Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crispy Brussels Sprout Hash with Cider Glaze

Although I have an effusing love for all winter vegetables, the historically picked-on brussels sprout holds a special place in my heart. Neither cucurbita nor root vegetable, this stand-alone guy needs someone to have its back! Correction: needed. Now, a new preparation for the sidelined vegetable has elevated its status to most popular at the table.

Whether the thin crispy shreds are generated by mandoline or sliced by hand, the hash-like consistency of a shredded brussels sprout has suddenly become cool, reassigning its traditional whole-baked preparation to an old and farty distant cousin. And topped with a fried egg? Could not be trendier. These shredded sprouts are popping up all over New York City on brunch and dinner menus alike. 

So, what's so wonderful about these tiny (and now established, shredded chic) cabbages? They're nuanced with flavor subtleties, perfected in this Crispy Brussels Sprout Hash with Cider Glaze dish. The brilliance of this recipe lies in the flavors that you only just taste—a slightly nutty brussels sprout, a barely there warmth from a toasted hazelnut, a tangy apple punch that's tempered by the bitter sprout. Each bite unmasks an enchanting conduit of complementary tastes, carefully crafted— but chew slowly, or it might pass you by.

 The reduced cider glaze is so enticing, it's hard to resist from drinking the leftovers by the spoonful. I recommend saving it for the next time you oven-roast vegetables. Using apples two ways, the hearty cider glaze ads a signature caramelized sweetness and shout out to autumn's favorite fruit.  If you have access to the NYC Greenmarket, I highly recommend using Red Jacket Orchard's Spiced Apple Cider. Cold-pressed, unfiltered, and sans added sugar, the fresh juice is about as close to eating whole fruit as you can get. Plus, the mulling spices add wonderful subtle hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

While the word "hash" usually immediate conjures an association with "unhealthy", this recipe is quite the opposite. When it comes to nutrients, brussels sprouts earn an A+.  Containing sulforaphane (hello anti-cancer properties), vitamin C (goodbye oxidative stress), plus good sources of dietary fiber, vitamin A, folate, potassium, and manganese, whether you eat this dish for breakfast or as a main meal side, know you're starting off on the right foot.

This recipe hails from Clean Plates. What is it? Think Zagat's with a healthy twist. On a mission to equip New Yorkers with a direct link to the most sustainable restaurants in NYC, Clean Plates rates restaurants by both the taste of their food and the quality of their ingredients. Whether you're using their published guide, website or iphone app, Clean Plates' search filters like gluten-free, flexitarian, and organic meat have all dietary preferences covered.

Crispy Brussels Sprout Hash with Cider Glaze (from Clean Plates)
Serves 4


1¼ pounds Brussels sprouts, shaved on a mandoline or thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups apple cider
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ shallot, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons honey
freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Optional: fried egg (1 per serving)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. Divide sprouts evenly between baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil over all; sprinkle with salt. Toss sprouts to coat, then spread in single layer.
2. Roast sprouts until edges are brown and crispy, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through.
3. Meanwhile, combine cider, vinegar and shallot in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook until liquid is reduced to about ½ cup and is thick and foamy when tilted, about 30 minutes. Stir in honey and cook 5 minutes longer. Glaze will be thin; it will not look like syrup. Strain through fine mesh sieve; discard shallot. (Optional. I kept the shallot in and loved its contribution in both flavor and texture.) Add black pepper to taste.
4. Remove sprouts from oven; drizzle evenly with glaze. Return spouts to oven; continue roasting until glaze is bubbly and thickened, about 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, toast hazelnuts in single layer in medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
6. In serving bowl, combine glazed sprouts and toasted hazelnuts. Grind additional black pepper over top and serve. Top with fried egg, if desired.


"3 Reasons You Should Be Eating Brussel Sprouts." FitDay. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/3-reasons-you-should-be-eating-brussel-sprouts.html#b>.
"Brussels Sprouts, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, without Salt." SELF Nutrition Data. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2363/2>.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tofu Pumpkin Pie

This healthful pumpkin pie recipe maintains the signature traits of Thanksgiving’s beloved dessert—subtly spiced pumpkin, velvety smooth filling—while nipping saturated fat in the bud. What’s the secret? Tofu, front and center…and I’m not talking about the turkey!
OK, let’s get all of tofu’s negative connotations out of the way now. Tasteless. Bland. Watery. Weird texture. Upon tasting, this pumpkin pie should quash those stereotypes once and for all.  
Utilized correctly, tofu is a superb cooking medium. That “tasteless” quality allows it to soak up surrounding flavors like a sponge, and its stereotyped “weird” texture? From extra firm to silken soft, a range of consistencies grants tofu permission to sneak into many a dish. Silken tofu—also known as Japanese-style—is the softest of them all, showcasing a thick, creamy texture. It is the perfect ingredient to achieve the signature, velvety feel of pumpkin pie.
But tofu contributes more to this pie than a spot-on texture. In one fell swoop, it eliminates all the cholesterol hotbeds of a classic pumpkin pie, replacing eggs, heavy cream, half & half, and butter. Soy-based and slightly sweet, it still retains that dairy-like taste, so much so that your guests will be surprised to learn that this recipe is vegan--if you choose to tell them, that is.
One thing not to keep quiet: this pumpkin-tofu coupling packs a serious nutritional punch! Both ingredients are low in fat and calories, plus tofu boasts high protein and iron; pumpkin, vitamin A and fiber.  Be careful that your prepared crust doesn’t compromise the pie’s healthfulness though—most contain palm oil, which can cost you a quarter of your daily-recommended fat intake in one slice.  To avoid this, I used a palm-oil free graham-cracker crust.

Canned pumpkin puree can be found in most supermarkets, but for the freshest pie possible I recommend roasting and pureeing your own! Sugar pumpkins—the smaller, sweeter version of the well-known carving pumpkin— are in abundance at farmers markets this time of year, and generally run about $2 a pound.

Tofu Pumpkin Pie (like all of the best pie recipes, this one is handed down from my mom!)
Makes 2 pies

10 ounces silken tofu, blended until smooth (this is really important! if you don't blend completely through, the tofu will lump and look yucky)
16 ounces homemade* or canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 unbaked pie shells
Optional toppings: whipped cream, chopped crystalized ginger

*To roast a sugar pumpkin, (I recommend roasting 2 at a time at around 2 lbs each, which should yield about 4 cups of puree) preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, cut off the stem of each pumpkin, and then slice in half, right down the middle. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulpy flesh.  Place halves cut side down on a baking sheet lined with tin foil or parchment paper. Roast for 45-50 minutes, until a fork pokes easily through the skin. Let pumpkin cool for 10 minutes, and then peel off the skin. “Puree” by mashing with a fork, until desired consistency is reached.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream together pumpkin and sugar. Add vanilla, salt, spices, and tofu, and mix thoroughly.  Pour filling into the pie shells, distributing evenly between them.
3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees, and bake for 45 more minutes.
4. Remove from oven and let pie cool. Serve with whipped cream and sprinkle with crystalized ginger, if desired.

Davis, Jeanie. "Pumpkin Recipes Packed With Nutrition." WebMD. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/pumpkin-recipes-packed-nutrition>.

"Tofu." SELF Nutrition Data. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4393/2>.