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Monday, May 11, 2009

toasted cheese sandwiches with red onions, sundried tomatoes, and crunchy romaine lettuce

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Bliss Yoga with Margo

So I’ve been writing to you lately about how I’ve been trying to take care of myself… by saying “no thank you,” and letting go of some obligations. We closed the bakery for a holiday in February, and after unsuccessfully trying to start a practice of sitting still and meditating to try and calm myself, I decided that committing to a daily practice of some relaxing yoga might be a better alternative. My goodness, it’s hard to sit still!

I’d been doing a little yoga now and then for the past couple of years with my friend Margo. She is an amazing teacher, and her lessons focus more on relaxation and body alignment than other classes I’ve taken. Rather than getting a workout from her lessons, I’d get an amazing sense of calm. My body would feel more aligned and healthy afterwards, like I’d just given myself a massage. But I wasn’t good about keeping up a regular practice—my life felt too busy and frantic, and I just couldn’t add one more thing.

But by February, with all the things I’d been juggling, this wasn’t an option. I needed something to help me relax and find some balance in my life! So I called Margo and asked her if I could take weekly lessons, and committed to doing my own daily practice during the week.  Luckily, she was willing! Our lessons are different than any yoga I’ve ever done. Most of them begin with shavasana, relaxation pose, lying down with my knees draped over a tall stack of blankets so my back slowly melts into the floor. After I’ve completely melted away the tension of the day, we begin doing stretches and poses that are designed to release tightness that I’ve inevitably created by running, biking, or cross-country skiing. Margo’s yoga is not about getting exercise, but rather, to relax from the exercise that I do at other times. And it’s about the mental relaxation, too.

Each week Margo prepares a little handout of our lesson to put in my yoga notebook, with the week’s sequence illustrated by little stick figures so I can remember the poses when I get home. That way I can use any of my lessons in my daily practice, depending on what I feel like doing. And Margo always says, if I don’t have time to do anything else, just do a 15 minute shavasana. (That’s her yoga recipe for busy moms.)

I have to say that doing a weekly private yoga lesson with Margo, and then a little bit from the yoga notebook we’ve created each day (even if it is just the relaxation part) has made a huge difference to my body AND my mind. I’m not walking around all stiff and sore and stove-up from running and biking—instead, my back is relaxed and feels strong and healthy! And the relaxation every day has made a big difference to my mental space, too. I’m more prepared to meet the challenges of the day, whether I’m baking hundreds of loaves of bread, dealing with a missing CSA vegetable box, or comforting a hungry and tired Meredith at the end of a long, busy day…  I have more resilience and calm with which to handle it. Thank you, Margo!

If this kind of yoga sounds like your cup of tea, Margo is teaching some small ten-week classes this summer in her little yoga studio in her house. Each class is limited to six participants, so you get a really wonderful and intimate experience. If you live in the Anchorage area, you can still sign up—she has a few spaces left for the classes starting at the end of May.

Bliss Yoga with Margo Sorum

Cost: $130 for 10 classes (classes are limited to 6 participants)
Tuesdays, 4:00-5:15pm from May 26 to August 4 (No class June 23)
Thursdays, 4:00-5:15pm from May 26 to August 4 (No class June 25)

Please email or call Margo for more information, or to register for her class: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 907-947-2030.

Since this blog is all about wonderful things I’ve learned from Margo, I figured I’d include a great recipe she’s shared with me! It’s a new way to make toasted cheese sandwiches! And are they ever blissfull!

toasted cheese sandwiches with sundried tomatoes, red onions, and crisp romaine lettuce with balsamic dip

You might think it’s silly to have a recipe for a toasted cheese sandwich, but this recipe is something else altogether. Since Margo made one of these sandwiches for me, I’ve not made a regular toasted cheese sandwich. Instead of the usual plain cheese filling, you grill the sandwich with sundried tomatoes and red onions in it (OK, so far not that different), but here’s the kicker: after the sandwich is completely toasted and the cheese melted, you open it up and pop in a wad of fresh romaine leaves. Then you close up the sandwich and eat it, crunching the lettuce leaves and enjoying the melty cheese, dunking each bite in a little dish of balsamic vinegar. It’s so easy, and SO yummy! It’s great for lunch, or you can serve it with any seasonal vegetable dish or green salad for a wonderful dinner.

