Sunday, December 7, 2003

Helpings



Compiled by Chuck Martin

My Brussels sprouts usually look dull and dingy, no matter how long I cook them. How do I get the sprouts to stay bright green?

Try dunking them into ice water immediately after cooking, suggests Elizabeth Schneider in Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini (Morrow; $60). Soak briefly, then drain thoroughly. Serve cold or reheat gently before cooking.

Sprouts suggestions: Still stumped with what to do with those little cabbages after cooking them? Here are ideas from Schneider:

• Saute sprouts in brown butter or nut oil, and toss with toasted nuts.

• Saute bacon and brown sprouts in the fat. Sprinkle with bacon bits.

• Boil heavy cream in skillet with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add sprouts and cook to heat through and coat with cream.

• Combine sprouts with cooked sliced carrots, roasted diced pepper or small cherry tomatoes. Toss with vinaigrette and chopped fresh herbs and chill.

• Slice or quarter sprouts and add to Asian stir-fries.

Steam it good: The electric Black & Decker Flavor Scenter Steamer cooks Brussels sprouts and other vegetables fat-free with a steam bowl for flavor-enhancing herbs, and it features a 7-cup rice bowl with a timer. About $29.99 at Amazon.com and department stores.

Midwinter's feast: Celebrate the approach of the winter solstice at "Waiting for the Light," a dinner served 5-6:30 p.m. next Sunday at Grailville Environmental, Education & Retreat Center in Loveland. Tickets are $15 for adults; $8 for children. Reservations: 683-2340.

Book look: If this is your week to gift shop, here's a look at the top five cookbooks of the year, as chosen by the editors of Amazon.com:

• The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks (Knopf; $29.95) by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.

• Tom's Big Dinners: Big Time Home Cooking for Family and Friends (Morrow; $32.50) by Tom Douglas.

• Jamie's Kitchen (Hyperion; $39.95) by Jamie Oliver.

• Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America (Viking; $24.95) by Amy Southerland.

• The Balthazar Cookbook (Clarkson-Potter; $37.50) by Lee Hanson.

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