Thursday, November 17, 2016

Revamped: Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts Tossed in a Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette with Bacon Lardons, Dried Cranberries, Candied Pecans, + Crispy Shallots

My recipe for Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts Tossed in a Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette with Bacon Lardons, Dried Cranberries, Candied Pecans, & Crispy Shallots is far and away my most requested + most loved recipe during the holiday season. So, when I started getting organized for our upcoming Thanksgiving meal, I noticed that this recipe is four years old and in need of a desperate "revamping". The recipe is only changed slightly, but I added more detailed instructions to help my follow readers! Like before, it requires the same maple-mustard vinaigrette because I think it pairs with the dish like no one's business... I guess if you're not a mustard fan, you could use a balsamic reduction because that would work quite easily. But really though, listen to me and all the fans of this dish and go with the homemade dressing! Mmk? Good... moving on. Concerning the candied pecans, I will leave that up to you and what you want to do. I personally make the candied pecans, but I have used store-bought candied pecans, and no one even noticed the difference. So, by all means, if you want to save time and cut a corner, then go for it! Now, in a small pan, over medium-low heat, you're going to caramelize + crisp up those thinly sliced yummy shallots; they really bring the dish to another level. Next up on the list is cooking a shit ton of bacon... because bacon makes everything better, duhhhh. Once your bacon lardons are crispy, strain them out of their fat onto a paper towel to dry, leaving the just-rendered bacon fat in the pan. That's when you get the trimmed + halved brussel sprouts and begin to pan fry ... in BACON FAT (dun dun dunnnnnn)! Like I've said, bacon makes everything better. Crisp up the sprout halves until they have begun to brown on their flat side, and then toss all of them around to cook the other side of the brussel sprout. I know some people like their brussel sprouts to have some al dente texture, while others prefer a softer finished product. Either way, just cook them until they have reached your desired doneness. If you don't have a large saute pan that can fit all of your brussel sprouts, you might have to do 2-3 batches of them. But, thats no biggie at all! Now it's time to assemble this yummy side dish. In a large mixing bowl, add in the bacon-fat fried brussel sprouts, bacon lardons, dried cranberries, crisped shallots, and chopped candied pecans... all that is left to do is to toss all of the components together while drizzling the maple-mustard vinaigrette evenly over the dish. I suggest that you start off with just a little, and add as you go until you have the perfect amount of dressing that coats everything beautifully. And wham, bam, thank ya ma'am... YOU'RE DONE!! If you want to get a head start on this dish you could easily do any of the following: trim and halve the brussel sprouts and place them into a ziploc bag, make the candied pecans, and whip up the maple-mustard vinaigrette in a mason jar and refrigerate it. That way, you'll have most of the components done + all ready to start cooking! I hope you enjoy this holiday side dish as much as everyone else does!! Enjoy :)
Mmm, bacon lardons
golden brown + crispy shallots 
My Famous Brussel Sprouts in 2015 
So yeah, you have to make these... You'll thank me later!
For the Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette:
2T Apple Cider Vinegar
4T Maple Syrup
2t Dijon Mustard
2T Grainy Mustard
2t Garlic, Minced
Kosher Salt + Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

For Candied Pecans:
1 ½C Pecans, Toasted
½C Sugar
Pinch of Salt, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cayenne, & Chili Powder (I did a large pinch)

For the Crispy Shallots:
4-6 Large Shallots, Thinly Sliced
3T Canola Oil
Kosher Salt

