Patience and Perseverance: Broccoli Pie ’70s Style

The ladies of a certain generation are very protective of their old family recipes and refuse to share their secrets even among their closest friends. If, heavens, a woman finds herself forced to reveal the recipe, she might…I’m saying might…accidentally, like totally by accident…leave out one crucial ingredient rendering the replication far inferior to the original.

Such ingredient omission could result in conversations like “Louise, I made your pecan bars last week and they just weren’t as good…’ To which Louise might just smile and say ‘bless your heart’. (see Southern lady’s translation of this sentiment)

I had been begging a friend’s mother for her Zucchini casserole recipe for exactly three years. Every time I saw her I asked again and she always found a way around giving it to me.

Denial of its existence:       ‘I’m not even sure I have it written down.’

No way to send it:  ‘Oh, I don’t have email.’

Fear of being replaced:    ‘I don’t want the casserole showing up at dinner parties all over town.’

But, I was persistent and about six months ago, she sat me down, went into a triple locked vault and simply said: ‘Do you have a pen?’

Listening intently…I took copious notes and asked only one question: ‘do you think adding toasted bread crumbs to the top would be good?’ Horrified, insulted and thinking about ripping the recipe out of my hands, she shook her head disapprovingly and said firmly, ‘NO.’

When it came time to make the casserole, (and please don’t tell) I did make a few changes: I subbed out zucchini for broccoli and divided the recipe by 4 – ‘Louise’ (that’s an alias, she who has no access to the internet or this blog prefers not to be named) makes a giant batch, divides in to several 9-inch bread pans before cooking and freezes – then she pulls out a pan, thaws and bakes off as needed.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Bisquick ExpiryThis recipe was translated from one that made enough Zucchini casserole for an army – there was math – but it worked out. Don’t be afraid to do some dividing in order to cook for fewer than 57 people
  2. Write expiry dates on the side of packages that face out in the cabinet – that way each time you look in there, you’ll know how many more days you have left to use your Bisquick – I had until today (no fear, I baked this over the weekend)
  3. Don’t keep your 8×8 Le Creuset baking dish on the very top shelf of your cabinets – the fact that mine was up there kept me from using it for a very long time. Thank goodness for my Gracious Home step ladder

Broccoli Pie (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • bisquick recipes

    70’s mix

    2 Cups Broccoli Florets

  • 1/2 Large Onion
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Bisquick Baking Mix
  • 1/4 Cup Grated or Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • Pepper – if you want

Preheat Oven to 425 degrees

1. Mise en place – always miss en place – cheese, eggs, vegetable oil, Bisquick mix, onion half, Italian Seasoning

mise en place anne burrell vegetarian

All important Mise En Place

2. Chop the stems off of your broccoli and rough chop – then wash

broccoli vegetarian dinner side dish recipe

Lots of Broccoli – fresh from Fairway Market NYC

3. Pretend you’re going to make vegetable stock and keep the broccoli stems in the freezer until you admit that you’re not going to ever make vegetable stock and then throw them out.

broccoli stems vegetarian pie side dish

Be honest, you’re not going to make veggie stock

4. Roast the broccoli – this adds a great, browned, smoky flavor to the casserole. Spread the broccoli in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet. Toss with ‘really good’ olive oil and salt. Roast for 15 mins, tossing them around a bit about halfway through.

roasted broccoli dinner side dish vegetarian

Brown food is good food – roasted broccoli

5. Turn oven down to 350 degrees

6. Allow the broccoli to cool for about :10 mins then toss it into your Cuisinart

7. Chop the onion into chunks and toss into the Cuisinart with the broccoli

side dish recipe vegetarian casserole

Thank you Cuisinart

8. Pulse until the broccoli and onions are well minced, but still have a tiny bit of chunkiness to them

9. If you’re using shredded parmesan (not grated) – add to the Cuisinart and pulse a few more seconds

broccoli casserole recipe vegetarian

Slight chunks AOK

10. In a separate bowl combine the 2 eggs, Bisquick, Vegetable oil, Italian Seasoning and pepper if you like that kind of thing. You already salted the roasted broccoli, so no need to add more. (Also if you’re using grated parmesan, add it now)

