Tag Archives: broccoli

#NationalPastaDay

is today, October 17th and I almost missed it.

Actually, ANY Day WITHOUT Pasta is a day I don’t have very often.

And I was raised to call it Macaroni.

Macaronis

in the plural.

macaronis

This image from Wikipedia under ‘macaroni’ is labeled: “macaronis”

Sometimes Noodles…….noodles could be macaroni. Like lasagna noodles….

Pasta was something we didn’t talk about when I was young, back in the olden days….

We had Baked Macaroni and Cheese for Friday nights – and nothing out of  blue boxes then either.

We had Prince Macaroni on Wednesdays….princespaghettibridgeIt was called the Prince Macaroni Plant. The facility was sold in 2014 and now Prince Pasta is part of a mega conglomerate.This bridge was (is) in Lowell MA.

 

….or whatever brand of macaroni was on sale, although we an an awful lot of Mueller’s.

 

muellers-pastaAnd now, for my sad rather pathetic recent macaroni story. It starts with broccoli….

Brassica oleracea var. italica

Brassica oleracea var. italica – the broccoli I was looking at was even more lovely then this!

I saw a beautiful, lovely, absolutely GORGEOUS head of broccoli at the store. I had purchased some feta at the Farmer’s Market and I remembered a dish that was Feta, Broccoli and Rice  from Jeanne Lemlin’s  Quick  Vegetarian Pleasures that I had not made in far too long

qvp-lemlin

This is soooo simple.

  1. Put the rice on to cook – I found the jar with rice, then a found another jar, with a little less rice….so I measured out the water, sauteed the rice, added the water and a little salt and set it up to boil.
  2. I rinsed and broke apart the broccoli into bite sized bits.
  3. I realized the original recipe called for tomatoes, choose to not use them, and got out some crushed hot pepper.
  4. I put some olive oil in a big saute pan, let it heat. Added the broccoli, stirred around, then added some water and put on the lid. The lid was the wrong lid – too small….couldn’t find the right lid. The water was evaporating too fast – add a little more water. Add the crushed red pepper and some salt – very little – there’s feta coming up – and stir around.
  5. Timer dings – rice is ready! Open the rice pot – the rice has swelled and there’s lots of water on top!….Did I use too much water? Why yes, I had – twice as much water as I needed. But the size, the shape….had I used the last of the orzo instead of the dregs of rice????
  6. Why yes, yes, I had! What NOW?????
  7. Drain the pasta – which had cooked for 20 minutes and if it hadn’t been orzo it might just be glop….
  8. Add the overcooked orzo to the broccoli, turn the heat up for a bit to get a little more saute action going….now the liquid is evaporating…..stir stir stir
  9. Add the crumbled feta, stir and adjust the seasonings – it actually needed a little more salt because the pasta was SOOO waterlogged.
  10. Serve and enjoy. On the plate and hot it was good. The next day for lunch, with a little more oil and vinegar, it was great pasta/broccoli/feta salad.
  11. New Rule – label ALL jars in the cupboard.
  12. Although this dish is very good with rice – Orzo would be even quicker.
ball-jar-labels-disolvable

These labels and a Sharpie now live in the cupboard. Everything gets a label.

 

 

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Filed under Recipe, Supper

A Tale of Two Recipes

Recipe the First:

The Recipe not followed…….

‘It was the best of times, it was – not exactly the worst of times, but definitely a sub-prime, not all cylinders sparking, Dickens of time.

Travel back in time to earlier in January. This January.

Weather forecast says clear; next day it snows. Weather forecast says snow. Next day is sunny and warm. The weather is not going to be average, although the stats are going to ultimately read that. Even this week the temperature range is from -11 to +48. In One Week. Which will average out to average which is why: nothing is average and average is lie.

