A Perfect Meal

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This past Mother's day I had the delightful amusement of cooking with my girls while Kevin managed the grilling of shrimp and chicken sausages.

We started with these Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts, in the above picture. They are my favorite dish right now. I crave them all the time and can eat them straight-from-the-frig cold. If my mother had cooked brussel sprouts this way when I was a kid, I wouldn't have missed years and years of their delightful, earthy, smokey pleasures. I suppose I should save that kind of bitterness for a therapy session....

I first had a version of these brussel sprouts at my favorite restaurant, Restaurant Iris. Its chef, Kelley English, was voted one of the top new chefs of 2009 by Food & Wine magazine (we are so proud of him)! His brussel sprouts are more of a salad with a sherry vinaigrette and local bacon. I like to roast brussel sprouts with balsamic or sherry vinegar at the start and then another drizzle after coming out of the oven for a splash of tartness with all those condensed caramelized bits.

I have to say that Kevin performed perfection at the grill that Sunday. We almost didn't have to chew the shrimp they were so tender. A physical alliteration of "melt-in-your-mouth good." I did a simple marinade of crushed garlic cloves, basil from the back yard, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.

I've decided that kids will eat anything if it's been skewered. I guess it's the novelty of something cooked on a metal or wooden rod. Maybe we'll experiment with all the things they think they don't want to eat like lamb or some crazy fish to see if they'll eat that too. (Note to self: using kids for my personal food experiments might be the second indication of need for therapy...call Dr. Martin).

We drank virgin Piña Coladas from a Williams-Sonoma mix I bought on clearance last fall. I'm not going to lie....I missed the rum. They were frothy and icy and the perfect beverage to accompany our meal together, which would have been even better with rum.

Dessert was Emma's idea. She's 8 3/4's (can't forget the 3/4's, ever) and wanted chocolate turnovers, but wasn't quite sure what that meant, but knew she wanted chocolate in "dough." Maybe I have a protégé after all. We placed our chocolate chips in the pastry diamonds and enjoyed watching them go from flat to puffed with the help of a psychedelic oven light that needs replacing. They were quite tasty with the ice cream on top; reminiscent of days in Paris over 8 years ago.

It was the perfect day sustained by the perfect meal.

Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Serves: 6-8

1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed & halved
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. balsamic or sherry vinegar
3 strips good quality bacon, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2-1 tsp. pepper (depending on taste)

Preheat the oven to 400. Place the brussel sprouts in a baking/roasting dish and toss with the olive oil, bacon, salt, and pepper. Drizzle on 2 Tbsp. of the vinegar and toss. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring once. After they come out of the oven, immediately drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. vinegar.

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