Cats Incredible

To say John Little was eccentric would be an understatement. But to say he loved catfishing couldn’t be any closer to the truth.

The late UND English professor and Mississippi native who passed away in June 2002, was a fixture at the Cats Incredible Catfish Tournament that kicks off its 22nd year tomorrow ( I believe he fished the tourney a couple of times before patrolling the waters of the Red River as a judge for the event in his later years.

I was lucky enough to know John and considered him a friend. We fished together, partied together and worked together on the late Northland Outdoors magazine, which the Herald published in the early to mid 1990s.

But what I’ll remember most about John was his Southern drawl, which he never lost despite having lived in Grand Forks since 1969. And along with his y’alls, his disses and dats, I won’t forget the incredible soul food he cooked up in his home and for a time at the Bronze Boot.

I had the opportunity to share a few meals with John. And let me tell you, he made some very tasty catfish, hush puppies and black-eyed peas.

So, in his memory, here are two catfish recipes.

Southwestern Catfish with Chipotle Corn and Zucchini Ribbons
Olive oil spray
12 ounces farm-raised catfish fillet
1 medium garlic clove, cut in half
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne
½ pound zucchini
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large ears corn, husked
½ teaspoon chipotle pepper seasoning
Heat broiler. Cover a baking tray with foil and spray with olive oil. Rinse catfish and pat dry. Rub one side of each fillet with garlic. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin and cayenne; sprinkle on fish. Place fish on tray, spice side up, and set aside.
Wash and trim zucchini. With a long, sharp knife, cut into very thin strips (about 1/8 inch thick). Thread onto 2 (about 8-inch) skewers. Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spray each ear of corn with olive oil and sprinkle with chipotle seasoning. Place skewers and corn on baking tray with fish.
Broil 6 inches from heat source for 7 to 10 minutes, turning vegetables once, until fish is cooked through and vegetables are done.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 496 calories (30 percent from fat), 16.7 grams fat (3.6 grams saturated, 7.1 grams monounsaturated), 78 milligrams cholesterol, 37.2 grams protein, 59.2 grams carbohydrates, 9.7 grams fiber, 86 milligrams sodium.


Fried Catfish with Potatoes
3 medium russet potatoes, unpeeled
1½ cups each: peanut oil, canola oil, yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 catfish fillets, halved lengthwise
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Lemon wedges, optional
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Cut potatoes into thin slices; cover with water; set aside. Heat the oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine cornmeal, paprika, red pepper, seasoned salt and black pepper to taste in a shallow dish or pie pan.
Dredge the fish pieces in the cornmeal mixture. Cook in batches, turning once, until golden, about 2½ minutes per side; repeat with remaining fish. Keep warm in the oven.
Drain potatoes; pat dry. Fry, turning occasionally with tongs, until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels; season with coarse salt. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 644 calories, 61 percent of calories from fat, 46 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 101 milligrams cholesterol, 27 grams carbohydrates, 38 grams protein, 392 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Four-Bean Salad

One of my favorite dishes during the summer is three-bean salad. Even before I had a garden, it’s was near the top of my list.

Actually, the last few years, we’ve had four types of beans in our salads — green, yellow wax, scarlet runner and kidney. And the green ones have been both the bush and pole varieties. The salad is very nutritious. It’s low in fat and high in fiber and protein.

I recently came across another four-bean recipe, this one substituting edamame for the scarlet runners. Edamame is a preparation of baby soybeans in the pod commonly found in Japan, China and Korea. The pods usually are boiled in water together with condiments such as salt and served whole. Outside East Asia, the dish most often is found in Japanese restaurants and some Chinese restaurants but also has found popularity elsewhere as a healthy food item.

I can’t wait to try the new recipe — especially the second day, since the longer the beans are in the dressing, the more flavorful they’ll be.

