007: Broccoli

Alright, broccoli isn’t in season. Totally not. I read in at least one place that it was! Anyway, I did broccoli, another great vegetable that a lot of people are unfairly biased against. To be fair, it’s kind of easy to mess up. But! Super healthy, delicious when done right, giant food.

The Menu (Serves 4)

Spicy Broccoli Soup
Broccoli and Snap Pea Salad
Orange-Ginger Short Rib with Roasted Broccoli
Mango Rice Pudding

Mango Rice Pudding
-1T butter
-1/3 cup arborio rice
-1 cup coconut milk
-1/4 cup white sugar
-pinch of salt
-3 cups milk
-1t vanilla extract
-1 egg yolk
-fresh mango

This pudding is made like a risotto, with risotto rice. Heat the coconut milk and milk in a saucepan. Don’t boil it or anything, just get it warm. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Pour the rice in, and cook it briefly in the butter (about 45 seconds). Ladle in some of the milk. You’re gonna be stirring a whole lot, so get ready! Stir the rice as it absorbs the milk. When it’s time for more milk, you’ll be able to tell. The mixture will get kind of tight and “dry” in a particular way. Watch the video in the linked recipe for a visual aid. Keep adding milk a little at a time, stirring constantly. At a certain point, you can add milk in larger quantities. Again, you’ll be able to tell. It’s hard to define, but you will.
When you reach the end of the milk, stir in the sugar, and vanilla. Beat the egg yolk with 2T milk, and whisk it into the pudding.

Once it’s cooled a bit, distribute the pudding to four dishes. Cover them in plastic wrap, touching the plastic to the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Put the dishes in the fridge until it’s time for dessert.
Chop up the mango, and put a little handful on top.

Orange-Ginger Short Rib with Roasted Broccoli
-2.5-3 lb short ribs
-2t powdered ginger
-2T canola oil
-1/3 cup fresh orange juice
-1 large onion, diced
-1 large carrot, diced
-1 celery rib, diced
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
-2/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
-2T chopped fresh ginger
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-2.5 cups low-sodium beef stock
-1/4 cups flour
-1 bay leaf
-Salt and pepper
-1 cup rice
-2 large crowns broccoli
-1 orange, red or yellow bell pepper

Preheat the oven to 275. Heat the canola oil in a dutch oven or large heavy pot at medium-high heat. Dry the short ribs if there’s any juice or whatever on them, then salt and pepper both sides, and sprinkle with the powdered ginger. Put them in the pot and cook each side 2-3 minutes. When they’re fully browned, pull them out.

The pot will have a huge amount of rendered beef fat at the bottom. Did you chop up the onion, carrot and celery? Then turn the heat down a little, and pour the vegetables in. While they saute, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the oranges. Add the orange peel, garlic and ginger to the pot. Juice the oranges, mix with the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, and add to the pot. Dissolve the brown sugar in the pot. Add the stock, the ribs, and a bay leaf.

Cover the pot with a sheet of parchment paper, then with the pot lid. Put it in the oven for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, the meat should be super soft, and pierce with a fork easily. Remove the meat from the braising liquid to a bowl. When the meat’s cooled down, pull it off the bone and into small chunks. Try not to eat too much of it before you serve it, but make sure to eat a little, cause it’s SO GOOD.
Start a pot of rice. Use the amount of water you like, and add a tablespoon or so of the braising liquid. Cook it to the right doneness, then set the pot aside, covered.
Cut the broccoli crowns in half down the stem, making sure each half holds together. Cut the non-flat side away from each half, leaving each piece a quarter inch thick.