Also – when I shop, I go to the back of the Produce section and check out the markdown rack, and fill my cart out after that. In the last few years (decades) I’ve been able to score cauliflower galore for very very little money. Once upon a time there was a soup recipe that called for roasted cauliflower, before the world had discovered roasted veg….maybe Gourmet or Bon Apeptit. We were living on Pleasant Street. I had my discount cauliflower, broke it apart, tossed it with oil, a little S&P, popped it into a hot oven, let the heat do it’s magic. It came out to be added to the rest of the soup fixin’s but as it was cooling…..I re-wrote the recipe to start by roasting 2 cauliflower, one to snack on and one for the soup.

Cauliflower

And NOW since everyone is roasting veg ALL THE TIME AND there’s a drought in California, cauliflower is now puny and rather sad looking and as expensive as beef…..

I don’t eat as much cauliflower as I have been the last few years/decades.

Which brings me back to broccoli. Broccoli was the standard green veg on our table growing up. Green Beans had their place, but broccoli was the Jolly Green Giant of the supper tale. Boiled and served with lemon and butter. The lemon is what made the difference. We all ate it all the time.

Which meant it was sometimes leftover. Cold, with a little more lemon, great on a lunch salad. When my son was little, leftover broccoli was chopped and added to the next night’s mac and cheese, or sometimes the chopped broccoli and olive oil was the macaroni sauce.

So, when the January 13th, 2016 NYT had a Recipes for Health column headlined:

Broccoli’s Saucy Side

I said YES, I remember that, I used to do that!!!!. I could do it again!

Sidebar – This is the way I generally feel Martha Rose Shulman’s column, and I have several of her books and always get distracted when I dip in. I do so wish that the column weren’t called Recipes for Health which sounds like more heavy lifting and less fun then it is. Why not call it Recipes for a Life Well Lived?

Back- … so I got some nicer looking, more my price range broccoli.

Saucy Broccoli, here I come!

The first part of cooking from a recipe is reading the recipe from start to finish.

Then – gather your ingredients and batterie de cuisine

Do not, in other words, put the water on to cook the broccoli BEFORE you’ve read the recipe the whole way through.

And thus begins the ‘not followed’ portion of the program.

It called for broccoli and I had broccoli – so far, so good. Although I hadn’t weighed it and it was….markdown broccoli. Trimmed and ready to go.

 

It called for fusilli and I had pipettes. In the pasta world, they’re same family, similar enough form and therefore function.

 

fusili

fuselli

pipettes

pipettes

It called for garlic, I got out the garlic.

It called for anchovy fillets and I ….

I often have anchovy in the house, and if I did, where would they be? Or are anchovies one of those staples that I current don’t have? And why didn’t I look at this before I went to the store earlier?

BUT

WAIT

I was just this afternoon reading something something and it called for anchovies and it said, “To make this vegan, substitute chopped capers for the chopped anchovy”

YES. Capers, olives, vinegar and hot peppers are all part of my

Fridge Door Pantry Collection.

Open the Fridge – mustards, rooster sauce, leaf lard, fresh ginger, Parmesan cheese….what, no pickled condiments??????Not even giardiniera? Quel dommage!

giardianero jar

Not even an empty jar…..

Now the pot of water is boiling, so I throw the broccoli in. Two minutes to come up with a B plan…..

Open the fridge, open the freezer, open the ONE cupboard that had foodstuffs in it…….

Hot pepper flakes? Yes. Mise those in place.

Olive oil? Also yes, ready to go next to the hot pepper.

Garlic?

garlic

Garlic? Garlic? Bueller??? Where did I put the garlic?

Fine garlic, play hide and seek….wait, beside the olive oil is the fancy flavored olive oil ….Orange Olive Oil….with some raisins in the cupboard and hot pepper and some almonds…..that’s impromptu sorta Sicilian style. Works for me.

So – put the Orange Olive Oil in a pan, toss in the chopped broccoli, add the chopped almonds, toss in a handful of raisins, sprinkle with the hot pepper flakes towards the end. Save some of the pasta water before I drain the pipettes…..pulling a little pasta water is my new fun thing to do with macaroni. I really helps to keep it loose and doesn’t just water down the flavor. It’s a secret magic ingredient, especially if you can remember to do it before you pour it all down the drain.

