Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mocktail Obsessive

Lately I’ve become obsessed with the idea of non-alcoholic mixology. Booze drinkers have all kinds of fun mixing bits of this and that with their favorite liquid fermented by-products; maybe I’m feeling left out. I’m not going to start breaking the Word of Wisdom just to be part of the “in-crowd,” though. I’m too much of a rebel for that.

Yes, I know. You’re laughing at me. That’s okay. Being “Mormon” means “conformity” to most people, but if you compare us to the rest of the world, we’re pretty peculiar. Those who stand apart from the masses are rebels. If you think about it from the standpoint of the institutions surrounding Jewish authority during Christ’s time, he was kind of a rebel, too.

But I digress. I don’t think I should feel left out. Many of the older cookbooks I’ve got have tons of recipes for various drinks and punches. I’m not just talking lemonade and hot chocolate. I’m talking about drinks like shrubs. No, I’m not trying to juice the foliage in my front yard! A shrub is a sparkling drink made with fruited vinegar that was popular during the 1700’s. You see, I’m not looking for another drink that’s perfectly acceptable for my kids. I want to find, or develop, non-alcoholic drinks for adults.

Thank goodness I bought a new blender.

Do you have any non-alcoholic drink recipes you’d like to share? Feel free to post them, or links to them, in the comments.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Broccoli with Garlic

Sometimes simple recipes are the best. They allow the flavor of just a few ingredients to take center stage. As much as I like to experiment and blend flavors, sometimes I just want to savor the pure flavor of a single perfectly cooked vegetable or fruit.

This recipe highlights broccoli’s natural savoriness with a bit of garlic. The technique is simple, combing braising and sauteing, leaving a tender, satisfying side dish. This technique can be used with other vegetables as well.

The size of the skillet is vital to cooking the broccoli evenly. For this recipe, a 12-inch skillet is ideal. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan, no matter what you’re cooking.

Equipment needed
Cutting board
Chef’s knife
Garlic press (optional)
Measuring cups and spoons
Large skillet (preferably non-stick)
Large spoon
Mixing bowls

1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper

Cut the florets off the broccoli using a chef’s knife. Slice the larger florets in half by slicing through the stem. Break off the woody bottom portion of the stalk and discard. Peel away the tough outer layer of the remaining stalk. Slice the peeled stalks into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Place the cut broccoli florets and stems in the skillet with the water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until the water is simmering and the broccoli turns bright green, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until the water has evaporated and the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes.

Push the broccoli to the sides of the pan, clearing a space in the center. Add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes, if using. Mash the garlic into the pan using the back of a spoon, mixing into the oil. Cook for 10 seconds and then stir into the broccoli. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings.