Archive for April, 2010

One of the delights of spring:  artichokes.  This is a yummy little recipe that I came across to prepare baby artichokes to then be used in any number of ways.  They can be sliced and tossed into salads, chopped in to a fine puree for crostini, tossed into a pasta dish, or cut into 1/4’s to nibble as finger food with olives and cheese…imagine the possibilities!

Braised baby artichokes with white wine, thyme, and shallots adapted from Edible Marin and Wine Country, Spring 2010

I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe- they’re a little time-consuming to prepare, but so wonderful to have on hand!

  • 12 baby artichokes
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot sliced into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • water

Prepare the artichokes by trimming about 1/2-inch off the top and trimming the stems to about 1/2-inch long.  Use a paring knife to pare back the tough outer stem.  Peel off the outer leaves until you reach the tender inner leaves.  Throw away the trimmings.  As you work, place the pared artichokes in a bowl of water that has been acidulated with the juice of the lemon.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil.  Add the shallots and garlic, cooking gently until they become soft and translucent.  Add the bay leaf, thyme and wine.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the artichokes, salt, and enough water to just cover.  Simmer gently until the hearts of the artichokes become tender and can be easily pierced with a knife.

Remove the artichokes from the cooking liquid to cool.  Once cool, place them back in their liquid to store until you are ready to use them.  Yum!


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I highly recommend being young at heart.  I’m pretty sure it’s good for the soul.  Kind of like singing.  Loud.  Anywhere.  Like in the shower.  Using the shampoo bottle as the microphone.  I’m just offering suggestions.  Really, you can sing into whatever you want.  Like the bar of soap, for instance.  Personally, I’m partial to Simon and Garfunkel in the shower.  Cecilia, you’re breakin’ my heart, you’re shakin’ my confidence daily… But, you know- to each his own…

Anyway, back to the young at heart thing.  I’ve noticed something about Scott.  He’s become a milk drinker.  I can usually tell what he’s had for dinner based on the dishes next to the sink.  Now I’d hate to give you the impression that his meals are un-square but… when all I see are a few crumbs and an empty glass of milk, well, I can make a fairly accurate assessment.

Lo and behold.  Someone has been eating cookies and milk for dinner.  But to be truly young at heart, you really must be a dunker.  You must hold that cookie in your glass of milk sooooo long that it becomes fully saturated and nearly falls to the bottom of the glass.  This is simply how it’s done.   So if you find that you’re striving to be young at heart, I suggest that you give this cookie-milk-dunker-dinner thing a try.  I’ve been taking lessons from Scott and I think I may have a knack for it!

Almond-chocolate sandwich cookies barely adapted from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
yields 40 individual cookies, 20 sandwiches

  • 1 cup whole raw almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Place the fully cooled almonds and 3 Tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and grind to the consistency of fine cornmeal.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and remaining sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl and add the egg, extract, and almond mixture, beating to combine.  Scrape down the bowl, and add the flour mixture on low speed, mixing just until combined.  Cover tightly and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Place an oven rack in the center position, and preheat the oven to 350°.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Measure the dough in to 1-teaspoon sized portions.  Place 2 portions at a time on the palm of your hand and roll them to make 2 individual balls.  (This is simply faster than rolling one ball at a time!)  Place the balls 1-1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets, and bake, one tray at a time, until the cookies are lightly golden all over, about 10-12 minutes.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes, then remove them to a cooling rack.

Prepare a double boiler by placing a heat-proof bowl over a pot of shallow, simmering water- do not allow the water to touch the base of the bowl.  Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir every-so often until it is completely melted.  Using a small knife or spoon, spread about 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate on the bottom of one cookie, then sandwich with another cookie.  Repeat until all the sandwiches have been made.  Allow to cool for at least 2 hours to allow the chocolate to harden (or give them a brief stint in the refrigerator).  Once cooled, store in an air-tight container.

Don’t forget the tall glass of milk!

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Looky here…

I thought I’d put together this useful little page for all of us to enjoy.  You can access it here, or by clicking on the “conversion guide” tab near the top of the blog.  Hope it’s a help!

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Back when I was eating this for lunch,  I bought some feta cheese to be tossed in.  I like to buy my feta in blocks, rather than crumbled, as it keeps longer and generally has better flavor.  However, I found that I could only consume about 1/3 of that block of feta before it started to go sour.  So I pondered and pondered.  I remembered seeing something on TV that Joanne Weir had done to preserve the cheese.  And after scouring the internet, I found a blurb from one of her books that contained the recipe!  Now I’ve got a hunk o’ feta, happily marinating in the fridge.  She recommends letting it marinate for at least 2 weeks before using, to really help the flavors marry, but of course, you could use it sooner!

When buying feta, look for blocks that have a little brine packaged in with the cheese.  The brine helps to keep it moist and fresh.  Feta should crumble easily and should not be rubbery.  I like the Mt. Vikos feta cheese which is pretty widely available at quality cheese counters.  It’s made with 80% sheep milk and 20% goat milk.

Marinated feta with garden herbs adapted from Wine Country Cooking by Joanne Weir

Cut the feta into long rectangular pieces that will fit in a mason jar.  Estimate an amount of virgin or extra-virgin olive oil  to fill the jar half-way.  Warm that oil gently in a sauce pan with sprigs of rosemary, marjoram, and thyme  so that it just sizzles.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Place the herb sprigs in the jar along with the feta, then pour in the cooled olive oil, topping off with more oil if needed.  Be sure that the feta is completely covered in oil.  It should last up to 3 months in the refrigerator.  To serve, remove as much feta as desired from the jar and allow it to come to room temperature.  Slice and serve along side olives, caper berries and crackers, or crumble over your favorite dish!

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I hadn’t been out for a peek in a while- and look what I found!  By the look of it, I’ll have enough to harvest within a week.  I guess I’d better start thinking about what fun things to do with them.  (I’ve had this on my mind since last spring!)  Isn’t this season lovely?

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