April 3, 2014

Ketchup Stir Fry Prawns + Chinese BBQ Noodles

Chang’s mom gave me this huge bag of frozen shrimp a few weeks ago and I never got around to cooking it. Every time we saw her she’d ask, “Did you try the shrimp yet?” and I’d shamefully shake my head and admit that I hadn’t figure out what to do with it yet. Stir fry shrimp and eggs? Shrimp with edamame? Overdone. That’s the extent of my Chinese shrimp cooking skills, those two recipes. Then literally out of sheer laziness because it requires no peeling, it occurred to me that I could make the ketchup stir fry prawns I’ve seen my own mother make with those giant tiger prawns. Too ambitious? Maybe. I called my mother to ask for her recipe but she was busy and forgot to call me back. 7:00pm came and went. Chang and I were getting hungry.

So I winged it.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lb fresh or thawed prawns, heads off shells ON
  • salt
  • corn starch
  • oil (high smoke point, like avocado or peanut)
  • 2 stalks green onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger*
  • Sauce:
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 2 tbs soy sauce
    • ~2 tbs brown sugar, loose
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

*if you don’t have fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp or so of ginger powder mixed into the sauce will do.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse prawns under cold water (this will thaw them quickly, too, if they’re still frozen). Drain well. Line paper towel over baking pan and place prawns in.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl
  3. Dry prawns thoroughly with more paper towels (always make sure whatever it is you’re frying is very very dry. It will crisp better and you wont have as much splash back of hot oil when it hits the pan.).
  4. Remove paper towels, mop up baking pan so everything is dry. Lightly salt prawns. Coat with 3-4 tbs cornstarch. Toss and mix.
  5. Heat large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. When pan is hot (you wont be able to hold your palm right over the pan for over 5 seconds if it’s hot enough), add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until oil shimmers.
  6. Slowly add prawns in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches). Fry until the cooked orange edges creep up and over to the top side. Flip and cook other side. Both sides should be orange, with just-golden brown and crisp shells. Remove and set aside.
  7. Drain oil so that only a thin layer is left. Add minced garlic/ginger/green onion and quickly stir until aromatic. (You WILL be able to smell it.) Do NOT burn garlic, this does not take long. Add shrimp back in and toss to coat. Spoon in sauce, not all at once, but enough to coat the shrimp. (You can always add more, but you can’t take out.). Remove and serve!

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Woohoo! Yay for winging it! I feel like a real adult now. I’m making grown up dishes! By myself! Who needs mama now?! Yea OK, technically Chang’s mom gave me the shrimp… but I made it into a MEAL! Annndddd ’cause that about hits my grown up-ness quota for the week, I served it with my favorite college lazy dish: BBQ noodles. Literally ate this 3 out of 7 nights back then.

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INGREDIENTS: shacha

  • dried noodles (I like the thin japanese variety, or the curly ramen-like noodles)
  • scallions (minced)
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese BBQ (sha cha)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional Toppings: soft poached egg, veggies

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook noodles.
  2. Mix rest of the ingredients in serving bowl.
  3. Add and mix noodles when cooked.
  4. Top with egg and/or veggies.

Tada!

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March 9, 2014

Homemade Tostones

I’m in the mood for something summery..

afterlight

INGREDIENTS

  • green plantains (firm or tostones will be mushy and fall apart)
  • salt
  • frying oil (peanut, avocado, high smoke pt oil)
  • garlic, minced
  • lime
  • olive oil for dipping

Garlic and Lime Dipping Sauce: Mix minced garlic, olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt. Can be made ahead of time to let garlic flavor infuse the oil.

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INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel and cut plantain in 2 inch thick pieces.
  2. Heat sauce pan on medium high. Add oil until ~ 2 cm deep, heat until shimmering. Test by dipping a corner of a plantain in the oil. It should immediately start bubbling. If not, the oil’s too cold. If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot. When you swirl the pan, the oil should seem less viscous than when it was cold, almost a water-like consistency.
  3. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Add plantains one by one and avoid crowding. Fry in batches. Flip when underside is golden brown ~ 3-5 min each side. Adjust heat as needed. If the oil is no longer bubbling rapidly, increase heat. If the oil is bubbling too fiercely, slowly add more oil, introducing it into the side of the pot and not directly over the plantains.
  5. Remove when golden brown, one by one. Place on paper towel lined cutting board so that the plantain is standing upright. With flat side of a large butcher knife or chef’s knife, pound until evenly thin (I prefer 0.5cm thickness). The back of a baking pan will do in a pinch for pounding. Just place the flat surface on top face of the plantain, and with your palm or underside of your fist, pound.
  6. Once all plantains are fried and pounded, reheat oil as in step 2. Return flattened plantains to oil, one by one and quickly fry each side until deep golden brown. ~ 1 min each side.
  7. Set aside and drain.

