I wish I had a magical wand that would tell me I have gotten too used to something. With a quick tap I would get unstuck from whatever I have gotten comfortable with - unwind myself from the routines that make each day pass by as if played on a recorder. This magical wand would tell me when I need to try a new workout, go to a different bar, or use something other than za'atar to season vegetables with. It is too easy to get stuck in our ways to stay within the boundaries of our comfort zone. I certainty stick, that’s why I got so excited about Meike Peter’s cookbook “Eat in my kitchen”.
I treasure cookbooks as a teenage girl treasures magazines, or I guess these days more like their Instagram feeds. Obsessed. You can imagine how giddy I am during this time of year, when all the cookbooks get simultaneously released. This year, there is Anthony’s, Molly’s, Amanda and Merrill’s, Andrew’s, and Jessica’s.
I dig through each page looking for inspiration, examining each photograph meticulously, then wonder how long each frame took to perfect. I imagine how the author cooks when they are not writing a recipe down, free from the constraints of measurements and steps.
The funny thing though is; I rarely ever cook from cookbooks. Plenty of cooks and chefs talk about how cookbooks are solely for finding inspiration. But sometimes, as I recently discovered, there is so much freedom in simply finding a recipe and following each step as prescribed. No flares, no playful adaptations: just follow all the way through, free of decision making and fully guided by somebody else’s voice. It is only then that you can taste the world through somebody else’s perspective.
If you haven’t, I really suggest you do for a change to mold out of your ways.
I met Meike, a truly talented blogger and author that hails from Germany, but cooks with the flare of a Maltese goddess, last week. I didn’t get to really know her until I cooked a recipe from her book. During the launch of her book at Maman, she talked about how important it was for her to keep each recipe simple, always showcasing her favorite ingredients: lemon, ginger, and salt. Immediately after the event, I dug briefly through the recipes on the subway ride home. While some recipes jumped out as excited and robust, I settled on the simplest of them all: Roasted brussels sprouts with ginger and lemon.
When roasting vegetables, I always turn to a sprinkle of sea salt, za’atar, and olive oil. Mike’s recipe relies on fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, and grated ginger. I have never roasted with either. With heat, these two robust, tangy ingredients mellow down, while staying fresh and tart. I associate roasted vegetables, especially brussels sprouts with hearty, earthy flavors. These, on the other hand are light, bright, and surprisingly original. More than a winter dish, it felt refreshingly summery: casual and light. As Meike recommends, this side dish is perfect for the Holidays, but don’t save it just for that, it is perfect for any which day, for lunch or dinner.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ginger and Lemon
Cooking time 30 minutes
- 1 ½ lb. brussels sprouts
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 juicy lemon), plus half a lemon for garnish
- 1 ½ tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- sea salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
- Trim ends of each brussels sprout, then cut in half. Discard the ends, and place halves in a bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and ginger.
- Drizzle mixture onto brussels sprouts and with clean hands, toss until evenly incorporated.
- Sprinkle a heavy pinch of salt, and toss again.
- Transfer to a baking sheet, and roast, tossing every five minutes, for twenty minutes. Sprouts are ready wen golden and crispy on the edges.
- Serve hot with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.