Broccoli Need not be Boring! November 5, 2009

I don’t think broccoli itself is boring but we have it at least once a week – it’s the talk of health town.  It’s supposed to be rich in antioxidants, helping us ward off cancer.  It’s eating it once a week – steamed – that provokes this boring sentiment.  Aren’t all health foods somewhat boring anyway?

broco rice pilaf1

Which is why many cooks put on their creative caps to come up with different ways of eating this cruciferous vegetable.  You get plenty of casserole type recipes and Ms. Cheese is a frequent partner of Mr. Broccoli when they dance their way into the oven.  The broccoli and cheese pairing is also a great way to make kids eat it.  Try serving a four-year old plain steamed broccoli and you’ll get “arrrgh, gross!”

I found a recipe from the Dairy Farmers of Canada which was published in a Canadian Living Magazine newsletter I receive regularly.  The recipe is here:

At first I had doubts that this Broccoli Rice Pilaf would excite my taste buds but I’m glad I tried it.  So what’s the vote?  Is it a keeper or a pooper?

Keeper!  The recipe is now in my bulging binder and will be cooked again and again, especially during this winter.  This dish takes the boring out of broccoli and if you’re a rice lover like me, you’ll like the way it teases the palate.  It must be the combination of the grated cheese, rosemary, and rice that did it.  The first spoonful tells you that you’ll be back for seconds.  My brother had three huge servings. Despite the quantity that this recipe produced, it was devoured in no time.  I was hoping to eat it again on the second day, but by the time supper was over, platter was squeaky clean.  The next time, I’ll double the recipe.

Two things I would change: 

  • instead of the 1 cup hot water in the recipe, I would increase that to 1-1/2 cup (I found that after about 10-12 minutes, the liquids (you also add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth) are absorbed quickly, even in medium heat.
  • instead of the 15-minute simmering time, I’d reduce that to 12 minutes.

The first step is to mix the butter, carrots, onions, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large pan for five minutes; you then add the rice, making sure the grains are well coated.

broc rice pilaf2 The rest of the recipe is easy (complete recipe is given in the link above – prep time 15 minutes, cook time 30 minutes).  If you’re serving it to guests, by the way, it would look nice on a plain colored platter.  In the picture above, I used a decorative platter.  Big mistake.  It clashed with the dish’s colors.  For the sake of good photography, I’d use a one-color serving platter for dishes that bring out a lot of colors. 

I think this broccoli rice pilaf dish would look festive against a black platter but I don’t have one.  I’m having guests from Toronto during the holidays and this recipe’s a good candidate for the menu so I just might run out and get myself one of those gleaming, all-black serving dishes.

Do visit the web site of Canadian Living Magazine –  They have a genuine variety of recipes that are well presented (prep and cooking times are provided along with nutritional information and tips for each dish).  I was also curious about the Dairy Farmers of Canada web site and I will use only one word to describe it:  sassy!  I’ve bookmarked it.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada web site has a lot to offer.  Easy to navigate interface with large fonts so that you’re not squinting; and the recipes, colors and images – well – they do work up an appetite!  They’ve got excellent articles about dairy health too.  And they run a huge network of web sites (I counted about eight) that promote milk, cheese health and nutrition.

And let me repeat what I said in the past.  I’m not getting paid or getting my arm twisted for promoting certain web sites.  I promote them because I like them.  You would like them too if you’re on the prowl for recipes!


Holy Molly Molasses! July 25, 2009

This oats and molasses bread recipe is a keeper and I thank Canadian Living Magazine!

Believe it or not, I have never bought molasses before, but  I saw this recipe for oat and molasses bread on the Canadian Living web site and…I just had to try it. 

Here is the recipe (taken from  I have added my comments for the redlined sections.

canadian living-crop

Two things worth mentioning:  the recipe called for an egg wash.  I ran out of eggs so just used 35% cream.  You can see this on the slide.  I recall having read online that cream or whole milk would make a good alternative if you didn’t want to use eggs or butter.  The cream or milk gives off a golden color, the article said.  When my loaves came out, I was pleased to see that yes, the golden color was there alright.  You can see I had some leftover dough after shaping two loaves so turned it into a sort of challah.

The second thing I wanted to mention – the taste was OMG!  (forgive the teen talk).  I couldn’t get over how tasty this bread was.  It was chewy and soft when it was just “hot off the press” but later in the day, when I put a couple of slices into the toaster oven, there was that unmistakable wholesome crackling crunch.  Matter-of-fact goodness – that’s how I would describe it.

My question:  were the oats or the molasses primarily responsible for the great flavor and silky feel of this bread?  If not, I’d like to think it was my ever religious kneading!

Seriously though, so many principles and theories about bread abound, it’s impossible to keep track of them.   When I learned bread-baking early this year, I wasn’t at all tempted to buy a bread machine or an electric mixer.  My gut instincts told me to do it the old-fashioned way.  It’s not because I’m a slow adapter (as geeks would call me), but because I find that kneading manually is like a baker’s foray into relaxing yoga.

Back to molasses.  This bread had only a slight taste of molasses.  Molasses (I used the Grandma brand) have a strong, sometimes overwhelming taste.  As this was my first time to buy molasses, I wanted to know if it had some special health benefits.  I was reading this article by Loraine Degraff ( and she mentioned that molasses are rich in iron, calcium and manganese.  It can ease anemia and menopause symptoms.  One type of molasses – backstrap molasses – is supposed to contain the highest nutritional value.

Notes on recipe:  I kneaded for 10 minutes, not five.  I extended it to 1-1/2 hours for the first rise.  I reduced baking time to 30 minutes, reducing the temperature to 350 degrees after 10 minutes.  And of course, I used 35% cream as wash!