slices of 100% whole wheat sourdough bread
softened butter
sharp cheddar cheese, or whatever cheese you prefer, sliced
oil-packed sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced (don’t put too many in)
thinly sliced red onions
lots of leaves of washed, dried romaine lettuce
good-quality balsamic vinegar (Costco brand is fine)

1.    Spread each slice of bread with a thin layer of butter. On one slice, on the unbuttered side, line up a few slices of tomatoes, then layer slices of cheese, then top with red onions. Top with the other slice of bread (buttered side out).
2.    Place sandwiches in a skillet over medium heat and grill slowly until the buttered bread is nicely browned on both sides and the cheese is well melted.
3.    Take the sandwich out of the skillet and set it on a cutting board. Open it up (try not to burn yourself on the hot cheese) and pack it with several leaves of romaine. Close it back again and carefully cut the sandwich in half.
4.    Put a small dish of balsamic vinegar on the table and dip your sandwich in as you eat it. We love trying the different vinegars at Summit Spice and Tea Co. (1120 E Huffman Road).


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

egg salad sandwiches and grilled asparagus

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Easter traditions

One of the fun things about growing up is that you get to start making your own holiday traditions. At least, I thought I ought to be able to do that when I got married, since my mom and dad always had wonderful holiday parties with their friends (and accompanying children). However, I hadn’t reckoned on the power of family proximity. My mom and dad had moved to Alaska before they met—my mom from San Diego, my dad from a small farming town in Washington. I remember very clearly, soon after Dan and I were married, checking with my mom to see if she minded if we did our own thing for Easter. I was shocked when she seemed hurt and disappointed at the suggestion.

I told her that we had an idea to hike Bird Ridge with some friends and then come home and make pizza with toppings (including ham and sliced hard boiled eggs—the obligatory nod to tradition). I was honestly confused at her reaction, and I told her that I was just thinking of doing like she and my dad had done…  finding friends of our own to celebrate some of the holidays with. “Yes,” she said, ”of course that’s what we did—but that was because our families were so far away!” Suddenly I had a totally new perspective on those wonderful holiday gatherings I had grown up with—certainly all those close family friends FELT like family (WERE family!), but now I understood that my mom had missed her parents and siblings at the holidays.

Still, my dad thought it was perfectly reasonable for us to do our own thing on this one holiday, and my mom came around without too much fuss. And of course we shared many meals with my parents in all seasons, holiday or no.

But now, as time has passed, the Bird Ridge hike, as well as the ham and egg pizza, has gone by the boards…  As soon as our daughter Meredith got heavy enough to be a burden in the baby carrier, we switched strategies. One year we pulled her in the pulk on an afternoon’s ski trip up in the mountains above Anchorage. But these past couple of years, egg hunt festivities have replaced mountaineering. These days we’re more likely to have a family ski or a short hike. And for dinner? We invite the remaining family in town: my brother and his girlfriend, Christi. I guess I’m getting to be more like my mom all the time!

But, unlike my mom’s Easter ham, this is what we eat for dinner: the unconventional but by now, thoroughly traditional egg salad and grilled asparagus. Are you laughing? Come on, are you seriously going to tell me you DON’T like egg salad? These sandwiches are SO good when you make egg salad with homemade mayonnaise (especially when you use extra-virgin olive oil for the mayo). And of course I love to use up those colored hard-boiled eggs that Meredith has mined out of snowdrifts, from under trees, and behind car tires. I think you’ll love this meal, whether you make it for Easter, or any time in the spring with great bundles of asparagus!

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open-faced egg salad sandwiches

Mayonnaise
Of course, you can use mayonnaise from the store, and your egg salad will still be delicious. But if you want to make truly luscious egg salad, I recommend making your own mayonnaise; the olive oil really does make a difference! You can make it the day before and you’ll be all ready to mix it up with your Easter eggs. Isn’t it funny: egg salad is eggs mixed with an egg dressing!

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 egg
½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt (adjust to taste)
pinch of white pepper
1 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil, or a mixture of extra-virgin and regular olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar

Combine the mustard, egg, salt and pepper in the bowl of a blender or food processor. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, thin, steady stream. Process until the mixture starts to thicken. Stop when all the oil has been added and scrape down the sides. Then add the lemon juice a little at a time, combining well. Taste for salt and white pepper, and add more lemon juice if you like. Transfer the mayonnaise to a jar, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Perfectly Cooked Hard-Boiled Eggs
This method keeps the eggs from overcooking, and ensures a creamy yolk without that green ring around the outside of the yolk.

