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Saturday, October 8, 2011

“Side Dish Seminar, Pt. XX: Broccoli Normande—the Classiest Vegetable Dish—Ever!”

The Grateful Dead’s forty-first album, “Dozin’ at the Knick,” was released on October 29, 1996 and was recorded at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, NY, on March 24, 25, and 26, 1990.  This fabulous 3-CD set is a definite must-have and features the band at its peak not long before the demise of Jerry Garcia, a few years later.  We therefore recommend that you buy it and think you will be delighted with it so please take the handy link to Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer and get it now! You won’t be disappointed!  Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.

Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 440 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


                                                   STINKBUG 2011


Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

END Commentary 10-09-2011

Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 1,352.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Sunday, October 09, 2011 by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein


 Side Dish Seminar, Pt. XX: Broccoli Normande—the Classiest Vegetable Dish—Ever!

Bakersfield, CA, 10-09-2011 Su: Today is my final day for this go-round and all I can say is “Whew! I’m glad I made it to the end!”  Never get me wrong, I do like writing for Stinkbug’s new blog as he is a great guy to work for, it’s just nice being able to get back to the serious work of running a foodservice operation and not having to rack my mind breaking down recipes that serve 100 or more to ones that serve 4-6.  That takes some time and effort because we obviously want to do it right and if there’s one thing I can tell you about professional foodservice, you need to KNOW your mathematics! Not your algebra or your geometry, for God’s sake, no, you need to be able to do basic math, know fractions and the metric system, preferably (that really simplifies everything!) and understand measurement.  Too many guys have no idea what the difference is between fluid ounces and regular ounces, they think that 10 fluid ounces equals 10 weight ounces.  We had one guy who was studying to be a pharmacist and didn’t know what the difference was, he kept on messing up the fish-and-chip dry mix night after night and the head chef asked him what the hell his problem was.  He didn’t know so the chef watched him make the formula and when he saw what he was doing, he pointed it out.  Then he told me, “I would hate to have that guy mixing my prescriptions! Dumb ass!”

Well, that’s the way it is, friends, there are many folks out there who have no idea what measurement is or how to do it correctly.  We have a blog post of two on this subject so if you ever have a desire to read one of them, please look it up via your browser. It is extremely important to know how to do things the right way and not to mess up; if you can’t, you will always be working on the graveyard shift frying eggs and making clubhouse sandwiches for drunks.

Our final dish for today is a classic vegetable dish: Broccoli Normande, the classic combination of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower bathed in a tasty cheese sauce.  This is a gorgeous rendition of this wonderful dish and you will be delighted once you’ve made and tasted it.  This is one that used to be a standard item in most restaurants but nowadays, the young ones tend to sneer at it as being a dinosaur. You know what I say about that topic! Let’s do it:


Yield: 6-8  / Mis-en-place: 30-40 minutes:

Broccoli Normande Cheese Sauce
Whole milk

Chicken stock

Melted butter

All-purpose flour

Kosher salt

Cayenne pepper

White pepper

Garlic powder


Ground nutmeg

Grated cheddar cheese

Grated Swiss cheese

Cheese flavoring

The Vegetables
Broccoli florets, steamed

Cauliflower florets, steamed

Baby carrots, steamed

The Garnish
Freshly minced parsley


1.      Mis-en-place: have everything ready to work with: steam the vegetables to tenderness and then plunge into ice water to retard further cooking and to preserve color.  This is very important. 

2.      Combine the milk and stock in a saucepot over a medium-high flame.  In another, larger saucepot, combine the rest of the ingredients listed under the “Sauce” and cook to form a roux.  When the flour, seasonings, and butter’s combined, cook for 4-5 minutes over a low flame in order to develop a roux.  Allow it to cook in order to develop both strength and flavor.  The purpose of adding the spices directly to the roux is to avoid any possibility of the peppers clumping.  This is important as there’s nothing worse than getting a blob of cayenne pepper in one’s mouth.

3.      Next, begin scaling in the hot liquid, a bit at a time, whisking furiously to form a smooth sauce. Continue adding liquid until it’s used up and then allow the sauce to bubble for a minute or two; then, lower flame and allow it to perk for a bit in order to develop flavor.  If it’s too thick, add more stock or water and if it’s too thin, allow it to cook for a while in order for it to reduce through evaporation.  If TOO thin, you can always tighten it up with a little cornstarch slurry—either way, ALWAYS be prepared for any contingency!

4.      When it’s time to serve, heat the vegetables in the microwave.  Doing it this way works to preserve the color of the veggies and also heats them without a lot of stirring which will tear weak vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli apart into an unattractive mush—NEVER do that. Anyhow, divide the vegetables up between serving plates, top with cheese sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

This is one of the old-time classic vegetables that used to be on every menu.  You can find it on the freezer aisle at the grocery store, too.  This is one that every cook should have in his or her repertoire as it is one that EVERY cook must know how to make.  Whether or not they serve it all that much anymore, I don’t know; but I do know that I try to serve it fairly often. Enjoy!

As I mentioned yesterday, I have had a great time today and as always enjoy my opportunities to write for the Elemental News of the Day. We urge our readership to write to us and leave comments and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously don’t pay anything but you will be given a full byline and that’s worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it’ll be fun!

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people don’t care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It’s sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

That’s it for me, friends, I won’t be back until sometime in December if not early 2012.  It’s hard to imagine but if everyone does ONE week, then we only have to work every now and then and the rest of the time, we spend working at our jobs or enjoy our retirements.  That’s one thing about foodservice, my friends, very seldom does one ever get to enjoy retirement.  Even the guys that did fairly well and made a great deal of money still need to work part-time advising a younger chef or working somewhere in management.  It used to be that if one didn’t plan his or her retirement, that cook was in dire shape.  I remember working in coffee shops as a kid and the chef had all sorts of old-timers who would come in and pick up a graveyard shift whenever we were shorthanded.  They got paid under the table and were quite happy with the arrangement.  I hope I’m never working 10-6 A.M. for anyone ever again because I haven’t done it in 40 years.  Well, I just hope my investments hold up!  Anyhow, please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by the Grateful Dead and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com.  We are allied with them and are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around! Bye!    

Thank you!

Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

The Chuckster
Restaurant Manager, Mixologist, Foodserver, and Cook

This is a photo of me back in 1973 while being the Food and Beverage Director at one of the hotels in Bakersfield, CA, located on Union Avenue. I was in my late 30's at the time.


END Commentary for Sunday, October 09, 2011 by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.


This original essay was authored by the one-and-only Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

Recipes created by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein on January 07, 1974 in Taft, CA.



“Stinky” of the Elemental News of the Day for the best of the news, politics, sports, foodservice, hotel and restaurant business, the end times, the end of days, the apocalypse, armageddon, and whatever else happens to pop up!




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