Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Edwardian Cooking Part Two: Shredded Spiced Brussels Sprouts

This is the side dish I made along with the Majestic Potato Cream Soup from last week's Edwardian Cooking Part One. It is also found in the book Edwardian Cooking: the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards. 

Here are the listed ingredients for Shredded Spiced Brussels Sprouts:
  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tspn lemon juice
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tspn ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tspn cayenne peppers
I ran into trouble with my first step, but that is not where it ended, oh, no. The first thing you must do to prepare this dish is core the Brussels sprouts. "WTF?" I thought. "How do I do that?" I have only ever had Brussels sprouts whole, usually covered in cheese. (I did not grow up eating Brussels sprouts - I don't think my parents liked them - so I have only eaten them as an adult, and not often.) 

The book instructs you: "using a sharp paring knife, cut out the core of the Brussels sprouts." What, now? I am not 100% sure (Greg may correct me on this), but I don't think we own a paring knife. And looking at the pictures online, the thought of using one sort of freaks me out. I don't cut myself often in the kitchen, but it has happened. (I am far more likely to grate a chunk of my fingernail off with the cheese grater, which has happened at least once.) 

With no paring knife, I turned to the internet, where I learned you can also, according to eHow: "push a vegetable peeler into the bottom of the sprout and pierce the middle of the core. Quickly twist the vegetable peeler in a circular motion. This will cut a hole through the entire core." Then, in theory, I will be able to remove the core. I have the type of peeler in question, so I decided to give that a try. Lies. I almost stabbed myself a number of times attempting this method. 

I eventually just started cutting the sides off the core. If it was too hard to easily cut, I tossed it, which was a frustrating waste to me! I know the cores are edible, just tough and sometimes a bit chewy (granted, a texture that turned Greg off when I made Brussels sprouts before). But anyway...

Once I had gone through half of the Brussels sprouts, I stopped. That was a lot of work, and I was tired of it! I probably should have adjusted the rest of the recipe since I think I had roughly 2 cups of leaves, but I didn't because the recipe didn't say how many leaves I was supposed to have, just that I started out with, I assume, 4 cups total of whole Brussels sprouts. 

Here are the rest of the steps:
  • Shred the cored Brussels sprouts. (I more or less accomplished this in my coring process.)
  • Cook the sprouts in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain and discard the water.
  • Put the cooked sprouts in a serving dish and toss with the remaining ingredients to coat.
Nowhere in that second part does it say "and set your stove on fire," yet that's what happened. Somehow, the spilled soup from earlier that had pooled beneath the burner caught on fire. And it was quite a lot of fire! I had no idea milk and potatoes were so flammable. This is not the first time the stove has caught on fire. In fact, it is the third, and let me reiterate that this is an electric stove. 

I removed the pan and was able to blow the flames out. There is a fire extinguisher provided by the apartment complex located  in the closet by the front door. I elected not to go and get it because the flames were responsive to blowing. It was a little like blowing out birthday candles if someone decided to put my actual age in candles on the cake. If this had been a gas stove, I definitely would have attacked it with the fire extinguisher! Technically, the stove was not on fire, it was the soup. And I was too busy putting it out to take a picture. (I'd be lying if I didn't admit that a fraction of my mind didn't consider it.)

And it caught on fire again for breakfast the next morning while Greg was making turkey bacon. Blowing didn't work that time as the flames were, strangely, even bigger, and he smothered it with a large pot lid. The lid was clear, so we were able to stand there and watch as the flame fought desperately for life. 

Back to the Brussels sprouts, I put them on a different burner to finish boiling, ended up turning on the wrong burner, and sent the soup back into a boil that it was not supposed to have. Sigh! In the end, everything worked out, and Greg did not hate the Brussels sprouts this time. I didn't notice the cayenne powder - which I actually used this time! Mostly the Brussels sprouts tasted like butter. Lots and lots of butter. 

I don't know if I would make this exact recipe again - sans fire - but I would use it as inspiration for other Brussels sprouts creations. Less butter and more pepper, perhaps, or some other herbs and spices. I also think that I would buy the package of shredded Brussels sprouts from Trader Joe's rather than attempting it again myself. That was just obnoxious. 

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