Grilled Brussels Sprout Stalks: A Special Fall Recipe That Will Take You Into December

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Tom and I love the fall. Maybe it’s because it was our favorite time of year living in New York and perhaps we love it here in Florida because the weather is a bit less humid and we enjoy his grilled specialties while dining on the lanai to the sound of ducks on the lake. Our favorite fall veggie is Tom’s grilled Brussels Sprout on the stalk. This year, we were fortunate to enjoy them through early December. Here is Tom’s story.

2 Forks Recipes

Moderate Recipes

As a child growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I never like Brussels Sprout. They were just another vegetable my Italian mother made me eat. Who would guess that in my 60’s I would develop a new appreciation for this vegetable?

 

We love our Trader Joe’s in Naples, Florida and we visit the store 2 – 3 times a month to pick up the unusual and special culinary items that we can’t find in a supermarket. On one visit last year, we came upon a display crate full of Brussels Sprout stalks. At first, I didn’t realize what they were. Each one is a heavy, sturdy 2 foot long stalk with dozens of Brussels Sprout attached.   I was intrigued and impulsively bought one without any idea of how I was going to cook it but I was sure that I wasn’t going to just remove the sprouts from the stalk and steam them! With grilling season being all year in SWFL, I decided to cook them on my grill. Here’s the simple recipe. We rate it 2 forks for moderate preparation:

INGREDIENTS:

  • One 2-2 ½ foot long Brussels Sprout Stalk (Seasonally available at the end of Fall)
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp diced pancetta lightly sautéed in EVOO
  • 1 Small diced onion lightly sautéed in EVOO
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) enough to brush or spray the entire stalk and for sautéing the pancetta and onions
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp Shaved or Shredded 3 Cheese blend. We prefer Parmesan /Romano/Asiago blend
  • Coarse Ground Sea Salt
  • Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Herb de Provence or Italian Seasoning
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Pignoli Nuts or Sliced Almonds
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Raisins or Craisins

*Make sure the stalk will fit on the grill before preparing the stalk!

Pre-heat the grill to Medium – High Heat

PREPARATION STEPS:

  1. Rinse and pat or air dry the stalk
  2. Lay the stalk on top of double width aluminum foil. Make sure it is long and wide enough to enclose the entire stalk.
  3. Liberally spray or brush the stalk with EVOO
  4. Drizzle the diced and sautéed pancetta and onion along with the EVOO over the stalk
  5. Sprinkle the stalk with shaved and shredded Parmesan/Romano/Asiago cheese.
  6. Sprinkle the Pignoli nuts or sliced almonds and raisins or Craisins over the stalk
  7. Dust with Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning
  8. Sprinkle with Coarse Ground Sea Salt and Coarse Ground Black Pepper

**Note: The seasonings will adhere to the stalk better if the stalk is coated with EVOO. Otherwise, they will fall off a dry stalk.

9.  Fold up Aluminum foil sides and ends to completely enclose the stalk

10.  Place directly on the back of the bottom rack of the grill. Cook for 45 minutes. Don’t worry. It will not burn!

***Note: Grill the meat of your choice (Steak, London Broil, Ribs, etc) on your grill alongside the stalk.

11.   After 45 minutes, remove the stalk from the grill. Place on a long platter and let it stand wrapped for 4-5 minutes.   Open the top of the foil wrap for a great table presentation!

 

When ready to serve, sever each sprout with a sharp knife and place directly on everyone’s dinner plate. Much of the drizzled / sprinkled add-ons will collect at the bottom of the foil wrap. Scoop the add-ons and drizzle them on the plated sprouts. Enjoy with your favorite grilled meat. Leftover sprouts can be sautéed in EVOO and enjoyed the next day.

 

Enjoy!

Tom

 

 

TOMATO AND CHEESE PIE

Tomato and Cheese pies have been something on my bucket list to prepare for quite some time. I had the pleasure of making this vegetarian delight for good friends and fellow fooderati at the Sanibel Community House when I was asked to speak about tomatoes at our monthly potluck dinner lecture series a few months ago.  The Sanibel Community House is in the process of raising funds for a major renovation which will include a large professional kitchen to accommodate food crafting and cooking classes for islanders, vacationers and everyone interested in the Sanibel and Captiva Island community. For more information, check out their efforts on www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net.

