Portobello “Flatbread” with Roasted Sprouts, Gruyere, and Thyme-infused reduction

Woah. Don’t let that recipe title trick you. It may sound all high and mighty fancy-pants, but it really isn’t. And for such an unusual dish, it was really quite economical and easy peasy. This is my second dish where I utilized seasonal produce from Green Grocer.

There really is one crucial tip (okay, maybe two) I have for you. Choose the freshest, prettiest produce you can find. For me, seasonal and local produce generally fits the bill. (Except when I want a pineapple…they don’t seem to grow in Texas. Hmmm) Find good quality cheese, oil, vinegar, etc. and use them sparingly. Your taste buds will thank you. You’ll probably find that cooking in your home kitchen becomes more fun when you have quality things to work with!

Okay, enough soapboxin’. Let’s look at the ingredients for the fancy-nancy “flatbread”. I found the main ingredients at a local haven for food fanatics like myself:

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Did you know that mushrooms keep better in a paper bag????

Miss M with Stalk

Okay, so I posted this photo before. BUT BRUSSELS SPROUTS ARE AWESOME!

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Heirloom tomatoes. I love their colors and offbeat shapes!

Green's Creek Gruyere

Green’s Creek Gruyere. *sigh* I love cheese.

Let’s get into the recipe, shall we? This can easily be made Vegan by omitting the cheese. If you can’t find Gruyere, you can substitute any “nutty” cheese. Think: Romano, Asiago, etc. You really need a nutty cheese to play off the pecans and beefiness of the Portobello.

This would make a nice, light vegetarian lunch or dinner when paired with a salad. If you eat meat, I suggest a mild white fish. Oh, and wine. Wine goes with eeeeverything.

Portobello “Flatbread” with Roasted Sprouts, Gruyere, and Thyme-infused reduction

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Ingredients:

Portobello Flatbread:

2 Portobello mushrooms

Approx. 1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved

1/2 cup Gruyere, shaved with a vegetable peeler into ribbons

1 tomato, sliced thick

slices of red onion

2 T. chopped pecans

Sea Salt, Cracked Black Pepper

1 T. olive oil, for brushing

1 T. olive oil, for coating Brussels Sprouts

Thyme-infused Peach Balsamic Vinegar

***I purchase my oils and vinegars from Texas Olive Ranch. Feel free to sub with a white Balsamic vinegar.

1/2 cup Peach Balsamic Vinegar (or white Balsamic)

3 T. sugar

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions:

1. Toss Brussels Sprouts in 1 T. olive oil; lightly salt and pepper. Roast in 425 degree oven until caramelized around the edges and they can be pierced with a fork, approximately 20 minutes. You will need to flip them over 10 minutes into the cook time.

2. Once you’ve gotten the sprouts into the oven, get started on your reduction. To a small saucepan over medium high heat, add your 1/2 cup vinegar, 3 T. sugar, and sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and stir sugar to ensure it dissolves. Let it boil and reduce until thick and syrupy (like maple syrup). Remove from heat. This whole process takes about 25 minutes.

 3. While your reduction is working, gently brush Portobello mushroom with olive oil, including cap and gills. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

4. Top mushroom with shaved Gruyere. Once your sprouts are done roasting, take them out and pop the mushroom into the oven for ten minutes, until Gruyere is browned and mushroom has “softened” slightly in appearance. Do not over cook the mushroom here; you still want some “bite”.

5. Remove mushrooms from the oven. Top with the tomato, followed by the red onion slices, and mound the roasted sprouts on top.

6. Drizzle about 1 1/2 T. of the thyme reduction over top of “flatbread”. Sprinkle 1 T. of chopped pecans over top of each mushroom and serve.

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Is it Springtime yet? This makes me want to grill outside!

Spiced Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos with Brussels Sprout Escabeche

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Well, hello there! Fresh off my trip to Green Grocer, I got to quick work in my kitchen whipping up a very veggie-centered dinner.

My daughter assistant helped me spot the previously mentioned Brussels sprouts in the store. She likes to “spot” things. Usually, it’s my hidden stash of cookies. D’oh.