Start a large pot of water boiling with a few pinches of salt. When it comes to heat, throw the broccoli in. Let it cook until you can get a fork into the stem without too much difficulty. Try to make sure the treetop parts don’t dissolve; if that starts to happen, take the broccoli out early. Keep the water going.
Preheat the oven to 425. Put the broccoli on a wire rack inside a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake the broccoli. Since it was cooked most of the way through, this is just for color. Get it nice and browned, and the tips of the broccoli kind of crispy.
Slice the orange pepper into strips. Saute it in a little oil with salt, until softened. If the meat isn’t warm enough, heat it up in the pan.
For each plate, shape a scoop of rice into a narrow bed. Put a handful of the meat on top and press it down. Spread a quarter of the pepper strips over the meat. Top with one of the broccoli slices. Shave some parmesan on top, and drizzle the braising liquid around the rim of the plate.

Broccoli and Snap Pea Salad
-1 head broccoli
-1 cup snap peas
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-1 large carrot
-1T yogurt
-1T mayonnaise
-juice of 1/2 a lemon

Cut the florets from the head of broccoli. Blanch them in the pot you cooked the broccoli for the ribs in. No more than a minute – just let them get nice and bright green. Pull them out and douse in cold water, so they don’t cook any further. Snap peas have an inedible string that runs the length of them, so pull those out however you can. Cut the peas up into little bites, and saute them until the skin gets some browning on it. Cut the carrot into very thin strips. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Spicy Broccoli Soup
-2 heads broccoli
-2T cream cheese
-1 jalapeno
-dash cayenne

Cut up the broccoli. When you finish blanching the broccoli for the salad, put the broccoli for the soup in. Salt it a bit, and cover. Cook it for a few minutes, until you can pass a knife through easily. Move the broccoli to a blender, and fill the cup half way with water from the pot. Chop up the jalapeno, and add it to the blender. Cover, then pulse a few times before you set it to blend. The cup is pretty full, and could splash out if you just go straight to blend. I added the cream cheese because my soup was too thin, but if your soup is the right consistency, it’s not necessary. Add cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.


Not a great menu. As I said in the intro, it’s not hard to mess up broccoli. There’s a couple fool-proof ways to cook it, but I didn’t use them for the most part.
The soup came out too watery, but after the cream cheese fix, it was really nice. I used Gordon Ramsay’s recipe, plus spicy stuff. I think I added too much water. In the future, I would probably add the water in increments.
The salad was nasty. Mainly the dressing, which was based on real recipes, but nothing I’d ever tried to make. It really didn’t mix well with the not-very-cooked broccoli. I should have made a stir-fry with the salad ingredients. The snap peas were really nice sauteed, and I definitely know how to get broccoli done right in a stir fry.
I suggested boiling the broccoli slices for the ribs longer because what happened to me is that when I tried to bake them, the stems stayed pretty hard, almost inedible. The flowers got nicely crisp in some areas, but basically charcoal in others. I also had to change plans for the dish when the broccoli slices came out too thick. I wanted to make a “sandwich” out of two slices, the peppers, rice and ribs. If the broccoli had worked here, I wouldn’t care so much, but it’s doubly disappointing now.
Somehow, the pudding that was a perfect consistency when I finished cooking it turned pasty and stiff in the fridge. It was tasty, but felt like rubber cement. The mango wasn’t great, either. It was overly firm and didn’t have a strong flavor. My original plan was to puree some mango and put it in the actual pudding, instead of just on top, but it wasn’t the right texture. It was fun to make, though, and I’m going to try again soon, because it had a lot of potential.
The only saving grace were the ribs. The ribs were so, so, so good. I wanted the rib dish to be a sort of Chinese lunch special thing with rice, orange beef, and broccoli, and while the broccoli didn’t cooperate, the rest of it worked pretty well to that end.
Overall, though, this menu was a big failure. The star ingredient really didn’t get its due, and more than half the meal came out badly. And it’s not even the right season! Ball was dropped. I just went looking for another seasonal ingredient, by typing “summer produce” into Google, because that’s how dedicated I am, and found the source of my bad broccoli tip.

Next Week: Peppers

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1 Comment

  1. Julie

     /  July 19, 2012

    Short ribs were very tasty. Broccoli soup is delicious when creamy, so the addition of cream cheese was inspired.


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