How Long to Cook Broccoli? Perfect Every Time.

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Little wonder why so many people hate broccoli.  John and Michael used to loathe it.  When we cooked it 30 seconds too little, the broccoli was still raw and crunchy. When we cooked the veggie 30 seconds too long, it got mushy and olive-colored, which is not a good look for broccoli.

This technique nails it–just right–and simply requires a timer.  John and Michael eat this broccoli 3 times a week.

1.  Bring 3 inches of water to boil on high temperature in a covered saucepan or pot.

2.  Cut the florets off the broccoli head, and if the florets are too big, cut them in half. Put the florets in a bowl so that you can dump them all into the boiling water at the same time. Set your timer for 2 minutes and 30 seconds (2:30), but don’t start it. Have a big spoon ready. (If cooking more than 2 heads of broccoli,  increase time to 2:50).

3.  When the water boils, remove the cover, dump the broccoli into the water, and give it a quick stir so that all the broccoli gets dunked.

4.  Clamp the lid on tightly, and start the timer.  When 2:30 is up, turn off the heat and immediately drain the broccoli, or remove it with a slotted spoon.  If you use the lid to strain the water out of the pan, wait about 15 seconds and strain it again to get all of the water out.

5.  Put a few pats of butter on the broccoli, and leave it uncovered until the butter melts. Stir the broccoli with a large spoon or chopstick–very lightly so you don’t break off pieces of the florets.  Salt and pepper the broccoli, and serve.

If desired, sprinkle the broccoli with cheese, preferably a cheddar or other yellow cheese.  White cheeses aren’t the best for this vegetable.  Tostito’s Medium Salsa con Queso is cheesy- delicious poured over the top.

Best Way to Cook Asparagus

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Asparagus seems like a pain to cook, and there’s even a special pot available to cook it, but here is a way to cook it fast and easy, and the asparagus comes out delicious every time.

If the spears are thin as a pencil, there’s no reason to peel them.  Any spears thicker than that, an OXO, or better yet a Kuhn Rikon peeler will do a great job.  Just lay each spear down, take a strip of peel from below the tip of the spear to the bottom of the stalk.  Rotate the spear ¼ turn, peel it again, and repeat 2 more times.  You don’t have to get all of the peel off, just 4 sides.

Next, cut off the bottoms of the stalks, so that the spears fit in your sauté pan.

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Next, boil ½ cup of water, lay the asparagus spears in a saute pan, 1 or 2 layers deep, and pour in the boiling water.

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Put the lid on tightly, and turn the heat to highCook the asparagus for 4 minutes and 30 seconds (4:30), with the lid on tight for steaming.

Turn off the heat, and drain any remaining water.

Return the heat to medium, and add 1 Tablespoon of butter.  As it melts, roll the asparagus spears back and forth until the butter coats them.  If the asparagus begins to brown, that’s okay, it tastes great.

Remove the asparagus spears and put them on a serving plate.  Salt and black pepper them.  A little chopped parsley on top is optional.  A few shaves of parmesan cheese is good, and wrapping them spears in proscuitto is a classic way to serve them..

Sauteing them in toasted sesame oil sounds good, but it is not.

How to Store Asparagus

If you store asparagus in a plastic bag, the tips will soon begin to rot.  Instead, take the entire bunch and slice off an inch from the bottom of the stalks with one cut of a chef’s knife.

Then I pour an inch of water into a large coffee cup, tall jar, or plastic container (We use large soup containers from Chinese food carry-out) and put the spears in it. Tuck the plastic bag from the store into the cup to keep the water from evaporating.  The asparagus tips will stay dry, and the veggie will easily keeps for a week.

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The Best Tasting Tomato in a Store is a Campari

Campari tomatoes
Campari tomatoes

We all know how supermarket tomatoes are picked unripe, to get them to market while they are still attractive.  But if you want a tomato that tastes like homegrown, the only choice is a Campari tomato, also known as a cocktail tomato.

The only problem with this type of tomato is the small size.  However, a small Campari tomato adds way more flavor than a large bland tomato.

If you need a lot of tomatoes for a sauce, use regular tomatoes for body, and add Camparis for flavor.

Due to their small size, don’t try using a serrated peeler on them, but rather use a thumbnail.

Another trick is to fill a Pyrex measuring cup with boiling water, put the tomatoes in it, and scoop it out with a spoon after 40 seconds, if you are using the tomato fresh.

If you are using Campari tomatoes to cook with, leave them in the boiled water for just over a minute.  They will be hot, but not cooked, and the skin will slide right off.  You can also put a coffee cup half-filled with water in the microwave, for 1 minute on high power, then put the tomato in the hot water.

Tomato and Sweet Onion Sandwich

Toast 2 slices of your favorite bread.  Spread mayonnaise and mustard on one slice of toast.  Peel and slice two Campari tomatoes, drain the liquid from them, and put them on the mayo and mustard.  Salt and black pepper the tomatoes.  Add 2 layers of thinly cut sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Texas 1015) to the other slice of toast, and put both sides together.

This sandwich also tastes great with summer tomatoes from the garden.

How Long Do I Boil Corn On the Cob?

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I grew up in a corn state, and travel back to Indiana for deliciously sweet corn-on-the-cob every summer.  Oddly, there is no standard way to cook it, other than to drop the ears into boiling water for an indeterminate amount of time.

Fortunately, I learned this consistent technique from a friend native to New York City, which gets some fine corn from New Jersey.

How to Boil Corn

  1. Remove the husks and silk. Trim any remaining stalk and the tips of the corn, if they are raggedy.
  2. Place corn in a pot, with enough water to cover the ears.
  3. Bring the water and corn to a boil, covered.
  4. When the pot comes to a boil, turn off the heat and leave the ears of corn in the water, covered, for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove ears of corn, serve with butter, salt, and pepper.
  6. If you want to cut the corn from the cob, hold the ears in a bowl and cut downward with a paring knife, holding the knife at an angle with the point downward.  Do not use a chef’s knife, as the wide blade will launch corn kernels all over the kitchen.

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