Tostones

February 25, 2014

Jambalaya

jambalaya

In my attempt to stay lean for engagement photos in 7 months, I’ve been eating lots of chicken and rice. Chicken and rice sounds healthy, right? Especially since I only eat brown rice? Well, you be the judge, but my idea of chicken and rice is Cuban Chicken and Chorizo Rice, Chicken Korma, Vietnamese Roast Chicken with rice fried in chicken fat… annnd jambalaya. Yea.

It’s ok. I have seven months.

Tangent: If Chang wasn’t so busy all the time, I’d totally make him follow me around the kitchen and snap photos of the cooking process. One can dream. (Yes, I dream about being a “real” food blogger with a “real” camera and a photographer husband to boot.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb chicken breast (8oz), chopped*
  • equal amounts of shrimp, chopped
  • Tony Cachere’s Creole seasoning
  • 10 oz Andouille sausage
  • 1 16oz can crushed/diced tomatoes
  • ~ 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • ~ 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • ~ 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 cups uncooked rice
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

* Brined the night before is a plus

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Season chicken and shrimp with Tony Cacheres. Set aside with chopped sausage.
  2. Heat 5 qt dutch over/pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion/bell pepper/celery to pot and sauté until tender, 3 min. Stir in garlic and continue to sauté, 1 min, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in rice. Add spices and ~1 tsp more of Tony Cacheres.
  5. Add canned tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, slowly add broth (about 2 cups for white rice, about 3 cups for brown) and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and medium low. Cover and simmer 20 min for white rice, 40 min for brown (do not disturb as lifting cover lets out steam and stirring rice makes it goopy). Start out with less broth than you think you need. Easier to add than subtract liquid…
  6. Uncover and add chicken, sausage, and shrimp. Push into the rice so chicken/shrimp is just submerged. Add more liquid if rice is drying out. Recover and simmer, adding broth when needed. Another ~15 min or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.
  7. Mix and season with Creole seasoning to taste. Serve.

jambalaya2

Rice is about eyeballing it. Too many varieties of rice out there to give you the perfect ratio of rice:liquid and exact cook times. Just remember not to over stir as this releases the goop-factor (technical term). Doesn’t hurt to pick up a grain and munch to see how crunchy or soft it is. Brown rice typically needs 1:2.5 ratio of rice:liquid. We don’t eat white rice in my house but typically it’s 1:2. Cooking is an art, not a science! So get to it. You’ll figure it out along the way.

February 18, 2014

Leek + Fennel Bisque

onion fennel bisqueAdapted from Gourmet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large fennel bulb, chopped (set aside stems/fronds) – 3-4 cups
  • 3 medium small leeks, light green and white parts only, chopped – 3 cups
  • 3 medium large onions, chopped – 5-6 cups
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar (or 1/4 cup white wine)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable/chicken stock
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (allspice will work)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional), chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt/black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat 5-6 qt dutch oven/pot over medium high Heat. Add butter, swirl to coat bottom, and sauté fennel, leeks, onions, garlic 15 min or. Salt generously. Stir in nutmeg.
  2. Add white wine and let it boil away. 1 min.
  3. Add stock, season to taste, simmer 10-15 min. Stock should not immerse vegetables.  This will end up being a thick bisque, not a runny soup.
  4. In a separate bowl, add cream and ladle in soup slowly to bring temperature up. Slowly incorporate cream mixture into pot. Continue to simmer, 15 min. Soup will thicken slightly. No need to stir.
  5. Heat separate frying pan over medium heat. Fry bacon. set aside.
  6. In batches, blend soup with caution until smooth. Last chance to salt to taste! Amazing what a pinch of salt can bring out. Once it passes that threshold of perfectly salted, all the flavors will come out. Left under-salted, this bisque will taste bland.
  7. Ladle into serving bowls. Add bacon, fennel frond for decoration, serve with toasted crusty bread.

Can be made a day or two ahead of time, chilled, and reheated slowly in the same pot.

