Tag: Blue Cayenne

Did it. Guacamole with peas!

  You know how, when you aren’t exactly sure you want to do something,  you put it off—turning instead to “must do” projects like sorting the dog’s toys by size and color? This week I’ve been nagged by the feeling that I needed to make […]

Guacamole: Give Peas A Chance?

Certain things in American life are understood. You don’t mess with Old Glory, for example, or Texas. You don’t cut off a phalanx of Hells Angels on PCH. You don’t open wrapped candy during a performance at The South Coast Repertory Theatre. You argue with […]

Brussels Sprouts Gratin


Brussels sprouts. Yuck!

Over the years, bitter little brussels sprouts and I have not been close. Sure, we hung out together a few times. Sure, I oogled the little green brussels in the bins at Sprouts and picked out the most handsome ones to bring home with me. I’ll admit, I even included them once at my holiday table.

But, there was just no spark between us. Ever.

I had pretty much decided to end our relationship forever when this Food52 recipe for brussels sprouts gratin came across my desk. Maple syrup? Pecans? A gratin? Maybe this could be a game changer.

I swiped right.

I know. I know. One should never-ever-never rekindle a relationship, particularly one where there has been some bitterness involved,  because you think you can change the other party for the better. But, you know, sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.

Turns out, brussels sprouts can be pretty delicious.

I served this dish to my handyman Tony yesterday at lunch (along with a bowl of the tomato basil soup that also appears in an earlier posting on this blog). Tony was doing some of the never-ending jobs that seem inevitably to come with home ownership–at least, my home ownership. He told me he had never before eaten brussels sprouts and was pretty interested in giving them a try. He confided in me that, as a child in Mexico, he used to juggle brussels sprouts as a game. He said he pretended to be a giant who was juggling cabbages. I love that image.

Tony and I both give this recipe two thumbs up.

Here is the gratin recipe:

Yields 6-8 servings

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

30 minPrep Time

35 minCook Time

1 hr, 5 Total Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • For the gratin
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • 1 C. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 1 T. whole-grain mustard
  • 1 t. maple syrup (grade B is best)
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • For the topping:
  • 1 C. bread crumbs (from dry bread--I used a baguette)
  • 1/2 C. chopped pecans (or more)
  • 2 T. unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 and 1/2 t. maple syrup
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 4-6 ounces gruyere cheese (optional)


  1. Place your oven rack in the middle position and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash and prepare your brussels sprouts. Trim off the tough stem ends, wash and discard any damaged leaves.
  3. Using the shredding blade on your food processor, thinly slice the brussels sprouts. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk broth, cream, mustard, maple syrup, salt and black pepper together. Add the brussels sprouts to the mixture. Pour this mixture into a one-quart gratin dish or a shallow baking pan in an even layer.
  5. Combine all the topping ingredients into a medium bowl. Stir this mixture until everything is well-mixed. Spread this topping mixture evenly over the top of the shredded brussels sprouts.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 35 minutes. The gratin should be golden brown when the dish is ready.
  7. Remove from oven and let dish cool on the counter. To my taste, this is best served when the gratin is only slightly warm. I was better able to taste the maple flavor.
Cuisine: French-American | Recipe Type: Gratin


I deviated from the original recipe by adding the gruyere cheese to the topping. I thought the cheese gave added flavor to the dish. Next time, though, I'm going to prepare the dish without the cheese and see how it tastes. The maple syrup flavor is a wonderful foil for the bitterness of the brussels sprouts. The flavor of the maple syrup (and the pecans) might be stronger without competition from the cheese.

The photo posted with this recipe is a photo of the gratin before it is baked.



The recipe in this post is adapted from one that appears on the Food52 food blog. Here is a link to that blog:

Brussels Sprouts Gratin




Black-Eyed (Cow) Pea Salad for the New Year!

  OK everyone. All together now. Say cowpeas. That’s what black-eyed peas are. They are a type of cowpeas, “one of the most ancient crops known to man” according to Purdue’s horticultural Jefferson Institute, and the real shocker is that they aren’t really peas at all. […]

Cauliflower Gratin

  It is overcast, drizzly and gloomy in Huntington Beach today. Cooking weather! My good friend Sarah is an Ina Garten devotee. Well, actually, she is an “Ina ♥ Jeffrey” devotee. Show Sarah a good romance and she’s hooked. Connect the romance to good food and […]

Juliet, Halloween, and Corn


The plan was for Juliet, a scary and wicked witch last year, to be Juliet Sparrow, the brave pirate, this year, but, blimey!, we had to scuttle that plan. All the pirate hats were way too big.

Halloween Plan B: Here’s Juliet, the Sweet Sea Dog, rocking a saucy sailor hat that, after a lot of looking, turned up at Petco in a bag with a cat costume. Shhhh…Sea Dog Juliet doesn’t need to know that she is wearing a cat hat! Trust me, there is no need to rock that boat.

In the spirit of Halloween and as a paean to corn (candy or not), here is a great Mexican corn recipe. It is pretty and very flavorful. It is easy, too. You could easily whip this up before the ghouls, goblins and sea dogs show up at your door on Monday night.

Corn, by the way, was domesticated in Mexico 7000 years ago. Columbus brought corn to Europe as part of the historical Columbian exchange that, for example, brought sugar to the Americas and potatoes to Europe. Today, corn is the world’s third largest food crop behind wheat and rice.