Kiddy Shopper

Brussels Signage

Success!

Check them out. Brussels sprouts are underappreciated. Look at how cool they look on the stalk:

Miss M with Stalk

Let’s take a moment to give Brussels sprouts some props. Aside from many nutritional benefits, these suckers are absolutely delicious when prepared correctly. If you’ve only ever experienced these cruciferous babies in their over-boiled, mush-on-a-plate form, you’ve been done wrong. Real, real wrong.

Brussels sprouts recipes have been popping up on the internets like craaazy. Usually, the recipes involve roasting the sprouts. I take a departure here, utilizing this veg as a quick escabeche. Escabeche is essentially a pickled cabbage condiment. Crisp, tangy, and refreshing, it pairs perfectly with a taco made with black beans and spicy sweet potatoes. Just a few, simple ingredients pair to make one outrageously delicious vegetarian-friendly meal:

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Mmmmmmmm. Cruciferous.

SPICED SWEET POTATO TACOS with BRUSSELS SPROUT ESCABECHE

(makes approx. 6 tacos)

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Ingredients:

1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, cored, halved, and sliced into ribbons

2 radishes, sliced paper thin

1 green onion, sliced

1 carrot, peeled into ribbons using a handheld peeler

1 large handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

3 medium lemons, squeezed, OR scant 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice

1 minced jalapeno (optional – I left this out because of my kids)

2 T. raw apple cider vinegar (optional)

1/4 cup good quality olive oil

1 T. pure maple syrup, agave, or honey

salt and pepper, to taste

1 large sweet potato, diced into cubes

1 T. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground chipotle powder

1/2 tsp. ground ancho chili powder

1/2 tsp. oregano leaves

2 T. olive oil

15oz. can black beans (organic preferred), drained and rinsed

To Serve: Sliced red onion, tortillas of your choosing, crumbled feta or queso fresco (omit for vegan)

Directions:

Assemble the escabeche:

In a medium bowl, mix together the sliced Brussels sprouts, ribboned carrot, sliced radish, green onion, cilantro, and minced jalapeno.

In a small measuring cup, add the juice of your lemons or grapefruit. If needed, add apple cider vinegar to reach 1/4 cup level. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk in 1 T. pure maple syrup until dressing is combined.

Toss escabeche with assembled dressing to coat. ***You may not need all the dressing. Just make sure the veggies are thoroughly coated with a little extra dressing pooled at the bottom of the bowl.

Set escabeshe into the fridge to marinate until serving time. (It will keep up to 24 hours and the longer it sits, the more the flavors will mingle.)

To prepare the hot taco filling:

Wash, peel, and cube sweet potato. Combine spices in a medium sized bowl and add the sweet potato cubes. Get in there with two spoons or your (clean) hands and ensure every surface of every sweet potato cube is coated with spicy goodness.

Add 2 T. olive oil to large sauté pan and heat. When oil is hot, toss in the sweet potatoes and cook over medium-high until crispy on all sides and cooked until tender. (You can speed this process by draping a piece of aluminum foil over the pan) You may need to add additional oil, 1 tsp. at a time, to keep potatoes from sticking.

Once sweet potatoes are cooked through, toss in rinsed black beans and cover pan with foil. Remove from heat.

Warm your tortillas and divide warm filling amongst them. Top each taco with about 1/4 cup escabeche and desired toppings, such as sliced red onion and/or cheese.

Here are some that might help clarify prep for less experience cooks:

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Cutting the core out of the Brussels Sprout

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Easy Carrot Ribbons (tattoo not required)

 

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I like drizzling things. It makes me feel dainty.

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To easily and safely create sweet potato cubes, first make large slices and stack

these on top of each other. Make four slices going the other direction.

At the opposite end from where you’ll be cutting, use your palm to firmly

hold the sweet potato in place. Cut pieces into chunks the size of dice.

Enjoy!

 

Food Nerds Unite!

Green Deli

Warning. This post is gonna get all food-nerd-fan-girl up in here.

But, I’m not a stalker, mmmmkay? I mean, who stalks produce??? psssh. *nervously looks away*

Who sees a twitter post about Brussels Sprouts and rushes over to Green Grocer just to look at them?