Sweet and Tangy Four-Bean Salad
8 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed
¾ cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup tomato juice
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons dry red wine or apple juice
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (½ teaspoon)
1 12-ounce package frozen shelled sweet soybeans (edamame), thawed
1 14½-ounce can cut wax beans, rinsed and drained or 8 ounces fresh
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 large carrots, coarsely shredded
In large saucepan, cook green beans and wax beans in boiling lightly salted water for 10 minutes or just until tender; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In extra-large bowl, combine vinegar, tomato juice, oil, wine, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard and garlic. Stir in beans, green onion, and carrot. Refrigerate, covered, 4 to 48 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving 174 calories, 6 grams fat (1 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 231 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 7 grams protein.

Never In A Pickle

I’ve come to that conclusion that a person can never have too many pickle recipes.

While people who know me will tell you that is not a big revelation to them, I just wanted to share this with the others who love pickles and are wondering how they can feed their "pickle addiction." The answer is whenever someone offers to share a recipe for pickles, take them up on it.

I recently picked up a couple of recipes that in a way look similar to some we already have but with a twist or two.

I found the first in one of the Farmer’s Wife cookbook series that is put out by MBI Publishing Co. and Voyageur Press (, an imprint of MBI in Minneapolis. It’s for a 14-day sweet pickle, which I plan to share in an upcoming column on the Herald food page (

The second recipe is from Marilyn Fuher of Grand Forks. It’s for refrigerator pickles. I already have a couple of refrigerator pickle recipes, but this one looks a little different. Check it out, along with another for bread and butter pickles from the people at Better Homes and Gardens.

Refrigerator Pickles
12 cups unpeeled and sliced cucumbers
2 pounds sliced onions
1 large green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup salt
1 large jar chopped pimentos
3 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
Mix cucumbers, onions and pepper with the salt. Let mixture stand for 1 hour and then drain. Add the pimentos. In a large pot, mix the sugar, vinegar and celery seed and heat. Pour over vegetables and mix. Pack into jars and refrigerate. Pickles will keep for months.

Classic Bread and Butter Pickles
12 cups ¼-inch slices small pickling cucumbers (about 4 pounds)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons kosher or pickling salt
4 to 5 cups crushed ice
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons celery seeds
4 ¼-inch slices unpeeled fresh ginger
In a large bowl gently toss the cucumbers, onions and kosher salt. Transfer to colander set in extra-large bowl, layering with ice, and finishing with a layer of ice. Weight with heavy plate. Chill overnight, up to 24 hours.
Meanwhile, for pickling syrup, in large nonreactive (stainless, enamel, or nonstick) saucepan combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and ginger. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool, cover, and refrigerate until ready to proceed with recipe.
After cucumbers have chilled, remove any unmelted ice and discard any liquid in bowl. Transfer cucumber mixture to nonreactive Dutch oven.
Strain syrup through a large sieve lined with cheesecloth over cucumbers. Bring mixture just to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
With a large spoon, transfer cucumbers to hot sterilized pint canning jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Bring syrup in Dutch oven to boiling. Ladle hot syrup over pickles to cover. Wipe jar rims with damp cloth. Put on lids and screw bands. To seal, invert jars until cool. Store in refrigerator.
Yield: 5 pints (40 ¼-cup servings).
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 38 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, 291 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, no protein.

Great Grilled Cheese

Sometimes, the simplest of food brings the most pleasure.

My favorite comfort food these days is a simple cheese sandwich. I just love to take a couple of slices of cheese, put in on some crusty bread, season it will a little pepper and add a dab of Dijon mustard. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you have an appetite for cheese like mine, that’s all it takes.

I recall as a child having often having grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. Maybe that’s where my fondness for cheese came.

A cheese sandwich or a variation of such is popular around our house. Therese and our grandson, Rakeem, love ’em grilled in one of our many cast-iron frying pan.

I’ve recently come across another variation that looks like its worth trying. It’s one for apple, ham and Cheddar on sourdough bread. I can just imagine how good it would be with some of the sourdough from the Dakota Harvest Bakers in Grand Forks.

Apple, Ham and Cheddar on Sourdough
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
8 (½-inch-thick) slices sourdough bread
¼ pound smoky ham, such as Virginia country ham, cut into 4 slices (or buy presliced ham)
small green apple (about 5 ounces), such as Granny Smith, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
6 ounces medium or sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
Butter 1 side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on work surface, buttered side down. Place slice of ham on each bread slice, folding to fit if necessary. Top with 4 to 5 apple slices per sandwich, followed by cheese. Place remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered-side up. If sandwich seems quite thick, press it down to compress ingredients slightly.
To cook using sandwich maker, preheat sandwich maker and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. To cook using stovetop method, heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Put sandwiches in skillet (in batches if necessary), cover and cook 2 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown and cheese has begun to melt. Uncover and turn with spatula, pressing firmly to flatten slightly. Cook 1 minute or until undersides are golden brown. Turn sandwiches again, press with spatula and cook 30 seconds, or until cheese melts completely. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 sandwiches.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 730 calories, 42 percent from fat), 34 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 36.1 grams protein, 74.2 grams carbohydrates, 2.3 grams fiber, 125 milligrams cholesterol, 1,200 milligrams sodium.

Two-Cheese Mediterranean
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, rinsed, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel (zest), colored part only
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
8 (½-inch-thick) slices pain au levain or sourdough bread (see note)
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, or Emmentaler or Monterey Jack, coarsely grated
4 whole roasted red bell peppers (from jar or roasted at home), peeled, seeded, drained, cut in half
½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves
In small bowl, combine feta, olives, capers, lemon peel and pepper; set aside.
Butter 1 side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on work surface, buttered-side down. Spread feta mixture evenly over 4 slices. For each sandwich, press Gruyere into feta mixture and top with bell pepper half; top that with spinach. Press again. Top each with bread, buttered-side up.
To cook using sandwich maker, preheat sandwich maker and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. To cook using stovetop method, heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Put sandwiches in skillet (in batches if necessary), cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown and cheese has begun to melt. Uncover and turn with spatula, pressing very firmly to flatten slightly. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown and spinach wilts. Turn sandwiches again, press with spatula, and cook 30 seconds, or until cheese melts completely. Serve immediately.
Note: Pain au levain is made with a sourdough starter. It is tangy and slightly more dense than conventional sourdough.
Yield: 4 sandwiches.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 480 calories, 55 percent from fat, 29.3 grams fat (6.7 grams saturated), 14.7 grams protein, 40.2 grams carbohydrates, 1.9 grams fiber, 110 milligrams cholesterol, 1,100 milligrams sodium.

Iron Chef Delight

I’ll never turn down an opportunity to judge a food contest. And the latest one didn’t do anything to make me change my mind.

Today (July 25), columnist Marilyn Hagerty and I judged the the Grand Forks Moving More, Eating Smarter Coalition’s Iron Chef Cook-off at the Farmers Market between Nathan Sheppard of the Blue Moon in East Grand Forks and Greg Gefroh of UND Dining Services.
Sheppard served a Blackened Catfish Taco that was topped with a kohlrabi, cabbage and apple coleslaw.
Gefroh presented Chicken Scampi with Roated Rosemary Potatoes and Mediterranean Vegetables. (See recipes at

To say that the food was good would be an understatement. I particularly liked the coleslaw, which went with the fish taco, and the scampi and the potatoes.

Scampi always has been a favorite of mine, especially ones made with shrimp. The one the River Bend of East Grand Forks used to serve immediately comes to mind.

Here’s a scampi recipe, along with one for Basil Linguine, just in case you’d like to try your hand at it.

Shrimp Scampi
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
¾ cup red vermouth
¾ pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Several drops hot pepper sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet on medium high and add garlic and red vermouth. Cook 1 minute. Add shrimp and parsley. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until shrimp are pink. Add hot pepper sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: Serve 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 279 calories (23 percent from fat), 7.6 grams fat (1.2 grams saturated, 3.8 grams monounsaturated), 258 milligrams cholesterol, 35.2 grams protein, 6.4 grams carbohydrates, 0.7 grams fiber, 277 milligrams sodium.

