Yeah, I know. “Broccoli sandwich” doesn’t sound very appetizing. I was mildly intrigued when I read the recipe last year on Smitten Kitchen, but then I thought “hmm… no. This is a broccoli sandwich.” I left it at that.
Until last week. Sky bought I-don’t-know-how-many heads of broccoli, because they were on sale. I was sick of eating them steamed, with a dab of butter. Then I thought of this recipe. I read it again, decided it wasn’t that weird after all, and made it. I thought the eight slices would be too much, we’d have leftovers for sure. How naive of me! Sky tried one and said: you didn’t make enough. I tried it and had to agree with him – we almost had to fight for the last slice! 😀
This recipe immediately made the weekly menu, as the broccoli + lemon zest + cheese combo is really good!
To put your skepticism aside and make these, you’ll need:
500 g broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced – I used garlic flakes because I ran out of garlic #thehorror
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon – I zested the whole lemon
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated – I used a microplane
8 slices of bread
butter, if you want
8 thin slices of cheese
Start by preparing the broccoli: chop the florets into medium-sized pieces (about 5 cm) and the stems, which are harder, into small-sized chunks (about 2 cm). In a small pan, boil about an inch of water. When the water boils, place the chopped broccoli, cover the pan, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well – the original recipe calls for patting the broccoli dry with paper towels, but I forgot and didn’t do it – and transfer to a cutting board.
Chop the broccoli once again, so that everything is in small chunks. Dry the pan you used to cook the broccoli and heat the olive oil for a minute, over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes and the garlic and heat for another minute. Add the broccoli and stir well to coat the broccoli with the olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and cook for two minutes. Set aside.
Place the bread slices on your baking sheet – I used my toaster oven, because my regular oven doesn’t grill. Lightly toast the slices on both sides. I buttered both sides, just because.
When the bread is slightly toasted, get that pan with the broccoli and add the parmesan and the lemon zest and juice. Taste for salt.
Pile the broccoli mixture over each slice of bread. Place one slice of cheese over each, and bake until the cheese is melted. Eat without any semblance of guilt, because broccoli = healthy 😀
On the early days of Tertúlias de Forno e Fogão (the Portuguese version of this blog), I posted on Facebook a recipe for vegetable stock – it’s funny to think of the time when this wasn’t even a blog! Veggie stock is a very easy recipe, any makes all the difference when making a soup, a risotto… much better than bouillon cubes!
Although I still make vegetable stock, the truth is I’ve been using meat stock for most of my soups lately. When I started photographing for the Soup Tertulias, Sky asked me if I had already translated the stock recipe − and was shocked to learn that I hadn’t even posted it! “But the stock is the star of your soups”. I took the hint and finally photographed the process. 🙂
There are several ways of making meat stock. I usually follow Chef John’s recipe (with some of the hints by Pat Feldman). It’s not a difficult process, but it takes a while: the stock needs to cook for at least 12 hours! I generally cook it for 24 hours, though. Then, I reduce it significantly, so I can freeze in single-use portions.
You will need:
Approximately 2.5 kg of meaty bones − Pat Feldman and Chef John List the kind of bones you should use, but to be honest I simply ask for meaty bones at the butcher’s and that’s it!
Celery leaves − you can use the stalks if you prefer, but it’d just be a waste of a perfect peanut butter dispenser!
One big onion, cutting into fours
Two carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks − when I was taking the pictures, there were no carrots in the house, so I didn’t use it this time! 😀
Two big (and thick) pots, with lids − mine can hold up to six liters, but if you have a bigger pot, double the recipe and make more stock! 🙂
Containers for freezing the stock − I prefer glass ones, with hermetic lids, as they are way easier to clean, but feel free to use plastic containers.
Stock starts with a step that generally marks the end of a recipe: place all the bones on a baking sheet, and bake them in a preheated oven for 60 minutes, turning them every now and then, so they brown evenly. Be careful not to let them burn!
When the bones are browned, transfer them to a big, thick pot − if there’s anything stuck to the baking sheet, scrape and place it in the pot as well! Cover with COLD water, then add the celery, onion, and carrots. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil over high heat. I prefer to put the vegetables on top, so it’s easy to remove them later!
Once the water has started boiling, remove the foam with a spoon and place the pan over the lowest possible temperature in your stovetop. As the stock will cook all night, it should simmer, not boil, so that it doesn’t evaporate. Here, I put the pan on the smallest burner, at the lowest setting.
One or two hours after the stock has started simmering, I remove the vegetables. Chef John doesn’t do that, but since I use celery leaves rather than stalks, I think it’s better to remove it.
Throughout the entire cooking process, the bones should always be covered by water. If you using the thick pan, covered, and in the lowest possible heat, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, if it is, just add more water!
When the bones are clean (with no meat attached to them, and with the little holes where the marrow has leaked from), which usually takes about 12 to 15 hours of cooking, you can remove them from the pan. If you want to cook for longer, there’s no problem − and the flavor will be more intense! I generally cook for 24 hours.
Remove the bones from the pan − I always let them drain over the sieve, so I don’t waste any stock. After removing all the bones, strain the stock into the second pan – you want to make sure that there are no mini-chunks of meat, or anything other than pure stock! 🙂
Take the second pan back to the stove, to reduce the stock over high heat − “reduce” sounds like a fancy process, but it just means “make the water evaporate” 😛 I generally have about 3.5 L of stock at this point, which I reduced to 1.5 L − the more concentrated the stock, the less room it will take in my freezer! 😀
Let the stock cool in the pan. Then, transfer them to the containers. I usually divide into five containers of 300 mL each, which is the base for five big soups, as this is really concentrated!
When it’s fully cooled, you’ll notice a layer of grease over the surface of the stock. I usually freeze with this layer on, and I only remove it when it’s time to cook – it’s much easier that way!
The stock will last in the freezer for up to six months. For soups, I simply thaw it a little bit, remove the grease layer, and dump it in the pot, adding more water as necessary. For risottos, you need to dilute the stock first, as it needs to be heated first. A 300-mL container will yield about 2 L of stock!
Calories: zero. Do you see the words “vegetables” there? Everybody knows that vegetables = no calories. 😀
Collecting the ingredients: infinite.
Cooking: 2 ½ hours, on average
“Can’t I just use a bouillon cube?”
Of course you can. But it’s not good for you, too much sodium, MSG, etc. The homemade stock is very easy to make, and it’s practically free! The flavor is much better, and it also gives you a #hipster #grandma status, which is always cool.
We make this stock with SCRAPS. You know, the spinach stem? Potato peels? Broccoli stems? Instead of throwing them away, wash and dry them! Place them in a Ziploc bag, which will live in your freezer. Every time you make a salad, a soup, or a vegetable side dish, think about the things he would throw away. The stem of most herbs, the peel from that pumpkin you ate last night, almost everything can be used to make a nice stock!
The only things that you can’t use are onion and carrots peels, bitter scraps (such as cucumber peels), and, obviously, nothing that looks old and gross!
I never really follow a recipe for this – my stock is always “whatever I cooked this month”. The only thing that I always add is celery leaves, which make all the difference for me.
When your Ziplock bag is full, it’s time to make the stock. Get the biggest pan you own, place the frozen scraps, and cover with water. Simmer for 1 hour, then remove the scraps so your stock doesn’t get bitter
At this moment, it’s ready. What I usually do to save space in the freezer is to boil for another hour and half, to reduce. Let it cool in the pan, then divide them into your containers – make sure the lids fit! 😀
They will last in the freezer for up to six months. Every time you want to make a soup, just take a container, remove the frozen stock, and thaw it directly in the pan!