Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Broccoli "Veggie of the Year"

In an effort to encourage vegetable consumption at the local elementary school, a Veggie Election was held in November. I don't know what the other contenders were, but the winner was broccoli. Today there is a broccoli recipe contest so I got up early to make two dishes, one for the Mule (Broccoli Cheese Rice) and one for the Moose (Beef Broccoli with Oyster Sauce). Full disclosure, no one around here has broccoli on their favorite food list which is why the broccoli is pulverized in the casserole dish-- no one can pick out the bits they don't like! The contest's sponsors are AmeriCorps volunteers and Live Healthy Appalachia.

Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole
Repulsed by the appearance of can condensed mushroom soup, I created this homemade version of cheese rice casserole to replace it.  The combination of the American brown and wild rice adds texture and chewiness. Please note that I use American short grain brown rice which is not washed and differs from Japanese short grained rice, and I'm not sure why or how, but it does. You can make this ahead of time and then bake it just before serving. According to my daughter, there is no substitute for the Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese. We go to great lengths (and distances) to keep it in stock around our house. Serves 4 to 5. *Japanese Rice Cup (JRC) equals ¾ cup

Short Grain Brown Rice + Wild Rice Mixture, 2 ¼ cup (dry)= 3 JRC*
Water, 4 ½  cups = 5 ½  JRC
Butter, ½ cup 
All-purpose Flour, slight ½ cup
Fresh Rosemary, ~½ tsp (1 sprig)
Chicken or Vegetable Stock, 4 cups
Salt, 2/3 tsp 
Pepper, 2 grinds or a pinch +
Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 6 oz (170 gm), cut into 1-inch cubes
Breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp for garnish
Broccoli, 1 cup finely chopped (optional and not Xan’s favorite)

Useful Equipment
Rice cooker or heavy bottomed pan with a fitted lid
Rice Paddle
Medium Sauce Pan
Food Processor or a sharp knife
Casserole Dish, 4 quart


Cook rice and water in either a rice cooker (follow device instructions) or use the stove top method. Stove top method: In a heavy bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid, bring water and rice to boil over medium heat. Immediately reduce heat to simmer and cover with the lid. Cook until the water is gone and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside. 

Make Sauce. In a medium pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Whisk flour into melted butter and cook about 2 minutes.  Add rosemary. Gradually whisk in stock and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes though it is still soupy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. 

Cook broccoli (if using). Bring pot of water to boil and add broccoli until bright green, about 2 minutes. Plunge into cold water, and drain. Place into food processor and pulse until finely chopped or chop finely with a knife.

Cut cheddar cheese into cubes.

Mix together. Using a rice paddle, stir the rice into the sauce and gently break up any rice clumps. Add the broccoli, cheese, and gently fold together.

Bake in casserole dish. Grease a casserole dish, add mixture, and sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Bake at 375ºF (190ºC) until bubbling and browned, about 35 to 40 minutes. 

Beef Broccoli with Oyster Sauce 
Serves 4
Vegetable oil, 3 Tbsp (1 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp)
Fresh garlic, 1 clove, zested
Fresh ginger, 1 knob, zested
Green Onion, 1 bunch (save half for garnish) or Small Sweet Onion, 1 sliced
Fresh Broccoli, 2 cups, wash, trim ends, and pull apart the florets
Beef, boneless  8 oz, slice thinnly (skirt steak)
Corn starch or potato starch, 1 Tbsp + Water, 1 cup
Cooking Sake or cooking white wine, 1 Tbsp 
Oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp
Soy sauce, 3 Tbsp
Sesame oil, ½ to 1 Tbsp garnish
Cooked White Rice

Microplane Zester
Wok or Large Fry Pan

What to do
  1. Zest ginger and garlic. Slice onions. Reserve half of the green onions for garnish at the end, if using. Wash and trim broccoli ends. Pull florets apart into small bunches as needed. Slice the beef thinly. Mix together the starch slurry and set aside. 
  2. In a wok or fry pan, warm 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat, about 1 minute. Add garlic, ginger, and onion (½ of the green onions), toss occasionally, cook until you can smell the aroma, 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Increase the heat to high and add the beef. Stir fry until browned, about 3 minutes. Time varies with the thickness of the beef cut.  
  3. Add the broccoli and stir fry-- tossing to distribute, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add the cooking sake or wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape up the bits stuck to the pan, about 1 minute.
  5. Remix the starch slurry and add. Cook until thickened like gravy, about 2 minutes, and is somewhat shiny.
  6. Turn off the heat. Garnish with sesame oil and sliced green onions.  
  7. Serve immediately with hot cooked rice.

Veggie of the Year: Broccoli
Break up into the smaller florets
Boil ~2 minutes, drain, and plunge into cold water 
Cooked and drained it takes on a beautiful green hue
Pulverize in the food processor if you're not a huge fan 
Pulverized broccoli
Add it to the rice mix &  no one can pick it out!
The verdict came in! They kiddos were thrilled that they each received an award-- the Beef Broccoli with Oyster Sauce recipe won for the "Best International Dish" and the Broccoli Cheese Rice won for the "Most Fiber." They were in fact wearing them when they came home from school. Apparently, the overall winner was Broccoli Bites or some kind of balls made of broccoli and eggs. I await the recipe.

Best International Dish-- Beef & Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
Broccoli Cheese Rice-- Most Fiber!
My favorite? Broccoli Potato Soup with a dollop of cream fraiche!

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