Basil Linguine
¼ pound fresh linguine
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large saucepan with 3 to 4 quarts water to a boil. Add linguine and boil 2 to 3 minutes for fresh linguine, 8 to 9 minutes for dried. Remove 2 tablespoons cooking water and reserve. Drain linguine and place back in saucepan with reserved water and olive oil. Toss well. Add the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and serve. Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 256 calories (19 percent from fat), 5.4 grams fat (0.7 grams saturated, 3.4 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 7.3 grams protein, 43.6 grams carbohydrates, 1.4 grams fiber, 4 milligrams sodium.


Very Cherry Day

Thursday was a very cherry day for me.

That’s because a friend of mine, Marty Berg, e-mailed me to say that the Nanking cherry bush at my old house near University Park had produced an abundant crop of berries this summer, and he was wondering if I wanted some. I immediately replied yes and went there after having supper and walking my dogs.

I was rewarded with a large container of the berries, which also are know as also known as Korean cherry, Manchu cherry, Downy cherry, Shanghai cherry, Ando cherry, Mountain cherry, Chinese Bush cherry, Chinese Dwarf cherry or Hansen’s Bush Cherry. They are native to northern and western China (including Tibet), Korea, Mongolia and possibly northern India.

Before moving, I thoroughly enjoyed the fruit, which is sweet but slightly tart. I ate them right off the bush and also made some jam one year.

I’m not sure what we’ll do with this year’s batch, but the following recipe has given me some ideas, especially since we have an abundance of raspberries, and blueberry season in nearly upon us.

Very Berry Pie
1 cup cherry preserves (see note)
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ pound blueberries
¾ pound raspberries
2 teaspoons butter
Prepare pastry (see recipe below). Roll out the smaller round of chilled pastry into a 9-inch circle. Using a pastry wheel, slice into strips ¾-inch wide. Line a baking pan with parchment or waxed paper. Calmly weave a lattice onto the paper. Brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar. Slide pan into the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
Roll out the larger round of pastry into an 11-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill.
Scrape preserves into a large bowl. Stir together sugar and cornstarch, sprinkle onto preserves, mix thoroughly. Roll in blueberries and raspberries. Add butter, cut into bits. Using a rubber spatula, mix gently.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set chilled crust on top. Pile fruit mixture into the crust. Settle frozen lattice on top.
Slide into a 400-degree oven and bake until crust is light brown, 25 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and continue baking until the crust turns golden brown and the juices bubble, 20 to 25 minutes more. Cool on a rack completely before sliding off ring and slicing.
Yield: Serves 8.

Sour-Cream Pie Pastry
In a large bowl whisk together 1¾ cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and ¾ teaspoon salt. Tumble in ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes.
With quick fingers, work butter into flour until bits range in size from specks to peas. Stir together 1/3 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons cold water.
Pour cream mixture over flour mixture. Toss with a fork to form lumps. If the pastry looks dry, drizzle on 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water. Turn out, knead once or twice. Divide pastry into 2 discs, 1 slightly larger than the other.
Wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

Summer Pasta Salads

Fresh garden produce and pasta are a match made in heaven, and I had a little slice of it just the other night.

With broccoli coming on like gangbusters in my garden, Therese fixed one her famous broccoli pasta salads for our Cincinnati guests, and none of them were disappointed. Besides the tasty crucifer and rainbow rotini, the salad contains light Italian salad dressing, black olives, a little feta cheese and occasionally artichoke hearts.

It’s the perfect side dish for any summer get-together, complementing just about any type of meat you serve. (We had elk sausage and leftover chicken.) What I like most about the salad is that it’s even tastier the next day, when the flavors meld even more.

With tons of garden greens and a lot of herbs ripe for the picking, the following spicy Beef Pasta Salad recipe just might be next on tap at our house. 

Thai Beef Pasta Salad
¼ pound fusilli (cork screw) pasta (about 1½ cups)
4 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Thai peanut sauce
½ pound deli roast beef, thick sliced (about ¼-inch), cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups ready-to-eat salad greens
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
2 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Cook pasta 10 minutes, or according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise and peanut sauce in a medium-size bowl. Drain pasta well and add to the bowl along with the beef; toss well. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Arrange greens on 2 dinner plates, and spoon on pasta and beef. Top with bell pepper and pineapple cubes. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 656 calories (32 percent from fat), 23.3 grams fat (4.6 grams saturated, 7.2 grams monounsaturated), 99 milligrams cholesterol, 44.8 grams protein, 67.5 grams carbohydrates, 7.6 grams fiber, 602 milligrams sodium.

