September 20, 2009

Fall's Bounty

This weekend was the first time I’ve gone to the farmer’s market and actually felt the chill of fall in the air.  It made me giddy!  There’s so much to look forward to – kale, swiss chard, root vegetables, apples of every kind, and brussels sprouts, oh brussles sprouts! I could eat them for every meal.  And if you think you don’t like them, it’s only because you’ve never had them cooked properly for you.  (Not to insult any homecooks out there, but they are simply horrible when overcooked. Completely bitter.)

When I saw them sitting there I just couldn’t resist.  I didn’t care what else I made, the sprouts would be the centerpiece of the plate.

But then I got ambitious, as usual.  I bought what should have been a wonderful piece of beef from market (it wasn’t, although the marinade was good) and then picked up some fennel for a great salad, and fresh bread to top off the meal.  The fennel salad is a wonderful addition to my rotation (thank you Melissa!) and I did almost nothing to the brussels sprouts – this meal just highlights the food in it’s most basic form.

Easy Beef Marinade

2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ c. red wine
salt & pepper

Pour the olive oil on the meat and coat on both sides. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the meat.  Add the garlic and the wine and let sit for at least 2 hours.

Perfect Brussles Sprouts

I usually like to make these with chicken stock, but I didn’t have any on hand so I improvised. 

2 large handfuls of brussels sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ c. water
salt & pepper

Heat oil in a pan.  Add brussels sprouts and salt & pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally.  Cook until they are just browned, about 3 minutes.  Pour in water and cover the pan.  Cook for about 3 minutes until just tender.  Uncover and cook for another two until the water is evaporated.  Taste them when then get tender - they should still be crisp, not soggy and falling apart.

Fennel and Onion Salad

This is a wonderful start or finish to a meal.  But a word of warning, you may not want to take these leftovers to the office, especially if you know you’re going to be in a lot of meetings…

1 fennel bulb, greens discarded, cut in slices twice
1 small onion, cut in slices twice
juice of half a lemon
3 tbsp. fresh thyme
2 tbsp. olive oil (or more to just coat)
salt & pepper
freshly grated parmesan

Place the fennel and onion in a bowl.  Toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper.  Add the thyme.  Adjust ingredients as needed.  You may need more lemon juice to give it additional acidity, according to your taste.  Once plated, grate the parmesan directly onto the salad – this gives it a wonderful nutty flavor that cuts the onion nicely.

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