The Broccoli of Our Discontent, Part II (and Part III)

Just a quick update to let you know that I have found one other good broccoli recipe and one less-than-stellar one (at least as far as our resident six-year-old’s palate is concerned).

First, the good stuff: I enjoy cooking from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, although Suzanne Goin does tend to say things like, “This recipe is best when it’s prepared with habdaboop, a product only available two weeks a year from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. If you can’t find habdaboop, you can substitute plain olive tapenade.” Um, OK.

Anyway, good old Suzanne has a recipe called “James’s broccoli with burrata, pine nuts, and warm anchovy vinaigrette” that I modified just slightly (couldn’t get my hands on the burrata, so I substituted plain fresh mozzarella; also used GF breadcrumbs). My family ate it up, although my daughter did not go back for a second helping. Basically, cheese is a good reason to eat broccoli, but only bacon can make it worthwhile to eat more broccoli. I don’t want to plagiarize Suzanne, but I will tell you that this dish is menu 26, so you can stop by your local Barnes & Noble and flip to that menu to see if it’s worthwhile to buy the book. Suzanne’s tone can be off-putting, but most of the recipes are actually quite accessible to a home cook of even my own modest skills.

The third broccoli recipe I tried — I made a “bulk” order of broccoli from Pure Sprouts, our local organic delivery service, so I had quite a bit of broccoli to prepare last week — came from Taste of Home. No, it’s not the egg one I mentioned earlier, but it does have eggs in it. Lots of eggs, in fact. It’s a frittata. Again, I won’t plagiarize, but you can find the book at a local bookseller and check out the recipe. I recommend the cookbook to beginners or people who only make their own regional recipes and want to try some other (American) regions’ cooking for a change. Nothing in the book is earth-shattering, but it does give step-by-step instructions for things as basic (but new to beginners) as carving a turkey or making a pie crust. Anyway, the frittata was fine with the adults in our house, but I think it was too much egg for Junior. (She asks me, “Can you just add in that it was ‘chew-forever’?”) Maybe she would have liked it better if I had added bacon? đŸ˜‰ Onward…

Kids Love Broccoli!

That is, when it’s prepared with a bit of cheese đŸ™‚ If your family eats dairy products, this is a great way to “fancy up” (as Nancy would say) your greens.

Steam the broccoli: Pour an inch of spring water into a pot. Put a steamer basket (I use the top part of my rice cooker) on top. Cut florets from 1/2 pound of cleaned broccoli into the steamer basket. Put the whole thing on the stovetop and boil the water until the broccoli turns bright green (which won’t take very long).

While the broccoli is steaming, melt 4 tablespoons of butter (I like Natural by Nature and Kerrygold) in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons of corn flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill organic), 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I like Himalasalt), and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (Simply Organic black pepper is great). Allow the mixture to come to a boil, while stirring to thicken it. Add 2 cups of cut-up or shredded cheese (I like Calkins Creamery Highlander and Kerrygold Vintage Dubliner) and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Put the steamed broccoli in a buttered Pyrex dish, cover it with the cheese sauce, stir it all together, cover it with foil, and heat it in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Tasty!

What to Cook When You Can’t Leave the House and All the Meat Is Gone

Ah, yes: the joys of parenting. This week, my daughter and I had a nasty upper respiratory virus. Neither of us wanted to do much except watch movies, play board games, and color. Further complicating the situation was an unfortunate stock-out at our farmers’ market delivery service, which meant that we ran out of meat on Wednesday and had only six eggs left after lunch today.

What to do for dinner tonight? I made like a fifties housewife and casseroled it:

Set 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese out to soften.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Steam fresh broccoli florets by placing in rice cooker’s steamer basket, which is resting on top of a pot with one inch of water in it; boil the water until the florets turn bright green. Place the steamed florets in a Pyrex dish; cover it to keep them warm.

Make pasta. I like Mrs. Leeper’s organic corn spaghetti; I made half of the package.

Drain the pasta; then stir in both packages of cream cheese over low heat. Add 1/2 bottle of honey mustard. Stir until thoroughly mixed, then add steamed broccoli. Stir the whole thing together, transfer it from the pot to the Pyrex dish, and bake it (uncovered) for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!