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Stuffed Artichoke

Stuffed Artichoke

This was the FIRST recipe I ever learned. I must have been about twelve. My parents and I went over to Maui every year growing up, (ahhh – the perks of being an airline kid). It was a tradition that during our first night in town, we would take our jet-lagged bellies over to Jameson’s at the Kapalua Resort.

No matter how tired we were, or how late our flight had arrived, we could always depend on satisfying our hunger at  Jameson’s with JJ’s famous artichoke. Since that time, the Kapalua was taken over by Ritz Carlton and Jameson’s was replaced with a new restaurant. I miss the old school Jameson’s very much. But I remind myself that I will always have the artichoke. And nobody can take that away from me. Artichoke

So here’s my artichoke story. JJ was a longtime employee at this restaurant, and rumor is he developed this masterpiece after a long day’s work, few ingredients to choose from, and severe hunger pains. In my version, he’s had a few Mai Tai’s as well, which boosted his creativity.

I would rave to the waitstaff about how much I loved the artichoke. One lucky night, they offered to take me back into the kitchen, to meet JJ, and watch him make an actual stuffed artichoke!! A childhood dream fulfilled. I sat in the kitchen, bewildered and amazed, as I watched him work his magic on our order. Then I was shuffled back to the table, where I anxiously awaited our artichoke. He even delivered it to us himself.

Alyssa and JJ

Last December, my husband and I went back to Maui with my dad. There we were, at one of the new restaurants on the Kapalua property, when JJ himself came over to our table. I was ecstatic. I even got a picture with him. I tried to explain the effect his artichoke had on us. I hope he got it and didn’t think I was totally nuts.

I’m not promising healthy eating here, people. But I can guarantee that each bite of this treat will send you right up to pig heaven on a first class ticket. Yum.

Ingredients:

1 artichoke, stemmed and leaves trimmed

Marie’s Creamy Italian Dressing

Butter

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Baguette

Olive Oil 

Recipe:

Turn oven to 350 degrees. Chop up baguette into bite size pieces, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown and crunchy looking.

Meanwhile, prepare a large pot of water and set over high heat to boil.

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Cut the stem off the artichoke.

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Trim the sharp points of the leaves off. Trim the top part of the artichoke off, using a knife.

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Now, line an ovenproof dish with aluminum foil. Make a circle large enough for the artichoke to rest in it.

Artichoke

Once water is boiling, drop artichoke in and cover with a lid. Steam for about 20 minutes. Drain waiter from artichoke.

Put artichoke in foil bed, and stuff leaves with croutons. Put a few pieces of butter in leaves. Drizzle Creamy Italian dressing all over artichoke. Make sure to get it in leaves. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Enjoy!!

Artichoke

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Tomato Soup

I was ecstatic last week when I saw how many ripe, red tomatoes were waiting to be picked in our garden. This year’s harvest is a little late, but not to complain. There are plenty of recipes for fresh tomatoes. And coming from your backyard is as local as you can get.

TomatoesAnatomically, tomatoes should be classified as a fruit. A Supreme Court ruling at the end of the 19th century found that tomatoes are, in fact, a vegetable. At the time, an import tariff existed, that applied only to vegetables. So, when a clever man started bringing in tomatoes under the “fruit” label, the court was quick to put an end to it. Their basis for decision? Linguistic reasoning. Tomatoes were found to be, “usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish , or meat” (McGee).

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Collier, 1984.

I love a good tomato soup, especially once the weather turns cold. Growing up, my mom used to make a “sick day” meal for me that consisted of two simply delicious things; tomato soup and grilled cheese.

This recipe is perfect for summer, however. It was almost like a gazpacho, in that there were little chunks and grains of fresh tomato in it. And rather than a grilled cheese sandwich, I made Parmesan croutons to put on top. Tomato SoupIt comes from Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Back to Basics. It provided my husband and I with two dinners, and one lunch for myself.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chopped red onion

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic

4 pounds tomatoes, chopped (5-6  medium/large)

Tomato Soup1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup chopped basil

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3/4 cup heavy cream

Baguette

Olive oil

Grated Parmesan (preferably freshly grated)

Salt and Pepper

Recipe:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium/low heat. Add onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Tomato Soup

Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, tomato paste, stock, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper, and stir to mix.

Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette into 1/4 inch slices. You can use however much you’d like, and save the rest by storing it in the freezer and reheating in the oven for later use.

Parmesan CroutonPut slices on baking sheet. Drizzle or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle parmesan on top. You can use a lot here Bake for about 5-10 minutes, until cheese is golden brown on top. Remove from oven.

Once soup has simmered for 3-40 minutes, add the cream and process the entire mixture through a food processor, blender, or food mill.

Reheat once ready to serve. Place Parmesan croutons on top.

Enjoy!

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This is one of my mother’s Thanksgiving recipes. It provides a very warm, hearty accompaniment in any Fall meal, (not just Thanksgiving). I love the sweet, yet pungent, taste of the brussels combined with the salty crunch of the pancetta.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussels are the red-headed stepchild of the Cabbage family. Their reputation for being something your mom made you eat has been drilled into our heads. It’s too bad, because they are absolutely delicious, and also very good for you. The following recipe serves 10.

Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds brussels, trimmed and halved

8 oz think sliced pancettta

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Recipe:

Brush heavy rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Place 1 tablespoon oil in large bowl, mix in brussel sprouts, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 450 degrees until brussels are light brown, stirring often, for about 20 minutes.

PancettaPancettaMeanwhile, saute pancetta in large pan until it is light brown and crisp, like bacon.

Once brussels are done, take them out of the oven. (Can be made 3 hours ahead, stand at room temperature).

Drizzle brussels with balsamic vinegar and stir to coat.

Top with crumbled pancetta and enjoy.

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 Grilled Artichoke with Herb Dipping Sauce

History of the Artichoke:

This vegetable is a member of the Daisy family and is native to the Mediterranean, where it was originally considered a delicacy and aphrodesiac in Rome. The artichoke was introduced to American cuisine by way of Italian immigrants who settled in the Half Moon Bay area of the California Coast at the beginning of the 20th century. There they planted fields of artichokes, and began shipping them out East. Today California still provides nearly 100% of the artichoke supply in the United States.

Artichoke sales and possession were banned in New York for a brief period during the 1920s. Ciro Terranova, a mafia member known as the “Artichoke King” began buying up all crates being transferred from the West Coast to the East Coast and reselling them for a profit. He was notorious for harassing growers and distributors. There are even stories of him personally massacring competitor crops by taking a machete and chopping down artichoke fields plant by plant. The Mayor of New York declared a statewide ban on the vegetable because of these so-called “Artichoke Wars.” However, the Mayor personally loved the vegetable and the ban only lasted one week.

The edible part of the artichoke lies in the fleshy part of the protective outer leaves (bracts) and the inner heart (flower base). The outside leaves are consumed as follows; pull out a leaf, pinch the top half withyour thumb and index finger, place the bottom half in your mouth, close your mouth, pull out the leaf while sliding off fleshy part with your teeth, discard leaf. After leaves are gone, the heart (flower base) can be eaten by spooning out the furry-looking choke (flowerets).

References:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Collier, 1984.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Stradley, Linda. “History of Artichokes”. What’s Cooking America. 2004. <http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/ArtichokeHistory.htm>

This recipe is quite simple and a wonderful spring or summer treat. We use a charcoal grill, however, if you are sans grill you may also use a broiler for the latter part.  I use the following herbs from our garden; italian parsley, rosemary, chives, lemon basil. You can use these, or whatever herbs you like.

Ingredients:

Artichoke(s)

Lemon

Fresh Herbs

Light Mayonnaise

Salt and Pepper to taste

Olive Oil

Fill a pot of water large enough to hold the number of artichokes you plan to make. Turn on high to bring to a boil. While  water is heating prepare the artichokes. If the stem is attached, slice it off. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the ends of the leaves (not necessary, but these guys are prickly so getting rid of them will provide a more pleasant eating experience). I like to use a sharp knife at the top of the artichoke. There are just too many leaves to snip here. Simply chop of the top, usually about an inch. The top of the artichoke should resemble a flat-top haircut.

Once water is boiling drop prepped artichoke(s) in and cover with a lid. Bring the heat down to medium and steam for about 20 minutes. During this time you may turn on the grill to medium-high (or broiler if you are using one) and prepare the dipping sauce. Using a food processor (or blender) place about 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, half of a fresh-squeezed lemon, a handful of your herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend.

Once artichokes are steamed drain them in the sink. I like to use a strainer. Be sure the artichoke(s) is upside down when draining. Once all excess water is gone, transfer whole artichoke to a cutting board. Cut artichoke in half, revealing leafy middle. Spoon out flowerets (furry looking section right above heart) and discard.

 Artichoke

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Rub artichokes with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to grill or broiler and prepare as follows:

Grill:  Lay artichokes on hard outside and grill for 5-10 minutes or until leaves turn golden brown and begin to curl inwards.

Broiler: Lay artichokes on hard outside on a cooking sheet lined with aluminum foil until leaves turn golden brown and begin to curl inwards.

Enjoy with the sauce!!

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