Hubby will complain bitterly about broccoli appearing on the menu too often, but even he has been heard to exclaim that where tenderstem broccoli is concerned, "it is as nice as asparagus". With which I completely agree.
I remember when son & heir was a little chap being weaned onto veggies, we used to call broccoli "trees" and he was sufficiently intrigued to eat them. Since then, he's been accepting "trees" on his plate without too much complaint and has even been known to enjoy having "tall trees" (or tenderstem broccoli) for dinner.
For those who think that it is just a matter of difference in shape, rather than flavour, the tenderstem has a much sweeter flavour than "ordinary" broccoli, with less of a cabbage flavour than Purple Sprouting broccoli. It is true that it is more expensive than your ordinary broccoli, but for a meal that you want to be a little bit special, it makes the grade beautifully.
So, when I was asked whether I'd like to take part in the "Tenderstem in Ten" challenge (to create a recipe that can be on the table in ten minutes or less), it seemed like it could be fun!
I had my first go at the challenge yesterday and my recipe for a lunch time Tenderstem Rarebit had a few teething troubles - none of which involved the tenderstem itself, I hasten to add - which sent it over time. Add to that my inability to get around my kitchen with anything faster than a snail's pace - and you begin to realise that making anything edible within ten minutes is quite a feat!
For instance, is the time from when you set foot in the kitchen, or from when you start the cooking process? If it's the former, then I've had it for all the challenges - but if it's the latter, then I'm in with a shout.
I often find, when I'm cooking something that involves a number of different processes, that my disabilities get right in the way. Take the Tenderstem Rarebit, for instance. I needed to grill the Ciabatta rolls to toast them, whilst the tenderstem simmered and the rarebit cooked on the hob. Now, I forgot that I can't use the grill at the same time as the hob - it's one or the other, because I need to sit at the cooker. Our cooker has the grill immediately under the hob and with the grill door open, I can't reach the back burners on the hob! Anyway, I'm always scared I'll set my t-shirt on fire trying to see into the pans on the front burners. That'd be a bit of a distraction, if ever that happened!
So, for you, you'll be able to combine operations in a way that was impossible for me - and save at least seven minutes doing so! For me, I'll be grilling the cut rolls on a grillpan in future - at least then I can see what's going on without fear of combustion.
I can tell you that it is very worthwhile. Hoooo, yes! This Tenderstem Rarebit recipe is going to go on the list of "can we have it for lunch again soon" recipes.
I figured that as broccoli and cheese are natural partners, and cheese on toast is another natural partnership, that bringing them all together in this recipe might just work. It did. With bells on. As a control experiment, I made one Tenderstem Rarebit and one just with the Rarebit topping - and the Tenderstem Rarebit was far easier to eat as the flavour of the tenderstem allowed some relief from the enormous (and gorgeous) flavours of the rarebit. The sweetness of the tenderstem was a lovely foil for the big savoury flavours of the cheese, mustard and stout.
Son & heir thoroughly enjoyed his helping and munched his way stolidly through, murmuring in appreciation, uttering "gorgeous!" and "cor!" every so often - so I think he approved. Hubby and I were both agreed that it was a do-again recipe that was much nicer with the tenderstem than without - and one that could easily be a substantial snack on those days when one has missed lunch!
Hence, I leave it up to you to have a go and tell me whether you managed to create your Tenderstem Rarebit in ten minutes. I am quite sure it's do-able, so long as you do all your preparation (getting everything out, separating the eggs, grating the cheese, etc.) before you start the ten minute timer!
TENDERSTEM RAREBIT (serves 3)
3 ciabatta rolls, cut in half lengthwise
12 stems of Tenderstem broccoli (or more if they are thin stems), cut to fit the ciabatta rolls
1½ tsp English mustard powder
4 tbsp stout
1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, to taste
250g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
3 egg yolks
freshly ground black pepper.
1. Boil a kettle and pour enough boiling water into a saucepan to cook the tenderstem, and place on the heat.
2. Place the rolls, cut side up, under the grill or onto a grillpan and toast until lightly browned. Turn and toast the other side.
3. At the same time, add the tenderstem to the boiling water and set a timer for 3 minutes. When they are cooked (when a knife inserted into the stem goes through without complaint), drain and set to one side.
4. Place the mustard powder, stout and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter is melted. Add the worcestershire sauce and the cheese and stir until the cheese is all melted but take care not to let it boil. Set aside to cool for a moment, while you rescue your rolls that are threatening to burn.
5. If you've used a grill pan, now is the time to get your cooker's grill heating up.
6. Place the roll halves onto the grill pan and distribute the tenderstem broccoli across the roll halves.
7. Add the egg yolks to the cooled (and hopefully thickened) cheese mixture and beat them through until completely incorporated. Add a little black pepper.
8. Spoon the cheese mixture across the tenderstem and place under the grill until browned and bubbling.