Not me! Err, I’m, umm, busy shopping and getting my nails did. And stuff.

Okay, okay! I admit it. You got me. I LOVE PRODUCE! And I LOVE Green Grocer!

I’ve been ordering their items through a grocery delivery service for the past few months. One day after work, I was feeling particularly adventurous. Read: I was willing to venture off of the highway to go find them.

Green Grocer
is small but mighty. A bright explosion of organic produce and artisan products. It’s staffed with amazing people, too. And they make KILLER juices.

Cassie, the awesome owner, allowed me to get all Geeky up in her store last Saturday. I really want to share my passion for local businesses and GOOD FOOD with you all. So, as much as I can, I will get my behind down to Green Grocer  to see what local goodness I can find. I found so much cool stuff that I actually got inspiration for TWO Green Grocer-inspired dishes instead of my intended one. Although, I did feel obliged to let every employee know what I was doing, for fear I would become “that weird lady that comes in and takes pictures of our veggies”.

Check out the awesome stuff I found (and go visit Green Grocer, located at 3614 Greenville in Dallas to see for yourself):

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Lemons. If you don’t have a bowl on your counter, you’ll be sorry!

Kombucha

Green Grocer is so rad, they had Kombucha named after them!

Juice Bar

If you find yourself at the Juice Bar, order a “Helen of Troy”. Oh My GreenJuice!

Puppy Butts

Oh, and on select weekends they have puppy adoptions. So get a juice and get a puppy.

And try not to smile.

*Look for Green Grocer inspired recipes to be posted on Birdcage Bakeshop

 

Kid-Friendly Wheat Pancakes

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Oh, good grief, the photo above is reason #1,123,098 why I need to take a photography class. But truth be told, I am NOT aspiring to become a world class photographer. I’m more concerned with how things taste versus how they look. My main goal with this kick-off post is to share tried and tested recipes with others out there who possess neither a culinary degree nor professional photography business. Today’s post is about PANCAKES. Or DINNER as they’re known around here.

On any given night, Miss B, my youngest daughter, will ask for one of the following for dinner: fast food (read: French fries), a yogurt squeezer, chips, or fruit snacks. This is usually followed by my eldest daughter, Miss M, ribbing her sister for wanting the same four things all day every day. Pancakes are met with the least resistance, which is handy on nights where everyone is starving and I’m feeling too tired to whip up a five course dinner. (Although this night I did lose street credit for not having any bacon in the fridge – D’OH!)

I’m a big proponent of from-scratch cooking, so you will NOT find any use of a certain “ready mix” here. You probably have most of these ingredients in your pantry at home, with the exception of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. Whole Wheat Pastry flour is ground finer than regular Whole Wheat flour. This makes for a fluffier, melt-in-your-mouth, tender pancake. By all means, if you are craving pancakes like NOW and only have all-purpose flour, go ahead and use that instead. This is just my way of sneaking some fiber into my kids’ diets.

Just, please, for the love of all that’s holy, DO NOT skimp on using REAL maple syrup…that stuff is the nectar of gods.

KID-FRIENDLY WHEAT PANCAKES

(Makes approx. 14 large pancakes)

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

4 T. sugar (I used organic cane sugar)

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

4 T. melted butter

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a whisk helps to break up any clumps in your flour and aerate the ingredients as they are combined. This is important to do before you add in your wet ingredients.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.

3. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until ingredients are incorporated. Do NOT over-mix or your cakes will be tough, which, in pancake terms, is generally no bueno.

4. Use a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup to pour butter onto a lightly greased griddle. Cook approximately 2 – 3 minutes per side.

5. Serve with some butter and maple syrup. If you’re feeling extra fancy-pants, toss some fruit on top, too.

***You can keep cooked pancakes warm while you finish your batch by setting your oven to 200 degrees and then shutting it off. Put cooked pancakes on a cookie sheet to hang out while you work your way through the batter. After you are done cooking all your batter, plate those babies up and bring ’em to the table or run the risk of finding pancake jerky in the oven later in the day. (That is a story for later, my friends!)

Nom Nom.