Pizza Pie In My Eye

Well, we’re less than two weeks away from the Best Pizza in Grand Forks Contest, and I can hardly wait.

Things are shaping up quite nicely, according to Emily Wright, executive administrator
Grand Forks Housing Authority, which is sponsoring the Aug.3 contest. All of the restaurants that entered last year are returning, with the exception of Boston’s, which has closed. They are Green Mill, ‘l Bistro, Mamma Maria’s, Rhombus Guys, Sbarro and Slapshot.

All placed in the top two in at least one category last year. (The six categories: Kids’ Choice, Best Crust, Best Gourmet, Best Value, Most Creative and People’s Choice.)

The contest will feature an interesting dynamic, according to Emily, which will come from not having a "reigning champion" in the areas of Most Creative and Kids’ Choice, both of which were won by Boston’s last year.

The contest, which is open to the public, once again will be held in the Link (300 Cherry St.). Judging begins at 6 p.m. The People’s Choice category, which in voted on by all in attendance, also begins at 6 p.m.

For those who want to try their hand at making pizza, here’s a recipe that’s been adapted from Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, a well-known Chicago restaurant.

Light Bite Pizza Napoletana
Corn meal
Pizza dough (recipe follows)
1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
Handful of smoked mozzarella, cubed
2 or 3 strips prosciutto di parma, thinly sliced
Handful of baby arugula
Parmesan, shaved into curls
If you have a pizza stone handy, set it on the bottom rack of the oven. If not, don’t fret. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Sprinkle some corn meal onto a wooden peel or rimless baking sheet. Set it aside.
Gently pat and stretch 1 dough ball into pizza shape, 8 inches across and ¼-inch thick at the center.
Set dough circle on the peel or baking sheet. Rub on 1 to 2 teaspoons oil. Top with a handful of smoked mozzarella.
Slide pizza onto the hot stone or baking sheet into the oven. Bake until crust is crisp and the cheese melted, 4 to 5 minutes.
Top hot pizza with 2 or 3 strips of prosciutto, a handful of arugula and a few shavings of Parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil.
Yield: Serves 4.

Pizza Dough
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
½ cup pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
In a medium bowl, mix yeast and warm water. Add pastry flour and salt. Dust in all-purpose flour, stopping when dough is no longer sticky. Knead smooth, 10 minutes.
Settle dough ball in the mixing bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 3 to 4 hours.
Punch down dough. Cut and roll into 4 balls. Set balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 2 hours.
Yield: 4 8-inch pizzas.

Smoked Appetizers

I love finger food. Sometimes, the single-bite concept is the most appetizing.

I rediscovered this recently after buying an electric smoker from Cabela’s. In the short time that I’ve had the MasterBuilt Electric Smokehouse, we’ve enjoyed a couple of sockeye salmon filets as well as two pheasant breasts, a dozen or so pheasant legs and thighs and a small sharp-tailed grouse. Soon, I’m going to try some elk meat.

The timing of buying the smoker couldn’t have been more perfect, since we soon will be having family visiting us from Cincinnati. And they love finger food as much as I do. Smoked appetizers such as the pheasant and salmon will be perfect for grazing on while we do some catching up.

If you’re looking for another appetizer of the smoked variety, here is one for a smoked trout spread.

Smoked Trout Spread
1 smoked trout, about 4 ounces
¼ cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon minced lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives or parsley
16 toast rounds (1½ inch in diameter) or crackers
Remove skin and any fins or bones from the trout. Chop the meat coarsely and transfer to a bowl. Add yogurt, lemon zest, salt and pepper and chives. Stir well, taste and adjust seasoning.
Spread about 1½ teaspoons on toast rounds or crackers. Chill until ready to serve.
Yield: ½ cup, enough for 16 appetizers.