1 dozen eggs (or fewer)

In a heavy pot, cover raw eggs with cold water. Bring slowly to a boil over medium heat, and when the water starts to boil, let the eggs simmer gently for one minute. Turn the heat off, put the cover on the pot, and let it sit for 6 minutes. Then carefully pour the water off and run cold water over the eggs, draining and replacing the cold water until the water stays cold. I usually drain the water once, refill it partway with cold water, and then fill the pot with ice cubes.

The Egg Salad Sandwiches
Is it silly to include a recipe for such easy (and delicious) sandwiches? Maybe, but this is how I make them. I like to use up the hard boiled Easter eggs that cracked in the dyeing process, so the egg whites are crazed purple and bright pink. Makes it more festive, don’t you think?

12 perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs (see previous recipe)
mayonnaise (see previous recipe, or use store-bought)
Dijon mustard
fresh-ground pepper
paprika (optional)
flat-leaved parsley, chopped fine
slices of whole-grain bread

1. Peel the eggs. If you’re interested in cutting down the saturated fat a little cut 4-6 of the eggs in half and discard the yolks. Chop all the eggs up into a bowl. Add mayonnaise to moisten nicely, including a couple of large dollops of mustard to your taste (I like quite a bit, but use your own judgment). Add freshly ground pepper, and if the mayonnaise and mustard didn’t add enough salt for you, add salt.
2. Toast the bread well and top each slice with lovely thick mounds of creamy egg salad. Dust with paprika and more pepper, then sprinkle lavishly with parsley. Eat with your hands or with a knife and fork.

grilled asparagus

This is so easy it’s almost embarrassing to call it a recipe, but since it’s so good, and you might not have discovered it yet, I’m including it here.

a pound or two of fresh asparagus (buy more than you think you could possibly eat)
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt

1. Heat your grill to very hot.
2. Snap the ends off the bottoms of the asparagus, as close to the bottom of the stalk as they will still snap nicely. Toss them with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.
3. Turn the grill heat down to medium. Grill the asparagus until they are nice and tender and have grill marks all around; about 9 minutes, turning them every 3 minutes or so.
4. Eat them right away or else eat them later at room temperature. Try not to eat them all right as they come off the grill, because you are likely to burn your tongue, and the rest of your family will be annoyed.

Tip: To keep your asparagus fresh when you get it home from the grocery store, cut about a half-inch off the bottom of the stalks, wrap a wet paper towel around the bottoms of the stalks, and stand them upright in an open plastic bag wrapped around their bottoms. Fasten the bag around the bottom of the stems with a rubber band.


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

avocado toast

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I think this recipe might be my favorite thing to eat. I love it just about any time:  as an appetizer when we have guests, as a sandwich for lunch, or as part of supper, served with a soup or salad.  I know, avocados are not exactly indigenous to Alaska. BUT we can get Alaskan red onions, and you can of course buy your hearty, whole grain bread from a local baker—wherever you live!

I’ll list six great things about this recipe.  (I started with three, and then had to keep adding more.)

1.  The main nice thing about this recipe is that it tastes really good.  I’m confident that you are going to love it.  The creamy, rich avocado with the tangy bite and crunchy texture of the onions is really a great combination.

2. Another nice thing is that it looks lovely.  Isn’t it a knockout?  The dark brown balsamic vinaigrette on a slice of sourdough toast, covered by the beautiful light green, creamy avocado, topped with a pile of bright pink pickled red onions, and then sprinkled with a dusting of freshly ground black pepper—this is ART.

3. A third nice thing about this recipe is that it’s great any time of year that you can find good ripe avocados—and that’s pretty much all year ‘round, at Costco.  Here’s a tip for dealing with the bags of avocados you buy at Costco.  Buy a big bag of them when they are hard and green, and set them on your counter.  Every day or so, squeeze them very gently to see how soft they are getting.  When they have just begun to get soft (don’t wait until they are squishy), put them all in the refrigerator RIGHT AWAY—this will more or less arrest their further ripening, and you will have a treasure trove of perfectly ripe avocados for a week or so.  Just don’t forget to check them every day when they are out on your counter—you want to catch them JUST at the time they are starting to get soft, and then refrigerate them.

