Tastes of the Week

October 2 through October 9, 2011 The season's new brussels sprouts were evident everywhere in the farmer's market this week and so I ran home to make my favorite recipe using these adorable little cabbages: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Medjool Dates. You will find the recipe below.

In one fell swoop, I had some of the most delicious Italian "comfort" food ever -- cooked by the maestro, Marc Vetri (award-winning chef from Philadelphia) at a cool dinner he gave last week. Not only did the food rock, but so did his music -- he played "sous-guitarist" to the great Phil Roy. The dinner party entitled "Sounds Good/Tastes Good" sure did. Most of the recipes were from Marc's wonderful new book "Rustic Italian Food" -- just out this month and published by Ten Speed Press. We ate:  Tuna-Ricotta Fritters (buy the book just for that recipe!), homemade salumi with artichoke mostarda, rigatoni with chicken livers (I'm still dreaming about it), amazing goat cheese and beet "plin" (a kind of pasta), roasted lamb shoulder, fish poached in olive oil accompanied by a fennel gratin, and an olive oil cake with amaretti semifreddo and chocolate sauce for dessert. As the food filled our stomachs, music filled the room. A wonderful time was had by all.

Great salami from Mario Batali at a 10th grade parents dinner (our kids are in the same class.)

It's unusual to break the fast at a restaurant and nightclub, but there we were on Saturday night at the legendary SOB's on Varick Street (after sun-down of course) and after a day of fasting -- feasting on pao de queso (delicious Brazilian cheese puffs), great guacamole, seafood swimming in a carved-out pineapple, feijoada, coconut cream birthday cake and caipirinhas. Lots of dancing with the birthday girl, Audrey Appleby and friends.

And the last of the holiday matzoh balls in a greatly reduced, and very delicious chicken broth. The last of the round challah, too.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Medjool Dates This recipe is from my newest book, Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease. A delicious merge of flavors, it is radically simple to make. Use large, plump, moist Medjool dates. They come from Iran but also from California. You can buy them in Middle Eastern markets.

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed 6 large soft Medjool dates, pitted and diced 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the sprouts cut side down. Roast for 10 minutes. Add the dates to the pan and toss with the sprouts. Roast 10 minutes longer, until caramelized. Transfer the sprouts to a platter. Toss with the cheese, thyme, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add salt and pepper and drizzle with more oil, if needed. Serves 4