recipe side dish vegetarian broccoli

Bisquick-y mix

11. Add the broccoli, cheese, onion mince to the Bisquick mix and stir to combine

broccoli casserole recipe

Add the broc onion cheese mix

12. It should look like this – just make sure you get all of the dry bisquick-y stuff well combined with the veggies and eggs

vegetarian casserole broccoli recipe

Well mixed

13. Spray an 8×8 Le Creuset dish with Pam or other nonstick cooking spray. Can you use other than Le Creuset? No, no you can not.

14. Spread the mixture into the baking dish evenly – should be about 1 inch thick

vegetarian casserole dinner broccoli

Spread into modern Corningware = Le Creuset

15. Bake at 350 – did you remember to turn down the oven? – for :35 mins or until lovingly browned

broccoli pie casserole recipe

Perfectly browned edges

16. Slice into wedges and serve

vegetarian side dish recipe broccoli

Sumptuous Slice

The Broccoli Pie nee Zucchini casserole recipe was worth waiting, begging and ultimately fighting for. It’s a ’70s throwback to the time when most vegetables were over boiled or minced and most side dishes included Bisquick.

To those of you who are courting women of a certain generation for a secret family recipe, let me say just this – patience and perseverance pay off. And, if this dish starts popping up at dinner parties all over town – please don’t tell ‘Louise’ about this blog.

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Emergency Go-Soup: Cream of Tomato

amore tomato paste cream of tomato soup

Creamy and Delicious

My friends who live in LA sleep at night with an Earthquake Go-Bag under their beds. This includes heavy bottomed shoes (I think because LA gals sleep in stilettos), water, cash, canned food, flashlight etc. Everything they might need to evacuate quickly and survive for a few days following a devastating quake.

henri bendel emergency kit

Henri Bendel-Prepared for the NYC Emergency

Over the holidays at Henri Bendel they were selling NYC emergency kits. Similar to the California quake kit…only very different. Instead of canned beans and a flashlight, it includes a metro card, hair bands, breath freshener, bandages, deodorant towelettes, pain relievers and some other girl stuff…

I’m not really sure what our emergency kit vs the CA one says. Maybe in New York waking up smelly, gently wounded and needing to take the subway constitutes an ’emergency’. It might. It’s no earthquake, but it is an emergency and Henri Bendel has the solution.

For people who cook, that go-bag or emergency kit translates to a go-meal; one that is ready to serve with very little notice…

At about 6pm on New Year’s Eve after a champagne boozy lunch, my friends decided that they would come over to my apartment for dinner. OK. I had :65 minutes to prepare for the arrival of hungry guests.

dinner party main course chicken

Chicken Milanese

I went to my go-to’s and quickly shopped for what I would need to prepare Chicken Milanese, salad, garlic bread, pasta…

And, luckily, I had a go-soup in my fridge. The day before I tweaked an Ina Garten recipe and made…

Cream of Tomato Soup (serves 6-7)

Ingredients

  • whole foods vegetables

    Chopped Veggie Mise En Place

    3 TBSP olive oil

  • 1 Red Onion Diced
  • 2 large Carrots Peeled and Diced
  • 1 Sweet Potato – peeled, diced and roasted
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 6-7 Medium vine-ripened tomatoes Chopped
  • 1 TSP Sugar
  • 1/2 TBSP Amore Tomato Paste
  • Ina garten tomato soup

    365 Brand Chicken Stock

    1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves

  • 3 Cups Chicken Stock – I used Whole Foods 365 Brand – I know I know, I should make my own…but didn’t
  • 1/2 TBSP Kosher Salt
  • 1 TSP Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium/low heat. I used my Le Creuset 6 qt one – it’s just so pretty and so easy to clean!

