Archive | Vegetables

Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts with Capers (Also, a few photos from our trip north of the border)

Love VancouverHello strangers!

Yeah, I basically took the rest of the summer off from blogging.  Then school started 1 1/2 weeks after we returned from vacation, and shell shock set in.  It’s definitely been a whirlwind past couple of months, but things seem to be settling back into a slow groove (for now).

You might remember I mentioned in my last post that we were headed to the Pacific northwest for several weeks, kids in tow this time.  Everywhere we went, everywhere we ate, every place we covered during our 2,300 road trip made us falll in love over and over again.

But Vancouver stole our hearts.


Almost all of our hearts (our daughter liked the city also, but she got to visit with a friend in Seattle so, of course, that was her favorite stop).  Vancouver is culturally diverse, ridiculously clean, and magnificently beautiful.  There are REAL bike paths throughout the city, and by real I mean safely separated from automotive traffic.  The motorists respect the pedestrian and bike traffic, unlike drivers in most bigger U.S. cities I’ve visited.  It almost doesn’t make sense to drive your car downtown, especially since there is no major freeway into the city.  Vancouver is surrounded by water on three sides, which means there are plenty of bridges.

We did all the touristy things:  The Canadian Trail, biking the seawall, visiting the Granville Market and (of course) we ate.

And ate….and ate.

One of the standout meals was a lunch we had one of our first days in the city.  On a beautiful breezy afternoon in a part of the city called gastown, we opted for an outdoor seat along one the cobblestone streets at a tavern-y place called The Flying Pig.  Our lovely, engaging waitress (gosh, I wish I could remember her name!) made several menu suggestions, but the crispy Brussel sprouts small plate  was most intriguing.  After confessing my hate of the vegetable, she relayed that many haters are turned lovers after trying it and so we ordered it.  We gobbled it down at record speed and immediately began plotting how to fit another visit back to the restaurant into our already jam-packed schedule.  I refused to leave until the waitress described the chef’s recipe to me.

Flash frying is a method of quick cooking in an extremely hot neutral-tasting oil with a high burn point for a short period of time, thus reducing greatly the amount of time the food is in the oil.  Because the oil is hot, the food only needs to be submerged for about 30 seconds or so.  A few tips for flash frying:

1).  Use grape seed or sunflower oil.

2).  It’s hard to say how much oil you will need.  It will depend on the size of your pot, but you want the brussel sprouts to just be submerged.  I used an entire quart of grape seed oil.

3).  Make sure you choose a deep enough pot because there will be a bit of spitting and splatter when you drop the sprouts in.

4).  Cook in small batches.  If you put too many sprouts in at a time, it will reduce the temperature of the oil too much.

5).  Don’t be intimidated!  It really is a quick process.

crispy brussel sprouts

Crispy Parmesan Brussels Sprouts with Capers (from The Flying Pig)


  • 1 pound of fresh brussel sprouts, halved and woody stems removed
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • grape seed or sunflower oil

Bring brussel sprouts to room temperature (this will help decrease splattering)

Heat oil in large, deep pot over medium-high heat. I used a candy thermometer and heated mine to almost 200 degrees fahrenheit.

Gently and carefully drop 8-10 brussel sprouts into hot oil. I used my hand and dropped a few in the oil and stood back a few seconds until the initial spitting subsided. Again, you should dividing the brussel sprouts into about 3-4 cooking batches.

Watch the brussel sprouts because they will crisp quickly. When the edges of the leaves begin to turn a golden brown color (about 30 seconds), remove them to a plate lined with paper towels.

Complete the process, working in batches until all the sprouts are flash fried.

Transfer the crispy sprouts to a bowl or plate.

Sprinkle capers on top and squeeze lemon juice over sprouts.

Top with fresh grated parmesan to taste.

Enjoy immediately or the brussel sprouts will lose their crispiness (they still make great leftovers, though!)

crispy brussel sprouts crispy brussel sprouts


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Shrimp Spring Rolls

shrimp spring rollsThe assembly of these is a bit of a chore, but once you roll one or two, you get into a rhythm.  Plus, they look freaking impressive.  These traveled well in a picnic at our favorite winery.

Shrimp Spring Rolls


  • one pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • olive oil
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber (peeled or not), thinly sliced
  • cilantro leaves
  • parsley leaves
  • 8 rice wrappers
  • 4-6 ounces of rice (also called glass noodles)
  • salt and pepper
  • sauce for dipping

Place the shrimp in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the lime zest and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Heat one Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and sear on all sides about 3-4 minutes until opaque and cooked throughout. Don't overcook. Remove to a plate to cool.

