Monday, November 9, 2009

A forest for dinner

The other day, as I was flipping through Mollie Katzen's "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest" cookbook in search of some other recipe, I noticed the recipe for the enchanted forest itself, which I've never actually made. It sounded like a fun project for Will since it involves planting a little edible forest in a bed of brown rice casserole. And Will jumped at the chance to participate.

Until recently, I have armed Will with nothing but safe, and totally ineffective, table knives for any cooking projects and we would chop vegetables side by side, with him sort of playing beside me and accomplishing nothing. But since I've recently begun allowing Will to chop vegetables, under my very close supervision, with a regular steak knife, it's added a new zest to Will's love of cooking.
For this recipe, Will stirred our sauteeing onions and garlic, broke all the broccoli into trees as he saw fit, cracked one of the eggs into a bowl for beating (we had to fish out quite a few little pieces of shell, but oh well) and planted the entire forest himself in the enchanted rice bed. As we were about to put the forest in the oven, he said he didn't want to eat it. "It's too beautiful," he said. In the end, though we all had a hearty serving of enchanted forest -- and we all cleaned our plates. Owen and Will had seconds.

Here's the recipe:

The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest

(From Mollie Katzen’s Cookbook of that name)

serves 6

1 1-lb. bunch of broccoli

2 cups brown rice

3 cups water

1 Tbsp butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ tsp salt

½ tsp dill weed

Lots of black pepper
¼ tsp dried mint

cayenne pepper, to taste

3 eggs

¼ cup freshly minced parsley

1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

1½ cups cheddar or swiss cheese

Lemon butter: Juice from one lemon mixed with 2 Tbsp melted butter

Place rice and water in saucepan. Bring to the boil, lower heat and cover. Cook til just done – about 20-30 minutes. Fluff with a fork.Cut bottom several inches off broccoli stalk and cut into spears (these will be the trees). Steam broccoli until bright green and just tender.

Meanwhile sauté onion, garlic, salt, dill weekd, pepper, mint and cayenne pepper in 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat, stirring til onions are soft and translucent (8-10 minutes). Add to rice. Beat together eggs, cheese and parsely and add to rice mixture.

Spread rice mixture into a greased 10 x 6 inch pan and smooth out. Plant broccoli trees upright in rice mixture and drizzle trees with lemon butter.
Cover with foil gently but firmly and bake 30 minutes at 325.

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