Every Superhero has one great nemesis. Batman has Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. My nemesis is named Inertia. Inertia convinces me to sleep an extra hour; she calls me to my comfy couch, and encourages me to get lost in formulaic television rather than creating something of my own. Inertia’s power frightens me. Without her, there’s no telling what I can do, yet I don’t know how to rid myself of her. This layoff has given me approximately 40 weeks to reinvent myself. 40 weeks seems like plenty of time, but not when Inertia sits at my left hand, whispering to me, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, start tomorrow.”
4 Large Brussels sprouts, cut in half and finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups of leaves)
1/3 cup Canadian bacon, finely diced
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
3 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon milk
Sauté onion in butter until beginning to soften. Add Brussels sprouts and bacon and continue cooking until onions are soft and golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and thyme. Combine canola oil and 3 Tablespoons milk in a measuring cup. Pour oil mixture over flour mixture and mix well. Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a 12” circle. Place on a sheet pan, remove waxed paper.
Spread filling on dough, leaving a ¾” border. Sprinkle filling with feta cheese. Brush border with remaining 1 Tablespoon milk, fold border towards center, just barely enclosing filling and pleating as you go. Brush top of dough with any remaining milk.
Bake galette 25-30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.”
If Envy is the green–eyed monster, then call me emerald-eyed Godzilla. A culinary peer just published her first article in a small, but well-regarded, food publication – I stumbled upon it accidentally and I’m verdantly envious. Not one of my nobler facets, this festering envy, but what’s a girl to do? I could deploy my usual denial tactics – block all social media mentioning her name and refuse to acknowledge my feelings of inadequacy. Not very mature nor useful. Instead, I’ve decided to better acquaint myself with the green–eyed goblin. A half–hour of internet research made me see that my envy is merely waiting to be harnessed for my benefit. Envy is a powerful teacher when it’s allowed to speak and the student takes the time to listen. Envy guides us towards our true desires. We need to ask ourselves what, specifically, is causing our envy. It’s typically something we want to be doing ourselves – like publishing a food article, perhaps? Envy rears its head when we feel we are falling behind our peers. Those we tend to envy are our equals, with quirks and failings as clear as our own, yet they’ve managed to express their talents in a way that we feel we should be doing ourselves – she published an article and why haven’t I?
Now that we’ve used envy to our advantage, now that we’re aware of the brass ring within our grasp, it’s time to move past emotion and into action. The quickest way to quash envy is to reach out to the person and offer them our congratulations quickly followed by a request for their advice on how we can move towards our own success. As soon as we see them as an ally and resource working towards a similar goal, the envy seems to melt away. Lastly, we need to take one small step towards our own goal – there’s room for more than one at the top.
And speaking of green…
Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter, Cumin and Coriander
– 6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
– ¾ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
– ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
– 1 ½ lbs. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
– Salt and Pepper to taste
– 1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure the butter is cooking evenly. Once the color has changed from yellow to light-brown, add coriander and cumin and heat another 30 seconds until fragrant. Set butter aside.
In a large skillet with lid, heat brussels sprouts with ½ cup water on medium heat. Reduce heat, cover with lid and cook about 10 minutes until a knife tip easily pierces center of sprout but sprout is still firm. Remove lid, increase heat to high and heat until water is completely absorbed.
Add butter, including browned butter solids and spices, to sprouts and stir until sprouts are evenly covered with butter and begin to brown around edges. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with zest. Sprouts can be made ahead and reheated or served at room temperature.
For all of November, and most of October if I’m honest, I’ve had a terrible bout of writer’s block. It’s not lack of topics, the “what,” that has me flummoxed; there are plenty of topics – big topics, sensitive topics and juicy topics. However, approaching them, the “how,” has confounded me for weeks.
So, as we move into December, I find myself tardy on both this recipe’s relevancy and the announcement of my not-so-recent career resignation after 15 years. I’ve spent the majority of the last two and a half weeks in my bathrobe without any rush to return to the workforce (or post, obviously).
“Don’t you want what I have?” she asks, feigning innocence. Her eyes say, “I am better than you.” I hesitate, not shameful, but convinced she couldn’t understand. “What you have is banal, unremarkable. I yearn for the exalted, more than I deserve, beyond your comprehension. I will endure rather than choose less.” I profess contentment, yet possess the greatest of restlessness. I’m content in this restlessness, perhaps.
I take a bite of my onion tart. Don’t you want what I have?
Adapted from Andre Soltner. Cubed bacon can be sprinkled over the tart before baking.
1 9” tart dough recipe (pâte brisée or premade refrigerated shell)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 onions cut lengthwise and thinly sliced (with mandolin if possible)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated muenster cheese
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 pinch grated nutmeg
freshly ground pepper
Line tart pan with dough and dock using a fork. Freeze for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Sauté onions in skillet with butter and salt until they are golden and tender (15-20 minutes).
Cover tart shell with parchment and fill with rice or beans. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove parchment and rice and bake another 5 minutes until sides are barely starting to color. Remove from oven.
In a bowl, whisk together egg, cream, cheese, thyme, nutmeg, and pepper. Add egg mixture to cooled onion mixture, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour onion mixture into tart shell and spread evenly.
Bake 25 – 30 minutes until filling and golden brown and set. If the edges brown too quickly, cover edges with foil.
On our last day of pasta making with Manuelina Culinary, we learned about Northern Italian spaetzle. Spaetzle from Italy? Wha? Sacrilege! After my German incredulity wore off, I conceded that it makes sense. Northern Italy borders both Switzerland and Austria and Germany lies just a hop, skip and jump away. Naturally these dumplings of delight were adopted by the Italians. The Italian adaptation is similar to the German version, but finished by serving the dumplings in a tomato sauce. How very Italiano.
I’d label myself a spaetzle aficionado. I’ve consumed spaetzle in Bavaria and dined on spaetzle with Kalua pork in Maui (Thanks to a fellow Alsatian chef). I’ve gobbled pea-sized versions and spaetzle as fat as Vienna sausages. I’ve prepared spaetzle with a spaetzle maker, colander and with a knife and board. The best spaetzle is twice cooked; first boiled and then finished in a cast iron skillet, sautéed golden brown and crispy in plenty of butter.
I wish I could weave some great story about my mom’s recipe being handed down through the generations, carried aboard the boat that brought my grandparents to America in 1909. Sadly, no. My mom’s recipe came from the Luchow’s cookbook, the famous German restaurant in New York. My mom wanted to recreate dishes from my father’s childhood, so this recipe became a staple in our home sometime after the publish date of 1952.
Add wet ingredients to dry and combine. Add additional milk until dough resembles a stiff pancake batter.
Let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Using a spätzle maker, drop the dumplings into the salted water (or force through a colander with large holes). The spätzle will float to the top when cooked. Let boil a minute longer and then transfer to ice water.
Drain well and saute in butter in a skillet until golden and some pieces are crispy. Season with salt and pepper.