Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rhode Island Johnnycakes and Sweet Maple Brussels Sprouts With Walnuts

This was our Valentine dinner!  

Yup, sometimes I'm just an odd duck. Let me explain.
Valentine's Day was coming and I was planning to make Steak Diane over the weekend but that was before I found out, at the last minute, that everyone in my family had other plans. My husband and son were going off to a fencing tournament and my daughter was going to a friend's 16th birthday party. That was Saturday. Then Sunday I was going be busy attending a NephCure kidney-friendly pot luck dinner.

So Monday comes along, Valentine's Day, and I still had brussels sprouts in my fridge that I bought the week before. I started thinking, Valentine's Day or not, they must be cooked or they'll go bad. What can I make with them? Pork tenderloin might be nice. . .  But, oh no! I had just made a commitment that I'd go meatless on Monday so I didn't want to use meat.

Since the recipe I found for the brussels sprouts called for maple syrup I finally thought of pairing them up with Johnnycakes! I don't know why I thought of this since I don't remember ever eating a johnnycake. The closest I've come to eating one growing up is when my dad put corn in his pancakes, and that's a stretch.

In the end, the Johnnycakes were delicious. The joking and laughter brought about by this memorable meal were just as great as the exchanged kisses, chocolates, and flowers. And while acknowledging it's really a Hallmark card holiday anyway (a discussion brought about by my pragmatic daughter) we enjoyed ourselves at the dinner table.

Sweet Maple Brussels Sprouts
1/4 cup organic canola oil
2 1/4 lbs baby or regular Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed and halved (I just used an unmeasured bunch of regular)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts or 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (I used walnuts, unchopped)
1 tbs walnut oil or grapeseed oil
Method: Once oil has been heated over medium heat, add sprouts and season with pepper to taste, salt if you want. Cook sprouts until nicely browned, gently stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add butter, brown sugar and cook until sugar melts, then add maple syrup. Stir gently some more until sprouts are just crisp-tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook - you'll notice an unpleasant sulfur smell if you do. Stir in vinegar, add chestnuts or walnuts until heated through.
Transfer sprouts to a bowl and boil the liquid until it slightly thickens, pour over sprouts and serve.  (I skipped this part because the liquid was already very thick.)
Use a nice cast iron skillet if you can:

Rhode Island Johnnycakes
1 cup Johnnycake meal or cornmeal (A nice local brand in Rhode Island is Kenyon Gristmill cornmeal).
1/2 ts salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/3 cup boiling water
Method: Place cornmeal in a bowl and add water, salt and sugar. Mix well. Use milk to thin down to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Drip by spoonfuls onto a hot griddle or frying pan. Cook for about 5 minutes then turn and cook about 5 minutes more or until heated through. Serve with butter and real maple syrup.

My favorite maple syrup is Fadden's. We buy it at Fadden's General Store in North Woodstock, NH

These are just products I love; no compensation was paid.


  1. mmm that sounds so sweet and delicious! Yummy!

  2. your johnny cakes look like they came out perfectly, but those Brussels sprouts deserve an OMG!! What a clever combination of flavors, those sprouts must have been amazing!

  3. What a great combo. I haven't had johnnycakes in ages. It's time

  4. WOW on the sprouts!! They sound really gooooood. And the johnny cakes look perfect.

  5. Haha you weren't kidding when you said you fed your family BS's for Valentine's dinner! They look great but I especially love the Johnny Cakes - I'll be trying that recipe. Can I just cook them on a pancake griddle? I'm not so much into frying. Yours came out perfectly!

  6. Kisses? Chocolates? Flowers?

    Why those are three of the major food groups. And the brussel sprout recipe? Oh my! It's obvious that they are jockeying for a position in the major food group category. :-)

    I'm glad you had a wonderful day! I'm raising a glass in the hope that you will have many more...

  7. Yee! I always read food blogs when hungry, and this doesn't help. I've never had a johnny cake before, but it looks damn tasty!!

  8. Love the idea of brussels sprouts with maple & walnuts, sounds very tasty for sure! And just perfect with johnny cakes!

  9. Thanks so much everyone! What was so nice about this brussels sprouts recipe is that the sauce was light, not overly sweet and not sticky

  10. Hey Lin Ann..Please visit my blog, an award is waiting for you !!

  11. yumm how perfect-my grandmother made the best johnny cakes-we always had them at big family meals!! sounds like a perfect valentines meal to me

  12. LGW, yes! They can be easily made on a pancake griddle with less butter, for sure! Glad you all enjoyed these recipes!

  13. I just bought some Brussels sprouts and wondered how I would prepare I have my answer!!! Sounds fabulous~

  14. Lin, I visited your kitchen, food, kids, garden & art....feels like visiting your home :)

    You are a super mom! Doing so many things & ecah with perfection! Wow!

  15. Lizzy, I will definitely make these again! And my son loved them - and he's pretty picky.

    Sasmita, thank you so much for your kind compliment! I visited your blog and it's fabulous. So creative, and motivating others to learn about the beautiful world around them is a wonderful thing!

  16. Ok these are wonderful - we loved the taste! I poured honey on mine and it was perfect. New addition to my cookbook! Only made Johnny Cakes not BS for my family.

  17. I'm so glad you made them! Honey is oh so good

  18. Linda, this Johnny Cake recipe brings back old memories. With the exception of the cornmeal, this is how I did it many years ago. From time to time, I still use this method.

    Thanks for pointing this recipe out to me :)