About This Blog

This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.

Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...

Thank you and enjoy!

Chopped Sprouting Broccoli with Various Seasonings

This is the latest version of one of my favorite methods of preparing sprouting broccoli (Piracicaba, Calabrese, Spigariello, etc.) I generally like to blanch, shock, and spin dry the sprouting broccoli as soon as possible after it comes out of my garden. This gets rid of the unwelcome critters that take up residence in the heads and on the leaves. It also makes it easy to prepare a dish like this at a moments notice. The blanched broccoli will keep quite well in the refrigerator for several days.

I vary the seasonings depending on what I have on hand or what I'm in the mood for. Last night I added bacon, onion, pecans, and balsamic vinegar. Bacon is very good with the broccoli but not necessary, sometimes I use a couple of tablespoons of olive oil instead. Or perhaps I'll add some shredded duck confit to the mix instead of the bacon. Other dried fruits such as cherries, cranberries, or figs are good in place of the prunes, or the fruit can be omitted, in which case I generally omit the vinegar as well. Any vinegar that you like can be used instead of balsamic. Sometimes I omit the onion and add garlic instead, or perhaps I'm in the mood for both! The pecans don't have to be glazed, just toast them in a skillet or a 350° oven for a few minutes, or leave them raw, or leave them out. Pine nuts are one of my favorite nuts to use instead of the pecans, in which case I usually toast them in the dry saute pan a bit before I add the bacon. I also like toasted sliced almonds or toasted pepitas. And how could I forget, sometimes I like to spice things up a bit with chile pepper flakes (from homegrown and dried peppers, of course). The variations are endless. I generally serve this as a side dish, or a warm main course salad, but it's also great piled on warm garlic rubbbed bruschetta and drizzled with some of your best extra virgin olive oil and served as an appetizer.

So here's the version we had last night as a main course salad along with a chunk of pate and some toasted sourdough whole wheat bread.

About 1 lb sprouting broccoli, blanched in boiling salted water 1 minute and shocked in ice water, spun dry in a salad spinner
2 tbs butter
about 1/2 cup whole pecans
kosher salt
about 1 tsp honey
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 large sweet yellow onion, cut into thin 1-inch long slices
8 dried plums, diced
balsamic vinegar

Chop the broccoli into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until it starts to foam, add the pecans to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, tossing the nuts, until they are browned to your liking, it should take just a few minutes. Turn the heat off, sprinkle with salt to taste, add the honey to the pan and toss it all together until the pecans are lightly glazed. Set aside to cool while you prepare the broccoli.

Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until it softens and starts to render its fat. Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring, until the onion softens and a brown glaze starts to develop on the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat down to medium as the glaze starts to develop. Once the onion has softened, add the broccoli to the pan, and cook, tossing frequently, adding a tablespoon or few of water to help the broccoli steam. Cook until the broccoli it is done to your liking, if you like it soft, turn the heat to low, add a little more water, cover the pan, and let it steam. When the broccoli is done to your liking, turn off the heat, add the chopped dried plums to the pan, break the pecans into pieces (or not if you prefer) and add them plus any butter in the skillet, drizzle in some balsamic vinegar, toss it all together and taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Serve immediately.

Makes about 4 servings.

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