4. Another great thing is that you can make a big batch of all the components ahead of time, and have them in the refrigerator, just waiting for hunger to strike, or guests to arrive.  Then you can whip this up in the time it takes to toast your sourdough bread (chopping the pickled red onions and peeling the avocado), and sit and relax with a glass of wine with your guests instead of dashing around in the kitchen trying to throw something together. 

5. If you’re cooking for people who don’t eat meat or dairy, you can make this and you will be their hero forever, because it’s yummy and wonderful and doesn’t even have bacon or cheese in it. 

6. Trust me: if people eat enough avocado toasts, they won’t really care what else is for dinner.

avocado toasts

This recipe is loosely based on one I found in Deborah Madison’s Savory Way.

1 large, ripe avocado (see #3 above)
balsamic sauce (recipe below)
pickled red onion rings, chopped coarsely (recipe below)
4 thick slices sturdy whole-grain bread (sourdough if possible!)
freshly ground pepper

1. At least an hour before you want to make this, make the pickled red onions.  They will keep for a couple of weeks in your ‘fridge, so make them ahead!
2. Whisk together the sauce ingredients. This will keep in your fridge for a couple of weeks, too.
3. Halve the avocado and peel it. Slice the flesh about ¼” thick. 
4. Toast the bread.
5. Spoon some of the sauce ingredients over the toast, then cover the toast with slices of avocado. Sprinkle the pickled onions over the top of the avocado (or put a mound of them on top—whatever you prefer) and finish with plenty of freshly ground pepper. 

balsamic sauce

¼ cup minced yellow onion
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together everything but the oil.  Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking. Season to taste with salt. 

pickled red onions

1 pound red onions
1 quart boiling water, approximately
1 cup white wine vinegar
water as needed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 pinches dried thyme
a pinch of chile flakes (optional)

1. Halve, peel, and thinly slice the onions into rounds.  Separate the half-moons and put them in a bowl.  Pour the boiling water over them, to soften, for one minute, then drain in a colander.
2. In a large jar, put the sugar, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and chile flakes. Put a little hot tap water into the bottom of the jar and swirl it around to dissolve the salt and sugar.
3. Scoop the onions into the jar and pour in the vinegar. Add water to cover the onions (no more than a cup—add more vinegar if more than that is necessary). 
4. Put the lid on the jar, shake to combine, and keep it refrigerated.  The pink color will begin to infuse in about an hour.


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Sunday, September 28, 2008

kale (or collards) and cabbage with white beans on garlic toast

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feeding my farmers

Yesterday afternoon, after we finished selling our whole grain sourdough bread at the Saturday South Anchorage Farmers’ Market, we brought my friend (and farmer, and market manager) Arthur home with us. Farms where he lives in Palmer (53 miles north of Anchorage) have experienced their first frosts, and the snow is creeping farther down the mountains every time it rains here in town. Our market was shrouded in a bone-chilling blanket of fog all morning before the sun burned it off and turned it into a beautiful, crisp clear day. I love the golden leaves against that brilliant blue backdrop!

Beautiful it may be, but still, we get cold standing out in it all day! It sure was nice to get home. After a warm bowl of soup and hot showers, we thawed out and felt tired but happy. Welcome to

our

weekend!!

Then Arthur’s wife, Michelle (also a farmer), and their three sweet kids arrived from Palmer to join us for the afternoon and dinner. Meredith, our only child, was delighted—it’s not often she gets to have three kids over to play! And I was almost as excited as Meredith, because while the kids played with Meredith’s blocks and trains and beads, I got to do something special: cook for my two favorite farmers, who grow so much of the wonderful, fresh produce that nourishes us all year!

It feels so good to give something back for all the wonderful, fresh meals I’ve made with their beautiful broccoli, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, onions, carrots and more… I chose this meal, because it feels somehow like alchemy: combining these very basic ingredients creates a meal that is truly extraordinary: warming, savory, and nourishing. It was the perfect dinner for tired and hungry bodies at the end of the week.

