How to Make Killer Cream Puffs

My mother made killer cream puffs and my  two older daughters were fortunate enough to see Gracie perform this magic in her prime.  Kristy the younger of the two, married and moved to Alabama.  One night she made Gracie’s Cream Puffs for a party and had everyone asking, “Who made the biscuits?”

Biscuits!?  Well we’ll allow for the cultural difference especially since they all wanted to know how she created these babies.  Kristy, agreed to  share the recipe but cautioned that she may have to kill them if they screwed it up.  Well sit tight my friends, below is the quick and easy into making Gracie’s Cream Puffs, which serve as the perfect holiday and party dessert.

Mmm... cream puffs

The real treat behind these puffs is twofold.  The light flaky outer shell and the smooth, creamy filling.  My mom used to let the shell cool and then slice a piece off the top.  She would fill the shell till it overflowed and return the slice piece to the top.  As you can see above, I get a little lazy and just cut the shell in half.

Once filled add some powered sugar and you are done.  In recent years I have  topped with chocolate syrup, but feel free to experiment, and let me know what you come up with.

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Mom’s recipes sometimes are a bit vague.  For instance she writes concerning the shells, “Drop by small spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet and bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to moderate and bake another 30 minutes or until when removed from the oven the shell does not fall.”

Come on mom can you give a bit more direction than that.  Over the years I found that baking the shell for 25 to 30 minutes in a 425° oven or until golden brown does the job.  The centers however should be dry, so be sure to add an extra shell as a test.

 

How to Make Killer Cream Puffs
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
 
Ingredients
  • The Shell:
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • The Filling:
  • 1 large can evaporated milk (simmer-scald first)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Instructions
  1. The Shell:
  2. When the water is boiling briskly, add the butter and let melt and bring to boil a second time
  3. Add flour and stir hard
  4. Cook over low heat until the mixture is heavy and follows the spoon
  5. Remove from the heat and cool 5 minutes
  6. Drop in eggs one at a time and beat well before adding the next
  7. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet
  8. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Shell should to golden brown
  10. Cool, slit on half fill with custard filling and reattached the other half
  11. You can also use a pastry bag to pipe the filling into the shell
  12. The Filling:
  13. In a bowl mix the sugar, flour and eggs
  14. Add vanilla
  15. Pour mixture into the milk
  16. Cook until thickened
  17. Pour back into the bowl and stir until smooth

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Thanksgiving Recipe For A Home

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Yeah, I know the last thing you want right about now is another Thanksgiving recipe.  The internet is exploding with ideas and you cannot stand on line at the super market checkout without being belted with magazines claiming the best stuffing or a sure fire way to roast a turkey.

 

Just the other day I was looking through some of my mom’s old cookbooks and recipes.  One book I always enjoy, and have added countless recipes to this site from, is our Friscia Family Recipe book.  This little gem was complied by two of my cousins and my Aunt Rose for a family reunion and includes recipes shared by a host of great home chefs.

The following recipe appeared on page 46 and I’m sure it was designed not only as filler but as a look into what our family life and I’m sure many of yours was like.

“Recipe For A Home”

Half a cup of friendship

And a cup of thoughtfulness.

Creamed together with a pinch

Of powered tenderness.

Very lightly beaten

In a bowl of loyality

With a cup of faith, one of hope

And one of charity

Be sure to add a spoonful each

Of gaiety that sings,

And also the ability

To laugh at the little things.

Moisten with sudden tears

Of heartfelt sympathy.

Bake in a good nurtured pan and serve repeatedly.

Author Unknown

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.  Enjoy Your Family!!

 

Check out Gracie’s Christmas Eve recipe Book – The Night of the 7 Fishes!  Click Here

5 Recipes From the Spaghetti Book

For months now I been compiling recipes for the soon to be released Spaghetti Book.  I know you may have been expecting a March release, but trust me I’m getting closer.  Below are 5 recipes from the book to sort of wet you appetite and maybe give you an idea on what to prepare on nights when you just don’t have a clue.

Spaghetti Worlds

Long cuts of pasta be it spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine or any other are always easy to prepare and go a long way in satisfying a hungry family.  Growing up, my mom’s tradition was spaghetti on Sunday with another pasta dish on Wednesday.  More often than not, it was a long cut pasta that made it to Wednesday night as well.

Secando los Tagliatelle de Pasta Fresca al Huevo

Try these 5 recipes from the Spaghetti Book and start your own traditions.

#1 – SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATO SAUCE AND SPINACH. 

Serves 4-6.

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach, thoroughly washed and dried; stems removed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Sauté garlic and red pepper flakes in oil until garlic is golden. Add tomatoes and cook, covered, 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook 2 minutes. Cook spaghetti and drain. Add the pasta to the sauce and heat for 30 to 45 seconds. Sprinkle with cheese.

#2 – TASTY FETTICCINI WITH ASPARAGUS, RED PEPPER AND AVOCADO

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz. package fettuccine
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 avocados
  • One half onion
  • One quarter cup olive oil
  • One half cup balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste

Bring one large pot of water and one smaller saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop asparagus into one-inch chunks. Dice peppers and avocados. To dice the avocado, carefully cut around the entire circumference with a knife. Twist the two halves in opposite directions until they come apart. Squeeze the half holding the pit until the pit pops out.

Use a knife to cut long parallel lines into the avocado, then cut lines perpendicular to those. Use a spoon to pop the cubes out of the skin. Slice onion very thinly, then cut each thin slab in half and separate layers to create slivers. Whip oil and vinegar together in a smaller bowl.

When smaller saucepan of water boils, add asparagus and cook for only two minutes–no longer! The water may not return to a boil, which is just fine. You want the asparagus to be quite firm. Drain asparagus, then place back in saucepan and cover to keep warm.
Cook fettuccine in large pot of water until it’s al dente; in other words, until it’s just done and still firm–not overcooked and mushy. Pasta is healthier if it’s not overcooked.

Drain pasta, and then place in large bowl. Add vinaigrette to noodles and mix until noodles are thoroughly coated. Whip up more vinaigrette to add if you like. Add asparagus, peppers, avocado and onion. Fold mixture until vegetables are evenly distributed throughout the pasta.  I suggest a nice Italian White wine with this dish.

#3 – LINGUINI WITH BAY SCALLOPS AND WHITE WINE SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound dried linguine
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 pound bay scallops
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Pepper to taste

Cook linguine in boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain thoroughly.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add peppers, onions and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add scallops and cook 1 minute longer. Add wine and simmer for 2 minutes, until scallops are just cooked through. Stir in mustard and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve over linguine.

#4 – LEMON GARLIC SPAGHETTI WITH SHRIMP AND OUZO

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp (peeled) uncooked
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shot ouzo (or you can try mastiha liquor)
  • 1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Strain the shrimp well.  In a pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, sauté the shrimp for about 2 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and sauté until you can smell the garlic, about a ½ minute.  Add the lemon juice, the zest, the ouzo and the dill and cook for about 2 more minutes. Do not overcook. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Strain the spaghetti, making sure to save just just a bit of the pasta water. Put past back in the pot, add shrimp mixture and the rest of the olive oil (1 tablespoon). Mix well and serve.

#5 – GRAPE TOMATO SAUCE WITH SPAGHETTI

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 pints small grape tomatoes, halved
  • salt; black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 4 tbsp oil and sauté garlic for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute. Cook spaghetti, drain, and add to sauce in pan for 30 seconds. Drizzle 2 tbsp oil over spaghetti and sauce before serving. Sprinkle with cheese.

There you have it, 5 recipes from the Spaghetti Book that I’m sure you will enjoy!