Mix the macaroni with the hot veg, toss like crazy. Add a little of the pasta water if you need it. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

And this is how I didn’t make Broccoli’s Saucy Side.

As for the garlic….it was in the other room with the car keys near the door…somethings are best not questioned too closely.

to be continued…..

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Filed under Recipe, winter

Laurie Colwin

One of the joys – and distractions – of unpacking my books is finding the ones I had forgotten about, forgotten as “What the heck IS this and when and why did it end up with me?” and forgotten as in, “Well, Hellooo again Old Friend it’s been tooooo long. Let’s catch up”

The vagabonds have been packed up and sent to more appropriate homes, some to friends, some to work, some to Savers. But the Old Friends…some have proved to be the sort of friends that are about a time and place that is no more, that you do lose over time, so after a little visit, when it apparent we have nothing left to say to each other, they, too, will leave with no forwarding address, all on amiable terms and scarce a backward glance.

But the true Old Friends, the friends that are friends from the very first moment, the kindred spirits, the friends that you pick up right where you left off last, like it’s only been an hour even when it’s been forever and a day since you’ve seen each other and then, caught up, you keep going into your tomorrows….on these friends I spend a little more time and attention.

Laurie Colwin is one of those friends.

lauriecolwinNYT

She had a column in Gourmet, which I used to read fairly regularly. Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, which includes some of her Gourmet writing, came out in 1988. I received my copy in 1991 as a housewarming present from a friend who also read her column and knew Laurie was a kindred spirit.

Laurie had a second volume of essays, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen that came out in 1993, shortly after she died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 48.  My copy is dated 2001. I think I got it on markdown from the amazing and now gone Jessica’s Biscuit. Both volumes are dog-eared and splattered.

laurie-colwin

In re-reading I realize how she articulated so many vague kitchen related topics for me, from “Why I Love Cookbooks” to “Bread Baking without Agony” as well as Red Peppers, Chocolate, Tomatoes and Coffee. It was in her coffee essay that I first learned of Bach’s Coffee Cantata.

There was a broccoli sauce for pasta recipe in some magazine last month, quick and easy way to get more veg in your diet, where you cooked the broccoli while the pasta was cooking, puréed the broccoli with some olive oil and maybe some lemon juice and perhaps some hot pepper at least that’s the way I’d do it…..did do it…..

At this point in the recipe I realize I used to do this. Quite a bit. Like maybe weekly. For years. Not just with broccoli, but spinach and kale and then butternut squash. Any chopped frozen veg. One box. While the macaroni is cooking, microwave one box frozen (preferably chopped) veg. In a pan heat some oil with garlic or shallot or onions or celery, also chopped. Add the cooked veg and stir around. Add some chopped parsley or basil or mint or not. Drain the macaroni and save some of the water to thin the sauce if needed. Put the macaroni back in the pot. Add some lemon or orange or chopped vinegar peppers to the pan veg to zing things up. Add this pan sauce to the macaroni; use the water to thin and spread around. Top with cheese, hot pepper flakes or the jarred hot chopped peppers. Or not. Or chopped olives. Whatever.

antonios chopped hots

One of my pantry staples

I can’t vouch for what the magazine recipe actually said, because they made it look more complicated, like they just INVENTED green sauce. And where did I get it from oh, so many years ago??????

Right. Laurie Colwin.

“Now to broccoli. How some people hate it! However, it turns into a sleek, rich pasta sauce. First you steam it. Then you sauté it in dark green olive oil with two cloves of garlic until the garlic is soft. Then you toss it all in the blender with pepper, a pinch of salt, the juice of half a lemon, more olive oil and serve it on penne or ziti or fusilli with lots of grated cheese, and no one will suspect of what is being served.”

 

Laurie Colwin. Home Cooking. Alfred A. Knopf. NY. 1988. p. 60.

Bingbingbingbingbing.

