In the five years I’ve lived in my general neighborhood, a host of new restaurants have laid down roots and started serving incredible food to the growing population of eaters. Since I compiled the home cook’s guide to Brooklyn food, several new places have opened, their dishes gaining a place in my craving rotation.
As an obsessive home cook, I’m most excited by the high-quality grocery shops we have around. More than any restaurant, I cherish the bakeries with the good bread, the shops with all the cheese, the butcher with the local meat, the bagel place where the everything bagels are always warm, our CSA, and an opening-soon addition: a fish store. I gather ingredients, and I go home and cook. I feel virtuous, thrifty, and healthy every time we make scrambled eggs instead of order in pad thai. Not to preach.
But recently, we’ve begun to abandon the kitchen once a week to head out to one of the excellent eating places in the hood. More than not cooking, I love not doing dishes. And I taste food that I don’t usually cook at home (the best part of the restaurant experience, in my book), from rice sheets with pork shoulder here to burgers and herby fries at James. It was at James, as an appetizer before one burger dinner, that we ordered the special Brussels sprouts salad I’ve replicated for you here.
It was very surprising! Warm roasted sprouts mingled with chewy spaetzle, both dressed in a sweet, buttery vinaigrette. So good and so different, I had to try it at home.
The next Saturday, I roasted farmers’ market sprouts, cooked Israeli cous cous, my spaetzle replacement, and melted butter before whisking it into a lemon- and maple-spiked dressing. This is a restaurant-style dish, which means, first of all, that it may seem like a weird combination but you should have some trust, and second of all, that there’s a bit more butter and oil than normal. Also, it uses a few more pans than you might be used to if you cook a lot of BGSK recipes. Apologies. If you like the idea of trying your hand at spaetzle, Melissa Clark just wrote up a recipe for the Times. You could definitely double this for a dinner party and quadruple it for a small Thanksgiving.
If you’ve ever been to Alta, in the West Village, you’ll love our recipe for their Brussels sprouts with apples.