There’s a lot of flexibility in the ratio of ingredients. I think it’s silly to throw away extra vegetables just because it does not measure out to be exactly 3 cups per fennel bulb. Just use approximately 1:1:2 ratio of fennel:leeks:onion. And obviously more of whatever flavor you like!

Keep those stems. Great for roasting fish on (so that the bottom does not burn). The mild flavored fronds also make a great garnish (looks like dill!)

February 14, 2014

Whole Roasted Dorade + Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Is fish becoming a tradition for us now??)

roasted dorade

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 8.01.32 PM

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb whole dorade, de-boned, head tail on (branzino works, too)
  • 1 large grapefruit, supreme
  • 2 small/1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 small meyer lemons, sliced thin
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • salt
  • black pepper

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Head medium frying pan over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Swirl. Add lemon slices. Brown each side, 2-3 min. Salt. Set aside. *according to Gordan Ramsay, caramelizing the lemon before baking does something something. I don’t know, honestly. But it looks better, tastes good.
  2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Rub with olive oil inside and out. Salt/pepper generously inside and out. set aside.
  3. Cut off fronds of fennel. Slice bulb very thin (a mandolin is handy). Place in bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Salt and toss.
  4. Take fronds and roughly chop stems into large 3-4 inch long pieces. May need to half lengthwise to flatten the thicker stems out. Grab a handful of the fronds and stuff fish. Take left overs and the stems and spread out over a greased aluminum lined baking pan.
  5. PREHEAT OVEN 400F
  6. Supreme your grapefruit. Slice each wedge in half, long wise (making thinner slices). Add slices to fennel. Set salad aside.
  7. Scrape off remaining flesh/juice from peel over the insides of your fish.
  8. Roughly chop parsley, stuff a small handful into the fish along with the fennel fronds. Add the rest to the baking pan, spread evenly.
  9. Add one layer of caramelized lemon inside fish, add one layer of on top of the greens in the baking pan.
  10. Smash garlic cloves, peel, add 3-4 pieces inside fish, toss the rest on the greens in the baking pan. (you can halve the cloves if too thick)
  11. Drizzle baking pan greens with a bit more olive oil.
  12. Lay bay leaves inside the fish. Drizzle inside of fish with a bit more olive oil, salt, close up fish. Top fish with one more layer of lemon slices. Place fish in baking pan, right over the lemons.
  13. Put in middle rack of oven 25-30 minutes or until center flesh falls easily off the bone with a gentle prod of your fork.
  14. Serve with fennel/grapefruit salad.

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 8.02.09 PM

 

 

 

January 20, 2014

Beef Stew

Gonna be low of 10F tomorrow. No better reason to make a pot of warm stew. (:

beef

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3lb well marbled beef chuck or stew meat
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ~1 lb carrots (4 large), chopped
  • ~1 lb white sweet potatoes (2 medium), chopped *
  • 2 medium small onions, chopped in large 2 inch pieces
  • 7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ~half a 8oz can of tomato paste (roughly 2 tbs)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • flour
  • 4 cups beef broth

*healthier than potatoes. Japanese variety with purple skin and white flesh. Yukon gold or russets can be used as instead, the later being softer and grainier.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 320F
  2. Salt and pepper beef generously. Toss and rub in ~ 1 tsp brown sugar. This will help with caramelization.
  3. Heat medium size pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1 tbs oil (I like avocado oil these days, smoke point at 480F!) and sear meat until browned evenly on all sides (5 min or so). Do this in batches to avoid crowding (crowding = steaming, not browning). Add oil, 1 tsp at a time between batches as necessary
  4. Remove meat and set aside. Lightly dust with flour.
  5. Add onions and garlic. Saute 3 min or so. Add tomato paste and mix. Continue stirring and sautéing another 3 min or so, or until onions are soft and translucent. Salt.
  6. Add balsamic vinegar. Scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
  7. Add wine and broth, continue to scrape up bits from the pot (wooden spoon is your friend. don’t eff up your pretty pot with a metal utensil).
  8. Return beef to pot. Stir, cover, and place in oven for at least 2.5-3 hours.
  9. Remove pot from oven. Stir in chopped carrots and potatoes. Cover and return to oven for another hour or until carrots are fork tender.
  10. Serve with crusty bread
December 3, 2013

Monkish à la Meunière + Celery Root Mash + Roasted Baby Carrots

monkfish1

I have recently discovered monkfish. White, tender flesh. Almost lobster-like. Versatile and mild flavor. It is a very ugly fish, but damn, it tastes good. 

PAN SEARED FISH à la Meunière

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 6 oz monkish fillets
  • lemon
  • flour
  • clarified butter*
  • unsalted butter (always buy unsalted)
  • salt
  • parsley

*over low heat, melt butter (cut in 1 inch blocks) until fully melted. Stir. Continue heating until it begins to bubble and foam. Once it stops foaming, turn off heat and strain over cheesecloth. Do this in bulk. Keep left overs in fridge for several months!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Trim off any grey/ugly membranes from fish. Slice filets into even size pieces to allow for even cooking. 5×3, and about 2 inches thick is good.
  2. Optional: soak fish in milk ~ 30 min. Helps the browning process.
  3. Pat fish dry. Salt generously. Dredge fish in thin coat of flour.
  4. Heat frying pan over medium high heat, add a few tablespoons of clarified butter. Pan fry fish until brown on one side (white/cooked portion will creep up to past halfway the thickness). DO NOT push/nudge/peek under fish until it’s half way cooked! Once ready, it WILL release from the pan.
  5. Flip and brown other side for a few minutes until cooked through. Remember: cooked fish flakes. If it’s transparent and chewy, it’s still raw. (which is OK in some cases, like for salmon it is ok to have a slightly pink center.)
  6. IF YOU HAVE A PARTICULARLY THICK CUT: after the first side is done (white/cooked portion creeped up past half way the thickness of the fish), place in a 400F oven until no longer transparent. THEN pull the pan back out and flip the fish over to let it “kiss” the other side. once that browns, serve. MAKE SURE you have an OVEN PROOF pan before trying this.
  7. Set fish aside. Add another pat of regular unsalted butter (mmmm butter) and some fresh herbs of your choice, then a squeeze of lemon. Once melted, pour over fish.

CELERY ROOT MASH

  • 1 part celery root, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 parts russet potatoes (for a creamier mash) cut in 1 inch pieces
  • butter
  • milk
  • salt
  • herbs: chive, or parsley, or rosemary, what have you.

Put celery root pieces in a large pot. Bring to a boil, let it boil for about 5 minutes. Add potatoes. Boil another 20 minutes or until fork tender. Turn off heat. Strain. Put potatoes back in pot and turn heat back on medium. Let the liquid dry up. Mash. Add butter and milk to taste/consistency of preference.  Salt and season. You will always need more salt than you think… Potatoes always take a lot of salting.

ROASTED BABY CARROTS

Preheat oven to 420 F. Shave off skin of carrots, if you have little baby carrots, roast them whole. If you have larger ones, cut them in long diagonals. Toss in olive oil, salt, black pepper. Optional: a bit of curry powder, or a pinch of brown sugar, whatever you’d like to mix it up. Spread out on lined and greased baking pan. Roast for 20 minutes or until just charring at the ends.

monkfish 2

November 29, 2013

Nothing I’m more thankful for than Huevos Rancheros

huevos rancheros

It’s the morning after our Friendsgiving feast last night in Manhattan and feeling a bit homesick. One would think I’d want to curl up with a bowl of congee: light fare after a night of pigging out, food of my people and all. But nope. Jumped out of bed this morning with a inexplicably strong craving for huevos rancheros. R took one look at the heaping plate of chorizo, fried eggs, and warm tortillas and responded with “woa…bIG breakfast..”

You betcha.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb chorizo*, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ~ 3/4 can of diced tomatoes, in juice
  • 1/2 can black beans, with liquid
  • optional: 1/3 can of corn
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 white corn tortillas (these dont get soggy as fast as flour)
  • cheese (cotija if you have it, or shredded mexican blend)