 

photos by: CarlMilner & jlastras

Mango Bean Wraps

It seems like everyone is jumping on the Mango bandwagon theses days and with good reason.  Mangoes are a sweet, tasty and healthy fruit that adds a little diversity into your diet.

The internet is full of recipes using fresh mangoes, but I discovered my favorite way of using this fruit by making Mango Bean Wraps. 

Mangoes!

Just the other day a food industry buddy of mine asked me if I liked Mangoes.  I reminded him that there was very little in the food category that I didn’t like and mangoes certainly were a fruit I could sink my teeth into.  With that he handed me a bag of eight mangoes, claiming that he had just purchased a case for a special order and had extra.  “They’re yours, enjoy” he exclaimed.

I took the mangoes home and suddenly realized that 8 mangoes were quite a bit and I needed to come up with a use for these beauties.  Check out my recipe for Mango Bean Wraps!  Make these and provide your family and friends with a truly unique meal.

Found on cookbookaficionado.com

Mango Bean Wraps
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
 
Makes 4 wraps
Ingredients
  • 2 sweet bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 2 mangos, diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, diced
  • 4 (medium size) healthy tortillas (corn, sun-dried tomato, spinach, low carb, whatever you like); you may warm these if you wish before filling
Instructions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of oil, the diced bell peppers and onion, stir and cook just until softened, then add the beans, reduce heat to low and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, take out a bowl and add the mangos, lime juice, cilantro, and avocado, stir and keep cold.
  3. Lay the tortillas out on a work surface. Evenly divide the warm bean mixture in the middle of each tortilla, and then evenly divide the cold mango mixture on top of each.
  4. Roll the tortillas up and enjoy immediately.

 

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Seafood is a Sicilian Legacy

My grandparents, who lived downstairs from us, where both from Sicily and could have eaten fish every night of the week.  Seafood is definitely a Sicilian legacy and one which I continue to enjoy to this day.

My grandfather worked in the Fulton Fish Market when he first came to this country and was a commercial fisherman by trade.  He later opened his own Fresh Seafood Shop and there was some kind of fish on the table nearly every night.

Sicily, like all of Italy’s regions, places an emphasis on fresh, seasonal foods.  Nearly every meal is prepared with ingredients that were either picked from the garden or caught in the Mediterranean Sea that day.

Although I don’t enjoy seafood as much these days, I do try and make sure I eat some kind of fish at least twice a week.  There are so many different ways to prepare fish and recipes so good that even the non-fish lover can find their way to enjoying seafood regularly.

 

Steamed Tilapia with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Steamed Tilapia with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Just this past weekend my wife found a great recipe for Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce, via Martha Steward.  I felt the sauce would be the perfect topping for some Tilapia we were planning on preparing.  Here is the recipe and another for sea bass I stumbled upon earlier this month.

For the Tilapia, I like steaming for the freshest, easiest and healthiest way to prepare fish.  Fill a heavy cast iron pan about 3/4 full with water.  Take a round cookie cooler rack and place it over the water.  Place the fish on the rack, heat to high and cover.  Cook for 12 minutes and you are done.  The The Roasted Cherry Tomatoes are a bit more of a project and the recipe is below.  Once done however mash them into a sauce and spread over the Tilapia.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
 
My wife is always finding great recipes. This one courtesy of Martha Steward.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound 6 ounces of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt ( I like sea salt)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over the tomato mixture.
  2. Bake until the tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour. remove from the oven and let sit a few minutes before you mash into a sauce. Serve over the Tilapia.

 

STRIPED BASS OREGANATO. Serves 1-2.

2 pounds striped bass filets, 1 to 1.5 inches thick; 6 tbsp olive oil; 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 1 18-ounce can crushed tomatoes; 1 tbsp oregano; 1 tsp salt; 1 tsp black pepper; 2 tbsp chopped parsley; 3 tbsp Romano cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub both sides of fish with 3 tbsp oil. Spread garlic evenly on fish. Cover fish completely with tomatoes. Add oregano, salt, pepper, and parsley. Add grated cheese to top and drizzle remaining oil on top of fish. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The house will smell wonderful.

