Tag Archives: broccoli

I Heart Broccoli.

I love broccoli.

I know you do, too. You are like me. You love kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, BROCCOLINI.

Yes, broccolini. The ridiculously svelte and pretentious version of broccoli. You even love that.

In which case, you feel the same way I do: while there are a million and one ways to deliciously cook said broccoli, a new way makes you just about as happy as does the discovery of a new star.

So it was with me, one issue of FOOD AND WINE. Yes, FOOD AND WINE, that magazine that is practically the broccolini of the food magazine world. The magazine that so frequently annoys me by its aspirant pretensions (does anyone in the world actually need a $500 wine cooler? does anyone in the world actually decorate their platters with authentic arctic moss? does anyone in the world…but you get the idea). Every so often I think with a sigh that I will finally give up my subscription, and stop feeling the need to a.) throw the magazine across the room, while shouting, ‘that is the stupidest thing I ever heard of’ and/or b.) call a chef friend and read, in a voice filled with disbelief, ‘this latest idiocy they’ve got trending out there’.

But then…it happens. The way it happens sometimes that the woman you swore you would never lunch with again, after she spent the whole time picking at her designer salad while telling you about her Moroccan vacation, suddenly reveals herself to be a good friend. Yes. The way sometimes after scorning broccolini as a passing fad, it gets marked down in the supermarket, and you grudgingly buy it, only to find it’s perfectly delightful steamed and covered with lemon butter.

So it was with the last issue of FOOD AND WINE. Because, bless its heart, there it was. A new way of cooking broccoli. More importantly, a new, easier, mega delicious way to cook broccoli. And broccolini, too, as I discovered on further experimentation.

Now as you know, there are many ways to cook broccoli: Steamed and served with a squeeze of lemon. Stir-fried with crushed garlic cloves and red pepper pods. Boiled till crisp and bright green, drained, and served with hollandaise. Chilled, diced, tossed with vinaigrette, and topped with chopped hard-boiled egg. Cooked in the oven for about an hour with chopped bacon and sliced onion (khaki colored, yes, I know, but oh, how yum).

I could go on.

So I thought I knew every way to cook broccoli. But this was pretentious of moi. Because this is probably my new favorite way: you heat the oven to 500 degrees, spread the broccoli on a cookie sheet, mix it with cut up red onion wedges and some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast till done, then drizzle on browned butter mixed with capers and a bit of fish sauce. Divine.

The recipe called for broccoli crowns alone, but I always peel my broccoli stalks, cut them into little wedges, and cook with the tops. I love those stalks the best, actually. And those red onions: it would be great with them, but I usually have yellow ones in the house. The rest of it, though, was super. Super easy, super delicious.

Like this:

Heat oven to 500 degrees.

On a cookie sheet, take a whole head of broccoli, flowerets separated and stalk peeled, cut lengthwise and across to small lengths, and spread out, tossing with an onion cut into wedges, two tablespoons of olive oil (mild is best here, you can use any mild oil, come to think of it), and kosher salt and pepper (any salt is good, but F&W recommends kosher, and I agreed with them that’s best). Bake without tossing or fussing with it at all until it’s browned and tender, which takes about twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, melt a half stick of unsalted butter and cook, stirring once in awhile, over medium heat (watch it!) until it turns brown and, as they say, ‘smells nutty’. This takes about five minutes or so. When done, take it off the heat, and add (oh, joy!) a tablespoon of capers and a teaspoon of fish sauce. (Definitely take it off the heat before adding, or you’re going to have spatters of sauce all over your stove. Just sayin’.)

Pour over the broccoli and serve.

F&W recommends the broccoli be spread on a platter. But I just made some brown rice, put it into bowls, plopped the broccoli and onions on top, and poured the sauce over. We had this with cucumber salad (vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and a little sugar atop sliced cucumbers), and it was divine.

A few nights later, I tried it with broccolini. Another success, though I have to admit I should have peeled those skinny little stalks first.

All of this goes to show: you can’t judge a food magazine by its cover. Or anyone, really.  You really can’t. You have to look at its true soul. Because true soul makes the best recipes, for broccoli and for friendship. That’s what I think, anyway.

Bon appetit!

