weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Melissa Clark’

Getting to Know My Friend the Artichoke

I love artichokes but have never cooked with fresh artichokes.  I must admit I have been intimidated by their unique structure. So, when I read this week’s Melissa Clark article in the New York Times about stuffed artichokes, I decided it was time to stop limiting myself to canned, frozen, and marinated artichokes.

Since the cooking time for these stuffed artichokes was 1.5 hours – not including prep time – I decided this was a “weekend gourmet” dish and made the recipe Saturday night.

So despite the well written recipe, I really wanted to watch someone prep a whole artichoke so I turned to YouTube. I found this great video by the Culinary Institute of America.

With a little more knowledge in my back pocket, I turned to my 4 fresh globe artichokes. The first thing I learned was that I didn’t look for the appropriate signs of freshness at the store – no discoloration in the thistle. The first artichoke I cut into was bad – all purple and tough inside. I had a 50% yield from the artichokes I purchased but there were only two of us so it worked out well. Prepping a quality artichoke for stuffing was much easier than I imagined and provided a great education on the anatomy of the artichoke.

I followed Melissa Clark’s recipe below and the results were delicious! The stuffing was great, the heart was tender, and the leaves were fabulous.

I am intimidate by the artichoke no more!

My first stuffed artichoke

Stuffed Artichokes With Lemon Zest, Rosemary and Garlic

Melissa Clark, The New York Times

1 1/2 lemons, zested, then halved
4 large globe artichokes (about 12 ounces each before trimming)
2 1/4 cups plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus 4 whole sprigs
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped capers
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 cup dry white wine

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze juice from two lemon halves into water. Cut off artichoke stems, peel them with a vegetable peeler, rub them all over with remaining lemon half (this prevents browning) and drop them into water.

2. Use a heavy, sharp knife to cut top 1 1/2 inches off an artichoke. Pull out pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom, where leaves were, is a furry bed, the choke. Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works wonderfully) to scoop out choke. Next, using kitchen shears or a pair of scissors, trim pointy ends from outer leaves of artichoke. As you work, rub lemon half over cut parts of artichoke. When you are finished trimming, drop artichoke into bowl of lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

3. To prepare stuffing, in a large bowl combine lemon zest, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped parsley and rosemary. Mince 6 garlic cloves and add to bowl. Finely chop one carrot and add to bowl along with capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss.

4. In a small roasting pan or baking pan large enough to hold artichokes, scatter onion slices. Add reserved artichoke stems, 4 sprigs parsley and remaining garlic cloves. Slice remaining carrot into rounds and add to pan.

5. Holding artichokes over stuffing bowl, stuff choke cavity and in between the leaves with bread crumb mixture. Stand stuffed artichokes upright in pan and generously drizzle olive oil over center of each artichoke.

6. Fill pan with water until it reaches 1/4 way up the artichokes. Add wine and remaining salt and pepper to water. Cover pan with foil and poke several holes in foil. Bake artichokes for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender; when done, a knife should be easily inserted into artichoke and a leaf should be easily pulled out.

Yield: 4 servings.

Italian Stuffed Artichokes on Foodista

Cheesy Cauliflower Chutney Mess…& Pizza for Breakfast!

Yesterday’s New York Times Dining section had no shortage of interesting recipes.

Mark Bittman wrote a whole article and several recipes on savory breakfasts.  I typically think of egg-based dishes as the staple of savory breakfasts.  But this article introduced me to the notion of polenta, quinoa, and wild rice as breakfast ingredients.

His “Polenta Pizza with Pancetta & Spinach” recipe really jumped out at me.  While I don’t think it is the ideal breakfast for 7am on a Monday, I think it would be a wonderful brunch dish.  I can see serving it on a Sunday morning to our weekend guests in the Berkshires.

Melissa Clark wrote about a dish she terms “Cheesy Cauliflower Chutney Mess” in which she mixes roasted cauliflower and peas with a bechamel sauce and then adds a dash of mango chutney to make it sweet and tangy.  Looks like it could be a very unique vegetarian meal.

Today's Dining Section

It’s Wednesday!  Time to see what goodies The New York Times has in store for me.  I was pleased to see that my two favorites – Mark Bittman and Melissa Clark – both had articles today.

Mark Bittman’s Parmesan Cream Crackers look deliciously simple and only require 5 ingredients.  Impress your guests with homemade crackers!

The Mustardy Braised Rabbit with Carrots by Melissa Clark is certainly not a weeknight meal.  But there is nothing I like more than braising meat on snowy Saturday night at our house in the Berkshires.  While I have never cooked rabbit, I became very comfortable with game after preparing wild boar in my cooking class in Florence.  And, our trip last year to Stockholm opened my taste buds up to a whole new world of game — elk, reindeer, and venison.

I always enjoy Melissa Clark’s recipes, but this one caught my eye in particular because it is an adaptation of a Daniel Boulud recipe.  Eating at Daniel remains one of my top ten dining experiences.  I am eager to see if I can bring a little bit of the elegant dining experience I had at Daniel into my home.