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The Dreaded Broccoli Cookbook

The Dreaded Broccoli Cookbook
A Good-Natured Guide to Healthful
Eating with 100 Recipes
by Barbara and Tamar Haspel
Scribner, 1999

Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber, broccoli is obviously a nutritious vegetable. Rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, broccoli certainly deserves a prominent place in any diet.
The Dreaded Broccoli Cookbook

Barbara and Tamar Haspel, a mother-daughter team of food writers, became very interested in broccoli and other healthful foods after their husband-father suffered a heart attack and had to make some radical changes in his diet. Determined to find ways of making low-fat meals full of flavor, they experimented with techniques and ingredients, documenting their recipes and ideas in a light-hearted and fact-filled newsletter called "Dreaded Broccoli."

The title of this book, and the newsletter, comes from a recurring joke that Barbara and her husband shared about vegetables served in restaurants. "The broccoli of the title isn't the actual broccoli of our old marital joke," Barbara explains. "It's the stuff that's good for you, that you know you should be eating, and that you haven't a clue how to get into your diet. It's all those vegetables and whole grains you keep hearing about."

Anyone looking for a conventional cookbook chock-full of interesting
recipes should look elsewhere, for this is a book about cooking
creatively with style, about improvising meals from whatever you can find in the pantry, and about transforming high-fat menus into low-fat culinary adventures. There are 100 recipes included, but this is more a book about finding new directions than following well-worn paths.

As the subtitle suggests, the Halperns' writing style is personable, witty, sometimes silly and often entertaining. Their book will be enjoyed by those who appreciate good food and good company.

Potato and Mushroom Pie with Polenta Crust
Makes 4 main-dish or 6 side-dish servings

For the filling:
half ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1   cup hot water
2   pounds new potatoes
1   tablespoon plus one-half teaspoon olive oil
1   medium onion, diced
4   garlic cloves, pressed
1   pound fresh shiitake mushrooms,
stems discarded, caps sliced
1   teaspoon dried thyme
one-quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt to taste
1   cup tiny green frozen peas

For the crust:
3   cups water
one-quarter teaspoon salt, or to taste
three-quarters cup cornmeal

1. Soak the porcini in the hot water for at least 1 hour. Remove mushrooms from the water and puree them, first removing any hard or fibrous parts. Strain the broth through a fine sieve.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

3. Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces. Lightly oil a 9 x 9-inch roasting dish. Add the potatoes and roast until tender, about 35 minutes. Stir them once or twice
during roasting to prevent sticking and to brown all sides evenly. (The potatoes can be roasted several hours in advance, or even the preceeding day. Consider making
extras. Roasted potatoes are great enablers of pantry momentum.)

4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sautee over medium heat until wilted. Add the fresh mushrooms, thyme and
cayenne; cook until the mushrooms have softened and shrunk to about half their original size, about 15 minutes.

5. In a separate skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Make a roux by adding the flour an stirring until it begins to turn brown. Add the roux, mushroom broth, pureed porcini, and salt to the mushroom mixture and cook until the liquid reduces by about one-third, about 5 minutes. Add the frozen peas just before you take the mixture off the heat.

6. Remove the potatoes from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Add the vegetables to the potatoes in their pan.

7. For the crust, bring the water and salt to a roiling boil in a saucepan. Add the cornmeal slowlt, stirring
constantly. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring
constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to pull
away from the sides of the pan, 10 to 20 minutes.

8. Spread the polenta over the vegetables and potatoes
and bake until the top is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes
before serving.

250 calories, 4 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat per side-dish serving

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