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Old Papa Bush got plenty of heat for dissing broccoli while in the White House, but you can't blame him, really. There are a lot of bad broccoli dishes out there. The trouble often lies in the presentation: naked, save for a pat or two of butter, salt and pepper. Boring!

Broccoli can taste good, be fun, even, if you play around with it a bit.

Here are some easy ideas to whip broccoli into something special enough not only for a former president but your family, too. All these tips begin with a batch of cooked broccoli.

Make soup. Puree the cooked broccoli in a blender or food processor with just enough hot chicken or vegetable broth to give it a creamy, souplike consistency. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice, add cream if you want it, salt and pepper. Serve hot as is, or push through a sieve for a smoother consistency. You can also serve this soup cold; if so, add more salt, pepper and lemon juice because flavors tend to dull when chilled.

Spice it up. Mince two or three cloves of garlic; saute in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add half a teaspoon of hot chili flakes and, if you like, some chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add cooked broccoli to the pan, toss lightly until all the spears are heated through and coated with the garlicky oil.

Go east. Season cooked broccoli while hot with a few dashes of teriyaki sauce and some toasted sesame oil. Garnish with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.