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Make Your Saturday Breakfast Special with Ricotta Pancakes

Every once in a blue moon on a Saturday morning, my mom would do something special and make Ricotta Pancakes.  She really didn’t fancy using ricotta cheese for breakfast, but when she did, no one ever slept in.

There is just something about the spring that reminds me of my mom’s Ricotta Pancakes.

Maybe it had to do with the fact that she had Ricotta cheese left over form her Easter Pies, but it seemed to be the only time of year she made them.  I don’t have her recipe unfortunately, as with many of Gracie’s treats she often just winged it, but I did find some suggestions online and decided to give it a whirl this weekend.

 My mom’s pancakes had a lemon zing to them and the recipe I found that seemed to come the closest was from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.  One suggestion I recommend

Ricotta Hotcakes with lemon curd, strawberries...

Ricotta Hotcakes with lemon curd, strawberries and raspberry coulis – Replete Providore (Photo credit: avlxyz)

is that you move the Ricotta cheese to a strainer and let drain of any moisture for a few minutes.  You don’t need the extra water and if using fresh Ricotta, this is a must.

Ricotta Pancakes really do melt in your mouth and I suggest you have some fresh berries on hand to top them off.

Ricotta Pancakes.
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Mediterranean
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, milk, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Sift together the flour, baking powder and ⅛ tsp. of the salt over the ricotta mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  2. In another large bowl, using a whisk beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining ⅛ tsp. salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites.
  3. Preheat a griddle over medium heat. Spray the griddle with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle ⅓ cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on top and the pancakes are golden underneath, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a warmed plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Makes 12 to 14 pancakes.

 

 

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Italian Wheat Pie

 A big tradition for my mom at Easter was to make her traditional Italian Wheat Pie.  Super sweet and loaded with Ricotta cheese, this pie was always a huge hit.

I love Italian Wheat Pie. Of all the great dishes my mother’s kitchen produced at Easter time this was by far my favorite. I like it so much that I make it to this day and don’t wait for Easter to do so.

It is a known fact that Italians know how to break a fast. Every region in Italy in preparation for Easter Sunday creates a special pie or dish that ends the Lenten fast and celebrates the holiest day in the Christian calendar.

Wheat Pie is a traditional Easter Pie, made with tons of sugar, eggs, ricotta and cooked wheat. My mom used to add citron or other candied fruit to her pie and always included fresh wheat berries as opposed to the precooked canned variety. The wheat berry is getting harder and harder to find so I settle for using the can wheat most of the time. Taste just as good and saves some time.

Italian Wheat Pie
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
 
Sweet and loaded with Ricotta Cheese
Ingredients
  • The Dough
  • 6 cups of flour
  • ¼ tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 5 eggs
  • The Filling:
  • ½ pounds of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ cups of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of orange flavored water
  • ½ tsp of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon of orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 5 eggs and 2 egg yolks
Instructions
  1. Tip: you can also use a pre-made pie crust found at the super market. The pre-made pie crust work just fine and can be a real time savor. Pick up an extra one and use it to over the top of your finished pie.
  2. If you really fancy making your own dough, here goes:
  3. Mix together flour, salt and sugar. If you have a food processor or mixer this will help. Cut butter into the flour mix and blend, add eggs one at a time and form a ball of dough. Set aside or can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
  4. Pasteria:
  5. ½ cup of wheat berries. If you can’t find wheat berries, look for the pre cooked cans. Most Italian shops will have them and they will save you a bunch of time.
  6. Place wheat berries in a pot cover with water and let sit overnight. Boil the berries for 1 hour the next day and drain. Add a little sugar to the pot, cover again with milk and cook until soft. Drain and set aside to cool.
  7. Beat the eggs together and add ricotta, sugar, orange water, vanilla and orange and lemon zest. Mix well and add the Pasteria. If you made your own dough, cover the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan and fill with the mix. Save some pie dough and cut into strips and lay over the top of the pie.
  8. You should have enough filling and dough to make two pies and if you purchased premade pie crust be sure to have an extra one available to use for your strips.
  9. You may have noticed that I didn’t use the citron mentioned above. Truth of the matter is I don’t like it but many do. So if this is something you crave in your Wheat Pie, by all means add it to the mix. Cut the citron into ¼ inch cubes before adding to the mix.
  10. Bake pies in a preheated 350°F oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the bottom of the crust is light brown and the top of the pies are golden. Keep in the oven to cool for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  11. Happy Easter!

