Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ginger and Kimchi

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ginger and Kimchi

So, lately I’ve had these big jars of easy kimchi sitting on my countertop and on the middle shelf of my fridge. I gaze at it with adoring eyes, and because I love it so, it sneaks its way into my cooking almost daily.

And my most recent kimchi win is this dish of roasted Brussels sprouts with ginger and kimchi.

It is high season for Brussels sprouts. Every produce shop in Paris proudly displays the miniature cabbages on their sidewalk stands — this is where they show off their most gorgeous, most seasonal stuff — and it’s hard for me to walk past and not buy a bulging paper bag of them.

(Shopping tip! Pick Brussels sprouts that feel firm, with the leaves tightly furled. They should have a nice, even green color, with no sign of yellowing or browning. If you find them still attached to the stalk — which never happens in Paris, sadly — that’s even better.)

Pick Brussels sprouts that feel firm, with the leaves tightly furled, and no sign of yellowing.

I have two current favorite uses for Brussels sprouts. One is to make a shaved salad, slicing them thin with my mandoline slicer and serving them raw with, say, diced apples, fresh walnuts, and a citrusy dressing. The other is to roast them hard, so they’ll become tender — but not mushy! — and take on a good bit of caramelized char.

It’s not surprising that roasted Brussels sprouts are so insanely good: all members of the Brassica family take beautifully to that treatment, which reveals their sweet nuttiness. If you need convincing, I’ll refer you to my roasted cauliflower à la Mary Celeste, my charred broccoli and avocado salad, or my roasted Savoy cabbage.

Roasted Brussels sprouts + kimchi

I came across this particular way of pairing roasted Brussels sprouts with kimchi in one of J. Kenji López-Alt’s brilliant Food Lab columns. When you think about it, it makes complete sense to eat fermented cabbage alongside fresh cabbage, and indeed the acidity and crunch of the kimchi complement the roasted Brussels sprouts most winningly.

Another take-away of this fabulous recipe is to roast fresh ginger, finely chopped into thin sticks, alongside the Brussels sprouts. Without Kenji’s encouragement I might have worried the ginger would burn, but instead its flavor deepens and concentrates, and improves the overall balance of the dish.

It’s an incredibly easy one to put together, too, with a simple Asian-inspired dressing that uses ingredients you should totally keep in your pantry if you don’t already: honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and fish sauce (or soy sauce).

We’ve delighted in this as a simple vegetarian meal, sometimes with steamed rice underneath, sometimes with avocado on top, and I’ve also served it alongside spatchcocked chicken or roasted mackerel. And I think it will do really well as a unique side on your holiday table!

Join the conversation!

What’s your stance on Brussels sprouts: love ’em or hate ’em? If it’s the former, how do you like to prepare them? Will they figure in your holiday menu planning?

Brussels sprouts

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12 Best Food Gifts for the Holidays

12 Best Food Gifts

Giving away your own goodies for the holidays is a total win in my book: homemade food gifts are environmentally friendly, they don’t break the bank, they are guaranteed to be of use to the recipient, and they give you the perfect excuse to spend a bit of time playing in the kitchen.

But not tooooo much time either: I’m sure you have a mile-long to-do list around the holidays, and making your own edible gifts should not add to your stress. So I’ve handpicked some of my best food gifts — the kind that’s easy to make and delicious to receive — to share with you. Please add you own favorites in the comments so we can all benefit!

French Christmas Sablés

Thin, crisp, and delicately buttery with just a whisper of cinnamon, these classic French cookies are based on my best friend’s mother’s recipe, who has been making them every year for decades. Add them to your own tradition!

sablesnoel-holiday-gift

Easy Orangettes

Orangettes are short strips of candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate, and they’re a classic of French chocolate confections. These are a breeze to make if you buy the orange peel already candied from a baking supply store, yet they make for a super classy gift.

shortcut_orangettes-holiday-gift

Dukkah

Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix made with nuts (commonly hazelnuts, sometimes pistachios or almonds) and seeds (cumin, sesame, coriander, fennel). It is typically used as an interactive appetizer: serve with bread and a shallow cup of olive oil for people to dip in. Perfect to make as a big batch and give out to all your friends!

dukkah1_holiday-gift

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Easy Homemade Kimchi

Homemade Kimchi

A few weeks ago in my newsletter (sign up now!) I hinted that I had prepared a really easy homemade kimchi, and I asked whether you wanted to hear about it. The response was an unequivocal “Yes!” so today I come to you with my DIY formula for kimchi.

I’ve long been intrigued by all things fermented. Whether it’s sourdough bread, pickles, yogurt, kvass, cheese, kombucha, milk or fruit kefir, preserved lemons… I find it inordinately exciting that microorganisms can be put to work like an army of tiny helpers to transform foods, improve their flavor, extend their shelf life, and boost their nutrition.

I can’t be babysitting microorganisms; I have real children, too.

I am also fascinated by the serendipity and ingeniosity of these preparations. How admirable were these early humans to discover and harness the fermentation process, long before we even knew there was such a thing as a microorganism?* (And how many died of food poisoning in the name of experimentation? Some kind of memorial is in order, surely.)

And because I’m just as interested in the microbiota and the beneficial effects of probiotic foods on gut health, I’m always seeking to expand my repertoire of DIY fermented projects that won’t turn my kitchen upside down, such as this easy homemade kimchi. (I can’t be babysitting microorganisms; I have real children, too.)

Make your own kimchi!

