Have you ever not liked something simply because… well, hardly anyone else liked it? Brussels sprouts was that thing for me. I just assumed I didn’t like Brussels sprouts because really, it’s not very often that you hear some one say “Mmm! Brussels sprouts! Yay!” Plus it probably doesn’t help that my Dad hates them. And really, it’s basically a requirement of childhood to say no to Brussels sprouts!
But I can’t really remember having tried them. I’m not a fan of cabbage so just assumed they would be like mini cabbages. Which I suppose they essentially are. One day Mr Monkey mentioned that he likes them and I mentioned that I sort of didn’t. He decided to cook them for me and I can see why he likes them! Anything tastes good when you cook it in heaps of butter!!
So when I gave Mr Monkey Heston Blumenthal’s new book, Heston Blumenthal At Home and saw that there was a recipe for Brussels Sprouts in there I knew I’d have to give them a try.
Of course, they can’t quite make up a meal by themselves so I had to find something else to cook as the “main” part of the dish. I’m a big fish lover so the Grilled Sea Bass with Vanilla Butter sounded divine. (I couldn’t get sea bass so used a different fish; I can’t remember which now but I just asked the fishmonger for a good substitute for sea bass).
I loooove vanilla. Fresh vanilla pods, yum! The little tubs of vanilla paste, oh. My. God. Vanilla scented candles, yes please!! And Mr Monkey and I are quite fond of trying new things and things that are a little “out there” so combining vanilla with fish wasn’t a big deal for me.
The vanilla butter is super easy to make (I used the vanilla paste which was very easy to combine with the butter) and tastes delicious! I had to new careful to ration how much I put on my fish because I could easily eat the whole amount. Unfortunately it got pushed to the back of the fridge after dinner and I forgot about it! I would’ve loved to see what else I could use it for. I’m sure it would be good for baking anything that needs butter and vanilla but I imagine it would be heaven on toast! I may just have to make some more to find out!
Heston gives great, straightforward instructions for cooking the fish and it turned out perfect and flaky.
The best part about the Brussels sprouts was the fact that you separate the leaves – it keeps them nice and fresh, they don’t become a gluggy mess and they are really appetizing. Of course, the butter and bacon don’t hurt either!
No, this isn’t the healthiest dish around but boy is it delicious! It would be great for small dinner parties when you can indulge a little.
I implore you to have a look at Heston Blumenthal At Home, it is a great addition to any home kitchen.
Please note that these are Heston Blumenthal’s recipes. I am not taking credit for these recipes at all.
Grilled Sea Bass with Vanilla Butter
- Groundnut or grapeseed oil
- 4 sea bass fillets, skin on
- 40g vanilla butter (see next recipe)
- Cover the bottom of a frying pan with a thin layer of oil, and heat over a high heat until extremely hot.
- Season both sides of fish with salt and place skin-side down in the hot pan to crisp for 90 seconds. Place a lightweight object such as a ramekin on top of the fish to keep it from curling as it cooks. Flip the fish over for a further 60 seconds and remove the fillets from the pan straight on to the serving plates.
- Place 10g of vanilla butter on top of each fillet. As the butter melts, spoon it over the fillets to coat.
- 3 vanilla pods
- 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Halve the vanilla pods lengthways and, using a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds.
- Mix the butter with the vanilla seeds, using a hand blender.
- Roll into a log and wrap in parchment paper or place in a bowl. Keep in the fridge until required (for up to a week), or freeze for a month.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- 5 slices of smoked bacon, cut into lardons
- 400g Brussels sprouts
- 50g unsalted butter
- Salt and black pepper
- Fry the bacon lardons in a frying pan over a medium heat until they are soft but not coloured (approximately 5 minutes). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside. Keep the bacon fat in the pan.
- Slice the bases off the Brussels sprouts and carefully separate the leaves, pulling them off the sprout. Alternatively, shred them finely with a sharp knife.
- Melt the butter with the bacon fat in the frying pan over a medium-low heat. When the butter is foaming, add the Brussels leaves and stir to coat them. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover the pan with a lid.
- Allow to cook for 5 minutes, stir in the lardons and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.