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kale (or collards) and cabbage with white beans on garlic toast

This is one of my favorite recipes, believe it or not. The ingredients are so unassuming and humble, but when you cook them all together, they become wonderfully good. The onions are sweet, the garlic and greens are savory, the parsley is fresh and vibrant, and the cabbage is tender. You don’t have to put this on toast, but I love it that way. If you add lots more bean broth, this is a good soup, as well. It’s a meal on its own.

It makes a big batch, but I’m betting you won’t have any trouble finishing it off as leftovers. It tastes even better the second day, after the flavors have had time to meld. This recipe is a variation of one in Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets.

beans:

2 cups white beans, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
2 bay leaves
sea salt or kosher salt

vegetables:

2 large onions, finely diced
2 bunches dino or Tuscan kale or collard greens, leaves stripped from the stems and sliced into ½” slices
1 small cabbage, either Savoy or green cabbage, quartered, cored, and sliced thinly
4 plump garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of chopped parsley
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper

toast:

thick slices of hearty whole-wheat bread (1 or 2 per person)
garlic
extra-virgin olive oil

1. Drain the soaked beans, then put them in a pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add the quartered onion, garlic, and bay leaves and make sure the water covers the onions. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender. This could take 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours, depending on the size of the beans and how old they are. When the beans are tender enough to easily squish between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, turn the heat off. If you have time, let the beans sit in their liquid with the aromatics until cool. Remove the quartered onions and whole garlic and discard. Add salt to the beans to taste.
2. While the beans are cooking, chop all the vegetables and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale or collards and boil them until tender. The boiling time could be as short as 3 minutes in the summer, or as long as 10 or 12 minutes in the fall, depending on how big and old the greens are—just keep tasting them. Drain the greens.
3. Warm the olive oil in a heavy, wide skillet or pot (non-stick works especially well). Add the onion and cook over medium heat with 1 teaspoon salt until the onion is soft and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Add the kale or collards, cabbage, garlic, parsley, and 2 more teaspoons salt. Cook over low heat with the pan covered until the vegetables are soft and the volume greatly reduced, about 15-20 minutes.
4. When the beans are done, add them, along with a cup or two or their cooking liquid, to the pot. Simmer until the greens are completely tender. Taste for salt and season with pepper. (You may have to add quite a bit of salt—kale and collards need a lot of salt, as do beans.) Save the rest of the bean broth for vegetable stock in soups and stews—just freeze it until you need it.
5. Toast the bread slices. Rub the toasts with a peeled clove of garlic and sprinkle with a little salt. Spoon the beans and greens over the toast and serve, drizzled with a little olive oil, if desired.


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

toast with almond butter and peaches

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I admit, I have a weakness for peaches. Born and raised here in Anchorage, I grew up eating a fairly limited selection of fruit: apples, bananas, and oranges. The annual grapefruit in the toe of my stocking at Christmas was cause for celebration.

I’ve only lived near peach country once in my life, when I spent four years in graduate school at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Toward the end of my degree, I was disillusioned and depressed; I no longer wanted to be a college professor (the reason I’d gone to Ph.D. school for Geography in the first place), and I was sick to death of academia.

However, there were two things I knew to be positive beyond doubt that came out of the grinding, belittling experience that was Ph.D. school. First, I met my one true love: my husband Dan, who had escaped from his own academic hell (his was in biochemistry in New York City). Second, I ate a LOT of peaches.

Not owning a car then, I would ride my bike to my local King Soopers and load a huge paper bag with enough Colorado peaches to fill the middle section of my backpack. My other groceries stashed as best they could beneath and atop my motherlode of the fragrant stone fruits, the full extension of my ski pack towered over my head as I wobbled up the hill toward home. I would eat peaches for every meal, plus snacks. Consuming six peaches a day was not unusual.

Now that I’m back in Anchorage, I’m far from those Colorado peaches, but I do have access to some remarkably good ones at Costco. Maybe they aren’t tree-ripened (they certainly aren’t local), but they taste pretty dang good to me. I can never understand my friends who lament “I just can’t get through a Costco case of peaches!” I buy two cases at a time, and let them finish ripening while I’m busy consuming the previous two cases.