 

 

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What is the Meaning of a “Ragoút”

It seems that recently I have been seeing the term ragoút when defining a recipe selection.  Now I consider myself a fairly seasoned Kitchen Chef, but have to admit a bit of ignorance behind the meaning of ragoút.

I took to the internet to help me come up with a definition and found that Webster’s and Wikipedia are  not all that clear on the term Ragoút as well.  Below are their definitions, a slight commentary and a cool, Ditalini Vegetable Ragoút

Pappardelle with vegetarian ragout   SONY DSC

Webster’s Definition:

1. A stew of meat, vegetables, and spices; well-seasoned meat and vegetables cooked in a thick sauce. 2. Mixture, Mélange

Wikipedia’s Version:

1. The term ragout (French ragoût) refers to a main-dish stew. 2. The term comes from the French ragoûter, meaning: “to revive the taste”

Both sources refer to ragoút as a stew, but upon further review of their definitions we can see that ragoút is more of a topping or mixture used to enhance

365.257 - Baked Penne Pasta with Wild Mushroom...

365.257 – Baked Penne Pasta with Wild Mushroom Ragoût (Photo credit: nettsu)

a meal.  The above photos and the picture with a reference on the left seem to back up the topping idea.  It should be noted that many times a ragoút is made with noodles or a small pasta like ditalini.  Below in the “related articles,” are a few  recipes that support this definition.

I’m sure some of you are reading this and saying, “why is Mike so obsesses with this term, as it really is no big deal.”  Well the purpose of this website is to expose you, the reader and me, the author, to new, simple and healthy approaches to meals that add a  Mediterranean feel.

That being said, as I was walking the aisles of a Publix’s supermarket in St. Augustine’s this week (visiting my daughter in college with the family), I came across this recipe which is used as an accompaniment for Creole-Spiced Salmon.   This Ditalini Vegetable Ragoút seemed to be right up Gracie’s alley.  I hope you enjoy it and I promise to give you the Salmon recipe sometime soon.

Ditalini Vegetable Ragoút
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: French
 
Lots of ingredients I like.
Ingredients
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • ¼ lb. fresh asparagus spears, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp, fresh thyme
  • 1 cup ditalini pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can cannelini beans
  • 2 Tbsp. herb garlic butter
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Chop shallot, asparagus, parsley and thyme
  3. Cook pasta and reserve ¼ cup of pasta water for later use
  4. Preheat a large saucepan on medium heat fro 2-3 minutes. Place oil in pan and add shallots, asparagus, pasta, tomatoes and beans, cook and stir another 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated
  5. Stir in herbs, butter, capers, salt, pepper and reserved pasta water, cook and stir for ⅔ minutes or until well heated. Serve.

 

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3 Simple Ways to Spring into Artichokes

Gracie loved artichokes and years ago the only time of year you could find them in the marketplace was early Spring.  She had her favorite way of preparing them but I’ve come up with three more.

Stuffed ArtichokeMom always stuffed her artichokes with a garlic rich breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese stuffing and then steamed them for 30 to 40 minutes.  They always came out perfect and my sister and I would fight over them like crazy.  A few weeks back I shared with you her recipe in our Valentine’s Day post, but today I would like to offer up three other suggestions for this unique vegetable.

