I don’t dislike broccoli. But still, I buy it because I feel like I should, and every time it sits in my fridge until it starts to turn yellow. Then I end up making broccoli soup or classy chicken (an old Best of Bridge casserole Mike and my Dad love composed of broccoli, chicken, mushroom soup, curry powder and grated cheese) in an attempt to not waste it. Tonight was one of those nights, so with this soup we kicked off “Clean-Out-the-Fridge-Before-Leaving-Town-Week”. I’m sure you celebrate this or a similar occasion at least once per summer.
I can’t hardly believe it’s already almost time to head to Tofino. (While our Hells Angels friends house-sit with their Rotweillers, of course.) Tomorrow is the CBC’s annual Stampede pancake breakfast; Friday is parade day. Where did July come from? So it’s time to stop grocery shopping and use up what we have, which always results in interesting/creative dinners.
Broccoli soup is easy: hack up the broccoli and simmer it (with a chopped onion, if you have the gumption) with some chicken or veg stock. The ratios don’t really matter – I used enough broth to come halfway up the pot of broccoli. Simmer/steam until the broccoli is very tender, then puree it with a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot, or transfer to a blender to puree. Add a handful of grated old cheddar and stir until it melts, and a splash of half and half, if you like – it’s amazing what even a quarter cup to finish (and this was a big head of broccoli and 1L stock) will do to the resulting texture. And that’s it. Before I added the cheese I set aside some of the broccoli puree to stir into spaghetti sauce for W, knowing that there would be no way in hell he would touch that green soup to his lips. It falls into both of his two main won’t-eat categories: green stuff and anything that resembles baby food (included in this category: yogurt and applesauce).
This pan bread is like a giant biscuit, except that the dough is easily stirred together using canola oil instead of cutting in any butter, making it more cakelike without being sweet like cake. I bake mine in my ever-present cast iron skillet; after caramelizing the onions, you can just scrape the batter over and bake it in the oven. If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, you could do it almost as easily in a cake pan or pie plate. This caramelized onion version is fantastic with chili. It does the same duty as a focaccia in far less time, and no kneading.
Like any biscuit the dough takes additions well; fresh herbs would be good, or grated cheese, or chilies. To make a sweet (but not too sweet) version, caramelize sliced apples or pears in the pan, with or without a squirt of honey or maple syrup, and add a shake of cinnamon to the batter.
Upside-down Caramelized Onion Pan Bread
a drizzle of oil and perhaps a bit of butter
2 large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cups all-purpose flour, or half all-purpose, half whole wheat
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large ovenproof skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Sauté the onions for about 15 minutes, until they are soft and golden. Spread the onions over the bottom of the pan and take it off the heat, or spread them into an 8″ or 9″ round cake pan or pie plate that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, oil, and egg. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
Spread the batter over the onions and bake for 35-40 minutes, until pale golden around the edges, cracked on top, and springy to the touch.
Cut into wedges or squares and serve warm.