New favorite side: Michael Symon’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Michael Symon’s recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with a Bacon, Mustard and Walnut Vinaigrette is one of my new favorite sides. I made it for Easter dinner this year and everyone in my family loved it. I’ve been thinking about it since then and made it last night. I made it as a side to a pork tenderloin dish, but I could seriously eat this as a meal on its own. Brussels Sprouts are so delicious simply roasted in the oven, but the saltiness of the bacon, the tartness from the vinegar and the crunch from the walnuts are perfect in this dish.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Mustard and Walnut Vinaigrette

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardoons
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread the Brussels sprouts out on the baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice during the cooking process, until tender and charred in spots, 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the bacon to a medium saute pan and render over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the walnuts, garlic, shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook until the bacon is crispy, being careful not to burn the walnuts. Stir in the vinegar, honey and mustard with a fork. Whisk into the bacon fat until emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a large mixing bowl, add the bacon mixture and toss well. Serve.

It’s time to go back to Uchi

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I requested that we go to Uchi for my birthday this year because I had read how awesome it was and had it on my “must try” list. I have been thinking about our meal since then and am getting the itch to go back.

We did a six course tasting menu, but we ordered some other courses that I had read about so we ended up doing nine courses and were very full at the end of the evening. The courses came out pretty quickly and our waiter didn’t tell us much about what was coming next, which made it more interesting. The waiter we had was also excellent – which confirmed what I read about Uchi having a very knowledgeable and helpful waitstaff.

Here’s the courses we had in the order they came out:

Edamame – grilled soybeans with sea salt and olive oil

Hamachi – six pieces of delicious yellow tail sashimi

Hama chili – yellow tail with tai chili and ponzu sauce

Maguro sashimi and goat cheese – tuna with pumpkin seed oil, fuji apples and goat cheese. Loved.

Walu Walu – an oak grilled escolar with candied citrus, yuzupon and myoga. This was one of my favorites.

Zero Sen – sushi roll with yellow tail, avocado, shallot, cilantro, tobiko and yuzu.

Hamachi nabe – yellow tail with fried rice and soy broth – This was my husband’s favorite.

Ham and eggs – a sushi roll with pork belly, yolk custard and espelette. This wasn’t on the tasting menu; we ordered it because I had read about it. It was AMAZING. One of our favorites.

Fried milk – chocolate milk, toasted milk and iced milk sherbet. Delicious.

Go to El Real and have Queso Flameado

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I have been a fan of Chef Bryan Caswell ever since he appeared on “The Next Iron Chef.” I am so lucky that I live in Houston and can visit his restaurants often. REEF, Little Bigs and El Real are some of the best restaurants in this great city. The first time I went to El Real I ordered Queso Flameado with chorizo and puffy tacos – two of the best things on the menu, in my opinion. I have never gone to El Real and not ordered Queso Flameado. It’s that good. It’s also why El Real is my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston. If you haven’t been, go now. Seriously. Go. Right now.

Chi’Lantro: My favorite Food Truck

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This photo of Chi’Lantro’s Kimchi Fries does not do it justice. I will be taking better photos once I can track down my favorite food truck, which will be soon. Chi’Lantro describes this original dish as, “Caramelized Kimchi, a mound of sizzling Korean BBQ, chopped grilled onions, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, magic sauce, sriracha and sesame seeds. All set on top of a pile of crispy French fries.” I describe it as AMAZINGNESS. My co-worker Jamie and I can’t get enough of these and try to pick up Chi’Lantro’s Kimchi Fries once a week. Everything on their menu is fantastic, but their fries are hands down the best thing on the menu.

Baked Fontina Cheese Dip

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I haven’t posted on the Thyme Line for a long time for several reasons. I got busy, my food buddy moved away and I decided to eat healthier, which meant not trying fun dishes like this one. Then I joined Pinterest and started looking at all of the amazing recipes that other home cooks like myself are trying – that is how I stumbled upon this deliciousness.

This recipe, courtesy of Smells Like Home, is so easy to make and is so addicting. Fontina cheese, garlic, rosemary and thyme, what’s not to love?

My garden is a pumpkin patch

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A couple months ago, my husband, our dog and I moved into our first house. The backyard has a garden that once had been used to grow things, but it had been neglected and wasn’t growing anything but dead grass. Someone had also thrown a dried out pumpkin into the garden space. I love cooking with fresh herbs and I was excited about attempting to grow my first garden. I pulled out all of the dead foliage, threw away the pumpkin and my husband helped me turn the soil. I bought potting soil and garden soil, which I added to the garden before planting my herbs. I had been growing mint, oregano and chives on our apartment balcony before we moved into our house, which I transplanted into the garden. I also planted parsley, cilantro, sage, rosemary, Thai basil, sweet basil, two types of thyme and two heirloom tomato plants. The garden looked great and I left enough room between rows so I could walk through the garden to water and give the plants enough room to grow. What seemed like moments later, I started noticing numerous sprouts popping up among my herbs. My boss, who has quite the green thumb, told me they looked like watermelon or pumpkin seedlings. I then realized that the pumpkin that had been tossed aside into the garden had germinated and was now growing all over my new garden. I decided to leave some of the sprouts to see what would happen. The pumpkins have now taken over the entire garden and have started to grow fruit. I’m worried that some of my other plants are going to suffer, but it’s so exciting to see the plants grow. My tomato plants are doing really well too and have started to show their fruit.

Barefoot Contessa Book Signing

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I had my ticket for Ina Garten’s November book signing in July so I should have been prepared.

I was not.

I thought getting to the book signing half an hour early was plenty of time to get in line to meet my favorite celebrity chef.

It was not.

My plan was to get my cookbook signed and then go to lunch with my former co-worker John. Instead, he got to wait in line with me for more than an hour to meet a chef he had never heard of before. He was such a trooper. I should have known that I was not the only person in Houston who likes Ina Garten. I do think I was the youngest person who wanted to meet her though. After we wound our way through the Sur la Table store to the table where she was signing her newest cookbook, “Foolproof,” she thanked us for coming and turned to the next person in line. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to ask her anything, but it was understandable considering how many people came to see her. I did get to chat with her assistant Barbara, who was very sweet. I still think she’s as fabulous as ever and think of her as an old friend whenever I have her cookbooks open in the kitchen.