Sunday, July 15, 2012

Recipes - Broccoli, bok choy and Chinese cabbage

Broccoli in the field
This heat finds me doing early morning cooking to avoid midday cooking in the heat.  

Last week's broccoli and cauliflower
Today I tackled a big batch of broccoli.  One of our favorite varieties has larger, looser florets that look overly mature.  I rinsed and chopped with the midsections of several green onions - I use the green tips as garnish and the white roots in dishes I saute - with a pint of stock and a pint of water.  Cook to tender and run first through a blender and then through a food mill.  Return to pan if you want hot soup or pour into a bowl if you want cool soup.  Add desired amounts of salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Just before serving add cream, yogurt, or sour cream and a bit of paprika or powdered hot pepper.  For non-dairy eaters, oatmeal can be used in place of cream.  For vegetarians, use a stock from cooking vegetables.

Napa on left, bok choy on right
I like bok choy in morning soups.  If it is cool in the morning having a warm meal seems easier on the stomach.  We use bok choy most often in miso soups with green onions.  Egg drop soup or leftover cooked meat is a nice protein addition.  In Japan they use tofu.  I also like bok choy in stir fry side dishes with onions and tiny slices of julienned carrots for color.  To cook bok choy I separate leaves from stems as stems require a a minute or two of cooking time and leaves can be added just before serving to wilt.  Bok choy can also used like Napa in pressed salads

Pressed roots on a bed of wilted greens
Napa or Chinese cabbage is a great early season cabbage.  I tend to cook the outer leaves and once I get into the heart where the leaves are a bit more tender, I make salads or pressed salads.  I like to chop the cabbage and salt for a while to sweeten the cabbage.  After about a half hour there will be liquid, I pour this off and use where I need to add salt.  If people with salt issues are eating with us, I rinse the cabbage.  Pressed salads are salads made in layers, salted and weighed down to encourage the salt to work.  In Japan we had layers of carrots, turnips, radishes, cabbage or bok choy.  The vegetables need to be sliced thinly for this method to work.  I often create an Asian dressing to go with this - tamari, sesame oil and seeds, mild vinegar, honey and pepper.

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