The Beautiful Edible Flower

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This one is for all you folk
Who like to eat the artichoke.

We eat the buds and not the beard
Cuz that stuff is really weird.

Clip and clean and quarter cut
Boil, dry, and scoop the gut.

Lay them flat upon the grill
No need for any special skill.

Brush them with some pesto sauce
Make them shiny, you’re the boss.

Utensils are not needed here,
Fingers are our only gear.

6 Artichokes, cleaned and quartered
1 Cup Pesto Sauce
1 T coarse salt, plus 1 tsp.
Drizzle of Fine Olive Oil

To clean artichokes, start by cutting the stem off the bottom. Remove all small or dry leaves at the base of the artichoke that may be too tough to eat. To remove the sharp thorns, snip off the tips of the leaves with a pair of scissors. Use a serrated knife to cut and flatten out the top of the artichoke. Wash and dry artichokes. To be certain that the water does not remain trapped in the leaves it is best to dry the artichoke upside down on a towel.

When dry, cut the artichoke into fourths. Place the artichokes in a large pot of boiling water. Add 1 T of salt. Turn to medium low and cook for 12 minutes, or until leaves are tender. Take out and let drain. When cool, scoop out the purple leaves and beard below them.

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Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place them on the grill on medium heat for 5 minutes on each side. 

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When done, brush them liberally with pesto sauce, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and add another pinch of salt. Serve hot off the grill, room temperature, or even cold. Serves 6-8.

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Roasted Potato Leek Soup

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Outside cold, a blustery, muddy goop.
Inside warm, a calming, hearty soup.

The Barefoot Contessa’s Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Why mess with perfection?  There is nothing to add to this delicious soup that would make it any better. Just one thing, make sure to clean the leeks thoroughly, otherwise you’ll be eating dirt soup. Make that two things, 6-7 cups of stock is a lot of liquid. I didn’t use that much, especially since the recipe also calls for heavy cream and creme fraiche. Wait, one more thing. A little bit of this soup goes a long way!

FOR THE SOUP

2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

4 cups leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned well (4 leeks)

1/4 cup good olive oil

Kosher Salt and Coarse  Pepper

3 cups Baby Arugula, lightly packed

1/2 cup Dry White Wine, plus extra for serving

6-7 cups Chicken Stock

3/4 cup Heavy Cream

8 ounces Creme Fraiche

1/4 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

Crispy Shallots (see below)

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer.  Add the olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly.  Roast for 40-45 minutes turning them with a spatula a few times until they are very tender.

Add the arugula and toss to combine.  Roast 5 more minutes.

(Ina’s Recipe is a little different here but this worked perfectly well) Place the vegetables in a pot and make sure to scrape up the crispy roasted bits, stir in the wine and 1 cup of chicken stock.  Cook over low heat for a few minutes.

Unless you have an Immersion Blender, which is so much easier, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with a steel blade, adding the liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree.  Pour the puree back into the pot or large dutch oven.  Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they’re all done.  Add enough of the remaining 1-2 cups of stock to make a thick soup.

Add the heavy cream, creme fraiche, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper and taste for seasoning.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup and gently whisk in 2 T of white wine and 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Serve hot with extra Parmesan and crispy shallots.

FOR THE SHALLOTS

1 1/2 cups Olive oil

3 T butter

5-6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings

Heat the oil and butter in a pan over medium-low heat.  Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots and cook 30-40 minutes until rich golden brown.  Stir them ocasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well and spread out to cool on a paper towel.  Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.

Serves 6-8.

Roasted Cauliflower

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Cauliflower was just OK,
Until I tried a whole new way.

Break the head into it’s curds,
I love it when I find new words. :)

Pepper, salt and olive oil,
Set atop a pan with foil.

Bake for 30, add some cheese,
Broil for 5, done with ease.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH PARMESAN CHEESE

Thank you to my mom, Karen, for this delicious vegetable dish. Although this cauliflower will also taste good spiced up, sometimes simple is better.

2 heads cauliflower, broken into curds (florets)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1  tsp. coarse salt

1/2  tsp. coarse pepper

3 T Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place the cauliflower curds in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix until the cauliflower is well-coated with olive oil.  Transfer to a foil-lined baking pan (easy clean-up) and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the cauliflower with Parmesan cheese.  Change the oven setting to broil (high) and cook the cauliflower for approximately 5 more minutes or until the curds become brown on the edges.  Serve warm as a side or cold as a snack.

Koussa – Stuffed Squash

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I’m at a loss for words tonight,
There’s nothing that I want to write.

I don’t want to be verbose,
So I’ll just say adios.


Koussa Recipe
1.5 lbs. lean ground sirloin
2 large red onions
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 sweet red pepper or red bell pepper
3/4 cup long grain rice, uncooked
1 1/2 T coarse salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. allspice (optional)
2 tsp.cumin (optional)
4-5 cups tomato juice
2 T butter
1/3 cup olive oil

Wash and dry the squash. With a corer, gently scoop out the inside. Scoop out as much as possible without poking any holes in the squash. After all have been cored, set aside.

In a food processor, add mint, 1/2 a large onion, and red pepper. Mix until almost pureed. Set aside.

In a bowl, add the top sirloin, rice, allspice, cumin, 1 T salt, pepper and pureed mixture. Thoroughly mix until well blended (it is best to use your hands for this).

To stuff the squash, take a little bit of the meat and rice mixture and gently fill the squash. The squash should be completely filled but not too tightly or else the rice will not cook. Fill all squash and set aside. If there is any of the meat and rice mix left over, consider stuffing a potato or just making some meat balls to add in with the squash.

In a pot, place the squash as close to standing upward as possible so the meat does not fall out. Add the tomato juice, butter, and 1/2 T salt and bring to a boil. Bring the heat down to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes.

In a pan with olive oil, slice the remaining onions and saute until translucent. They can be added directly to the pot or placed on top of the squash when serving.

Bresaola, Burrata & Golden Beets

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Bresaola, Burrata & Beets

I have to visit Italy,
But not to dive into the sea.

I don’t even want to go,
To see Michelangelo.

With my conscience I will grapple,
Cuz I won’t see the Sistine Chapel.

I don’t want to stand in line,
To see any ancient shrine.

I’m sure to miss the Colosseum,
And Uffizi’s fine museum.

It’s all about what I can taste,
I won’t worry ’bout my waist.

Pizza, pasta, wine and cheese.
Oil that comes from olive trees.

Like this here Italian snack,
That you pile into a stack.

A simple fresh baguette will do,
One that’s crunchy when you chew.

Start with paper-thin cured meat,
Add a slice of golden beet,

Top it with some creamy cheese,
This deserves a Master’s frieze. 

BRESAOLA, BURRATA & GOLDEN BEETS

The idea for this recipe came from a local Inn and Restaurant, Wine & Roses. If you have the best ingredients, this combination is delicious! The bresaola, found at any fine deli, should be sliced very thinly. Italian burrata, basically a cream-filled mozzarella, is very creamy and flavorful. If you cannot find an Italian burrata, there are some very high-quality American ones too.

Ingredients
1/4 lb. bresaola (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup burrata
3 golden beets, peeled, cooked and thinly sliced
2 pears, optional
Extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
1 loaf crunchy bread, cut into bite-size pieces

Golden Beets

Burrata

Add beets to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. Check for readiness with a fork. Set aside to cool in refrigerator. When cool, cut into thin slices.
On a serving platter, lay out the bresaola, beets (pears) and bread. In the center of the platter, add the burrata. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly salt beets.

ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO…

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Rustic “Hammered” Potatoes

Rustic "Hammered" Potatoes

Rustic “Hammered” Potatoes Recipe

The great thing about potatoes is that they always make an excellent addition to any main course.  If you are serving only heavy hors’ d’oeuvres, these potatoes would make an excellent addition to your selection.  Are these particular potatoes fancy?  No, not at all.  In fact, they are very rustic and easy to prepare, and that is what I like about them.  What they lack in refinement and elegance, they more than make up for in taste.  You can spice them up to make them more of a highlight as opposed to a simple side-dish.  With as many spices, chutneys and sauces as there are out there, the possibilities for these potatoes are endless.

I have made them several times now and they are always a winner.  The first time, I served them with an Indian meal and toppped them with onions sauteed in butter and curry.

Potatoes Topped with Curried Onions

Potato Topped with Curried Onions

The second time, I served them topped with a beautiful halibut filet, both on a bed of spinach.  My mother served them on top of a juicy steak.  Any way you make them, you cannot lose.  Please try them and share your own ideas.

Potatoes Topped with Sour Cream, Bacon & Chives

Potato Topped with Sour Cream, Bacon & Chives

10 Small Unpeeled Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
Coarse Salt
With the tines of a fork, poke the potatoes so that they do not explode when cooked.  Place on a plate in the microwave for 5-6 minutes.  When cool, lay the potatoes on a cutting board.  Using a long, flat stainless steel or wood spatula, press down on top of the potatoes, flattening them.  Heat your vegetable oil in a pan on medium-high.  When hot, add two potatoes at a time and fry until golden brown.  Place on a paper-towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil.  Immediately salt to your taste.  At this point, add any topping you desire.
Breakfast Potato with Bacon & Eggs

Breakfast Potato with Bacon & Eggs