Monday, January 15, 2007

Using the Sprouts

Sat 13 Jan 2007

The other weekend we bought 2lb of sprouts from the market for something like 50p. 2lb of sprouts is a lot of sprouts, so even after our venison and celeriac adventure we were left with a lot to eat.

Unfortunately, sprouts aren't the type of vegetable where a plethora of uses immediately springs to mind, so I had to do some digging around for some inspiration. I spotted this recipe and figured that this was so ludicrously healthy I couldn't go wrong. Of course, I barely followed the recipe.

In my saucepan, I heated some oil and then crackled some black mustard seeds, before adding ground cumin and turmeric. I then added a good pile of chopped shallots, garlic and ginger and let it all sweat down.

Then I tipped in a pile of red lentils, which I then covered with a mixture of chicken stock and water. I put the lid on and let it cook.

When the lentils looked like they were cooking up nicely I added a pile of peeled brussel sprouts and when they were cooked, hit it with the stab mixer. Once pureed, I added some tomato paste and left it alone.

It would be wonderful to report that it was lovely ... but it wasn't. It was incredibly bland, and needed a lot of extra salt and pepper adding. So disappointing!

Faced with a pot of leftover and somewhat nasty soup I could have been a bit disheartened. But instead, I thought I would treat it like dahl and see if that helped. So, when I packed some up for my lunch, I heated a knob of butter and as it was starting to turn brown I added a sprinkling of chilli flakes, some whole cumin and black mustard seeds and a good shake of ground coriander. I let that cook and crackle for a while before adding to my lunch and giving it a good stir.

This made all the difference. The soup went from bland and lifeless to tasty, nourishing and fulfilling. In one fell swoop. I didn't even need to add salt!

It was fantastic to be able to perk this up because it's such an attractive soup, and such a good way of using Brussels sprouts.

Oh ... and the bread in the picture is Polish half rye/half wheat bread, which is available from the Polish deli in the main indoor part of Kirkgate Market. It's dense, chewy proper bread - even if sliced a little too thinly!

And the wine ... well, continuing the Beaujolais voyage of discovery, a 2004 Domaine des Pins St Amour. We drank it without decanting it and frankly, apart from an amazing hit of tobacco on the nose, it was pretty unpalatable. However, we put the cork back in and the next night that little bit of oxygen had allowed the wine to open up into all sorts of lovely plummy, jammy goodness with a good long palate. It rather does mean a decanter is back on the shopping list!

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