Dinner by Alex Guarnaschelli

It's April 18th.  It should be spring.  Last year at this time we'd hit 80 degrees already.  It should not be in the 30's with sleet and snow.  There are 6 inches on the ground at my friend's house in Becker just west of the Twin Cities.  We have a good 3 on the ground and below that a lovely coating of ice thanks to the sleet that fell earlier.  I'm really not sure how much more of this I can take.  I wonder if the guy we hire to plow thought he'd be plowing our driveway this late in April?

What do I do when I'm depressed (or mad or happy or frustrated)?  I cook. And what better things to cook on a miserable day like today than something out of a cookbook called "Old School Comfort Food"?

I tried the spice-rubbed bacon last night.  Loved it!  Missed that post?  You can read it HERE.

Tonight, three more amazing dishes out of this cookbook that has already justified its purchase, Blackened Salmon, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes Chantilly.

Let's start with the potatoes.  Now I knew these were going to be good.  How could they not be with whole milk, whipped heavy cream and parmesan cheese?  I'm not the potato fiend in our house, that would be Dave.  He loves mashed potatoes, loves them.  I never make enough even when I think I've made too many.  Like the other recipes in this book, these are not hard.  Start with some potatoes cut in cubes.

Boil these until they are done, 15 minutes maybe, then whisk them with some milk and butter.  I found the new whisk I got from my sister-in-law for my birthday worked great!  No loops for the potatoes to get stuck in.

Once the milk and butter are incorporated, add some whipped heavy cream and grated fresh parmesan.  This becomes a yummy, creamy mixture that I had to taste (had to know it had enough salt and pepper right?) and taste, and taste.  Ok, some of it had to go in the baking dish!  Topped with a little more parmesan this bakes in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Out comes some of the most delicious mashed potatoes I've ever eaten.  They get a nice crunchy layer on top from the cheese, they are smooth and creamy and the parmesan gives them a bit of tang.  I love these potatoes and I only like potatoes!

On to the brussels sprouts.  We love brussels sprouts.  I am so lucky to be married to someone who will eat just about anything, including brussels sprouts.  We roast them all the time.  What was different with these, well, a couple of things.

First you separate a few of the leaves to be fried up later!

And these sprouts are dusted with a little nutmeg before they are roasted.  Alex also has you put a pan of water in the oven with the brussels sprouts as they roast.  This is to give them a more intense flavor and texture.

There is sugar in the ingredient list but it isn't used anywhere in the recipe so I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be used for.  I left it out and they turned out fine!  Aren't these beautiful!

The leaves that were pulled off are fried in oil then salted.  These are so good!  Dave and I love roasted or fried leaves.  I think they taste a lot like popcorn!  I like to use my Michael Ruhlman Badass Spoon to pull out the leaves.  I think it works better than a wooden spoon (only a few of you will get that reference).

The roasted sprouts and fried leaves are tossed with a little reduced balsamic. Yea, they were good.

Finally the fish!  We didn't have center cut filets so we used what we had.  I think they turned out fine.  The blackening for the salmon is a mixture of hot paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, pepper and oregano.

Normally I would just coat the fish with the seasoning and pan roast it.  I think Alex Guarnaschelli might be related to Paula Dean.  She dips the fish in melted butter, then the seasoning.  More butter is added just as the fish finishes cooking.  I had a lot of butter and cream for dinner tonight.  I may need to go out and shovel to burn some of it off!

The fish turned out beautiful as did both sides.  All three were delicious and I was able to throw all three together tonight after work.  Nothing was terribly hard.  Nothing had odd ingredients.  I love this book!

Next... omelets with fried sage and gruyere and sourdough pancakes!

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