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This pie is so simple to prepare that I tried making several versions the next day for my bakery on Sanibel Island, Geppetto’s Beach Foodies. It is a vegetarian favorite and a new staple on our menu. Even more exciting is that I shared the recipe with a close friend from  New York. Fedela Kessler tried the recipe and sent me a pic of her craft (see below). Thanks Fedela for trying it out and sending your feedback. I miss our diner chats.

 

FedelasTomatoPie

 

Enjoy!

Donna

 

 Difficulty                                                                                                        1 FORK

INGREDIENTS:

  • In a hurry and you have no time to make your own pie crust?  Try Pillsbury Pet Ritz brand frozen pie crust shells. The Pet Ritz crust is flaky, buttery and withstands sweet fruit or savory tomato liquids when the pie is cut.
  • 6 medium beefsteak tomatoes. Note: I mixed in colorful heirloom tomatoes for interest.
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • Italian Seasonings
  • Fresh Basil finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
  • Colorful Yellow and Red Grape Tomatoes for Garnish

 

RECIPE:

  •  PREP WORK:
  • Preheat Oven to 375.
  • Poke holes with fork tines – 10 to 12 times.
  • Bake frozen pie crust shells for 8 minutes. Remove and Cool.
  • Peel and slice tomatoes to 1/8 inch thickness
  • In a bowl, combine 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella  with 1 cup mayonnaise.
  • ASSEMBLE THE PIE:
  • Layer the tomatoes in the pie shell.
  • Layer the ½ cup scallions.
  • Season with Salt and Pepper, Italian Seasonings and fresh chopped basil
  • Sprinkle with ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • Spread the cheese/mayo mixture on top.
  • Garnish with grape tomatoes, remaining chopped basil, salt , pepper, Italian seasonings.

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BAKE the pie for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Cool and Serve.

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PIE VARIATIONS:

  1. Substitute Cheddar or Monterey Jack shredded cheese or make a pie with a combination of cheeses.
  2. Substitute ½ of the amount of mayo with plain yogurt.
  3. The sky is the limit with a variety of different garnishes ie: pine nuts, dried fruits, spinach & artichoke
  4. Turn this into a one meal pie. Add a layer of cooked and sliced sausage or a healthier alternative of cooked ground turkey meat or fish.
  5. For a firmer bottom crust, layer some cheese slices on the bottom of the pie. Then add the tomato, onions, meat if desired.

Pumpkin and Zucchini Flowers

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My husband, daughter Stephanie and I could not wait to begin a new chapter in our life by moving to Southwest Florida after vacationing on Sanibel and North Captiva Islands for over 20 years. Although there are no regrets while enjoying beautiful sunsets, shelling and never having to shovel snow from our walkways, we unanimously agree that the smell and feel of autumn is sorely missed. Yes, raking all those leaves is not something we pine for but the weekend visits to our favorite local farms, the taste of apple cider, determining who will make it through the corn maze first this year and of course, finding the perfect pumpkin.

While my family searched high and low for the classic shape color and size worthy of our carving skills, I searched for beautiful bright yellow flowers attached to the pumpkin and squash vines. Mr. Henry Dykeman of Dykeman Farms in Pawling, NY would hand me a brown paper bag and watch as I surveyed his beautiful farm for these golden beauties. He would ask how I planned to prepare them for my family and nod in approval. Ahhhh. The memories of returning home with all of our farm treasures and knowing the next few hours would be spent cleaning and cooking these delicacies which became a family tradition.

Moving this story fast forward to Florida, I would venture to farm stands and ask if they could order pumpkin or squash flowers for me. They would politely look at me as if to say “What are they and why do you want them?” I am eternally greatful to John, the owner of Pair-A-Dice, my local produce store around the corner from my home for knowing what pumpkin and squash flowers were used for in cooking and for always going the extra mile whenever I ask him for something out of the ordinary. My advice is to find a caring produce provider like John and give these a try. You may find yourself creating a new tradition to welcome fall.

