Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

The best brussels sprouts I have ever eaten were served at Westville, a restaurant in the upper west side of Manhattan. This place makes the most delicious vegetables I have ever tasted. Not to mention the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich. Soon I will create these things in the Bubbly Kitchen. Until then, you have the brussels to end all brussels. These sprouts will make people who claim to hate brussels sprouts love them. I made them for dinner last night and I am not sure how many pieces of bacon I used but it was too much (I know, right, you can never have too much bacon!!). So I saved the extra bacon bits for salads. But if you want them heavier on the bacon, by all means use more. I think shallots would also be great in here. But I am a huge fan of vidalia onions and always have them on hand. This is a very versatile vegetable dish. I have served these with Thanksgiving dinner and with fried eggs and toast for brunch. One key is to make sure you cut them all in half and remove any loose dark leaves, these make the sprouts bitter. They are especially fabulous when served with Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay 2011. And obviously your choice of sparkling accompanies these brussels for brunch.

20130621-123701.jpg
20130621-123712.jpg

20130621-123730.jpg
20130621-123748.jpg
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Serves 4

1 pound brussels sprouts, with stems chopped off, cut in half
4 pieces thick cut bacon, cut into slices
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
Pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a medium sized skillet over medium heat until browned and crispy. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

Sauté onions in the bacon fat left in the pan over medium heat until soft and slightly brown, approximately 8 minutes. Add garlic into the pan, cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Remove onions and garlic with slotted spoon.

Place brussel sprouts in the pan with leftover bacon fat. Cook over medium heat, stirring a few times, for 8 minutes, or until charred in some areas and crisp-tender. Remove from pain with slotted spoon. Toss with onions, garlic, and bacon. Season to taste with pepper.

This is an original recipe from Bubbly Kitchen.

Chocolate cupcakes

I wanted to come up with a quick and easy recipe for cupcakes. I pondered the ratios for vanilla cupcakes: 1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup cake flour, 3/4 cup all purpose flour. Then I thought to myself, a vanilla cupcake is not going to comfort me in the middle of the night tonight while I am trapped at work. So I decided cocoa powder would be better than cake flour. I was in bed trying to sleep. So I called my husband on his cell, in the living room, and told him to take some unsalted butter out of the fridge.

I was planning on making some tiramisu cupcakes one time so I Amazon Primed what I thought was vanilla beans. I accidentally ordered vanilla bean paste. This was a perfect twist of fate from the Gods of Amazon prime. Vanilla bean paste has taken the place of vanilla extract in all my new recipes. The flavor cannot be compared. But in the interest of cooking from the pantry you have, you can substitute vanilla extract in the same quantities. The buttercream frosting uses extract to prevent changing the color.

I woke up from a long day of troubled sleep post night call and churned these cupcakes out in 1½ hours. That includes 25 minutes in the oven and 20 minutes of cooling time. They are ideal for impromptu birthdays and parties. After they were done I could not imagine they would taste so good considering how quickly I created them. I simply used Hershey’s cocoa powder for these in the interest of cheap experimentation. Next time I will definitely use the valrhona cocoa powder to deepen the flavor. The frosting is a simple buttercream. I actually piped these using just a ziplock bag with a corner cut off. It is important to allow the butter to come to room temperature for the frosting. If you try to do this in the microwave, you will often end up with poor consistency in your buttercream.

20130625-201638.jpg

Chocolate cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes.

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
½ cup sour cream

Buttercream frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Make the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and outfit a cupcake pan with liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla bean paste.

Mix in the flour mixture in three additions. Between each addition, mix in half the sour cream, ending with the flour mixture. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into the cups, fill about 2/3 of the way. (I used a 4 tbsp cookie scoop with perfect results).

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time.

Allow the to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Once completely cool, prepare the frosting.

Make the buttercream frosting

Using a hand mixer, beat the butter with 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Continue adding the sugar in increments. Beat until smooth. Then add in the vanilla and beat until incorporated.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Hamburgers with caramelized onions

Here is an easy way to jazz up burgers for your summer cook out. The onions should be caramelized low and slow so plan in advance to get these cooking on the stove. They do not require much maintenance once they are going, an occasional stir.

20130625-211103.jpg

20130625-211514.jpg

I never start summer barbecues without popping bottles. But a crisp rosé or sauvignon blanc on the patio is also fabulous. The possibilities are endless. With these hamburgers though, you should enjoy a glass of Ravenswood Zinfandel Sonoma.

Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions

2-3 large vidalia onions, sliced into thin half circles
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb ground beef (93% lean is what I use)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns (recipe coming soon)

In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add in the sliced onions. Cook them until they are starting to sweat and reduce in size, stirring occasionally. Cover with lid, cook on medium heat for 30-45 minutes until they are deep brown in color.

Place the rest of the ingredients excluding the ground beef into a large bowl and whisk together. Now add in the ground beef and mash this all together with your hands. Allow this to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Form the patties to your preferred size. Cook over a charcoal grill, flipping once, to an internal temperature of 130 degrees for medium rare. The cook time is going to vary based on the grill. If you do not have an outdoor grill, you can cook these in a cuisinart griddler. Preheat the griddler to sear, grill 4 minutes for medium rare.

Serve with the caramelized onions, your preferred cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, ketchup and mustard.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Macaroni salad

I only made this macaroni salad to use up leftover macaroni for a fun experiment. But I’m not sorry about it. Oh having a party, someone invited 5 extra people, just make this in 30 minutes in case there isn’t enough food. And then forget to serve it and eat it all. The magic here is really in the pickles. I don’t think this would be what it is without pickles. It could also be the Dukes mayonnaise. I once listened to a woman talk for an hour about Dukes mayonnaise. I feel obligated to use it now.

20130625-211531.jpg

20130625-211536.jpg

Macaroni salad

1 cup macaroni
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped hamburger dill pickles, specifically Boars Head
4 ox jar pimentos

Prepare the macaroni as directed and rinse with cold water.

Whisk together the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, and sugar. Add in the macaroni, celery, pickles, and pimentos.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Sparkling Wine: Dosage.

The most prevalent opinion regarding wine and cocktails amongst the people I know relates to sweetness. “I like sweet wines.” or “I don’t want something sweet.” Those opinions are facile because there is a lot more to your perception of “sweetness” than you might think. Such as, what you pair the wine with or how sugar is balanced in a cocktail. My husband’s favorite sparkling wine is Mumm Napa Cuvée M. I love it too. Mostly because it is so distinct. The nose and the taste take me right back to the terrace at Mumm Napa. Cuvée M happens to have a slightly sweet dosage which is why I suppose Andrew enjoys it so much.

20130624-231416.jpg

There are so many steps to making sparkling wine and it seems boring to start from the beginning. Lets’ address the dreaded sweet vs unsweet. We will learn about dosage. Dosage is basically liquid sugar that is added to the champagne just before corking to create sweetness. The grapes for champagne grown in France produce very acidic wine. The wine becomes even more acidic during second fermentation in the bottle to produce the bubbles that inspired this blog. The dosage balances this acidity. The dosage determines how sweet the final product will be. This is the basis for extra brut, brut, extra sec, etc.

Extra brut is essentially no dosage. Brut is the smallest amount of sugar added and is probably the most popular style. And so on, in order of increasing sweetness based on grams of sugar in the dosage: extra sec, sec, demi sec. Sec actually means dry in French. Extra sec or demi sec can be found at some well equipped grocery stores or wine stores. These are wonderful to pair with spicy foods such as Thai curries or blackened fish.