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

Fruit Salad Slaw (not as weird as it sounds)

The Grill-Meister isn’t a big fan of most vegetables, but I’m on a lifelong mission to pull him over to the bright side.  One way I’ve been successful in this mission over the past few years has been with slaws.  I can throw together a quick slaw as a side dish, and he’ll usually eat it without grumbling (much).  But he came to love, love, love slaws after having the Mango Coleslaw at Peli Peli, an upscale Houston-area eatery that serves South African food with a twist. The twist being…”fusion”, including the use of marinades and spices that have Dutch, Asian and Portuguese roots, alongside big American meats and seafood. It works! I could go on and on about Peli Peli, one of my favorite restaurants, but this isn’t a restaurant review post, it’s a recipe post.

One of the best things about Peli Peli is that it moved the Grill-Meister from slaw-tolerant to slaw-loving. Adding those dried mangoes did it.

Of course, now that he is a slaw connoisseur, the Grill-Meister gets a little more involved in the slaw assembly, or would that be slaw-sembly? After tasting my latest, in which I dutifully added dried fruit and a little fresh fruit, too, he frowned, paused thoughtfully, and said, “Pretty good. Would be awesome if you added toasted pecans.”

So I did. And he was right. The recipe is below. I decided to call it Fruit Salad Slaw, because without a few of the ingredients, it would be a lovely fruit salad.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 6 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit (see notes below)
  • 1 cup chopped tart green apple, cored and seeded but not peeled
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans (click here for instructions)

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup orange juice (fresh if possible)
  • 2 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil (plain is ok, but if you have fruit-infused oil, it will be even better)
  • 2 tbsp high-quality balsamic vinegar (white balsamic would be prettier)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

Cooking Instructions

Combine the slaw ingredients in a medium serving bowl and stir to distribute.  Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, then pour over the slaw ingredients, tossing to combine well.

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This is a half recipe, for the Grill-Meister and I are empty-nesters; see how vibrant the colors are before the dressing is added?
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The Fruit Salad Slaw was wonderful! But the dark balsamic vinegar gave it a bit of a dingy look

We served the Fruit Salad Slaw alongside Blackened Tilapia, and it was a perfect complement for the crisp, spicy fish. The other side is halved grape tomatoes, halved fresh mozzarella (cherry sized) and green onions, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I usually serve them as an appetizer.

Notes (Lots of Notes)

You’ll see in the quick pic above of the finished product that the balsamic vinegar – which tasted wonderful – gave the slaw a bit of a dingy look. I’m going to invest in a good-quality white balsamic this Saturday during my farmers market run and make it again.

Also, I had on had some blood orange-infused olive oil, and it really jazzed up the dressing. The Fruit Salad Slaw would still be good without it, but you might want to grate a bit of orange zest on it if you are using plain olive oil.

The dried fruit I used is from HEB (a wonderful grocer in Texas), and it is just “mixed dried fruit”, the mix being apricots, prunes, apples, peaches and pears. You could use any combination, or just one. Interestingly, the Grill-Meister didn’t notice that this mixture doesn’t include dried mangos, like his beloved Peli-Peli slaw.  

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Resources

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Confetti Shells Pasta Salad

I tinker with ingredients when I need a quick side and this recipe is one of the results. After tasting it, my Bonus Son said, “Whatever you did to make this salad, you need to write it down. It’s perfect.” 

Confetti Shells Pasta Salad

Cooking Time: About 30 Minutes; Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces small pasta shells or other small pasta, uncooked
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. finely diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3 c. roasted red peppers in oil, chopped, oil reserved
  • 1/2 c. coursely chopped very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 c. petite frozen peas (they’ll thaw in the salad)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cheese (small cubes); mozzarella or gouda is quite nice

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp oil from roasted peppers
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Gather all ingredients, chopping, dicing and measuring as indicated.  Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package; drain. Combine all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. Then combine the rest of the ingredient in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit for a while for the flavors to “marry” and the peas to thaw.

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All the ingredients for this simple side
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This brightly-colored and easy (but sophisticated-tasting) salad is a great summer side dish
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We often pair the Confetti Shells Pasta Salad with Plank-Grilled Salmon, pictured above (find the recipe here).

Add grilled chicken breast slices to make this a main dish rather than a side salad.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Food at the Festival and the Foodie’s Dilemma

The seventh post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips.

Today, we discuss a rather serious situation:  The Foodie’s Dilemma.

How to Enjoy Festival Food and Yet Save Room to Experience NOLA’s Restaurants?

The issue at hand is:  the festival food is so wonderful, so food-truck-trashy-tasty good, so “mama’s been making it for years just like this” authentic,  that any self-respecting foodie simply has to eat it.  And yet,  as a proud foodie, you want to save room for the dinners at the myriad of super-fine restaurants New Orleans has to offer, like Bayona, which was profiled in an earlier post.  It’s a difficult thing.  I’ve been to Jazz Fest five times and still don’t have the formula right for solving the Foodies’ Dilemma.  The best advice I have is to do a lot of walking and make room for more!  Since there are nine different food locations all around the festival offering over 250 menu items, you can do a lot of your walking just trying to make up your mind!  The other strategy we deploy is to skip breakfast, make a reservation for an early lunch at a foodie’s choice restaurant, then head out to the festival and start the serious snacking in mid-afternoon.

How to Choose from All the Mouthwatering Goodness?

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Crawfish Monica photo from EatDrinkCulture blog

And that’s the second part of the Foodie’s Dilemma: once you’ve realized you’re just going to be stuffed the whole time, and not really as ashamed about the gluttony as your Mama taught you to be – how do you pick between all of mouth-watering goodness provided by the 70+ vendors?  With the memory-laden lure of your old favorites, how can even a foodie branch out and try something new?  I’ve never had the Crab & Crawfish Stuffed Mushrooms that Prejean’s restaurant brings to Jazz Fest, but how could I pass up the Crawfish Monica or Crawfish Strudel that I always have?  In the crawfish department alone, there were 18 different selections featuring this delicious little crustacean in 2016.  So many options, so little time!  The Foodie’s Dilemma is actually a Foodie’s Delight.

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I snapped this pic while in line for Crawfish Strudel; notice all the hats (read here about the importance of hats)

Festival Food Photos

So today, for your culinary daydreaming pleasure, here’s a look at some of the delectable festival food, just random pics I’ve snapped during a few of our Jazz Fest journeys.  Some of the food was mine; some was in the hands of strangers.  People are always really nice about letting me photograph their food.

People are always nice at Jazz Fest, period.  It’s like a great big family reunion, but, instead of genes and upbringing, the thing you have in common is a love of music and food.

Catfish Almandine, Potato Salad and Creole Stuffed Crab

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Crawfish Strudel

Jazz Fest Food - Crawfish Strudel

Fried Crawfish and Greek Salad with Gyro Sandwich

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Crawfish Bread

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Have these photos piqued your interest?  The resources below include a link to the food section on the Jazz Fest web site.  There’s a lot more there to see and salivate over.

Crawfish Monica Recipe from Emeril’s Test Kitchen

Did you know that the amount of rotini pasta used to make the Crawfish Monica sold at the festival in a single year is 6 tons???  That stuff is hurt-yourself good.  So here’s a Crawfish Monica recipe via GoNOLA, with a video from chef Chris Wilson, the director of culinary operations at Emeril Lagasse’s test kitchen.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Emergency Responder for Squash Disaggregation: a Tale of Triumph Over Gourd-Adversity

Emergency Call

I was working on a presentation in my office at 4:45 on a weekday, and I was startled when my arm rang.  (I’m still getting used to my new Apple Watch.)

Rose never calls me during work hours unless it’s a food emergency, so I answered, awkwardly holding my wrist up to my face and hoping no colleagues ventured into my office.  “Hi Rose, what’s up?”

“Kim, I’m wrestling with a spaghetti squash!  How do you get the dang thing open?”

This is serious business.  I forgot that I was talking to my wrist and told her the Spaghetti Squash Disaggregation Truth as I know it. (Rose grants me an elevated foodie status, and I try hard to deserve it.)

Get the biggest, sharpest butcher knife you have and stab it hard straight through the heart, like it’s a mortal enemy, then slice downward.

Rose had already done the stabbing.

“My knife is stuck!”

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“That happens to me, too.  You have two options – get a hammer and use it to tap your knife further into and down the squash beast, or get another knife and go at it from a different part of the squash.”

“Really?  This happens to you, too?  I thought there was some kind of Chef Squash Magic you could tell me about, some kind of kitchen wizardry…”  She tailed off, sounding kind of wistful and disappointed.  I hated to let her down.

“No Rose, really, I’ve been in that same situation, alone in the house, just me and the squash and that helpless feeling when it seems like more than you can handle.  But I was not going to let it win, Rose.  That’s where the ‘thinking it’s the enemy’ part comes in.  GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT!”  (I had forgotten that I was in an office setting and was talking to my wrist loud enough for co-workers to hear me waaaay down the hall – but, as I said, this was serious business and Rose needed my full support.)

We shared a few niceties, I encouraged her once more (“You’ve GOT this!”) and then hung up – or rather, I pushed a little red button on my watch to end the call and went back to my presentation.  I wondered how she’d fare, but knowing Rose, my money was on her.  It takes more than a gourd to defeat a grimly determined woman.

The Rest of the Story:  a Tale of Triumph Over Gourd-Adversity

A few hours later, I was rewarded with the rest of the story, presented on Facebook by a triumphant Rose.

