my cruciferous conundrum

I’ve already told you how much I like soup and that I make it fairly often. And you also know that my kids are pretty good vegetable eaters, but that broccoli happens to be one of their favorites. So then you must have already guessed where this blog entry is heading…

After hurricane Sandy my parents came for a visit and since our grocery store shelves were still alarmingly bare, they brought with them an abundance of supplies to replenish us. They thought of everything those two; milk, bread, cold cuts, asparagus, homemade quiche, wine and of course fresh broccoli. But here’s the thing (and please don’t misinterpret this as a lack of appreciation), they brought enough broccoli to feed my entire neighborhood. Seriously, if broccoli could have been traded for gas I would have had quite the black market enterprise going! We ate a considerable amount of broccoli over the next few days and still seemed to have plenty left to spare. So faced with this cruciferous vegetable conundrum I did what I do best, made soup.

In my mind soup should be something that warms and nurtures you, but it shouldn’t be so laden with calories that you feel guilty enjoying it. I won’t deny that a creamy broccoli and cheddar soup is delicious, but it’s not exactly the kind of healthy food I try to serve my family. I wanted to make a broccoli soup that was light and lovely. Perhaps the kind of soup more suited as an accompaniment to a sandwich rather than a meal in itself. And to really knock my broccoli soups nutritional profile out of the park I decided to add to it the ultimate super food— kale! It didn’t change the flavor but it did change the health benefits. In fact my son, who thought the soup was delicious, didn’t even realize it contained kale until he read this post over my shoulder. “Kale?!?” he screeched, “It had kale in it?!?” “Hummm,” he said shrugging and walking away, “who knew…”

Who knew indeed that a little kale could change my simple broccoli soup from “soup” to “SOUPPPPPPPP!”

Creamy Broccoli & Kale Soup
Adding the kale to this soup really kicked its nutritional value up. So much in fact that I didn’t think twice about using a little half and half to thicken it.

8 cups broccoli florets
4 cups kale leaves, removed from stems and torn
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion (about 2 1/2 cups), diced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
1 tbsp. garlic powder
8 cups (64 ounces) chicken broth
3/4 cup half and half
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water
grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

  1. Heat a olive oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Add onion and cook until translucent, stirring frequently.
  2. Add broccoli, kale, thyme, garlic powder, salt and chicken broth. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.
  3. Use an immersion blender (or food processor) to puree the soup until it’s smooth.
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and slowly whisk into soup, allow to cook uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the half and half and serve topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

*adapted from cooking light done right

Advertisements

($!*%) quiche!

Quiche and I have a love/hate relationship. I love quiche and I attempt to make it often. However, making it typically ends with me cursing, vowing to never make another ($!*%) quiche again and ultimately ordering pizza.

You see, I’m not one to be content with a simple ham and cheese quiche— no not me, not ever! (If I was I’m sure my troubles would be nil.) No, I want a quiche chock full of all the vegetables I love, as well as some lovely bits of cheese and a nicely browned crust. But here’s the thing about quiche; the more vegetables you add to the mix the more likely you are to end up with a half-cooked soggy-middled mess in a ($!*%) over cooked pie crust!

I know, I’m my own worst enemy. Truly I know this, I totally get it, but I’m tenacious (some may say stubborn) and refuse to be undone by some baked eggs in a pie shell. And so I keep trying. I figure that sooner or later I’m bound to get it right.

Well last week was my week. The stars were perfectly aligned, the Gods were smiling and I finally achieved quiche success! My quiche was fully cooked, it contained two of my favorite vegetables as well as a satisfying amount of cheese and my crust was perfectly browned and crisp. I literally cheered when I took it out of the oven. I did a little victory dance in the middle of the kitchen and high-fived my daughter. Yes, I guess you could say I was finally pleased with the results of my quiche making challenge.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but good ol’ tenacity always gets the job done…

Caramelized Onion, Broccoli & Goat Cheese Quiche
Using caramelized onions as the first layer in the pie shell may of
been the key to this quiches success. Plus they add a wonderful flavor
that could not possibly be achieved with plain old onion.

1 9″ deep dish pie shell, raw
2 tsp. olive oil
1 giant onion (or 2 lg.), sliced super thin
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 cup milk
3 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1 5 oz. log of goat cheese
1/4 tsp. salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sugar, and salt; cook for 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. Spread the caramelized onion into bottom of the pie crust, then add the broccoli layer on top. Break off little bits of goat cheese and evenly distribute it over the broccoli.
  4. Combine the milk, egg whites, eggs, salt and pepper; carefully pour the milk mixture into the pie plate.
  5. Bake for 1 hour or until set, shielding the edges of the crust with foil after 30 minutes.
  6. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
*adapted from cooking light

A Side of Broccoli (with a Twist)

We eat a lot of veggies around here. Some, such as broccoli and sweet potatoes, everyone will generally eat without complaint. Others, like string beans or cooked carrots require a bit of cajoling. But even I, the broccoli lover of all broccoli lovers gets tired of the same old steamed version week after week.

Faced with the prospect of another boring broccoli side dish I took to the internet to find something better. It turns out that roasting was the answer I was searching for! I discovered that most every celebrity chef seemed to have a roasted broccoli recipe; including Martha, Ina and Alton, but that no one recipe seemed quite perfect. So as I am known to do, I did a bit of tweaking, took a little something from each recipe and came up with a version of my own.

My Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon was delicious! It turned ordinary broccoli into something fresh and interesting. Roasting really mellowed the broccoli flavor, the finely minced garlic caramelized and became mild and sweet and finishing the dish off with the lemon juice and zest really gave it a fresh clean bite.

After this tasty version I’m not sure my family will never settle for plain ‘ol steamed broccoli again. But then I guess I only have myself to blame…

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon
My family is crazy about garlic so I added quite a bit. However if yours
is not, feel free to cut back on it.

broccoli4

2 pounds broccoli crowns
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
5 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the minced garlic and salt. Let the garlic seep and flavor the oil while you prep the broccoli.
  3. Cut the broccoli florets from the large stalks and separate into bite size pieces. Peal the remaining stalks and cut them into bite size pieces as well.
  4. Place all the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil/garlic/salt mixture. Spread the broccoli out on a sided sheet pan large enough to hold it in a single layer.
  5. Roast for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of of the florets have begun to brown and caramelize.
  6. While the broccoli is roasting quickly toast the Panko crumbs in a skillet, being careful not to burn them. Set aside.
  7. When the broccoli is finished roasting sprinkle it with the lemon zest, grated cheese, Panko crumbs and lemon juice. Give it a gentle toss and serve.