Broccoli Stir-Fry

I’m crazy about broccoli. And that’s why this time of the year is so exciting to me.

Just this week, I’ve been overrun with broccoli from my garden. I gave my mom the first head, but now, there are several more just waiting to be devoured. But don’t worry. None of it will go to waste. For starters, Therese is planning on making a broccoli salad, which includes sunflower seeds and raisins. It’s one of my favorite.

But my favorite way to have broccoli is in a stir-fry. (For more stir-fry recipes, go to Whenever I go out to eat at a Chinese restaurant, broccoli usually is my first food of choice. I love broccoli in Mongolian-type stir-fries and in dishes with beef, shrimp and chicken.

I‘m hoping to put together a broccoli stir-fry in the next day or two with a bit of elk meat that’s been thinly sliced and a few other veggies, including bell pepper, onion and celery. In anticipation of that, I’ve looked at a few recipes in an attempt to come up with something unique. Here is what has caught my eye so far.

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
1½ pounds beef sirloin tip, thinly sliced
1 egg white
¼ cup rice wine
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 to 6 cups small broccoli florets, about ¾ pound
½ cup water
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Place beef slices in a large food storage bag. Whisk together the egg white, rice wine, 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch and baking soda in a small bowl; pour over beef. Seal; turn bag to coat beef with marinade. Refrigerate 1 to 3 hours.
Heat a large saucepan of water to a boil; add broccoli. Cook 30 seconds; drain. Set aside. Mix remaining teaspoon cornstarch, ½ cup water, oyster sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, sugar and pepper to taste in a bowl; set aside.
Heat wok over high heat. Add oil; heat until very hot. Add beef in batches; stir-fry until meat is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to bowl.
Discard all but 2 teaspoons of the oil; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic. Cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 30 seconds. Stir in the water-oyster sauce mixture. Add to wok, heat to a boil; cook 1 minute. Stir beef and broccoli back into wok. Cook to heat through, about 1 minute.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 317 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 13 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 73 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams protein, 635 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry
1 pound uncooked chicken breast tenders (not breaded)
1 medium onion
½ cup sugar snap pea pods
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt (for cooking pasta)
8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1½ teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Peel onion and cut into 8 wedges. Snap-off the stem end of each pea pod, then pull string across pea pod to remove it. Cut tomatoes in half.
Fill a 4-quart Dutch oven about half full of water. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Cover with lid; heat over high heat until water is boiling rapidly. Add pasta. Heat to boiling again. Boil uncovered 3 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender but still firm to the bite.
While pasta is cooking, in a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onion; stir-fry 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is brown.
Add broccoli and pea pods to chicken mixture. Cook over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together broth, thyme, lemon peel, cornstarch and lemon-pepper seasoning; stir into chicken mixture. Cook over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and vegetables are coated.
Stir in tomatoes; cook until thoroughly heated. Place a strainer or colander in the sink. Pour pasta in the strainer to drain. Serve chicken mixture over pasta.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 440 calories, 6 grams fat, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 530 milligrams sodium, 61 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams dietary fiber, 37 grams protein.

Szechuan Beef Stir-Fry
10-ounce package fresh vegetable stir-fry blend
3 tablespoons water
2 beef shoulder center steaks (ranch steaks), cut ¾-inch thick (about 8 ounces each)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup prepared sesame-ginger stir-fry sauce
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups hot cooked rice or brown rice, prepared without butter or salt
¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts
Combine vegetables and water in large non-stick skillet; cover and cook over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove and drain vegetables. Set aside. Meanwhile cut beef steaks into ¼-inch thick strips.
Heat same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half the beef and half the garlic; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Repeat with remaining beef and garlic.
Return all beef and vegetables to skillet. Add stir-fry sauce and red pepper; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Spoon over rice. Sprinkle with peanuts.
Yield: Serve 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 351 calories, 11 grams fat, 64 milligrams cholesterol, 1,147 milligrams sodium, 29 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 32 grams protein.