Tag Archives: Broccoli

Broccoli with Sauce Crème

Broccoli with Sauce Crème

Ah yes, much better. When things get difficult, head towards simplicity. This recipe? It’s all about simplicity.

You can either Steam the broccoli or boil it for two minutes. Either way, you will want to make the Sauce Crème first.

Note that Sauce Crème is a béchamel with heavy cream added. Fairly straightforward.

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons AP Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium/medium-low heat. Whisk flour to create a fully formed roux. Add milk, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing together slowly, ensuring a velvety texture.

Add cream in the same manner as the milk. Flavor with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and mix well.

Spoon over freshly cooked broccoli.

Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

Damn electric stove tops!

Typically I avoid cooking anything on high heat on the stove top because it’s simply not necessary. But alas, this dish (which although many people state to be a Chinese dish, I have yet to be convinced) pratically screams to be cooked with as many BTU’s as possible. Get your skillet/wok hot, hot, hot and you should be okay. If not, you run risk of overcooking the broccoli, which is best hot and crisp when completed.

You’ll note that I didn’t deep fry the beef strips, a common practice in this dish. You can if you wish, but I was shooting for something a little less “oily”. It came out better than I expected.(If you fry your beef, add it to the skillet/wok after the broccoli in the last paragraph below.)

  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil
  • 1/2 lb beef strips, cut into bite size (skirt steak works incredibly well here)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Sake
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon. black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon. corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 lb of broccoli, stems removed
  • 1 Tablespoon sliced ginger root
  • 1/2 carrot, sliced thin

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of corn starch and the chili oil. Place in your slices of beef and allow to marinate for 15-minutes to an hour.

While the beef is marinating, in a small mixing bowl, mix the remaining soy sauce, sake, sugar, black pepper, 2 Tablespoons water, corn starch and sesame oil. Ensure that the mixture is emulsified.

Bring a medium sauce pan, 3/4 full of water, to a roiling boil. Add the broccoli and cook for 1 minute. Remove broccoli and place it in ice water to ‘shock’ it (This should prevent color and nutrient loss to the broccoli). Remove broccoli from ice water and set aside for a moment.

Meanwhile, bring your skillet/wok up to high temperature with 2-4 tablespoons of sesame oil. Cook the beef until it starts developing a bit of crispiness to it. Timing here is crucial, because you want to have the broccoli at the ready almost immediately after the beef is set to go. I erred on the side of caution and got pan fried beef. Not bad but not what I was looking for either.

As you add the broccoli, add the ginger, carrots and the second sauce that you had made. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes. Be careful not to over cook the broccoli at this point.

Plate immediately and serve.

Serves 1 – 2

Broccoli Hints and Tips

Oh there is so much to learn about broccoli and keep in mind when dealing with it. Here’s a few items that seem to be important to improve your broccoli bliss.

  • - Purchase broccoli with a deep green or deep green with a purple tint. Avoid broccoli with yellow coloring. Also avoid buying broccoli with enlarged or open buds. Wilty broccoli also should be passed on. Avoid soft, slippery, watersoaked spots on the bud cluster, as it’s most likely in its decay state.
  • - The stronger the uncooked broccoli smells, the older it is.
  • - Broccoli is available all year, but its peak season runs from October through April.
  • - Since the stem is thicker than the buds, broccoli is suceptible to uneven cooking. Remedy this by cutting a deep “X” on the bottom of the stem.
  • - Broccoli is best cooked quickly. The longer it’s cooked, the more nutrients that are lost and the more color is lost.
  • - Lemon juice or vinegar will give the broccoli a green-gray color. Avoid if possible.
  • - If you don’t like the smell of broccoli while boiling at, add slices of red bell peppers, or even chunks of stale, unsliced bread. Obviously you will want to remove said peppers or bread prior to serving.
  • - Broccoli and blanching were made for each other. If you want to retain the color of Broccoli in dishes such as casseroles and stir fry, add the broccoli to boiling water for one minute. Immediately place it in ice water (a process called ‘shocking’). Use said broccoli in any dish you desire.

Broccoli Soup

Broccoli Soup

This is no the cream based soup that most of us here in the States are familiar. Rather this is an Italian soup (Zuppa di broccoletti) that is based off of two ingredients…broccoli and broth. I added a rind from a larger piece of Parmigiano Reggiano that Tara and I had finished. It added a nice taste to the soup I thought.

  • 1 1/2 lbs of Broccoli (fresh, not frozen)
  • 7 1/2 cups of Chicken Stock
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 rind of Parmigiano Reggiano (optional, but worth it)

Chop the broccoli into chunks, about the size of a pair of dice.

In a large stock pot (or sauce pan) bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the broccoli and the cheese rind. Lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, puree about half of the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to the rest of the soup and mix. Season with pepper and salt. Reheat to just below boiling.

Serve in a soup bowl, pouring the soup over slices of bread and topping with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and more ground pepper.

Serves 6

Broccoli – Hated by Nearly Everyone

When doing the thing that I do, it is sometimes difficult to write about certain topics. I mean really, how does one make the topic of Broccoli sound interesting and intriguing?

There are many threads in which I can approach the topic…for instance, President George H Bush had vocally disdained the green vegetable, and…how does the phrase go…An enemy of my enemy is my friend? But alas, Bush the elder isn’t really my enemy (although we have differing political leanings), so it doesn’t make a really good theme when approaching writing a post.

I could write about how Broccoli is relatively new to us Americans. Stephano and Andrea D’Arrigo re-introduced the green product to San Jose and Boston at roughly the same, surely taking into account the large Italian immigrant populations in both areas. From there, it took off in popularity. The irony here is that even though broccoli has only been popular on this side of the world for 80 years, it’s cultivation for food may have occurred as early as 8,000 years ago when an ancestral vegetable was grown along the Northern European coast. From there a variation surely made it’s way to Italy where it became popular (the Romans loved the stuff), but rarely elsewhere. The French barely acknowledged poor broccoli, and the English dismissed it.

Even after Broccoli became popular here, there were critics of the vegetable. Too common or too much like “spinach” were the claims. I am of the opinion that these critics were talking out of their tuckus.

If you’re curious about this type of thing, Broccoli is in the Brassicaceae family and is classified as Brassica oleracea italica belonging to a family whose other members include cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards, turnips, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage. The Brassica vegetables all share a common feature. Their four-petaled flowers bear the resemblance to a Greek cross, which explains why they are frequently referred to as crucifers or cruciferous.

But, it should be noted that although George Bush, the English, the French, and various food American food critics of the mid 20th century have disliked broccoli, many people have enjoyed it. Roman Emperor Tiberius (14 BCE to 37 BCE) had a son named Drusius who loved broccoli. It is said that he once excluded all other foods, gorging only on broccoli prepared in the Apician manner for an entire month. When his urine turned bright green and his father scolded him severely for “living precariously”.

Let it be said, for the record, that my definition of “living precariously” differs dramatically from Tiberius’s.