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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.

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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)

Ingredients

  • 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!)

http://fiercelyfresh.com/2014/09/crispy-parmesan-brussel-sprouts-with-capers-also-a-few-photos-from-our-trip-north-of-the-border/

crispy brussel sprouts crispy brussel sprouts

 

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Coconut mango bites

delicious

When the weather warms up, I’m on the lookout for things I can make for road trips or picnics that travel well and aren’t melty (sorry, chocolate!).  These fit the bill.

The earlier batches I made were a bit wet, so be sure not to soak the mango too long.  You just want it just a little pliable so that it will incorporate with the nuts and coconut.

coconut mango bites (adapted from My New Roots)

makes approximately 20 pieces

2/3 cup cashews (if buying raw, soak in water for four hours.  Drain, rinse, and let nuts dry)

1 cup unsweetened dry mango (read the label to be sure it’s unsweetened.  I purchased mine from MOM’S)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, plus more for rolling

1-2 tsp creamed honey (or agave, brown rice syrup, or sweetener of choice)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1/2 lime

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of salt

Place all ingredients except in a food processor and pulse to form a sticky dough.  Spook out dough approximately 1/2 tsp at a time and roll between palms to form a ball. Roll in coconut.  Set in refrigerator to firm up.

cashews

creamed honey dried mango snack

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beans! beans! they’re good for your heart…

We’re back from our second (that’s right, I said second) vacation this summer.

The first, our trip to the Pacific northwest, was an adult-only trip.

The second, kids included, was a trip down south to the land of our honeymoon, Kiawah island, South Carolina.  I admit that I was a little hesitant returning  with kids in tow,  but I guess the fact that I retained limited, specific memories of the first trip (thanks, old age!) probably worked in my favor.  The beach was every bit as beautiful as I remembered…the city of Charleston just as charming.  There was just a lot little more whining this time than I remembered.

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating another section of the blog containing photos and description of our travels; however that is going to require prolonged, undivided attention/creativity that I simply won’t have until school starts the next week. Until I get that going,  here is a little teaser…a photo of my husband in the Redwood National Forest.

Back to the recipe…

I apologize (sort of) for the crude post title.  Can I blame it on prolonged face time with my 11-year-old son during the past week of vacation?  Although he starts middle school next week, he still giggles at a flatulence reference in the way that boys do.

I hope you’ll give this recipe a try.  I don’t know about you, but I often go to barbecues in the summer and am overwhelmed by the creamy, mayonnaise-laden side dishes.  This is a filling, but light, alternative.

bean and romaine salad with honey balsamic dressing

8 ounces each:  cooked chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans (fresh or canned, drained and rinsed)

1 small head of romaine lettuce, shredded

1/3 cup sliced, toasted almonds

garnish with 10 springs fresh thyme

dressing

2 tsp olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp sea salt

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