Sunday, September 16, 2012

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Roasting can be an unsung hero among cooking methods.  It's not flashy or noisy, it's simple.  It's not fiddly or complex, it's easy.  All you need is plenty of heat and plenty of time.  This week I roasted some broccoli and cauliflower, veggies that I would usually just steam.  Roasting took longer, but the flavors and texture were leaps and bounds more interesting than my usual methods.  This makes for a side that can stand up to just about anything, but without becoming too heavy or overpowering itself.

The ingredients this week are simple and inexpensive.  Here's what you'll need: broccoli, cauliflower, a lemon, a few cloves of garlic, some olive oil, salt and pepper, and a bit of Parmesan to sprinkle on top if you're so inclined.

There's lots of chopping to do.  Break down the broccoli and cauliflower into florettes, leaving a couple of inches of stalk.  Also mince the garlic and zest the lemon.

Throw everything you just chopped and zested into a large bowl.  Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and the juice from the lemon, then sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Stir it around a bit and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes.  Pre-heat the oven to 425 while you wait.

After you've waited 10 or 15 minutes, give the veggie mixture another good stir, then pour it out into a single layer on a greased sheet pan.

Roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 25-35 minutes, turning halfway, until the vegetables are nicely brown and tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.  These actually went back in a little longer after this shot, because I like mine quite crispy.  Don't fret if you end up with some really, really dark pieces - they may look burnt, but they're probably the tastiest ones.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if you so desire.

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 25-35 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 4-6


  • 1-2 pounds fresh Broccoli
  • 1 head fresh Cauliflower
  • 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: Grated Parmesan Cheese
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Chop broccoli and cauliflower into florettes with 1-2 inches of stalk.
  3. Mince garlic and zest lemon.  Add to large mixing  bowl with broccoli and cauliflower.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over contents of bowl.  Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper and stir to mix.  Let sit 10-15 minutes.
  5. Arrange vegetable mixture in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Roast vegetables 25-35 minutes, turning halfway, until well-browned and tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
  7. Serve hot with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if desired.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Moo Shu Pork

Here are some things that are delicious:
  1. Pork
  2. Sauteed vegetables
  3. Mushrooms
  4. Eggs
  5. Hoi sin sauce

Conveniently enough, the items on this list can be combined to become something even more than the sum of its parts: Moo Shu Pork.  It's one of my dad's favorite dishes when we go for Chinese food, and for good reason.  When you take that pork mixture and wrap it up in a pancake with plenty of sweet-spicy Hoi Sin sauce...oh man.  Good things happen.  My Moo Shu may never quite stand up to the stuff we got from our favorite Chinese place growing up, but it's a pretty tasty alternative to make at home.  

Here's what you'll need: pork tenderloin, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, eggs, hoi sin sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, sake or rice wine vinegar, and some pancakes.

Your local grocery store may or may not have exactly what you would like - in my case, my pancakes are just flour tortillas, but many stores do sell pancakes specifically meant for moo shu and peking duck in the Asian food section.  It's also perfectly effective to shred cabbage yourself rather than grabbing cole-slaw mix, but I was in a weeknight hurry and the shredded stuff worked just fine.

First, chop the tenderloin into small strips.  Throw it in a bowl or ziploc bag with some soy sauce, sesame oil, a bit of sake or rice wine vinegar, and some corn starch.  Give it a good mixing, and let it sit for at least a half-hour.

While the pork is marinating, you can start in on the other components.  First, heat up a bit of oil and add your lightly-beaten eggs to the pan once it's hot.  Let the eggs set over medium heat, then flip the whole sheet and cook for just another minute or so.  Pull the eggs out of the pan, chop the sheet into small pieces, and set the eggs aside for later.

Add a bit more oil to your pan, then add your minced garlic and chopped green onions.  Saute just for a minute or so - be careful not to overcook - then add the shredded cabbage and bean sprouts.  At this point, it should be clear why I'm using a dutch oven rather than just a skillet: I'm making a whole lot of moo shu, and all that cabbage takes up lots of space.

Throw in a bit of sake or rice wine vinegar, since cabbage loves a touch of acid.  Let the veggies cook over medium heat, stirring often, until they're slightly wilted but still plenty crunchy.  The volume in the pan should reduce by about half.  Pull out the veggies and set them aside for later.

Add a bit more oil to the pan and bring the heat back up to medium-high.  Chop up your mushrooms, and saute them with the pork, marinade and all, until the pork is just barely cooked.  Do this in batches to make sure that the pan isn't too overcrowded.

Once your last batch of pork is done, the bottom of your pan will be covered in deep brown, flavorful porky goodness.  Don't let it go to waste!  Deglaze with some sake and soy sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in the porky goodness.  This will have the pleasant side effect of smelling divine.  Inhale deeply.

When you've got the pan nicely deglazed, bring back all of the elements that have been sitting and waiting so patiently on the side - the eggs, the veggies, and the pork mixture.  Mix well, and sample to see what flavors need adjusting.  Add more soy, sesame, or salt as you see fit.  Don't forget, this mixture doesn't need to do all of the heavy flavor-lifting - there's delicious hoi sin sauce to come, as well.

When you're ready to assemble, smear the center of a pancake with a generous amount of hoi sin, then spoon on plenty of the filling.  The filling retains a lot of liquid, so be careful, these can get messy fast - it wouldn't hurt to assemble using a slotted spoon.  Fold up your moo shu like a burrito, and you're ready to eat!

After writing this post, so am I.  Good thing we still have plenty of moo shu leftovers in the fridge.

Recipe: Moo Shu Pork
Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 12-16

  • 2-3 pounds Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 large bag (14 oz) Cole Slaw mix
  • 1 bag (8 oz) shredded Red Cabbage
  • 8 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 bunch Green Onions
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 3 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1 cup Sake wine
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 jar Hoi Sin sauce
  • Moo Shu pancakes (or tortillas)
  1. Cut pork into thin strips.  Add to large bowl or ziploc bag with 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, a splash of Sake, and 2 tsp cornstarch.  Mix well and let sit at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a large pan or dutch oven over medium heat, cook lightly beaten eggs in a small amount of oil until barely set.  Flip and cook an additional minute.  Remove from pan and slice into small pieces.  Set aside.
  3. Saute minced garlic and chopped green onions in a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat for about one minute.  Add cole slaw mix, red cabbage, bean sprouts, and sake. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are slightly wilted but still crispy.  Volume will reduce by about half.  Remove vegetables and set aside.
  4. Saute pork and chopped mushrooms in small batches with marinade over medium-high heat until pork is just cooked.
  5. After last batch of pork is finished, deglaze pan with sake and soy sauce.
  6. Return all ingredients set aside to the pan and mix well.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  7. To assemble, spread a generous amount of hoi sin sauce onto a pancake, then add several spoonfuls of Moo Shu filling.  Roll burrito-style and serve warm.