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Audrey Hepburn's Little Black Dress

So I was having a chat with the head librarian at Cannon Beach Library the other day, because they’ve very kindly invited me to come talk about food there (two of my favorite things, food and the Oregon coast, in one–on March 13, at 2, in case you’re interested), and he said he only had one problem with the way I cook.

“What,” he objected, “if you just want something to come out exactly the same way as the way you had it somewhere else?”

I turned that one over in my mind.  For a bit, in fact, And in that moment, I had a flash of understanding: I am a person who is constitutionally incapable of wanting one moment to turn out exactly like another moment. I like them all to be different.

“Well,” I said. “You might as well give up on that one. Because you can’t.”

“You CAN’T?”

“You can’t.” I said this flatly and firmly, because you really really can’t.

“WHY can’t you?”

“Because,” I said, “you’ll never be in the same place, with the same ingredients, with the same equipment, with the same atmosphere, with the same audience, in the same mood, more than just one time.”

He laughed.

“I’m serious. You can look at Audrey Hepburn wearing a little black dress in Paris and say, ‘I want to look just like that.’ But you’re not going to.”

He laughed again.

Look. Let’s not even get into the question of why you would want a recipe to taste exactly the same as the way someone else does it. No, wait a minute. Let’s get into that question. Why do you want to? I don’t mean you shouldn’t want the food that results to give you and the people who eat it as much happiness and satisfaction as the original recipe–that’s a given. I mean, why do you want it to taste the same?

I guess what I’m saying is: you have a chance, every time you cook, to figure out who you are and what your world is like. These are the two questions that interest me mainly, and food is just a way of getting more answers for me, not an end in itself. Which is why it is endlessly fascinating. And not just that–endlessly productive. I don’t mean endlessly productive of meals (though there certainly is that benefit!), but, rather, endlessly productive of insight. Insight that leads to a firmer understanding of one’s likes and dislikes, and, through that, to building our autonomy. Autonomy, I truly believe, is what each of us owes her/his world–because only an autonomous adult, who knows who she/he is, and knows what her/his duties and rights are can participate in making our world better for everyone.

And what else are we in it for? I mean, I ask you.

So if that’s my goal, why on earth would I want to cook something just like Martha Stewart? Although I must say, I’m slyly interested in what the way Martha Stewart cooks says about her.

Here’s what I cooked last night. And I guarantee you won’t be able to replicate it in your own home.  I guarantee I’ll never be able to replicate it in my own home…not again, anyway.  Well, just look at the list of ingredients.

Fettucine with broccoli, shallots, roast tomatoes, blue cheese, and parmesan (for 2).

1/2 package fettucine, which turns out to be lighter weight than it says on the package, so about 7 ounces rather than my usual 8.
1 head of broccoli, peeled, chopped, and steamed.
1 shallot minced and let to sit in a tablespoon of lemon juice to sweeten
3 1/2 roasted tomatoes, diced
a nubbin of blue cheese, squished between your fingers
a nubbin of parmesan, grated
a couple of minced garlic cloves
a squish of anchovy paste
the olive oil that was left in the bottle, rounded out by some walnut oil
a dab of butter

Cook the fettucine. While it’s boiling, warm the minced garlic cloves and anchovy paste in the oil. When the pasta is done to your liking, drain, put back on the stove in the still warm pot, add the hot oil and garlic/anchovy, and the shallot.  Toss. Toss with the blue cheese and parmesan. Taste for salt. Toss with the broccoli and roast tomatoes. Taste again. If you think you need it, add a dab of butter and toss again.

Serve up with a lemon wedge and salad. Or be lazy like I was, and serve by itself with tangerines  and dried fruit to follow.

If you like, wear that little black dress you saw on Audrey Hepburn. You won’t look like her. But you might look better. You’ll look different, anyway, and more like yourself, which sounds to me like more fun in the end.

(WARNING: The above does not apply to baking.  That was another question the nice librarian asked me, what am I crap at cooking? The answer will come as no surprise: anything that requires precise measurements. Baking requires precise measurements unless you want to end up with something somewhere between soup and a hockey puck when what you’re aiming for is a cake. Baking is a precision activity. Even I highly recommend you try to get the same results time after time with baking.)

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