*NOT cured chorizo, but uncooked chorizo sausage. Note packaging instructions if you have to remove the casing. I keep it on unless it’s plastic…The type that comes in plastic casing tends to be the ground meat type that breaks up. Either is fine.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Slice avocados. Squeeze over lime juice to keep it from oxidizing/browning.
  2. Toast tortillas in a single layer in toaster oven until they poof up. Start this while you begin cooking, remember to check on it from time to time so you don’t burn them.
  3. Heat pot over medium high heat. Add a bit of cooking oil, and cook sliced chorizos until browned and cooked through on both sides. Stir as needed. Remove and set aside.
  4. In remaining chorizo grease, add chopped onions and bell peppers. Season with chili powder. Salt generously and stir until soft, ~3 minutes. Add garlic. Stir until fragrant, 1-2 min.
  5. Add back beans with liquid in the can (this will help thicken the sauce), canned tomato, (and corn if you like corn). Salt to taste. Cover pot and simmer while you fry eggs.
  6. Fry eggs. In a 8-10” frying pan, heat on high. When pan is just smoking hot (or eggs WILL stick), add oil. Let oil heat to a shimmer, then bring heat down to medium/medium high. Crack three eggs into pan, spaced evenly. If you don’t like super runny eggs, carefully shimmy your spatula underneath each egg, then flip and let the top side just kiss the pan. Turn off heat. Salt and pepper tops of eggs.
  7. Plate tortillas, spoon over lots of tomato-y bean salsa. Top with a runny fried egg. Top with cheese. Squeeze over some lime juice. Add avocado and chorizo to the sides (or keep adding it to your tower if you’re brave.)
  8. EAT.

huevos rancheros 1

Side Notes:

  • I love Tortilla Factory tortillas. I’ve said this many times before. I keep packages of it in my freezer at all times. Great chewy texture.
  • AVOCADOS:
    • Buying: avocados should be tender and give slightly when you press firmly on them (grip the whole thing in your hand, dont just poke it or youll bruise it). Skin should be dark, almost black, but NOT wrinkly or dimpled in any way. When buying avocados, I always get varying degrees of un-ripeness. ‘Cause you don’t eat five avocados in one day…. so get some that are a few days a way from ripening, that way they’ll be perfect when you finally get to it.
    • Cutting: I rock the knife from tip to end of one side, then back up to the tip on the other side (the pit will obviously prevent you from simply chopping it in half). Firmly chop down on the seed, twist the knife, then pull the pit out. Wrap the pit in a paper towel and gently pull it off the knife (be careful). Peel the skin off. If it is properly ripe, it will come off in sheets. Then slice and squeeze lime juice over it to keep from browning. IF the skin does NOT simply peel off (it’s probably not ripe enough), carefully slice with skin side down, then try to spoon out the slices. Messier, but will suffice.

huevos rancheros 2

November 26, 2013

Easy Berry Cobbler

photo 2

Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe

Want cobbler in 20 minutes? This recipe could be a dangerous thing. I don’t even have flour at my apartment right now let alone baking powder. This recipe uses Bisquick mix and frozen berries. Meaning you can have fresh warm cobbler every night…

Makes 2 big servings. I bake these in a 4 cup, glass tupperware bowl (or the yellow Snapware). Perfect for saving leftovers (rare, but it happens).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries (raspberry blackberry blueberry)
  • 1/4 heaping cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 tbs corn starch
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick mix
  • 3/4 tbs of butter, melted but not heated (nuke until mostly melted, then stir until fully melted)
  • 2 tbs whole milk (I use the half and half I keep in my fridge for coffee..)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 430F
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, add berries, corn starch, sugar, water.
  3. Turn heat to medium and stir until sugar dissolves and berry mixture begins to congeal and thicken. Do not use high heat as it will burn. **Carefully dip in a clean spoon and taste! Adjust sugar as needed. If too sweet, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Note that the mixture should coat the back of the spoon and not run off. If it looks too watery, add more corn starch, a pinch at a time.
  4. When berries begin to bubble, let it boil for 1 minute then turn heat off and pour mixture into 4 cup baking dish.
  5. in a small mixing bowl, add Bisquick, lightly melted butter, and milk. stir until JUST combined into a dough. If it is still crumbly, add a dash more milk. DO NOT over mix.
  6. With a large flat spoon, plop small sections of dough into berry mixture.
  7. Place on flat baking pan (in case it bubbles over) and bake in oven for 15 minutes. Mixture will be bubbling and edges of the dough will have baked to a nice golden brown.
  8. Serve with ice cream or a dash of cold cream! Tastes good cold the next day, too.

Berry Cobbler

October 18, 2013

Roasted Broccoli

roasted broccoli

Ingredients:

  • broccoli
  • salt
  • garlic, minced
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • *optional: shredded Parmesan

Instructions:

  1. preheat oven to 450F.
  2. wash then cut broccoli into equal size florets. (after washing, make sure you shake off all excess water. the drier the broccoli, the better the oil will stick)
  3. in a large mixing bowl, toss florets in olive oil, salt, minced garlic.
  4. spread evenly in one layer on baking pan.
  5. bake 15-20 min or so, until golden brown on edges and generally yummy looking.
  6. sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper. (and parmesan)
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