Prepare vegetables while the shrimp cools. After the shrimp have cooled, slice them in half. This will enable them to lay flatter on the wrapper when rolling.

Get ready to roll:

Place the rice noodles in a bowl with some warm water to soften them. Drain.

Add some warm water to a shallow dish (I used a pie tin), submerge one rice wrapper in the warm water for approximately one minute to soften, being careful not to let the sides fold in. Remove and spread the wrapper out on a cutting board or other flat surface. Place vegetables and parsley and/or cilantro leaves on the bottom third of the wrapper. Add a few of the rice noodles. Place 3 to 4 shrimp, cut side up, above the noodles on the wrapper.

Start rolling the rice paper from the bottom and over the vegetables, tucking as you go. Once you have rolled over the vegetables once, tuck in the sides of the rice wrapper to form a package. Continue folding and tucking all the way, until it resembles a burrito. Cut in half with a sharp knife.

I served this with Trader Joe's Gyoza dipping sauce (because I was in a hurry), but these go great with peanut sauce, also:

2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1-1 1/2 TBSP water

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper


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Roasted Beets with Chimichurri Sauce

roasted beets with chimichurri sauce

I know this comes a bit late, but lets talk about Mother’s Day.  Was it nice?  Did you spend quality time with your children?  What about your mother?

My Mother’s Day was especially special.  It was the first year that my husband gave our daughter money and turned her loose in a store to choose a gift without any guidance from him (she chose thoughtfully:  two books and a set of unique measuring cups) and we went out for dinner.

Even though many folks choose to go out for dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day, we usually order in just for that reason.  We aren’t crowd people.  We like to take it quiet and easy (most of the time).  Ordering in-either sushi or good Italian from the pasta kitchen up the street-just makes sense to us on holidays where restaurants are bustling.

Until this year.

Because we are busy (as are most families) we often don’t get to have a sit-down dinner.  Meetings run late.  School activities interfere.  The few times a week we do get to break bread together are often rushed.  That is the crux of why I enjoy eating out as a family:  I’m not rushing around to get everything on the table and they are…well, they are a captive audience.  No excusing themselves from the table as soon as they are finished to get back to whatever they need or want to do.

I made a reservation at one of our new favorite places to eat in north Baltimore, the Shoo-Fly Diner.  Shoo-Fly is the retro diner creation of James Beard nominee Spike Gjede, owner of the much-acclaimed (and arguably best restaurant in Baltimore) Woodberry Kitchen, as well as Artifact Coffee.  Of course, I waited until about two weeks before Mother’s Day to make the reservation, so I had to settle for a 4 pm time slot.  It worked to our advantage, before the dinner rush and leaving enough time in the early evening to enjoy the sunset back home on the patio.

Everything on the menu looked amazing and we had a hard time deciding.  We finally settled on several appetizers and the beet side-dish, which was highly recommended by the waitstaff.


People have very extreme opinions about them.  I often see them in the trade box at the CSA pick-up and I am the only one in my family who likes them.  So I ordered them.  And they were amazing.  Like…stole-the-show amazing.  The “secret”, the waitress said, was the chimichurri sauce.  I took the rest home and ate them for breakfast the next day out of the carton with a fork standing at the refrigerator.

I mean, isn’t that the highest compliment you can pay to food?

Chimicurri sauce, which is sometimes made with parsley, sometimes cilantro, or both, is quiet versatile.  It can be eaten with all kinds of meat, seafood, or vegetables.  You can even top eggs with it.  It can be used right away, but turns into a real beauty when made a day ahead allowing the flavors to build.

Roasted Beets with Chimichurri Sauce


  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh minced oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-5 medium-sized beets (a mixture of golden and red, if you prefer)
  • 2-3 radishes, finely chopped

Roast the beets:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Wash beets and cut off roots and stems

Wrap beets in aluminum foil and roast in preheated oven 50-60 minutes or until you can easily slide a thin knife into them.

Let beets cool slightly and carefully slide the skins off. Cut into 1-1/2" chunks.

Make the chimichurri sauce:

Warm the olive oil in a small skillet on low heat. As soon as it starts to simmer, remove skillet and add the garlic and the herbs. Allow to cool slightly.

Place the cilantro and parsley in a food processor and pulse a couple of times, just enough to mince them. You don't want to pulverize them.

Place the mixture in a bowl and add the olive oil with herbs. Stir until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top roasted beets with chimichurri sauce (you may not use it all).

Add chopped radishes.




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