creative writing skills, she more than made up for in the cooking and entertaining department.  Here’s how she did the antipasto.

See the basket on the wall below, in the repeat of the kitchen picture? It was about 24 inches long, 15 inches wide and 3 inches deep, and was perfect for Mom’s antipasto treatment.  I loved that basket and think I might have inherited it, many moons ago.  It must have fallen apart, or I would still have it.  But I digress.  Mom lined that venerable old basket with plastic wrap and then covered the whole thing with overlapping red or green leaf lettuce, or both.  (Leaf lettuce is good for lining a platter, because it is easy to flatten.)

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After lining the basket, she stuffed it full with ingredients from her list, not neatly in little rows or stacks, but bunched together by type in a way that conveyed a sense of plenty and hospitality.  She was careful to distribute the colors – a pile of kalamata olives would never be next to anchovies, smoked mussels or marinated mushrooms because those colors would be too drab together.  You could almost see her artist’s mind working while she assembled, taking care to mix the textures, too:  the kalamatas would go much better next to bright red roasted and marinated peppers, which in turn would be nestled next to generous chunks of provolone with big, fat, garlic-stuffed green olives on one side and her garlicky, pink marinated shrimp on the other.  If there was a dip, it would be in a small ceramic bowl and garnished with parsley or dried herbs.  Bunches of sliced mortadella, ham and salami would be strategically placed opposite each other, perhaps next to glistening sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, artichoke hearts or fresh, crunchy, pungent radishes.  Breadsticks might be vertical in a pretty glass or two, and whole green onions would cut a bright green horizontal swath across the top. Mom would then drizzle a bit of vinaigrette on her masterpiece where appropriate and call it done.

I wish I had a picture to share – words cannot do justice to the welcome and hospitality that Mom’s antipasto platter conveyed. However, I found a photo in the site Honestly Yum that gives me the same feeling.

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Photo from Honestly Yum’s post How to Create an Impressive Antipasti Spread

Mom left out a few of the items that I remember from her antipasto, so perhaps they came later: cornichons, grapes, halved cherry tomatoes, pepperdew peppers stuffed with bleu cheese, fresh vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower (although we are moving out of the antipasto neighborhood here and it might be controversial that French cornichons or bleu cheese would even be considered on this originally Italian spread).

If I was doing an antipasto platter, I’d probably add a couple of my go-to favorites, such as my super-easy treatment of grape tomatoes below that provides a composed, bite-sized, super-fresh yumminess.

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Antipasto Fresca (grape tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and oregano)

Or Belgian endive filled with something good.

Belgian Endive & Brie Appetizer
Belgian endive with brie, walnuts and grapes

And the picture below is from a smorgasbord night here at Glover Gardens, which on that night looked a bit like an antipasto platter, although heavy with crostini and bruschetta.  Gosh, I’m getting hungry!

Smorgasbord for Two by the Pool
Smorgasbord for Two by the Pool

And so, to my friend who requested some information about antipasto platters, I hope the advice from Mom with a little more info from me is useful for you.  Thanks for giving me a reason to spotlight Great Tastes from the Texas Gulf Coast and travel through the taste memories from Mom’s kitchen.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Date Night: How to Make Fresh Pasta

The Grill-Meister gave me a great gift for my birthday this year: a certificate for a cooking class date night in which we would learn how to make fresh pasta.

Cooking class for a date night? Really??? Heck, yeah!!!

I’ve been looking forward to this event for six weeks, and it finally arrived this past Wednesday when we sauntered in to the Well Done Cooking Class in Houston, ready to be schooled in pasta.

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Before the class, we were ready to roll (literally)

I’ve never been to a cooking class before, although I was an occasional informal sous chef for a very talented and quite eccentric semi-retired chef when I was a teen (but I digress, that’s definitely a long story for another time). And I’ve never made fresh pasta, either, unless you count one time when I watched, fascinated, as another chef friend did some quick things with his hands and then, voila! – pasta.  I didn’t catch anything beyond “make a well with the flour…”

So – this cooking class date night was a welcome new experience that exceeded my expectations and was a terrific birthday gift for a foodie with a gap in her skills. We were too busy cooking to take many photos, but check this out – in three hours, we:

  • made fresh pasta dough and then put it the refrigerator to rest and chill
  • made fresh sweet potato gnocchi with a brown butter and sage sauce (photo below)
  • retrieved our pasta and made three different dishes
    • ravioli with a squash, ricotta, smoked bacon and basil filling
    • tortellini with the same filling (who knew that tortellini was just one more twist of the pasta after making the ravioli shape???)
    • fettuccini carbonara with Italian sausage
  • Ate it!

Wow! I never realized it was this easy – or quick – to make homemade fresh pasta.  As I said earlier, it was definitely a gap in my foodie education.

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Stirring the sweet potato gnocchi in the brown butter and parmesan sauce
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Our fettuccini was amazing

In addition to learning how to make the pasta dough, it was fun using the pasta roller and the gnocchi board (I never heard of a gnocchi board, but it is now on my Christmas list). The best part of all this is that the Grill-Meister is now all fired up about making fresh pasta, and I suspect he will emerge as the Fresh Pasta Lead here at Glover Gardens. He is already the Pizza Dough Lead and, of course, is out in front when it’s time to grill anything. 

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Gnocchi board from Williams-Sonoma (hint for Santa)

You can expect to see some Glover Gardens pasta recipes here soon, once we have it all figured out.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

Bisquick: A Justifiable Exception to the “Low on the Food Chain” Rule – AKA – Don’t These Blueberry Biscuits Look Good?