2. Add the onions and carrots and saute until very tender – be patient, this takes a while – :15-:17 mins.

– In hindsight, I would have chopped the carrots smaller so that they might soften more quickly.

whole foods vegetables

Patiently Sauteing

3. While that’s happening…Place the diced sweet potatoes on a sheet pan lined with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper in one layer and sprinkle with olive oil. DO NOT SALT.

sweet potatoes super food

Super Sweet Potatoes

4. Put in the oven and roast for :10mins – Toss and then roast an additional :05-:07 mins until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

whole foods sweet potatoes

Roasted – but not browned

5. Into the Le Creuset – Add the minced garlic to the softened onion and carrots and saute until fragrant – about 1 minute

6. Add the tomatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt and pepper and stir well.

whole foods vegetarian

And the soup becomes soupy

7. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for :40mins – until the tomatoes are very tender

cream of tomato soup

Simmering Simmering Simmering

8. Add the cream to the soup and stir

9. If you have an immersion blender…great…But since I don’t – I set up a blending station by the stove on my counter

NOTE: Ina used her food mill…but, seriously, in my apt – no room for a food mill.

cream of tomato ina garten

Soup Blending Station

10. Most importantly…LET THE SOUP COOL before blending. Cuz like if you put hot soup in a blender and turn it on, it will blow the top off and there will be quasi blended hot soup everywhere…

11. In stages, ladle some of the soup into the blender and puree until smooth.

kitchenAid blender

Pre-Puree

12. Transfer the pureed soup into a second soup pot and keep warm

cream of tomato soup ina garten

A few ladles at a time

13. Repeat until all of the soup is smooth and creamy

cream of tomato soup

Kick it up a bit…

NOTE: If you like it spicy….Add a dash or two of Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Pepper Sauce.

The soup was a great intro to the Chicken Milanese. And, with my ‘stick your head out the window-view’ of the Central Park fireworks and the impromptu late night dance party…The last-minute dinner party was a success.

I don’t have much of a need for the Henri Bendel NYC Emergency Kit because – and I’m not judging – I don’t tend to wake up slightly wounded, smelly and not at home…but a good batch of emergency go-soup in the fridge does come in handy.

Little Lies, Illusions and A Succulent Pot Roast

Pot Roast Plated and Ready

A good friend’s mother told him once that if he didn’t have time to clean his apartment before people were coming over, he could just use lower wattage light bulbs. In the dimness, guests would miss the dirt and dust. Makes sense to me.

Spanx

Little lies, illusions and cover ups surround us every day. I used to work for a shapewear company and our motto was always ‘fake it til you make it’.

I mean do you really think all those celebrities are cellulite-free? No. No they are not.

And the regular people? We’re all frantically double-Spanxing just to keep up. (note: I can’t believe that ‘Spanxing’ just passed my spell check!)

It’s cold out and slow cooker season is officially on. With the slow cooker, comes so many illusions. As prep is generally pretty easy and results are more than always pretty good – it can trick your guests into believing that you are a fabulous cook. They will think that you slaved for hours over the meal. That you reinvented cooking. You may literally change the way they see less expensive giant meats.

Annie’s Choice

I don’t have a slow cooker anymore – too big for small living. And when confronted with a Sophie’s Choice between my Le Creuset large dutch oven and the All-Clad Slow Cooker, I had to let the slow cooker go.

No worries. The dutch oven works just as well if not better.

So, it’s really slow and low cooking season at my place. And, last night I teased my neighbors with the warm wafting aromas of beef and herbs – providing the illusion that I was an amazingly fabulous chef, hostess and meat miracle worker.

Slow and Low Cooking Pot Roast (Serves 6)

Ina Garten-style with a few tweaks (some on purpose, some by accident and some because I had amnesia at Whole Foods)

Honestly, this is all about the prep…

1. Go to Whole Foods or similar and buy a giant, inexpensive piece of meat – 4-5lb boneless beef chuck roast. Ask the butcher to tie it as this will help keep it together during the slow roast. My butcher did this string pattern with just one piece of string!

