Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Iron Maiden

[Apologies to medieval torture seekers and heavy metal fans who may have gotten here by mistake: this is a food blog. But stick around, you might like the recipes.]

A few evenings ago, I came downstairs to chat with my landlady who was in the midst of making herself some dinner. "Oooh, what're you cooking?" I asked.

"Well," Jacky confided, "I have too much stuff in my freezer and I never have any room to put anything else in it. I don't even remember what half of it is, so I have decided to change that. I pulled out the first thing I saw and decided I would somehow use it in my dinner. In this case, it was tomato sauce, so I'm making pasta to go with it."

"Using whatever's in your freezer to build a meal, eh? I like that. Kind of a domestic version of Iron Chef." Bold.

"More like Iron Maiden," she smiled, mischievously. Love it!! I meandered back upstairs and have since been reflecting on some of the random odds and ends in my own, often overstuffed fridge and freezer that could use some creative integration into my diet. So I decided to try this approach, too.

Now, there are no rules for this culinary game except that I need to use something up every meal to make more space in my fridge or freezer. I've been nibbling on pickled radishes pretty regularly -- I've a quart jar to get through -- and drinking more kombucha. I cleared out a couple of quarts of frozen veggie stock making a delicious chickpea and kale soup yesterday. I made a smoothie for a snack with some frozen strawberries this afternoon. But the best thing going these days has to be the AMAZING brussels sprout dish I  cooked up using some of the spicy beer mustard that's been hanging out in my fridge for... awhile. I made a batch first with my brother and his wife on Sunday, and then another round for dinner with my friend Kate last night. Both begged for the recipe. I was happy to oblige.

To give credit where it is due, the recipe is in fact based on one in my friend Jonathan's wonderful new cookbook, Seasons to Taste. Of course, Jonathan proposes his original recipe as a great way to enjoy steamed sprouts, I couldn't resist roasting them. Okay, okay, you just want the recipe, eh? Here is my version of it:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bleu Cheese and Mustard


  • 1 quart fresh brussels sprouts
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP minced cippoline onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup mild bleu cheese
  • 1-2 TBSP spicy, wholegrain mustard
  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • white wine vinegar


Preheat oven to 375.

Wash brussels sprouts, then remove stems and halve sprouts. Toss them in a cast iron skillet with a few glugs of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until slightly soft (20-25 minutes).

Meanwhile, let butter soften in a medium pot on the stove. Stir in onion and garlic, then bleu cheese, mustard, parsley. Slowly stir in a teaspoon or so of vinegar.

Once sprouts are roasted to your liking, remove them from the oven and toss with bleu cheese sauce.

That's it! Even folks who claim to not like bleu cheese or brussels sprouts may find this combination irresistible. Dubious? I dare you to try it!

Now, what to clear out of here next for part of my lunch...?

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