For the Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts:
1.5lbs Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cut into Lardons
2T Canola Oil
5lbs Brussel Sprouts, Trimmed and Halved
Prepared Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
1 ½C Dried Cranberries (save a handful for garnishing the dish)
Prepared Candied Pecans, Roughly Chopped (save a handful for garnishing the dish)
Prepared Crispy Shallots
Kosher Salt + Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1. For the Maple Mustard Vinaigrette: In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until combined. Season it with salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate the dressing aside until ready to add to the brussel sprouts.
2. For the Candied Pecans: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes until just toasted. Remove from the oven and let it cool. Meanwhile, pour the sugar into a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon while the sugar melts. Keep stirring until the color turns a medium amber color. Once that color is reached, add in the pecans to the pan and quickly stir to coat. As soon as they are coated, spread them onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt, cinnamon, and cayenne. Let them cool completely before adding them to the dish (after they have hardened, you can chose whether or not you want to chop them up or leave them whole).
3. For the Crispy Shallots: Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add in the canola oil. Next, toss in the thinly sliced shallots, along with a heavy pinch of salt and sauté them, stirring occasionally, until the shallots caramelize to a golden brown color and start to get a little crispy.  It is very important to not rush this process, so keep a constant eye on the shallots because they can burn quite quickly.  Remove the perfectly crisped shallots from the pan and put them into a bowl, and set them aside until you are ready to assemble the dish.
4. Crisping up the Bacon Lardons: In a large, deep sauté pan, bring the olive oil to medium-high heat and in the bacon cubes. Cook the bacon until they are very crispy and the bacon has rendered all of its fat. Remove the crispy bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate (leaving the fat in the pan).
5. For the Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts: Add in the vegetable oil into the rendered bacon fat and bring it to high heat. Gently place the halved brussel sprouts face side down (or the flat side), and season with salt & pepper. Cook them until they have browned and caramelized, and they have become slightly crispy in texture, about 10-15 minutes (if you have a big enough sauté pan to fit all of your brussel sprouts, then extend the time of cooking to 20-25 minutes; however, if you do not, then you will have to do several batches in order for all of the brussel sprouts to reach your required crispiness and doneness). After they have browned, using tongs, toss the brussel spouts to continue sautéing to cook the brussel sprouts all the way through, about 3-5 minutes (I prefer my brussel sprouts on the crisper side, but some people like to cook them longer until they are soft).
6. Assembling the Dish: Once they have all been cooked and have reached your desired doneness, remove the cooked brussel sprouts to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the prepared maple-mustard vinaigrette over the cooked brussel sprouts, tossing to cover all of them. Add in the bacon lardons, dried cranberries and chopped candied pecans, and toss once again. Season with salt & pepper if needed. Place the glazed brussel sprouts onto a serving platter and garnish with the remaining handfuls of dried cranberries, candied pecans and the crispy shallots. Serve immediately and enjoy while they are still warm!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Maple Roasted Pear Pizza with Pistachio Olive Oil, Caramelized Shallots, Crispy Prosciutto, + Crumbled Goat Cheese

Sweet + Salty is mah jam. I'm the weirdo that likes dipping french fries in a chocolate milkshake... adding salt to my lattes, pouring maple syrup on my bacon, and so on + so on. Last year, we went to our favorite pizza place, Hearth, and my dreams were made. Their pizza special that night was a pear pizza. What? PEAR ON A PIZZA.... that's genius! I knew then and there that I would have to recreate this masterpiece. I ending up changing most of the toppings to include my favorite ingredients, and you know what, I thought ours was even better. First, I started off by making a chunky pistachio olive oil by using a molcajete + pestle to pulverize the nuts into the oil. This serves as the base for your pizza. Next up is one of my go-to recipes as of lately... crispy prosciutto. If you don't have prosciutto on you though, you can always sub in some bacon... because... um, bacon is good on everything. It's also a personal belief that every single pizza should have caramelized onions, so I added lots of those too. Then there is the usual of fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese, and for good measure, some tangy crumbled goat cheese (yum). The single most important ingredient has to be the bosc pear, which I shaved using a mandolin. Gently arrange the shaved pear on top of the pizza and brush a light coating of maple syrup over the fruit. The maple syrup not only sweetens the whole pie just a little bit, but helps the pears to beautifully caramelize in the oven. Lastly, you have to season the pizza with fresh thyme (an absolute must), crushed red pepper flake (for a slight kick), and a small sprinkle of kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper. After you have baked the pizza, all that there is left to do is to cut it into slices and devour it while it's still warm. We also loved putting some peppery baby arugula on top for garnish, but that step is completely up to you! I hope you love this ultimate autumn pizza as much as we do!! Enjoy :)
pre-baked pizza

this is what heaven looks like.
For the Pistachio Olive Oil:
1C Shelled Pistachios (can be unsalted or salted)
EVOO (enough to cover the pistachios)

For the Crispy Prosciutto:
6oz Shaved Prosciutto
4 Sprigs of Rosemary or 8 Leaves of Sage
EVOO, For Drizzling
Fresh Cracked Pepper, For Sprinkling

For the Maple Roasted Pear Pizza:
1 Batch of Homemade Extra Crispy Pizza Dough (made into two dough balls)
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
Prepared Pistachio Olive Oil
Caramelized Shallots
8oz Fresh Mozzarella, Shredded by Hand
Freshly Grated Parmesan
Prepared Crispy Prosciutto
1 Bosc Pear, Thinly Shaved Using a Mandolin
High Quality Maple Syrup, For Brushing
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, To Taste
Minced Fresh Thyme, To Taste
Kosher Salt + Fresh Cracked Pepper, For Sprinkling
2oz Crumbled Goat Cheese
Fresh Baby Arugula, For Garnishing (optional)

