“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.
“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?
A savory tart for the Alsace Lorraine region – richer than quiche. I expect nothing less from my Alsatian heritage. To gild the lily, cubed bacon can be sprinkled over the tart before baking. Adapted from Andre Soltner.
1 9” tart crust recipe (pâte brisée or premade refrigerated shell)
2 onions cut lengthwise and thinly sliced (with mandolin, if possible)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 large egg
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated Muenster cheese
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 pinch grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 9” tart pan with dough and dock using a fork. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Sauté onions in a large skillet with butter and salt until they are golden and tender, 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cover tart shell with parchment paper and fill with rice, beans, or pie weights. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove parchment and rice and bake another 5 minutes until sides of tart are barely starting to color. Remove from oven.
In a bowl, whisk together egg, heavy cream, Muenster 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. Cool 10 minutes and serve hot.
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).