A preparation of spiced fermented vegetables, kimchi is a cornerstone of Korean cuisine: the average Korean puts away 250 grams** (9 ounces) a day. There are many different kinds, but the most iconic versions are based on napa cabbage, radishes, and/or cucumbers.

Curious to learn more about kimchi? Amanda Feifer's wonderful book Ferment Your Vegetables has a whole chapter about it!

Curious to learn more about kimchi? Amanda Feifer’s wonderful book Ferment Your Vegetables has a whole chapter about it!

The process is incredibly straightforward: you select a mix of organic vegetables around the basic formula outlined below, adding pretty much any other vegetable you want to use up.

You chop or slice all this finely (by hand or with a food processor), add salt, and flavor with garlic, ginger, fish sauce (soy sauce for vegetarians), a bit of sugar, and some ground chili powder, making it more or less spicy depending on your preference.

This you’ll transfer to jars and allow to ferment on your counter for at least 5 days, ideally 3 weeks. You can then proudly pop one of the jars open, and dig into the deliciously full-flavored, tart and funky vegetable condiment you’ve created.

Favorite uses for this easy homemade kimchi

The first and most obvious use for this is with Korean food and Asian flavors in general. It would be a lovely item to have on hand if you were to make your own bibimbap (I especially like this recipe, made with the Inspiralizer), or maybe a batch of Korean pancakes, a sushi bowl, or any slurpy noodle dish (many more such ideas on my Asian Inspiration Board on Pinterest).

Beyond these, I like to plop kimchi onto grilled meats, or eat it with eggs (hard-boiled, scrambled, or sunny side up). I stir it into my fried rice and my vegetable stir-fries, I toss it into my salads and my bowls of roasted roots, and I slip it into avocado and/or cheese sandwiches***.

Homemade kimchi kicks thing up by a few notches, provides acidity and crunch, and an irreplaceable sense of pride that you’ve made this wondrous food yourself. And wouldn’t this make the most amazing edible gift for the food enthusiasts around you?

Fermentation transforms foods, improves their flavor, extends their shelf life, and boosts nutrition.

What about you?

Do you share my fascination for fermented foods? Have you ever tried kimchi, and how do you like to eat it? Ever wanted to make your own?

* It’s crazy to think this discovery didn’t happen until the late seventeenth century.

** Source: The excellent Ni Cru Ni Cuit, by Marie-Claire Frédéric, on the history and cultural significance of fermented foods.

*** Keep in mind that kimchi is fairly salty, so adjust the overall seasoning of your dish accordingly. Do not be tempted to reduce the salt content in the kimchi, however, as salt is what keeps the fermentation process safe.

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Gift Guide for Cooks 2015

Gift Guide for Cooks 2015

Gift-giving season is upon us, and here’s my gift guide for cooks! If you’re on the lookout for cool ideas, for yourself or the food enthusiasts on your list, here’s my selection: all of them are highly desirable things that will make a lasting difference in the recipient’s kitchen life.

Gift Guide for Cooks: Utensils!

Gift Guide for Cooks: Cooking Tools

1. Fresh cinnamon

I am in love with the fresh cinnamon I order from Cinnamon Hill, a small company that specializes in sourcing and selling the highest-quality, freshest cinnamon from Sri Lanka (where they have their own plantation) and Vietnam. Run-of-the-mill cinnamon typically comes from China or Indonesia. I get whole sticks, and grate them with the beautifully crafted (and highly giftable!) cinnamon grater that Cinnamon Hill has designed. Truly, you don’t know what cinnamon tastes like until you’ve tried freshly harvested, freshly grated, top-grade cinnamon.

2. Spiral slicer

After coveting it for quite a while, I finally caved in and ordered the Inspiralizer, the spiral slicer created by Ali Mafucci of the Inspiralized blog. When I received it, I was so excited I decided to unbox and try it out live on Periscope! If you like what you see, you can purchase it here. And if you make a move before this Friday (December 4, 2015), the Inspiralizer is on sale at just $39.95, shipping included.

3. Handcrafted utensils

You know how I feel about the handcrafted utensils from Earlywood, but I want to remind you what incredible gifts they make. In particular, I want to highlight the coffee scoop, which will brighten the mornings of anyone making coffee at home, and I use for my granola; and also the trifecta, which is a an ideal starter kit for someone just moving into their own kitchen, or looking to upgrade the cheap utensils they bought when they first did.

4. Best instant-read thermometer*

I first heard about Thermoworks through my friend Elise, who swears by their ChefAlarm thermometer, but the model I was most eager to adopt was their Thermapen, an instant-read thermometer that is most sleekly designed: it has zero buttons (it turns on when you pull out the probe), the display is auto-rotating, auto-backlit, and it reads the temperature in 2-3 seconds with a 0.7°F (0.4°C) accuracy guaranteed by the calibration certificate they send. I’ve been super happy with it, from gauging the doneness of my chicken, to checking the temperature of my little ones’ soups, to tempering chocolate. (*That’s what America’s Test Kitchen calls it!)

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December 2015 Desktop Calendar

December Desktop Calendar from Chocolate & Zucchini

At the beginning of every month, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, with a food-related picture and a calendar of the current month.

The desktop calendar is available in two versions: a US-friendly version that features Sunday as the first day of the week, and a French version (shown above) that complies with international standards, featuring Monday as the first day of the week.

Our calendar for December is a photo of my buckwheat speculoos cookies, which are perfect to get you in the mood for the holidays.

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

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