Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts

Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts is a kicked-up version of one of Ample Bites’ favorite vegetables. In our household, we love the tiny cabbages known as Brussels sprouts. This recipe uses the richness of blue cheese and the salty bacon to enhance the wholesome little sprouts.

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Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of foodandwine.com, 2013)

Makes about 6 Servings

10 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup light beer
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

In a large pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp; drain bacon on paper towels, and pour off rendered fat from pan.

In the same pan, melt the butter. Add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, and cook with out moving for 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and beer, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beer is nearly evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to broil.

Place sprouts in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and blue cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Serve immediately.

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Vegetable Side Dishes for Easter

An Ample Bites fan asked for some suggestions for vegetable side dishes for Easter dinner this Sunday. Below are recipes for a few of my favorites. All of these dishes go very well with ham and lamb.

Asparagus and Cheese Tart
(Courtesy of April 2012, Food Network Magazine)

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 1/2 pound)
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 cup grated comte of gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 Tbsp minced shallot
2 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp whole milk
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring about 1 inch of water to boil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus; cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking; drain and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Roll out the puff pastry into a 10-by-16-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, mix the cheeses, shallot, egg yolks, milk, nutmeg and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the asparagus on the tart and bake until the cheese mixture is slightly puffy, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Red Onion

2 pounds of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F

Line a baking sheet with oil. In a large bowl, toss sprouts, onion, oil, sugar and seasonings. Spread the sprouts in the baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, toss well and serve immediately.

Balsamic-Glazed Green Beans

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Cook beans and cranberries in simmering water in a skillet for 4 to 5 minutes until tender crisp. Drain and pat green beans dry. Immediately heat oil in skillet and add the onions and sugar, cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add the beans and cranberries and stir for about 3 minutes, until heated through. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook one additional minute. Garnish with the slivered almonds and serve.

Scalloped Potatoes with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers
(Courtesy of April 2012, Food Network Magazine)

2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8 inch thick and patted dry
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
4 plum tomatoes, sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 yellow and orange bell peppers, cut into 3/4 inch strips
1 onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
3 tsp herbes de Provence
1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)

Whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the remaining 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream in a medium saucepan; stir in the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the garlic and bay leaves and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the potatoes and simmer until halfway cooked, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in the egg-milk mixture and 1 cup gruyere. Cover and keep warm.

Preheat the broiler. Put the tomatoes, bell peppers and onion on a baking sheet in separate piles. Drizzle each pile with 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss each pile to coat and spread them out. Broil until tender and charred around the edges, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with olive oil. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) in the dish. Spoon out half of the potatoes and arrange evenly over the breadcrumbs; top with the broiled onions and half each of the tomatoes and peppers. Top with the remaining potatoes in an even layer and all of the cream mixture; discard the garlic and bay leaves. Top with the remaining tomatoes and bell peppers.

Bake until the potatoes are tender and lightly golden, about 40 to 50 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup cream and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup gruyere. Continue baking until the cheese melts, about 5 more minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Coffee-brined Grilled Pork Chops

Our weather this spring has been amazing and this Sunday is no different. One of my favorite things to do on a day like today is to grill thick, juicy pork chops. I find that brining pork chops help to keep them very juicy and flavorful even when seared on a very hot grill.

One of my favorite brines uses black coffee instead of simply using water. We usually have a little left over after breakfast. If that is not enough, I’ll brew just a little more. If I plan far enough ahead, like I did this week, I’ll save a couple days worth of leftover coffee for my brine. The recipe for my brine and grilling instructions for the chops follows.

Coffee-brined Grilled Pork Chops

Serves 4

4 1 to 1 ½” thick center cut bone-in pork chops
4 cups black coffee, cooled to room temperature
4 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp dried sage leaves
1 Tbsp dried thyme leaves
EVOO
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dissolve the kosher salt into black coffee in a large non-reactive bowl. Add honey, syrup, sage and thyme, mixing thoroughly. Pat pork chops dry and immerse into the coffee – spice brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove pork chops from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry. Allow the pork chops to elevate to room temperature before grilling.

Brush the pork chops with good olive oil and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Preheat gas grill to high (500F+) for at least ten minutes. Sear one side of the pork chops over high heat for 3 – 4 minutes, rotating the chop 90 degrees halfway through. Reduce the heat to high indirect with burner directly below the pork chops turned off. Flip the chops to the other side and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, again rotating 90 degrees halfway through.

Remove the pork chops from the grill, cover and let stand for 5 minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute within the meat. Before serving drizzle with chops with a small amount of a very good olive oil.

Today, I am combining the pork chops with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Red Onions, see my earlier post for the recipe for this dish, and baked acorn squash. The squash recipe can be found below. For a starch with this meal, I like to use a rice or mashed potato to soak up all of the pork chop juices and the buttery goodness from the squash.

Baked Acorn Squash with Sage and Asiago

Serves 4

2 Acorn squash, halved with seeds removed
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into eight pats
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp dried sage leaves
8 oz Asiago cheese, grated to a medium texture
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with foil, place two pats of butter in each half of squash, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with each with roughly ¼ of the syrup and the honey, and sprinkle with the dried sage.

Bake for 40 minutes. Check the doneness of the squash with a metal skewer. If the skewer pulls out easily after insertion, the squash is ready. If not, cook for an additional 5 minutes at a time, checking doneness each time until done.

When the squash is cooked, sprinkle the grated Asiago over the squash and bake until the cheese is melted, then serve immediately.

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Two More Recipes from The Olive Mill

Ample Bites will not be cooking again until Sunday because of family plans tonight and tomorrow night. The Sunday menu will be a good one, so please check back for the recipes and photos.

Here are a couple more great recipes using the olive oils and balsamic vinegar from our friends at The Olive Mill:

Marinated Mushroom Salad

A simple salad is always a welcome compliment to any entree.

1 Tbsp OLIVE MILL Cherry Balsamic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1/8 tsp each Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp OLIVE MILL olive oil, such as Kalamata
1 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup cherry tomato halves
8 pitted ripe olives, halved
Lettuce, rinsed, dried and chopped

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until blended. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and olives and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Toss the mushroom salad with the lettuce and serve immediately.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Red Onion

The Ample Bites family loves Brussels Sprouts. This recipe is a very easy and savory way to prepare these healthy vegetables.

2 – 3 lb Brussels sprouts, rinsed, trimmed and halved
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp OLIVE MILL olive oil, such as Ascalana
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp OLIVE MILL White Lemon Balsamic

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with a thin coating of olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss the sprouts, onion, oil, sugar, and salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on the baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Toss well, re-season with salt and pepper to taste and serve while warm.

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