Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Mama, step on the gas"

"Mama, step on the gas on the way there." That was the call from the backseat as I drove Julian, my 4 year old, to the emergency room. He burned himself in one of those kitchen moments I am always waiting for, especially with a kitchen that is not even considered large enough to be small by modern architectural standards. In addition to the size of my kitchen there is the energy and enthusiasm of my children, it is amazing this has never happened before.

As I sat at the registration desk with him I wondered if it would sound like I was lying. How often do people come in with a preschooler who burns them self on a half sheet pan because they are trying to steal a roasted brussels sprout before dinner? Maybe I should have told them he was reaching for a warm cookie.

Julian and I sat together in a mercifully oversized chair in the waiting room reading. My father gave the boys The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury several years ago and somehow I had the presence of mind to grab it as we left the house. I have always loved that gift as it makes it much easier to bring a library of bedtime books when on vacation. In this instance it turned out to be invaluable. Part of Julian's joy while reading it was getting to choose the stories I would read. Just a perfunctory no to the stories he was refusing and a voice filled with joy for the ones he wanted to hear. Perhaps it made the emergency room visit a little too nice as he came home and announced to his father, "I had fun at the emergency room." Now we both have visions of him becoming even more death defying in his actions. Although I have to admit I had fun with him as well.

When we were finally ushered in to a room and seen by a Physician's Assistant I found out it was only a small second degree burn and we did not need to come in. They still bandaged it up before sending us on our way. When we returned home, both starving, I was relieved to see Julian still tearing in to a pile of roasted brussels sprouts. I feared he would hold a grudge against them. Now that it is brussels sprouts season I urge you to revisit this recipe/method, even if you have never liked brussels sprouts in the past. I know of at least 4 people who have been converted by this preparation.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 large bunch fresh brussels sprouts
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 - 45o degrees. Basically if you are making something else in the oven the sprouts can adjust. The other day I was making braised turkey in the oven at 300 degrees, I still tossed in the sprouts early on, no reason to waste the oven space, and when the turkey was done I turned the temperature up to 400 with convection.

Trim the stem pretty close to the leaves and then pull off any leaves that look unappealing. If the leaves are bruised deeply you can also trim off the area in question. For smallish sprouts cut them in half lengthwise, for larger ones cut them in fourths.

Place the brussels sprouts on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on kosher salt and freshly grated pepper. Afterwards toss them around with your hands making sure that the sprouts are well covered in oil. roast in the oven, shaking the pan occasionally, until the sprouts are nice and caramelized (brown) over much of their surface area and tender but not mushy when pierced with a fork or knife. I am afraid I have no idea how long this takes, especially as I gave a range of temperatures. I just check them when I go to shake the pan.

This time I cooked them for approximately 30 minutes on 400° with convection. I have also cooked them at 400° without convection and it took closer to 45 minutes. Friends recently told me they made them once with diced apples added in the last 5 minutes, I intend to try that variation soon.


  1. what a scary time for you! i am glad it wasn't a worse accident then it was, but what a testimony to your great cooking~

  2. The scariest thing to me was how subdued Julian was when we first got to the E.R. However reading can cure many things and his smile returned by the time we left. Thanks for the compliment, it is also a testimony to Julian's love for vegetables.