I ranted yesterday about eating as low on the food chain as possible, waxing poetic (in my own mind, at least) about being a locavore, avoiding pre-mixed, processed foods with unnecessary additives and preservatives, and and making dishes from scratch whenever you can. Read it here.

I also ‘fessed up that I don’t always follow those rules. There are a some defensible exceptions.

One such exception is Bisquick. I always have Bisquick on hand.

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I really shouldn’t be a Bisquick-er, because it is super-easy to make biscuits or pancakes from scratch. And we very rarely have biscuits or pancakes.

But that’s not why we have Bisquick in our larder.

It’s the Sweet Potato Biscuits. Read about them here at Sweet Potato Biscuits: Family History, Love on a Plate, or you can just infer how special they are from the title and the pics below.

Sweet Potato Biscuits just aren’t as good if you make the biscuit part of the dough from scratch. It sounds ridiculous, but I have tried it multiple times, and the Bisquick baking mix is part of the magic. My grandmother was famous for her scratch-made yeast rolls, but even she used Bisquick for her Sweet Potato Biscuits. She was the GODDESS of Sweet Potato Biscuits.

So hopefully I’ve convinced you that Bisquick is a reasonable exception to the “low on the food chain” rule. And now, since the Bisquick is there in the pantry, here’s something cool you can do with it: Blueberry Biscuits.

My Aunt-Mom had spare blueberries and some Bisquick and a hankering for a quick breakfast, and voila! Doesn’t that look good, and super-easy? Pretty enough for company…

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Follow the recipe on the Bisquick box to make biscuits. Add 1/2 to 1 cup blueberries. Bake. Eat. Enjoy.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

“College Student Comes Home” Dinner: ‘Normal’ Risotto, Chicken Piccata and a Perky Salad

fullsizeoutput_34016Our college student, the musician (majoring in Jazz Composition and having a great time at the University of Texas at Austin), was coming home for the weekend. I called him earlier in the week to find out his requested meal for our quiet dinner at home on Saturday night. It seems like there is usually a big event going on when he comes home, so it was nice to plan on just chilling out, having a family dinner, and watching our Houston Astros play (if they managed to stay alive in the American League Championship Series).

Me: “Did you decide on your meal request?”

My son: “Risotto.”

Me: “What kind of risotto?”

My son: “Well, I don’t really like shrimp in risotto…just the normal kind.”

Me (wondering what ‘normal’ means in the risotto context): “Well, without a protein in it, it’s a side dish, not a main dish. Do you mean the kind with garlic and lemon and capers?”

My son: “Capers…oh, Mom! I know what we can for the main dish…”

In unison: “Chicken Piccata!”

We hung up happy, as we love, love, love piccata-anything. We had a plan.

With the menu chosen, I still needed to understand what “normal” risotto is; I haven’t made risotto without some kind of protein in it for years.  I know from listening to my son rave that his Dad (my ex-husband and friend) makes a killer risotto, so I went right to the source: “how do you make your risotto? The main ingredients, I mean.” He answered right away:

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Excellent! Now that I understood the “normal” context, I was able to concoct something lovely following his framework, sautéing about 1 1/2 cups of cremini mushrooms and a couple of chopped green onions in butter first, separately, and setting them aside, then, in a deep and heavy-bottomed pan, sautéed half a yellow onion and a ton of garlic, adding the arborio and toasting it quickly before beginning the time-consuming process of adding stock a bit at a time, which I had boiling on the back burner.

After all the stock was absorbed and the rice had turned creamy, I added the mushrooms, grated a bit of hard cheese from the fridge which might have been Parmesan or Romano, but I think it was more likely Manchego (it was in a baggie but not labelled, which is how we roll here at Glover Gardens and I hope you can still respect me). Rummaging around, I found the rest of a container of Boursin cheese, about 1/4 cup, and then threw it in for good measure. Some salt and freshly ground pepper, and then – Yum!!!

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Chicken Piccata photo from Epicurious

I turned to Epicurious for the Chicken Piccata recipe, using this one. It was great, and all I did to enhance it was to double the lemon and capers.  That’s also how we roll here at Glover Gardens.

I had intended to round out this classic meal with steamed broccoli and more lemon, but forgot to buy it during the Saturday grocery run.  What to do? I needed something bright, with acidity, crunch and contrasting flavors to complement the richness of the risotto. Rummaging again, I found a fresh jalapeño and one lonely carrot and decided gather a few more strange bedfellows and throw together a quick and perky salad for three.

Perky Salad (serves 3)

Ingredients

  • 1 small green apple, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and then shredded with the peeler
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 10 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 TBSP white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and toss.

The result of this college-student-comes-home requested dinner was delightful, and I’m very grateful to be reacquainted with “normal” (delicious!) risotto. I’ll be making the crazy Perky Salad again soon – it was a wonderful foil to the warm richness of the risotto and the chicken and would go very well with grilled meats, too. The white balsamic vinegar is a real winner, adding the perfect tanginess.

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And finally, the whole evening was made perfect by the results of the Astros-Yankees Game 7 of the National League Championship Series we watched together – Go Astros!!! The video below is from USA Today Sports, and beware if you visit – the haters are already hating that they Yankees didn’t win and ensure the “perfect” World Series matchup with the Dodgers, and their comments are really nasty.  Sigh.

Well, haters or not, World Series, here we come!!!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook