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Kitchen Scraps and a Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Babushka-Grannies

Every once in a while I do something unpredictable. Like cook Brussels sprouts.

I don’t like Brussels sprouts, but Pierre A. Lamielle’s book Kitchen Scraps made me do it. Here,  Monty Python dukes it out with Edward Gorey as Martha Stewart barks encouragement from the wings. Sure, this cookbook looks like it sprung from the demented imagination of Tim Burton, but the recipes have their feet planted firmly on the ground. After all, Lamielle is a trained chef.

Anyway, back to the Brussels sprouts. I just had to set aside my mini-cabbage biases when I read this.

the tale of mr. b. russell sprout

Once upon a time there was a gentleman named Mr. B. Russell Sprout who lived in a red-brick townhouse on a cobblestone lane near the bank where he worked. Even the other bankers thought Mr. Sprout was an old fuddy-duddy because he always wore the same limp green tweed suit and bowler hat every day.

Nobody ever invited him round for dinner, fearing he would be a dreadful bore.

One day after work, Mr. Sprout joined his colleagues for a pint at the pub.

A few pints later, he had taken off his stuffy old suit (along with everything else) and was running around town making a spectacular spectacle of himself. He definitely knew how to party. After that night, Mr. Sprout was invited round for dinner all over town, and everyone was happy to see him . . . especially after they got a little booze in him.

Honestly, how can you resist? I just had to give old B. Russel Sprout a tipple to see what he’d do. And I must say, I’m glad I did. I actually ate my share and my sister helped me with the rest. They don’t even look half bad. See…

Brussels-Sprouts Lamielle’s intriguing art and quirky approach to recipes had me in stitches — and eager to try almost anything. Even the most hated green vegetable known to humanity. His babushka grannies are making me rethink my stance on beets, but let’s not get carried away too quickly. One vegetable at a time, please.

Still not convinced? How can you not love a book that throws the table of contents out the window and organizes recipes by the utensil best suited to eat them? No more chapters devoted to Boring Breakfast or Plebeian Soup. Instead, consider Food You Eat with a Spoon, Fork, Forkenknife or Hand.

While the recipe titles are packed with puns, Lamielle weaves a tale that makes the groan worthwhile. And the writing? Crisp as gently steamed snow peas. Not only do I want to make Lamielle’s recipes, I want to steal his verbs.

In fact, I nearly made the French Onion Soup just so I could quote this passage.

The French are foul-mouthed. They find enormous pleasure in cussing, eating stinky cheese, and smoking like chimneys. But for some reason they have a globally recognized technique for kissing that involves a lot of tasting of the other person’s mouth. The ultimate contradiction is that the national soup of France is composed nearly entirely of onions.

Kitchenscraps_cover As the author says, “It is not a cookbook for busy families, it will not make you a kitchen deity, and it will certainly not make you lose ten pounds. Kitchen Scraps will delight, offend, and make you hungry.”

Enough quoting. If you like irreverent and quirky, buy the book. If you don’t, then at least have some Brussels sprouts. They won’t kill you. Quickly…

Brussels Meet Brandy

Excerpt published with permission. From Pierre A. Lamielle’s Kitchen Scraps: A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook (Whitecap, 2009)

  • 10 Brussels sprouts, halved
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 oz shot (2 Tbsp) brandy
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • sprig of fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. Place the Brussels sprout halves flat side down in a frying pan. Cover halfway with cold water, and add a pinch of salt and 1 Tbsp of butter. Place the pan on high heat, and cook at a rip-roaring boil until almost all the water has evaporated.
  2. To flambé the sprouts without lighting yourself on fire, carefully remove the pan from the heat, add the shot of brandy, and, using a long match or a barbecue lighter, light the booze on fire and place the pan back on the heat. When the fire subsides, add the orange juice and zest, shallot, thyme leaves, dried cranberries, and the last 1 Tbsp of butter all at the same time. Toss and cook for a couple more minutes until the sauce gets syrupy and glossy.
  3. Make everyone try at least one. It will make them change their minds about Brussels sprouts.

Serves 2.

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0 Responses to Kitchen Scraps and a Brussels Sprouts Recipe

  1. George October 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Terrific story about Mr. Spouts! And you have definitely brought him to a new level with your recipe. My grandfather called Brussel Sprouts “Educated Cabbage” ~ he would have loved your creative tale and this dish. I am absolutely going to give this a try. Thanks…

    • Charmian Christie October 29, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

      I think I would have liked your grandfather, George. Educated Cabbage indeed — sloshed like a frosh on homecoming week in this version.

      Thanks for the great anecdote. I might steal that term.

  2. Robin Smart October 29, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    This is a great post. If you don’t have a sense of humour you really should avoid the kitchen!! Loved the stories, and the picture of the ‘sprouts. They do look good enough to eat – and that is from a lady who likes them less than turnip. You know my opinion of turnip!!
    Love and giggles,
    Robin

    • Charmian Christie October 29, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

      I’m shocked to say they far more tasty than I’d hoped. Guess I can’t complain about ‘sprouts anymore. While not my first choice of vegetable, I think Styrofoam would taste good done the way Lamielle suggests.

  3. Cheryl Arkison October 29, 2009 at 4:06 pm #

    That book is amazing. Saving to buy my own copy…
    And it must have magical powers if it got you to make brussel sprouts. Both that book and I will work on you when it comes to beets.

    • Charmian Christie October 29, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

      Cheryl, how can you hate peas but love beets? I want to like beets. I really do. I look forward to seeing your persuasive recipes.

  4. Christina October 29, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    These look delicious, Charmian, and I would definitely make them. I think as long as you do something to perk up brussels sprouts, they’re delicious. I often cut them in half and saute them with salt and pepper–but this recipe looks really yummy!

    • Charmian Christie October 29, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

      Lovely to see you here, Christina! I think one of the keys is to select really small and tender Brussels sprouts. The big ones can be really bitter. But these weren’t — although I must say the brandy helped.

  5. Cheryl October 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    My favorite: “And the writing? Crisp as gently steamed snow peas.”

    Plus that photo is stunning.

    I love Brussels sprouts and never really understood why people hated them so. Glad to count you among the converted.

    • Charmian Christie October 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

      Cheryl, I love how you pull out your favourite lines. It makes my day.

      As does your kind words about the photo. (For those who don’t know it, Cheryl is an amazing photographer!)

      Why do people hate Brussels sprouts? Other than the fact their initials are BS? I think they are despised because they can be really bitter, and are generally served so overcooked you can’t tell whether they’re a vegetable or soggy cardboard. But that’s just a guess. Any other ideas?

  6. Lori October 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Since I discovered roasting brussle sprouts we love them and eat often. As well I disliked beet but wanted to like them, as well….try roasting! drizzled with honey!…slow roasted with carrots…oh my! tasty!!

    • Charmian Christie October 31, 2009 at 8:42 am #

      Roasting Brussels sprouts works, too? Andrew’s mom and sister love this vegetable, so I might have to try that.

      Thanks for suggestion for tackling beets. I’ll give this a try. I know that once I get over my block I’ll wonder what my issue ever was.

  7. Francesca November 1, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    wow, I love the pictures!! I don’t really like brussel sprouts and only make them once a year because I can’t resist how cute they look. lol Little baby cabbages! ;)

    • Charmian Christie November 2, 2009 at 8:50 am #

      Thanks, Francesca. Brussels sprouts are adorable. Being so small you’d think they’d be more popular.

  8. Kerry Dexter November 4, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    I too like Brussel sprouts, once a friend suggested roasting them. Imagining how they’d pair with dried cranberries — even wihtout the brandy, that sounds a good combination.

    roasting beets — I’ll have to try that. or you will, Charmian, and let us in on how it goes.

    • Charmian Christie November 4, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

      Roasting seems to be a popular cooking method. I’m going to have to give this a try!

  9. Dana McCauley November 8, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    These sprouts sound and look delicious! I love a good sprout, loathe any that are old or over cooked. I like to make mine with whiskey sometimes (similar to this recipe) but my fav technique lately has been to use maple and mustard to skillet braise them:

    http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&btnG=Search

  10. Dana McCauley November 8, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    Ummm….I have no idea where that wacky, random link came from. Here’s what I was trying to share:

    http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/give-thanks-for-brussels-sprouts/

    • Charmian Christie November 9, 2009 at 8:35 am #

      I’m so glad you posted this link, Dana. Your Brussels sprouts post cracked open the door to me even considering this vegetable. I’ll have to give your recipe a try now that I’m not longer afraid or horrified by them.

  11. Stephanie Quilao January 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    This is a first for me, brussel sprouts and humor. Fantastic! Love your pictures.
    .-= Stephanie Quilao´s last blog ..noshtopia: I’m very excited that @WholeFoods brand has Goat Cheese Crumbles [pic]: http://bit.ly/65jQxi =-.

    • Charmian Christie January 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks for dropping by Stephanie. I think you have to have a sense of humour if you’re going to eat Brussels sprouts.

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