Things I Love Thursdays!

I’m on a fritter kick. Mix some flour, an egg and… whatever else you feel like and voila! DELICIOUS!  Mother-in-law just dropped off some zucchini.  Why do something healthy with it?  Shred, add cheese, etc. and pan fry, baby!

I made these broccoli fritters 3 weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about them. Truly.  They’re that good.  Topped with a little sour cream (maybe garlic sour cream?) add a glass of white wine, and you have my perfect summer dinner.  Thank you Smitten Kitchen for this great recipe.  I suspect this will be a favorite for a long time.

Broccoli Parm Fritter Amazingness

3 C chopped fresh broccoli
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 small clove garlic, grated or pressed through a garlic press
1/2 t. salt
A bit of black pepper
Olive or veggie oil for frying

Steam broccoli, but not until it is grey and mushy.  I use the Pampered Chef microwave steamer (love it.)   Let it cool a bit.  Heat the oil – you don’t need much.  Beat the egg a little, add the rest of the ingredients then the broccoli. Mix and mash up a bit. I used a wooden spoon, but a potato masher could work too. Once the oil is hot, drop a scoop of the batter into the pan and then flatten it out a bit.  I like my fritters to end up about 3 inches in diameter.  If they’re too much smaller, they begin to feel like passed hors d’oeuvres to me.  Brown for 2-3 minutes on each side.  You may need a little more oil to cook up all of the fritters.  When they’re done, put them on a paper towel to drain off any extra oil and sprinkle with a little Kosher salt.  Eat them warm! And I dare you not to dream about them.

Adapted from the ever-fabulous Smitten Kitchen.

Souper, souper, supper!

We went to Panera last night after a failed attempt to get hubby a new cell phone (he’s so indecisive!).  You know, since I’ve been a teetotalling incubator and husband has been joining me in my non-drinking ways, dinners out have gotten a lot cheaper.  So I admit I was a bit surprised that our Panera bill was as high as it was.  (Admission: I DID get myself 2 rather expensive drinks.  AND I realized that my pregnancy-induced cold beverage obsession will soon be over – which will save us lots of money…)

Anywho…

I knew I had a recipe for Panera-ish broccoli cheddar soup saved somewhere.  So today, I dug it up and made it.  It isn’t hard – a lot of the steps can take place at the same time.  And it IS delicious. If I had the energy (Sarky = 9 months pregnant, in case I haven’t mentioned that 4000 times by now) I would have thrown together a beer bread, or some sort of quick bread to go with. It makes a good amount of soup – perhaps 8 servings? I used the recipe from The Curvy Carrot with a few modifications.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. olive oil (the recipe called for all butter, but my butter was frozen so I used some olive oil instead – you really don’t need the oil… or that much butter)
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1/4 C. flour
  • 1 C. whole milk
  • 1 C. heavy cream (really, you could modify this too – use half and half or just use all milk)
  • 3 C. broth (I used chicken broth to make it a little richer, but I know veggie broth would work well here too)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 4 C. broccoli florets (I used fresh and chopped them up, but frozen would work in a pinch too)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar, cubed (I used grated supermarket cheddar, because I had it on hand.  Still yummy.  Though I’m sure some really good cubed sharp cheddar would be even better!)
  1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and oil and saute the diced onion until it is translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Stir frequently so they don’t brown too much. Take them off the heat and set aside.
  2. Cook the broccoli and carrots.  (Don’t kill ’em. I steamed mine until just cooked.  After all, you’re going to be putting them in hot soup, you don’t want to make mush. I tossed mine in my Pampered Chef microwave steamers.  Worked great!)
  3. In a large Dutch oven or sauce pot over medium heat, whisk together the flour, milk, and cream until smooth. (If it seems lumpy, just keep whisking.)
  4. While whisking, add the broth until integrated.
  5. Add the nutmeg and bay leaves, and let the mixture simmer over very low heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked onions, broccoli, and carrot.  Let simmer for another 20 minutes.
  7. Take off the heat and add the cheese and stir until completely melted, adding more broth if necessary.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste!  You’ll probably find that the cheese and broth make the soup plenty salty, but a little pepper is yummy.

As Sarky T’s Mama would say, “Nom, nom, nom.”

Thanksgiving Foods… Top 5 List

I love Thanksgiving.  It is probably my favorite holiday (though Christmas has gotten a whole heck of a lot more exciting since Mr. Pickle Pumpkin arrived).

The smell of sauteing onions and celery in butter… the mad dash to clean and set and prepare (my family has always hosted at least 20 people)… the glimpses of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade caught between the mad dashing… I love it all.  Our family is small, so the guest list always includes my other family – the family of dear friends, the family we got to choose.  And my dad always gives a toast that makes people cry.  He’s got a knack for that.

Everyone has their list of favorite Thanksgiving foods, and these are mine.  Sure, they’re not the typical choices, nor are they the most gourmet, but they are the foods that carry the warmest memories and the strongest associations of warmth, abundance and family.

Honorable mention: The olive plate.  Canned black olives.  Sweet gherkins.  Celery stuffed with cream cheese.  All served in a little crystal bowl used only once a year.  No one is really sure why we continue the tradition, considering that there are lots of other delicious offerings to be had, but it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without these old standbys.

5. Stuffing.  My grandmother’s stuffing (cooked dangerously in the bird – gasp!) was always too full of Bell’s seasoning and too gluey.  My sister and I would get to tear up the sticky white bread.  It is so gluey that it congeals into a mass that can be sliced for turkey sandwiches the next day.  And it is perfect.

4. Creamed onions.  Man, those little suckers are hard to peel.  What a pain.  And that is what makes them amazing.  The bowl of creamed onions (with a just a touch of nutmeg) was always on the small side, which made the portion you took – just 5 or 6 little onions – seem like a hot commodity.  Plus, no one was going to peel those little bastards for any other holiday.

3. Broccoli/cheese casserole.  I grew up in a foodie household.  I didn’t trade my school lunches with the students, I traded with the teachers.  My parents can cook.  Fo’ shizzle. So this lowbrow dish made by a family friend with only four non-gourmet ingredients always thrilled me.  Frozen broccoli, Velveeta (which has never been seen in my parents’ kitchen), butter and crushed Ritz crackers.  Heaven in a casserole dish.

2. Pate.  Yes, chicken liver pate.  I told you, I grew up in a foodie household.  I’ve been eating pate foreva, yo.  And I love it.  Esther used to bring this to the feast, and I’d stuff myself on this rich and nutritiously suspect dish and ruin my dinner. My father has taken over the preparation of the pate and man, the smooth yumminess, with a little sherry, heavy cream, chunks of pecans, and all of that liver-y goodness?  Bliss.  At least to this palate. (My husband would rather have his toenails plucked out than eat this stuff.  Good.  More for me.)

1. Butterhorns.  I’m a bread person, and these yeast rolls full of butter and then brushed with butter are the. best. ever.  Thanks Great Aunt M!  Wait, I think she’s actually a cousin…  anyway, they are the highlight of the feast, warm, golden and slightly salty from the brushed butter.  I want to take the bread basket and hide in the closet and eat them all.  No really, I do.  And the next morning, microwaved for 9 seconds they are the perfect accompaniment for raspberry jam, or perhaps mini-turkey, stuffing, mayo, and cranberry sauce sandwiches.  I would like to eat 6 right now.

Gobble gobble!