Tuesday, May 8, 2007


I’ve had a weird time in the kitchen of late.

We’ll begin with Friday night, shall we?

Planned: a sophisticated stove-top potato dish using the last of the mouth-puckeringly tart sorrel, painstakingly sheltered through the long, hot summer and lovingly watered whenever there was a little extra cooking water to spare. I even made a rich, roasted vegetable stock in which to cook the thing. Instead? A lumpy, bumpy, flavourless pile of mash, streaked with khaki green.

Saturday: A hot southern Indian curry of coconut, cashews and pumpkin. This was in fact quite a fine thing, beautiful to behold. Then I paired it with an incredibly lovely raita that tasted so right, but was so wrong – it too starred coconut. Having made ANZAC biscuits in the morning, I realized that I had gone through more than half a kilo of desiccated coconut in one day.

My teeth are still full of tiny shreds of the stuff.

Sunday: Post book shop work, an awful dinner in a restaurant chosen as a last resort because all the good places were fully-booked. Why do some restaurants think that it’s okay to serve your main meal within seconds, literally, of the starter being whipped away? And as for the piano (weird) and waiter who sang (very, very badly)…I may not eat out again for some time.

What went wrong?

Who knows? But things are back on track now.

Brussels sprouts are nearly at the end of their season. I often braise them with cream to make a rich, unctuous dish, but this dairy-free way shows off their versatility and charisma. Choose your sprouts wisely. Look for tightly budded, small heads no bigger than an un-shelled walnut for preference, and peel away any blemished leaves ruthlessly.

These are good picked at cold the next day, though not quite as lively. To make a more substantial meal, add triangles of tofu, marinated in tamari and toasted sesame oil before heavily crusting in sesame seeds and oven roasting or pan frying to crispness. Make sure you have everything ready by the stove, as this takes but a few minutes of work.

Brussels sprouts with ginger and orange – for 2 as a side
Adapted from a Colin Spencer recipe

400g of Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
Zest and juice of 1 orange
½ teaspoon of sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon of Cointreau (or similar orange liqueur)
3 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
Finely chopped parsley

Take your sprouts and peel away any blemished leaves. Trim the base and quarter each one lengthways.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a fierce flame. Add the ginger, orange zest and sprouts and stir-fry over this high heat for about 2 minutes.

Add the orange juice, continuing to stir and fry until the juice almost evaporates (a fraction less than a minute).

Tip in the sugar, salt and the Cointreau, stir well to coat everything, and add the spring onions. Toss about for a moment or two and serve sprinkled with the parsley.

Much happier now.


Susan said...

A mixed bag of luck, Lucy. It happens sometimes. But a singing waiter? Well, that would keep me back in my own kitchen for quite some time, too.

I know what ANZAC day is (and terribly sad to know of it), but what are ANZAC biscuits, something the soldiers ate during the campaign?

Your brussel sprouts look simply marvelous. Let's see...my husband "might" have a problem with them - cabbages, you know. ; }

Lucy said...

He was a really, really bad singer.

ANZAC biscuits are thin, oatmeal cookies made without eggs that Australian and, presumably, New Zealand women would cook to send to the blokes fighting. They're really simple, but somehow just right.

Hope your husband doesn't hate me for suggesting yet more cabbage!

Christina said...

Great brussel sprouts idea. I too usually cook them with cream, but this looks like something I'll have to experiment with as well. Thanks for the great recipe and post.

kitchen hand said...

Nice picks. We had sorrel as well. I love it.

I don't even like over-conversational waiters - "Hi, guys" - let alone ones that sing.

Lucy said...

Hi Christina, those creamy ones are pretty hard to beat, but the ginger, if it's really fresh, is great here.

Thanks kitchen hand. I will miss the sorrel over winter. So right about overly-friendly waiters. Makes me so much happier to eat at home.

Freya and Paul said...

We all have weekends like that, but at least you've experimented!
The Brussel Sprout dish sounds like a winner though!

Johanna said...

hi lucy, thanks for your kind post on my blog! love the photos and posts on yours! And I especially love the sprouts and cointreau recipe - would have tried it tonight if I had had the energy to go and buy oranges - will definitely keep it in mind for another night.

Lucy said...

Hi Johanna, I know the feeling!

Cynthia said...

Hi Lucy, I am glad that you are better now :) Thanks for the sprouts recipe, will definitely give it a try sometime.

Susan said...

At least you can laugh about it. Plus, sprouts with ginger could cheer up anyone!

Johanna said...

hurray - I made them and they were just as fantastic as they sounded - thank you so much for the recipe :-)

Lucy said...

Johanna - am so pleased that you enjoyed them! The Cointreau is delicious.