brussel sprouts slaw with sugared pecans – quelling the funsucks

by Michelle

brussel sprouts slaw - quelling the funsucks /

I was apprehensive about offering ‘cooking workshops’. What if no one was interested in taking classes from a self-trained cook? My index finger wavered slightly just before I sent the offer into cyber space to be read by enthusiasts and critics. It’s those damn critics that keep a girl from doing what she believes she can.

Why does the critic’s message finds me faster than an encouraging word? A dozen people could tell me the idea is good but, god forbid, one naysayer lets out a nasty, barely audible, quip and I’m completely fixated on the negativity. It doesn’t stop me but it is a funsuck.

Happily, the negative nellies eventually become white noise, anxiety slips away and the fun begins. Who knew that sharing my love of food and cooking, in the flesh, would be such a blast? The January workshops sold out in 90 seconds. I couldn’t believe it. In less than two minutes, every spot was taken and I had a waiting list. It was awesome and incredibly reassuring! The February and March classes are full – which I’m over the moon about. At the end of March, I’ll take a break.

Here’s what a few folks had to say about the workshops:

“What a lovely, informative, fun and delicious way to spend an evening! My girlfriends and I attended the class on learning to make gnocchi. Michelle’s passion, extensive knowledge and experience with Italian cooking are outstanding. Her hand on approach and patience in teaching us was much appreciated. We not only learned how to make gnocchi and sauces but were rewarded with eating it. It was so good!!
Thank you again for such a great evening filled with laughter and learning.
We are already booked for more classes and can’t wait!”
Kim Legge

“Hi Michelle, I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed last night’s cooking class. I really loved the intimacy of a small group and sharing food with some fine and interesting people.Your personal stories and knowledge of great ingredients, and food in general, is equally enjoyable in person as it is  reading about them in your blogs — although I now see that you also have a flair for entertaining while teaching.  You truly have many gifts. I can’t wait for next year’s round of classes.  Have a great sabbatical/trip!”    Mary Hachey

“What a wonderful evening …so much for me to remember ….but what I can’t forget is the amazing flavours and textures and presentation ….I truly can still taste and smell ….the way to move through a kitchen with such ease. What a wonderful perfect kitchen and beautiful home and teacher/hostess and of course great gals to share it with …..thank you again, Michelle. Glad there is a blog for guidance as I would never remember ….. I was shaking at first but you made me feel so welcome…can I come back tomorrow lol !!!! Xo your mesmerized pupil! Can’t wait for round two!!! Sweet dreams I will have….hope you do too!!! Xo”   Alanna Britt

“What a wonderful night I had tonight in making my first Gnocchi with chef Michelle Hooton. Can’t wait to try this on my family and friends. After telling Michelle my cooking skills, that did not scare Michelle. She was very understanding. It was a nice intimate feeling in Michelle’s beautiful home in up town Saint John. Michelle was a wonderful hostess. It didn’t feel like a cooking class, it felt like Michelle was just having a few friends over. Thanks for a wonderful evening…. I was glad we were in your class, because you never forget your first….lol”  Denise Long

“In a word, Wednesday’s with Michelle is INSPIRING!! Michelle has invited you into her home, shared her knowledge, tricks and life experiences which gives the home cook(chef wannabe) a level of comfort and confidence to create your own culinary masterpieces. The evening was great fun, interactive and educational…I am hoping to attend MANY more!”   Stephanie Culliton

Having the opportunity to connect in, real life, with fellow foodies and cooks is a gift to me. Our discussions and their questions have made me realize how vague my recipes can be. I make assumptions while I’m writing that could leave the reader/cook lost in the middle of a recipe. What’s intuitive to some is completely alien to others. I want to write clearly. My workshops have become a place for me to discover a more thorough way of communicating. I love that.

Today’s recipe uses the highly controversial – you either love or despise them – Brussel sprouts. Boiled, sautéed or roasted are the typical cooking methods producing the violent reaction to their taste. Shredded raw, tossed in a sweet and tart salad dressing embellished with dried fruit and toasted nuts will turn the heart of even the most ardent hater of these contentious tiny cabbages. If you like Brussel sprouts, you need to try this salad. It’s delicious!

brussel sprouts slaw - quelling the funsucks /

Serves 4
Preheat oven 350*F

brussel sprouts slaw with sugared pecans – quelling the funsucks
Author: michelle
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and tough stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the pecans, 2 teaspoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, sugar and cayenne and stir to coat evenly.
  3. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Let cool.
  5. Place toasted pecans on a cutting board and chop coarsely.
  6. Using the grater attachment of a food processor, shred the brussel sprouts.
  7. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and maple syrup.
  9. Slowly whisk in the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  10. Add the dressing to the brussels sprouts and dried cranberries.
  11. Toss well to combine.
  12. Allow salad to wilt for ½ hour.
  13. Add the toasted nuts and sunflower seeds.
  14. Toss well and serve immediately.
Make sure you let the slaw ‘wilt’. It gives the flavours time to mature and improves the texture of the salad.