Pan-Roasted Broccoli

8.2.10 § 7 Comments

Remember a little while ago when I decided to make Deb’s simple zucchini and almond saute, but I really didn’t think it could be all that good?  Remember how wrong I was?  You’d think that after an experience like that, I’d have learned my lesson:  your favorite food bloggers know what they are talking about, that is why they are your favorites.

But no.  As I began whipping up the broccoli I found on The Wednesday Chef (so simple it barely required a recipe), I thought it couldn’t possibly be as good as Luisa claimed.  Once again, I was wrong.  (In case you can’t tell, I’m wrong rather often.)

I hope you can learn from all of this—try not to doubt those who consistently steer you in the direction of deliciousness, even if a recipe looks too simple to be worth writing home about.  In short, this broccoli rocks my world.

Pan-Roasted Broccoli
from The Wednesday Chef, where it was taken from this book, which discusses Heston Blumenthal’s method for cooking broccoli

Wash a head of broccoli (it doesn’t actually matter how much, just however much you have on hand).  Cut off the florets (the bushy part on top) so they’re all about the same size.  Peel the stalks (you can skip the peeling if you want) and slice them into thin rounds (1/2- to 1/4-inch thick).

Grab a heavy pan with a lid and heat some olive oil over high heat until it starts smoking (eyeball the amount depending on how much broccoli you have).  Throw all the broccoli in the pan and quickly cover it with the lid.  Let it cook for about two minutes without touching it.  Seriously, don’t touch it or peek!  Remove the lid, season with salt and pepper (and if you feel like it, throw in a tablespoon of butter – I skipped this step), and put the lid back on.  Use the pot’s handles to shake it, moving the broccoli around.  Let it cook for two more minutes.  Now, pull off the lid and grab a piece of broccoli with a fork.  Test to see if it’s cooked enough for you.  If yes, pull it off the heat.  If no, let it cook for two more minutes.

When you pull it off, the broccoli will be scorched in some places and bright green in others.   As Luisa says, “the swift, high-heat method concentrates the flavor of the broccoli, but still cooks the broccoli through so it’s yielding and almost creamy. The seared spots are toasty and delicious.”  Toasty and delicious.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Zucchini Saute with Toasted Almonds

7.14.10 § 4 Comments

A few nights ago, I was thrown into a panic by the realization that I had four baby zucchini at home that were going to shrivel and die if they didn’t get some attention ASAP.  I’ve recently become really anxious about wastefulness and I’m also overly ambitious on almost every trip to the farmer’s market.  Together, these two things lead to frequent bouts of panic about wasted produce.

Of course, when I’m panicking, the first place I turn is the recipe section of Smitten Kitchen.  “Please Deb, tell me what to do with this zucchini!  And please keep in mind that I’m exhausted and don’t want to put in much effort tonight.”  Deb understands.  She calmly leads me to a group of zucchini recipes, one of which even has the word “quick” in the title.

Recipe in hand, I head home to throw together this dish, resigned to the fact that it probably won’t be anything special.  I wasn’t even planning to blog about it.  As much as I trust Deb, I couldn’t see how such a simple recipe could be blog-worthy (come on, it only has like two real ingredients).  Boy, I was wrong.  After the first bite, curse words flew out of my mouth in surprise.  I should have known better.  I should have known that anything Deb classifies as her “favorite side dish” must be amazing.

I scarfed this down with such enthusiasm that I had to actually remind myself to save a little, mixing it with couscous for the next day’s lunch.  For the record, you might as well go ahead and eat the whole bowl.  It was good in the couscous, but the leftovers definitely paled in comparison to the pure deliciousness of the zucchini almond saute straight out of the pan.

Don’t be thrown off by how simple this is to make.  It’s a dangerously delicious.

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Smashed Rosemary Potatoes

7.12.10 § 9 Comments

When reading the comments on a recent article about the top ten most annoying foodie words, I was surprised to see someone had added “go-to” to the list.  Yes, okay, maybe it is overused these days.  But seriously, when I think about the best way to describe these smashed rosemary potatoes, it is as “my go-to side dish.”  I make them at least once a week and if I’m desperate trying to figure out what side should go with whatever else I’m making, I usually end up throwing a batch of these in the oven.

I figured that since I make these so often, I should probably write a post about them.  If you pay attention in future posts, you’ll see that they often show up in my photos, even when they aren’t the star of the show.  While they may be a side dish, they’re so good that they do sometimes manage to steal the spotlight.

The version I use today is a hybrid of two recipes from Foster’s Market cookbooks that has evolved over time.   I’ve always wanted to have recipes that I don’t even have to look at because I know them by heart, and I can honestly say that this is the first thing to make it on that list.  (Although when I made greek chicken for a friend’s birthday this weekend, I only glanced at the recipe twice.  Go, me!)   Anyway, to make these babies, I boil tiny potatoes until they’re tender enough to pierce with a fork.  (While I usually go for the little yukon golds, sometimes I switch it up with those bags of multicolored potatoes, because let’s face it: purple potatoes are fun!  Really, any small variety will work.)

After boiling them, I spread them out on a cookie sheet (lined with aluminum foil for easy cleanup) and use a fork to partially mash them  (you can use a potato masher instead if you want, just don’t get over zealous in your mashing).  I’ve found that by partially smashing them, you get the best of both potato worlds: really crispy bites and bites that still taste like a baked potato.

Next, I drizzle them with a good amount of olive oil, sprinkle on quite a bit of fresh rosemary, and generously dust with salt and pepper.  Finally, I’ll throw them in the oven while preparing the rest of the meal (they need about 45 minutes to get good and crunchy) and get ready to eat an entire pan of rosemary potatoes.  I have no willpower.

Smashed Rosemary Potatoes
inspired by Foster’s Market Cookbooks

1.5 lb small potatoes (yukon gold or other variety)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp rosemary
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bring a pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling, put the potatoes in and cook until tender enough to be pierced with a fork (probably 10-12 minutes).  Drain potatoes, spread them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and let cool for a few minutes.

Using a fork, partially mash the potatoes, leaving some large pieces intact.  Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, and add fairly generous amounts of salt and pepper.  Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake 35-45 minutes.  When they’re done, they should be crispy and browned on the edges.

While We’re on the Subject…Sweet and Spicy Kale

6.29.10 § Leave a comment

As recently discussed, I was introduced to kale relatively late in my life.  Understandably, we’re now making up for lost time—getting to know each other, trying new things, in other words, taking our relationship to the next level.

That’s why, when I saw Michael Ruhlman’s kale recipe that calls for both tabasco sauce and honey (two ingredients I don’t usually use together, let alone on greens), I couldn’t resist.  And of course, if a recipe has pancetta, I’m pretty much immediately sold.  I’m a sucker for pork products.

This recipe also interested me because I’ve never braised kale before.  I usually stick to making kale chips or doing the old boil-then-saute routine.  I decided trying out a new technique would be fun, although I must admit that waiting half an hour to devour the leafy greens was tough.  I couldn’t wait to pull that sucker out of the oven, toss the kale with tabasco and honey, and dig in.  (I’ll be honest here, I measured neither the tabasco nor the honey—for some reason measuring things has not been a priority lately.  Maybe it’s the heat.)

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