Since it was raining and close to 40 when I went to bed last night, and there was no snow in the forecast (I’m not entirely sure there was rain in the forecast, come to think of it) I assumed there would probably be ice on the streets in the morning. Sure enough, I woke to the sound of a car not quite getting traction at the stop sign at the slight incline just outside my kitchen. When I looked out the window, it looked like SNOW. While I was making the coffee, yep, it was certainly snow snowing. More snow. Fairly thick flurries through the second cup of coffee. Enough to add snow removal to the list of things to do today.

Which is as good as an excuse as any to make brownies later.

If I make them tonight I can bring some in to work tomorrow and not be forced to eat the whole pan by myself.

Unless I let them cool and wrap them individually and put them in the freezer and take them out to eat them one by one. My Aunt Anne could do that, a diabetic with a sweet tooth. But I know they only take 10 or 15 minutes to be chewable (not the same point as edible) and that with a microwave, you can have a hot brownie in under a minute…..

I realized yesterday that my freezer has no shelf. When it was totally empty, I couldn’t quite figure out why it was so BIG, and kept telling myself it’s because it’s empty. But now that there’s 10 pounds of squash and a few other frozen veg and some nuts and Cuban coffee….I went to put an ice cube tray in and THAT’S when I realized – no shelf.

Back to brownies.

Laurie Colwin on brownies:

“There are as many brownie recipes as there are flowers in the meadow. Some are fancy, some are plain. Some have nuts, which I consider a bad idea, because children seem to hate them and end up picking them out and getting brownie crumbs all over everything. I also have several friends with fatal nut allergies, and so I leave the nuts out. I have been served brownies with chocolate chips and brownies with raisins, but what most people want is plain old brownies. Some people like their brownies on the cakey side and some feel they should be more like fudge. I myself like brownies that are what I called ‘slumped’ and the English call ‘squidgy’ which means slightly undercooked and not quite runny in the center.”

Laurie Colwin. More Home Cooking, HarperCollins, 1993, 95, 2000. p. 75.

I wholeheartedly agree with her brownie assessment. If you want cakey brownies, you really want cake, so just make cake and move on.

Brownies…..brownies are the place between fudge and cake.

Since in my youth, the center was the part of the brownie  went to the bake sale or the covered dish supper or whatever function the brownies were really for…. we usually had to share the edges or the brownie bones, which may be why I think of them as good coffee dunkers and really feel like I’ve won a blue ribbon when I get the squidgy part.

BROWNIES-NYT KH

New York Times version of Katharine Hepburn Brownies

The recipe Laurie gives is Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies, which she got from a friend who got it from a magazine. I remember that magazine article. I clipped the same recipe. I have made those brownies.

Katharine Hepburn  was the cover girl of August 1975 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal.

152817Beside the brownie recipe, the thing that stood out was that she had no door on her bathroom. She said she lived alone so that it wasn’t necessary, and she wasn’t about to look if someone else was there. Growing up in a house were the only one minute of privacy you ever got in a day was when you closed the bathroom door behind you, I just couldn’t imagine it. Now that I live by myself, I can see it….sorta. Old habits and comfort zones die hard.

In fact, I had pretty much made brownies with no nuts for years, but Katharine Hepburn persuaded me otherwise. It became my brownies with walnuts go-to recipe. Yes. I have more than one brownie recipe, because they really are like the flowers in the meadow…or more like the trees in the forest, changing with the season and some have nuts.

On the internet there is both a baker’s chocolate and a cocoa versions of this recipe. From a  letter that appeared in the New York Times (July 6, 2003) after Katharine Hepburn’s death, it seems that she made them both ways, depending on what she had on hand.

Both good.

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S BROWNIES

1 stick (8 Tbl) butter

2 squares unsweetened chocolate (or ½ cup baking cocoa)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup AP flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Melt butter and chocolate together and take saucepan off the heat (or melt butter and add cocoa )

  2. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and ½ teaspoon vanilla and beat well.

  3. Stir in ¼ cup AP flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup chopped walnuts.

  4. Bake brownies in a buttered and floured 8” square pan at 325 for 40 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.

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Filed under 1990's, Books, Influencers