How can I eat so many peaches? Usually I have two slices of almond-buttered, peach-piled toast for breakfast on summer mornings. The photograph isn’t completely accurate, because I pile the peaches on higher, and then eat them alongside, as well…  So before 9am I’ve already pounded two peaches. Then I might eat a peach for a snack, and for dessert? Well, let’s just say I don’t always stop at one.

toast with almond butter and peaches

This is hardly a recipe… it’s just a description of the finest breakfast known to humankind. Also it’s a fabulous snack, if you need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. Of course we always use our Rise & Shine bakery whole grain sourdough pan loaves for the toast, but any full-flavored, whole-grain bread will be fine.

And here’s my deal with almond butter. I love roasted almond butter (not raw), and I like it a little bit salty, like peanut butter. Most almond butters don’t come salted—but it’s easy to mix in salt when you’re stirring in the separated oil when you first open the jar.  I scrape the whole mess into a mixing bowl, add salt (I use about ½ teaspoon sea salt for a 16-ounce jar), and whisk it all together. It makes a couple more dishes to wash, but it’s WAY easier and much less messy than trying to stir it up in the jar without getting oil everywhere.

If you don’t prefer almond butter, you could use peanut butter, but almonds are extraordinarily good with peaches. You might want to give it a try!

slices of whole wheat sourdough bread (thick or thin, as you prefer)
almond butter (I prefer roasted and salted)
perfectly ripe peaches, washed, pitted, and sliced

Toast the bread, and spread it with almond butter. Cover the nut butter with peach slices. Eat more peach slices alongside your toast. Sip tea or coffee between bites. Enjoy pure bliss.

 


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

broccoli with golden raisins

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air-fresh Alaskan broccoli

We’ve had broccoli on the brain these days, at the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market. You just can’t beat Alaska-grown for sweet and tender broccoli! And there’s so much of it! To try and create a bigger market for that proverbial powerhouse of nutrition, I started promoting it in earnest! 

First I loaded a bunch of new broccoli recipes and photos on our website. Then Dan helped me make a YouTube video about processing broccoli for the winter. And just a couple of weeks ago, we had a special event at the farmers’ market where you could clip a coupon for three heads of FREE broccoli. Meanwhile, I’ve been promoting the broccoli mania in my weekly South Anchorage Farmers’ Market email newsletter.

But my newsletter doesn’t just go to folks here in Anchorage. I have plenty of subscribers all around Alaska, including my friend Roselynn, in Fairbanks. Recently, she emailed to tell me that she’s coming to town for a work trip, and she can spend the night with us! Now, many of my friends from Fairbanks head straight for Nordstrom when they come to the big city. But not Roselynn! She’s caught the broccoli bug, and she wants to head straight to the Wednesday Farmers’ Market to fill her bags with big heads of bargain broccoli to freeze for the winter!

She’s bringing her biggest suitcase, and we’ll see how much broccoli we can stuff into her Samsonite for the trip back to Fairbanks!

broccoli with golden raisins

I love this broccoli recipe—it’s great hot on toast, or warm or at room temperature as a salad, or as a side dish to almost anything! I love it as a snack. It’s loosely based on a recipe in Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, one of my favorite cookbooks for vegetables. For a fun and colorful meal, serve this on toast with a pile of raw red pepper spears and a dish of hummus on the side.

1 ½ pounds broccoli, tops cut into bite-sized florets, and stems sliced into ¼” slices (peel the stems first if the skin is tough)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ cup golden raisins
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt or kosher salt
optional toast:
4 slices thick whole-wheat bread
extra olive oil for the toast

1. Put about an inch of water in the bottom of a pot that you can put a steamer basket in. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils, put the golden raisins in the steamer basket and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the raisins, but keep the water in the steamer.
2. Put the broccoli stems into the steamer basket, and steam for 4-6 minutes until barely tender. Check them every minute after 4 minutes, poking with a sharp paring knife. Remove the stems, drain them, and immediately spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet spread with a dishtowel. (This cools the broccoli quickly and allows it to dry out.)
3. Put the florets in the steamer, and steam for 3-5 minutes until barely tender, keeping a close eye on them. Remove the florets and spread them out on a dishtowel as with the stems. When they are cool enough to handle, chop the florets and stems a bit finer with a large chef’s knife.
4. In a large skillet over high heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, stems, raisins, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the broccoli is quite tender, and the flavors are nicely combined—about 5 minutes. Season with plenty of salt—it will need quite a bit.
5. If you want to serve the broccoli on toast, toast the slices of bread until golden, and drizzle with olive oil. Pile the broccoli on top.


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