“Sooo….my first sincere attempt at cooking spaghetti squash. Pinterest failed to mention that these squash do not have a soft melon-like consistency….they are hard boulders that taunt you with their inaccessibility. Thank you, (another friend), for your attempt at helping me, but I ended up swallowing my little pride and calling the Oracle, Kim. She suggested the stab and split downward method. After working out my frustrations on unsuspecting produce, the second picture is the final result. It tasted great, and was made more satisfying with the knowledge that I was consuming an earlier arch nemesis (that dang aforementioned boulder squash). I know this is long, and I don’t normally post food, but I’m celebrating a well earned triumph.”

She did it!

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The Wisdom of the Crowd:  A New Technique

Rose’s post generated lots of compliments and comments.  The banter was wonderful.  She added:

“I have to admit, it’s really good. Also, really easy once you break into the agricultural spawn of Satan.”

Said others:

  • “We have it all the time. My chain saw works great for cutting the little Devil.”
  • “This happened to me last week! After getting in a full workout cutting it, I read that you can microwave it for 5 min first to make it easier.”
  • “Poke holes and microwave for 2 minutes! It softens it significantly for you to cut it.”
  • “I see somebody else mentioned it (microwaving)! It really helps. You just can’t touch it for like 20 minutes after LOL!”
  • “I’ve found that hatchets are fun! That is of course if you forgo the above mentioned softening techniques.”

Softening in the microwave?  Great idea!  I had never heard that one and am ready to try it, unless…see Rose’s answer to the suggestion that she try the microwave approach.

“That will depend heavily on how the rest of my day has gone. The technique I employed to get into the squash this time was oddly therapeutic.”

The Recipe

Facebook folks asked for the recipe, which she shared:

Permission to Share

Final note:  I sought permission from Rose the Mighty Squash-Quasher to share this event and the Facebook conversation .

You have the intrepid heart of warrior! Kudos for winning the squash war and bringing the gourd to its culinary knees. The recipe looks super-yum. Can I put this escapade in my blog? Oh please?

She said yes.

Copyright 2017 Glover Gardens Cookbook

Call This Baby (Carrot) Ugly

Epicurious sends a message every day, just for me (and their umpteen zillion other subscribers).  I usually don’t have time to read it right away (or ever, sometimes), but today’s caught my eye.  It listed their top ten stories of 2016, and as a food blogger, I was interested to see what generated the most interest.  They introduced the list:

Cooking made us happier in 2016 (there’s proof!), and so did these stories, which are our ten most loved, clicked-on, and shared stories of the year.

They’re all interesting, and I’ve provided the link to the online version at the end of this post.  But the one that stood out was #6 on the list, “The Case Against Baby Carrots”  by Adina Steinman.

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Here’s the scoop: baby carrots aren’t babies at all!!!  They are full-grown carrots masquerading as cute, younger, fake versions of themselves after some vegetable-style cosmetic surgery.

Sez the story, which is subtitled “Why Baby Carrots are Evil”:

Baby carrots are in fact full-grown carrots, whittled down into earplug-shaped cylinders. They aren’t sweeter, fresher, or younger than the bunches of carrots they’re sold alongside. In fact, they’re often made from older carrots, hence the starchy, not-very-sweet flavor you get from some bags.

It’s an outrage, and as the writer says, these carrots are pure evil.  I will never, ever buy these manually-midgeted carrots again.  I have no idea why I didn’t realize they were a sham, but from today forward, I am committed to peeling the authentic full-grown versions.

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Beautiful, authentic, full-grown and unmodified carrots – the real deal

In honor of the noble, full-sized root vegetable, here is a picture and a recipe that a friend of mine brought to a wine party, made with beautiful heirloom carrots.  They are tossed with sumac and mint, topped with toasted pistachios and served on a bed of marvelous whipped feta.  They were delicious!

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My friend’s heirloom carrots on their bed of feta, topped with pistachio goodness

Here’s how it looks in the magazine where he found the recipe.

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Photo from Shape.com by Sang An

New year’s resolution: no more baby carrots!!!

Links:

 

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe: A New Holiday Sweet Potato Favorite

We love our holiday food classics here at Glover Gardens, but it is also fun to mix it up a bit.  At Thanksgiving this year, my Aunt-Mom (there’s a story for another time) did just that with these wonderful sweet potato “stacks” she found in Cooking Light.  Yum!  And look how attractive they are.

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These sweet potatoes were just right – not sweet and just the right savory level.  And the serving size is excellent.  Photo by Frank Harvell (AKA my Dad).

My Aunt-Mom says she doesn’t like to cook but is really, really good at finding great new recipes.  This one can be found online at Cooking Light’s site here:  Sweet Potato Stacks with Browned Butter.

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Photo for Cooking Light online by Jennifer Causey