This recipe is adapted from one of Melissa Clark’s recipes in the NY Times. A link to the original recipe appears at the bottom of this post. There is even a video with Clark’s recipe that shows you the process.


Ingredients: Grilled Corn with Cheese, Lime and Chile

6 ears fresh corn (shucked)

3 T. mayonnaise

2 limes (zest one of the limes)

1/4 t. ancho chile powder (more as needed–I added a generous pinch of chipotle powder, too)

Fine sea salt


1/2 C. cotija cheese (crumbled. You may substitute feta or ricotta salata)

Chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnish.


Directions: Grill corn, turning occasionally, until corn is done and you have some char on the corn.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, lime zest, chile powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Generously spread mayonnaise mixture on corn. Sprinkle with cotija cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Squeeze lime juice onto corn and enjoy.


Here is the link to the original NY Times recipe:


Caramelized Honey, Nut and Seed Tart

    Damn! It is almost November and Blue Cayenne almost missed celebrating October as National Caramel Month. What was I thinking? The only excuse I can think of is that I’ve been in a sugar-induced stupor for the last couple of weeks. With Halloween […]

Pad Thai

  My good friend Sarah and I have been taking cooking classes at Sur La Table in Costa Mesa. (Sarah is the pretty lady in the middle holding what is left of a tray of  minced chicken lettuce cups). What fun! Our most recent class […]

Elaine’s Fettuccine Alfredo


Elaine’s fettuccine alfredo.

If it was good enough for Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, this fettuccine alfredo recipe is worth a try. (Kennedy-Onassis said it was “terrific, ” by the way.)

As recipes go, this is a simple one. Like so many  gourmet dishes, the magic is in the ingredients. A fine quality cheese is essential. The cup and a half of heavy cream doesn’t hurt, either.

So, who was this Elaine after whom the dish was named?


Elaine was the infamous New York restauranteur Elaine Kaufman, proprietress of the eponymous upper east side Manhattan restaurant that attracted the who’s who of the New York celebrity and intellectual scene from 1963 until its closing in 2011 after her death. Her restaurant was so quintessentially New York that Woody Allen filmed a scene from Manhattan in the restaurant. Billy Joel mentioned the restaurant in the lyrics of Big Shot.

Kaufman was designated a living landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2003.

Her eccentricities were legendary. 

After graduating from high school, she dyed her hair green (this was in the 40s!) and refused to seek permanent employment in the limited range of mostly office jobs open to women. (I don’t know for sure, but I suspect dyeing one’s hair green would pretty much foreclose most job interviews in the 1940s.) Eventually, she opened a restaurant in a then-unfashionable section of Manhattan.

Kaufman’s Elaine’s, a saloon and a salon, was less known for the food than it was for the scene–a fact that irritated Kaufman to no end.

Elaine’s was far from a luxe destination. Comedian Alan King described the restaurant as being decorated “like a stolen car.”

Kaufman said of her venture, “I live the party life. Elsa Maxwell used to have to send out invitations. I just open the door.” And flock they did. From Sinatra to Allen. From Mailer to Styron. From Baryshnikov to Ephron. Even Trump. They came. (I bet Elaine didn’t take any ‘tude from Trump! Just sayin…)





Like Seinfeld’s “soup nazi,” you didn’t cross the mercurial Kaufman. She regularly railed at the mediocre reviews her restaurant received for its food. She once punched a belligerent customer in the face. Regularly, she yelled at customers who took her restaurant for granted and didn’t order enough food. She was fiercely protective of her customers, once hurling a garbage can lid at paparazzi photographer Ron Galella.

She had a sense of humor, too. Once when she was asked for directions to Elaine’s restroom, Kaufman, without missing a beat,  told the customer “Take a right at Michael Caine.”

Here is a link to the obituary that the NY Times ran when Kaufman died. It is worth your time to read if only for the Normal Mailer anecdote.

Elaine’s Kaufman’s Obit in NY Times

This recipe was adapted from a recipe that originally was published in the New York Times. The link to the original recipe appears at the end of this post.

Ingredients: Elaine’s Fettuccine Alfredo.
2 T. sweet butter
1 small clove garlic (finely chopped)
1 1/2 C. heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
1 pound fresh fettuccine
1 C. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago cheese
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Garnish with minced parsley or basil leaves


Melt sweet butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic and sauté until it is fragrant but not brown. Whisk cream and egg yolk in a bowl and pour mixture into butter/garlic mixture. On medium low heat, cook cream mixture until it reduces and thickens a bit. Do not let mixture boil.

Boil fettuccine in a pot of water until it is al dente. Drain.

Pour cooked fettuccine into the cream sauce and stir until the fettuccine is well mixed in the sauce. You can add a bit of pasta cooking water if you need to make the sauce more liquid as you cook it. Add grated cheese and toss to mix.

Garnish with parsley or basil and lots of freshly-ground pepper.


Here is a link to the original NY Times recipe for Elaine’s Fettuccine Alfredo:

Elaine’s Fettuccine Alfredo from The New York Times

Knife Tips

Sorry not to have posted for a couple of weeks. My beloved dog, Juliet, has been sick and I’ve been worried sick about her. When I’m “worried sick,” I eat Rosarita refried beans right out of the can. It is my comfort/junk food. She is […]