Giant Meat from Whole Foods – Perfectly Tied

2. Mise en place your veggies:

Veggie Mise En Place to Make Anne Burrell Proud

  • 3 cups of leeks – it’s supposed to be just two but I forgot to buy onions so I increased the leeks
  • 2 cups chopped carrots – about 5 carrots
  • 2 cups chopped celery – about 4 stalks
  • 2/3 of a single onion chopped – because that’s all I had in my fridge
  • NOTE: these are going to be pureed, so don’t kill yourself chopping. Just try for somewhat similar size across all veggies.

3. Smash up 4 garlic cloves – Ina uses 5, but I was hesitant to do so. Would have been fine in the end

4. Mise en place your Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I didn’t do this, and it would have been real smart if I had. Put a teaspoon measure by them

5. Bundle 3 branches of fresh rosemary with 4-5 branches of fresh thyme

Herb Bundle

Muir Glen Tomato Puree

6. Open a 28oz can of tomato puree. The Muir Glen was on sale yesterday at Whole Foods – Yay!

7. Pour 2 cups of good red wine into a measuring cup. Ina uses Burgandy, I had some really good Montepulciano – 2 cups for the roast, 1 glass for me

8. Pour out 1 cup of chicken stock and open up a Knorr’s chicken bouillon cube

‘Cooking’ Cognac

9. Pour out 2 tbsp of either Cognac or Brandy. I had a pretty good cognac on hand – but that’s a story for another time

OK. That was the hardest part.

Pre-Heat oven to 325 degrees

10. Generously salt and pepper the giant meat on all sides and then dredge in flour. Ina uses a lot of salt (1 tbsp) I might use a little less next time.

11. In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over med / high heat and sear the meat on all sides. Once seared (about 4 mins on each side) remove the meat and put on a plate

Searing the Giant Meat

12. Turn the heat down to medium – Add 2 more tbsp of olive oil to the pot and stir in all of the vegetables and smashed garlic. Add in 1 tbsp of salt and 1 1/2 tsp of pepper.

Cook over medium heat until tender – about :10 mins

Simmering Veggies Pre-Booze

13. Add the wine and cognac and bring to a boil

14. Once boiling, add in the pureed tomatoes, the chicken stock and the bouillon cube. Ina then adds 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper…I’d skip the salt here as mine turned out pretty salty.

15. Throw the Thyme/Rosemary bundle in there and then add in the Giant Meat and bring to a boil. Cover and put into the oven.

Sauce Smothered Meat Oven-Ready

16. Bake for 1 hour and then turn heat down to 250 degrees and cook for an additional :90 minutes

17. Remove from the oven and take the roast out and put onto a carving board

18. Carefully ladle some of the veggies and sauce into a blender or Cuisinart and puree. CAUTION: allow to cool a bit before blending or it will blow the lid off of the blender. Just sayin’. Puree in batches until you have enough sauce.

NOTE: I didn’t puree the entire pot of goodness – didn’t need that much.

Veggie Booze and Sauce Puree

Also – Ina puts the puree back on the stove and does some magical adding of flour and butter here, but, really, you don’t need it. The pureed veggies and booze make a lovely sauce all on their own.

19. Slice the roast and serve over egg noodles covered with the sauce and some chopped parsley

In an apartment, aromas seep into hallways from everyone’s home. Some better than others. Slow cooking takes the aroma flow to a new level as the scents of deliciousness flow out of my kitchen for hours.

Last night even the doormen 14 floors below had heard from my neighbors that ‘Annie was cooking something amazing smelling all day’. Ah, but ‘all day’ in this case is really the illusion. For with very little work, you can produce an amazingly succulently, moist pot roast.

But, don’t tell anyone.