Note: I reference Pumpkin flowers but squash/zucchini flowers will work as well. Squash flowers are smaller in size but offer a similar delicious seasonal taste. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25 Pumpkin Flowers
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour sifted
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying
  • Sea Salt & Pepper for Seasoning

RECIPE:                                                                               2 Forks

Rinse each flower individually under cold water. Remove the stem. Gently, open the flower and pull out the stamen. Rinse the inside of the flower with cold water.  I prefer to break one side of the flower and lie them flat on a paper towel for drying but some prefer to keep the flower intact which is important if you planned to stuff the flowers but not for this recipe. Pat the flowers dry with a paper towel.

Flowers Drying On Mat

Stems and Stamen         Cleaned Pumpkin Flower

Whisk the eggs, milk and dash of cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste for the egg bath in a shallow 9 inch pan or baking dish.

Have your flour ready in a similar 9 inch pan or baking dish.

*For frying 25 flowers, I prefer to use my 9 inch All Clad skillet. This skillet allows me to fry the flowers in 4 – 5 batches and use less oil in the process leaving you less cleanup too 🙂

Flour,Egg & Pumpkin Flowers   Flower in Egg Mixture Dredged in Flour

Dredge the clean dry flowers, one at a time through the egg mixture and then dredge them through the flour. Place on a cookie sheet.

*Note: I use a Silpat on my cookie sheet. If not, Parchment paper works well.

Heat the oil in the skillet on Medium to High Heat #5 – #6.

Early Frying Stage     Golden Frying

Drop the pumpkin flowers one at a time in the oil and lower the heat to #4 for a golden coat. You do not want them to cook on high heat continuously which will result in an over-fried brown coating.  Watch them carefully and turn them over once the ends of the flowers begin to cook/sizzle.  Remove them with a slotted spatula and place them on a clean Silpat cookie sheet.  Note: I typically use paper towels to absorb the oil but in using less oil in a smaller frying pan/skillet at a reduced temp, I eliminated the need to absorb excess oil.

While warm, grind some fresh sea salt and even a very small dash of cinnamon for taste.

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Store the pumpkin flowers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days or in freeze them in an airtight container among layers of wax paper up to 3 – 4 weeks. I have made pumpkin flowers in mid to late October and managed to preserve them as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving meal.  Simply defrost the flowers for 10 minutes. Spread them on a Silpat cookie sheet and warm them in a 325 degree oven for 7 – 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Day at The Famers Market on Sanibel Island

OPENING DAY AT THE FARMERS MARKET ON SANIBEL ISLAND

Guest Blogger: Veruska Koerner, President VK Media. Veruska is a native of Suriname and frequents the Sanibel Farmers Market with her husband,photographer Chris.  Photos for this blog are courtesy of Christopher Koerner Photography.

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It is Sunday, October 5th and the first cool crisp Sunday morning which tells even those of us living in Southwest Florida that it is the beginning of the fall season and even better, it is opening day at the Farmers Market on Sanibel.

The Sanibel Island Farmers Market was established in 2008. It is a favorite outdoor activity for islanders and visitors from October through April. Along with local produce vendors, you will find breads, honey, seafood, meats, flowers, cheeses and many other locally grown organic products that create a well-rounded enjoyable Sunday outing for everyone including well behaved dogs.

This year, a few new vendors were added, which was a nice welcome to the familiar favorites. One produce vendor in particular caught my eye. They imported a variety of exotic fruits to the US, some of which I enjoyed in my native country of Suriname. I have never seen these fresh fruits in any markets or stores in or around Fort Myers and Sanibel/Captiva so you can imagine my excitement to taste a little nostalgia. There were Rambutan, Longan, Knippa also known as Spanish Lime in the USA and Carambola or Star fruit just to name a few. If you are not familiar with any of these, see if your local gourmet market carries them or if you are in Sanibel on a Sunday morning, then stop byand give them a try.

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Another must try was the Dutch vendor called Dutchkinz. He sold all sorts of typical Dutch treats such as oliebollen and poffertjes which are sweet fluffy spongy pancakes made with buckwheat flour. If you have a sweet tooth and never had any of these before, you are in for a treat.

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There is something for everyone at the Sanibel Farmers Market. It has become a meeting place for the crowd of people who frequent this venue each week. The residents are there when the market opens. Vacationers meander throughout the morning and complete yet one more activity on their vacation travel bucket list. The vendors are friendly and the fresh produce will make your next meal a memorable one. Check it out if you are ever in the area. The Sanibel Farmers Market is open every Sunday through April from 8:00 am till 1:00 pm.