Selland’s market-cafe in Sacramento is an uncommonly good café and often a source of inspiration for foods to prepare. Recently I had some of their asparagus and loved the texture – slightly crunchy (definitely not mushy!) – and the hint of lemon flavor along with the olive oil and Parmesan. Upon inquiry I was told that the asparagus had indeed been parboiled for 2 minutes and then tossed with Parmesan, olive oil, and some lemon zest. So easy!

Asparagus Recipe

  • Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
  • 2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest - freshly grated lemon rind
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.
2 Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.
Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure they are of the highest quality.
Yield: Serves 4.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Oh la la. This is not your grandma’s broccoli cheese casserole. Ever since Christopher Kimball challenged people to Google broccoli casserole, insisting they would be disappointed with what they found, I’ve been meaning to post a killer broccoli casserole. And dear readers, this is it. The ingredients? Broccoli of course, then bacon, flour, milk, cream, eggs, cheddar cheese, a little Dijon, salt, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. The tricks are to pre-cook the broccoli florets a bit so they cook up tender in the casserole, use bacon because bacon makes everything taste better, and spice it up with black pepper. Just simple freshly cracked black pepper. Use as much as you can stand; it will make your broccoli casserole sing.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole Recipe

  • Cook time: 55 minutes


  • 2 pounds broccoli, stems removed (can use vegetable peeler to peel, then slice and eat like celery), large florets cut, yielding about 8 cups of broccoli florets
  • Salt for blanching water
  • 2 strips of thick-cut bacon (about 2 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fine ground black pepper)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated


1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (1 Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water). Add the broccoli florets and boil for 3-5 minutes or until just tender enough so that a fork can easily pierce the floret, but still firm. Strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
2 While the water in step one is coming to a boil, cook the bacon pieces on medium heat in a frying pan until lightly browned, but not crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Set aside.
3 Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. In a bowl, whisk the eggs into the flour, then whisk in the cream and milk. Add the black pepper (more or less to taste), salt, and mustard. Mix in about a third of the cheese.
4 Place the parboiled broccoli florets in the casserole dish, sprinkling about a third of the cheese over the broccoli florets as you lay them down. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the broccoli. Pour the egg, cream, milk, cheese mixture over the broccoli, moving the broccoli pieces a bit so that the mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining cheese.
5 Bake for 25-40 minutes, or until set. Once the top has browned, you may want to tent with aluminum foil to keep from burning.
Yield: Serves 5 as a main course, 10 as a side.

Oven Fried Zucchini Chips with Basil Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 2-3 servings

Zucchini rounds coated in parmesan panko crumbs and baked to a crispy, golden brown. A healthy replacement for fries or onion rings.

non-stick cooking spray

1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup milk
2 small zucchini cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup Sour Cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (like Hellmann’s)
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a large oven-proof wire rack with non-stick spray and set on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt, onion powder and pepper in a medium bowl. Place milk in a separate shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk then in breadcrumb mixture patting the crumbs on. Place slices on wire rack. Repeat until all are coated.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile make the dipping sauce by pulsing all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor.
  5. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

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