The suggestions listed below are for whole, fresh artichokes and not the kind found jarred in either oil or water.  For the most part the jarred variety are just the heart, which is in fact the most favorable part.  Artichokes are in fact very good for you and considered a super food.  Of course the fresher the food the better.

#1 Grilled Artichokes with Stems- When I had my Italian Specialty store, these were a big hit.  Initially we used to buy them imported, already prepared and grilled in olive oil.  We later found a supplier that sold us the clean artichokes with stems and we grilled them ourselves.  Soak them in Olive Oil, season with sea salt and grill until they are lightly browned.  You can find fresh, cleaned artichokes with stems in most specialty food stores.

#2 Roasted Sicilian Artichokes – Travel to Sicily this time of year and you will find many road side vendors offering this Sicilian specialty.  The artichokes are cooked over hot coals or as the locals would say ‘a braci.’ Sicilians will mix pancetta bacon, chopped onions, garlic and celery, combined with olive oil and lemon juice.  The artichokes are cleaned, with the stems removed and the top 1/2 inch cut off.  The lower leaves insulate the the inner heart, leaves and stuffing from burning and the finished smoky end product is out of this world.  Get the full story on this recipe at Taste of Sicily.

Simple Roasted Artichokes Recipe  #3 Simple  Roasted Artichokes – Have you ever roasted garlic?  Well that’s pretty much the way we’re preparing these artichokes.  First off, we clean and cut the artichoke in a way that is fairly universal.  Cut the stem so the artichoke can sit straight.  Remove the lower leaves and cut about an inch off the top.  Snip any remaining leaves that are sharp.  Take a clove of garlic and shove it into the center of the artichoke and sprinkle with salt.  Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze 1/2 lemon over the top.  Wrap each artichoke in tin foil to form a tight seal.  Bake at 425 for an hour and a half and let sit for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Do yourself a favor and pick up some artichokes for this weekend.  On top of being a healthy food choice artichokes are also considered an aphrodisiac. Again, I refer to our Valentine’s Day post for more on that.

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Cannellini Bean Recipe

I’m always on the lookout for food ideas that seem to fit easily into the Mediterranean type of diet, and this Cannellini Bean Recipe (or white kidney beans) with Broccoli Rabe and Lemon fits the bill. 

I stole (literally) this from the December issue of Bon Appetite magazine.  I was in orthodontist office waiting for my son’s visit to end when I stumbled upon this recipe.  With my back turned to the receptionist, I tore the page our of the magazine.  I was feeling pretty guilty when I noticed further down the issue many other recipes had met up with a similar fate.

This recipe has a lot of good this going for it.  First off it fits into the healthy part of a Mediterranean Diet.  One look at the ingredients and pretty much all the major components are good food choices.  Secondly it falls into the quick and easy category and should take no more than 25 minutes from start to finish.

White Cannellini beans

White Cannellini beans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bon Appetite calls this Cannellini Bean Recipe a side dish that pairs well with roasted chicken or pork tenderloin.  That certainly sounds like a complete meal, but I believe it can stand up on its own if you are looking for something quick and healthy during the week. For those of you who don’t like the bitterness of Broccoli Rabe, regular Broccoli is  good substitute.

 

Cannellini Bean Recipe
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A perfect quick and easy Mediterranean Dish.
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small lemon, very thinly sliced with seeds removed
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch of broccoli rabe, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 15-oz cans of cannellini beans
  • ¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add lemon, anchovies, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally the lemon is softened and brown in spots and the anchovies fall apart - about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe; season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally until bright green and crisp-tender, another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the beans and a ½ cup of water to the pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring until flavors have melded and liquid is reduce by half. You want this dish to be saucy so after another 5 minutes mix in the parsley and Parmesan cheese.
  3. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with red pepper flakes a

 

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