1. For the Extra-Crusting Pizza Dough: Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 1.5 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, preferably 18 hours (but anywhere between 12-18 hours would work as well). Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 2 equal portions (depending on thin or thick you want your pizza dough). Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions. Let the dough balls rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.
2. Prepping the Dough: During the last hour of the dough’s resting, preheat the oven to its hottest setting, around 500-550 degrees, and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Working with the dough, dust it generously with flour and place onto a floured work surface. Gently shape the dough balls into a two 10-inch disks. Press or spread the dough dish on top of a baking sheet or pizza stone. Now it’s time to add on the toppings.
3. For the Pistachio Olive Oil: In the bowl of a Molcajete, add in all of the shelled pistachios, and the pour in enough olive oil to just cover the pistachios. Using the pestle, crush the pistachios until they are rough and chunky in texture, and not smashed into a powder. Stir the crushed pistachios with the olive oil to make a cohesive mixture. Set this aside.
4. For the Crispy Prosciutto: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the prosciutto evenly between both baking sheets, making sure to lay them flat. Brush the tops of the prosciutto with some EVOO and scatter the fresh sprigs of rosemary or sage on top. Bake the prosciutto until the fat turns golden and the meat is darker in color. This will take about 15 minutes (making sure to rotate baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through the baking time). Using tongs, carefully transfer the prosciutto to paper towels to drain (it will continue tot crisp as it cools). Set them aside until you are ready to assemble the pizza.
5. Assembling the Pizza: Get your two prepped pizza dough disks on baking sheets and press two cloves of minced garlic into each dough round. Place the pizzas into the preheated oven and bake for 7-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and begin assembling the toppings. Start by spooning and spreading the pistachio olive oil, followed by scattering the caramelized shallots evenly over the pizza dough. Next add on the shredded mozzarella, freshly great Parmesan, crispy prosciutto, and shaved pears. Brush the tops of sliced pears with some maple syrup, and then sprinkle the surface of the pizza with crushed red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Lastly, crumble the goat cheese on top to finish off the pizza. Boost the oven up to broil and place them back into the oven for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese has melted, the pears have begun to crisp around the edges, and the crust has a toasty golden brown color (make sure to rotate the pizza pans, so they evenly cook).
6. Remove the pizza from the oven and cut into slices. Garnish the pizza with fresh baby arugula on top, if you please! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Saturday Down South: NOLA-Style BBQ Shrimp

It's here again, folks... it's officially Alabama-LSU week in college football. It's essentially the biggest game of our season. Even though my Crimson Tide is undefeated and ranked #1, this game has got this entire house nervous. Unfortunately for us, we're playing in Baton Rouge this year, so we weren't able to go root on our boys in person, but we are certainly there in spirit! As a part of SEC tradition, everyone typically bases their tailgate spread on the food of what the opposing team is famous for. So naturally, that means Creole or Cajun recipes on this particular weekend. When we made the trip to New Orleans for the college playoff game two years ago, I heard about Barbecue Shrimp. Now, this isn't your ole typical BBQ. It involves unpeeled, head-on shrimp that is simmered in a shit ton of butter, hot sauce, worcestershire, and lemon. This buttery spicy sauce is heavenly in every way possible... and even better, there is a requirement of serving it with a baguette of french bread, so that you can sop up all that sauce. Um, yum. I added my own little touches to it by adding my favorite homemade BBQ rub, which sweetens it just a tad, and by also infusing the dish with some fresh parsley + chives. I think that it lends another element to the whole thing that is much needed. We adored this recipe for NOLA-Style BBQ shrimp and have every damn intention of making it over and over and over again. It is absolutely fabulous for feeding a crowd or you know, just you and a friend... whatever you wanna do is up to you!! Enjoy :)

oh here comes the bread for soppin'
um... perfection.
For the BBQ Shrimp:
6T Unsalted Butter
3 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Cut into Cubes + Chilled
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1C Beer
1C Hot Sauce
½C Worcestershire Sauce
¼C Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2T Homemade BBQ Seasoning
2T Fresh Cracked Pepper
3lbs Head-On Large Shrimp (unpeeled)
Kosher Salt (as needed)
1T Fresh Parsley, Minced
1T Fresh Chives, Minced
1 Lemon, Thinly Sliced (for garnishing)
Warmed French Bread, For Dipping

1. Heat the 6T of unsalted butter in the largest skillet that you have over medium-high heat (we used a paella pan and it worked great). Add in the minced garlic and cook until it is soft and fragrant… about 1-2 minutes (do not burn the garlic).
2. Add in the beer, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, BBQ seasoning, and pepper. Stir to combine it into the melted butter and garlic. Bring this mixture to a simmer and cook until the sauce has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Add the head-on, unpeeled shrimp; cook, flipping once, until the shrimp is cooked through (just when it begins to turn pink). This should only take a few minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the cubed, chilled butter to make a smooth sauce. Season with salt.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the chives and parsley all over the shrimp and place the sliced lemon evenly throughout the pan. Serve the BBQ shrimp with warmed French bread for sopping up the sauce. Enjoy.