Italian Stuffed Artichokes

italian stuffed artichoke

The recipe for Italian stuffed artichokes was introduced to me a few weeks ago by my friend Val Struck, owner of Good Life Food and Events, Catering.

It took only one bite for me to decided that this is my new favorite preparation for the tender, leafy vegetable, and I’ve been craving the perfect combination of flavors ever since. 

Served with a crisp white wine, the creamy artichoke marries perfectly with the crisp Italian style bread crumbs. The dish makes for a wonderful appetizer however, I could eat mine as an entree, it’s that good!

A little California Artichoke History:

It was the Spanish settlers who brought the artichoke to California. Some artichoke plants were in the gardens of European immigrants.

California’s first artichoke fields grew south of San Francisco, near the town of Half Moon Bay, in the early 1920s.

In 1922, Andrew Molera planted the first artichoke shoots in Castroville. Angelo Del Chiaro, Egidio Maracci, Daneil Pieri, and Amerigo Del Chiaro subsequently leased 150 acres of land and grew artichokes.

In 1923, there were nine artichoke growers. Within four years, there were over 50 growers and 12,000 acres of artichokes growing in Castroville, and in the Monterey Bay area.

In 1924 Daniel Pieri, Amerigo Del Chiaro, Angelo Del Chiaro, Alfred Tottino, and James Bellone formed the “California Artichoke and Vegetable Growers Corporation.” In 1995, they renamed the company to “Ocean Mist Farms.” Source: Wikipedia

  • Artichokes were named California’s official vegetable on April 10, 2013. California growers boast 99.99% production of all commercially grown artichokes in the United States. Source: Artichokes.org

Italian Stuffed Artichokes
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 large artichokes (6 smaller artichokes for more people)
  2. 1 lemon, halved
  3. 1 3/4 cups bread crumbs (can be made from scratch with leftover bread)
  4. 3/4 cups, plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  5. 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  6. 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  7. 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/4 cup, plus 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  10. Hot water
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut artichoke stems to create flat bottom. Cut away tough outer skin of the stem and finely chop the stems. Sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from browning
  3. Remove tough outer leaves of artichoke. Slice the top third off, and with scissors, cut sharp tips of remaining leaves. Rub bottom of artichokes with lemon. Spread leaves to make space for stuffing
  4. Combine chopped stems, breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and combine until moistened
  5. Starting from the bottom leaves, use your hand to stuff the mixture in and between leaves. Push the stuffing downward into leaves as you work your way around to the top of the artichoke
  6. Place artichokes in a baking dish and pour 1 inch hot water around the artichoke bottoms. Drizzle each artichoke with 1 tablespoon olive oil
  7. Rub one side of foil with olive oil and place foil (oil side down) over artichokes and secure tightly
  8. Bake for 45 minutes OR until a fork slides easily into the base
  9. Remove foil. Sprinkle artichokes with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and broil tops until golden brown (watch while broiling)
  10. Serve hot or at room temperature
Notes
  1. Artichokes can be cut into halves and served on salad plates. Remind guests to remove the Choke before eating the heart.
Adapted from Allrecipes
Adapted from Allrecipes
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
 Italian Stuffed Artichokes




Radishes Butter and Sea Salt – Simple Summer Snacks

Radish Butter and sea Salt

Radishes, butter, and sea salt; it doesn’t get any easier or tastier than that! This simple summer snack is best paired with a crisp white or light bodied rosé wine. When making this classic dish it’s imperative to use the best butter you can find.

I used Kerrygold, a pure Irish butter, but there are many other high quality butters to choose from. Check your local market for butter that are rated AA or higher, these butters contain higher amount of sweet cream, giving them a sweeter flavor as well as, a creamier texture. 

Method:

Soak radishes is cold water and rinse well to dislodge sand and dirt particles.

Cut the radishes in half leaving the greens attached to create a lovely presentation.

Serve with a variety of sea salts. I used Maldon sea salt, Himalayan Pink Salt with Blood Orange and Black Sea Salt. The slightly different flavor profile of the individual salts lend nuance to the eating experience. 

The simple combination is superb; a delightful, simple, summer snack. 

Radish Butter and Sea Salt




Ratatouille: Simple, Elegant and Satisfying

 

This post is being submitted to the Best Home Chef Vegetarian dish challenge. I wrote and posted this recipe when I was still using blogger.com in 2011. Hope you enjoy this delicious ratatouille recipe

My youngest daughter has been pestering me to make Ratatouille ever since the Disney movie opened in theaters.  There is only one minor issue that has kept me from making the dish for almost two years…my family doesn’t like vegetables.  There I said it! I don’t want to place blame here but the source of the distaste for vegetables comes for one particular person…my darling husband! Corn, beans, and potatoes are the breathed of his vegetable pleasures, thus resulting in familial taste choices in his offspring.  On the other hand, I delight in all manner of vegetables and cannot fathom the loss of palatable pleasures my family has missed over the years! 

Finally, after two years of badgering from our youngest child, I decided to make Ratatouille for the first time!  With my husband off in China on a business trip, this was the perfect time to experiment with a dish that consists of only vegetables. 

 
 
Using the traditional French recipe, I tried keeping to the same fresh flavored ingredients but made a minor adjustment with by adding button mushrooms. 
 
Recipe:
 
1 large eggplant sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds, skin on
3 small zucchini
2 medium yellow summer squash
2 large yellow or orange bell peppers
2 large clove garlic
2 medium sweet onions sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds
5 vine ripe tomatoes, skinned
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes with juices
1 pound button mushrooms
olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
 
Method:
 
Wash and slice vegetables. Peel tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, remove skin and crush tomatoes with spoon or by hand into a medium skillet, set on low heat, add thyme, bay leaf, garlic and salt and pepper and simmer until ready to use
 
In a large heavy bottom skillet, add two tablespoons olive oil, cook eggplant for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, add olive oil if pan becomes dry, drain cooked eggplant on paper towel, add salt and pepper and set aside
 
 
Next repeat the same process with zucchini and yellow squash, remove from heat add salt and pepper and drain on paper towel.
 
Cooking the vegetables separately and in order is important when making this dish.  Using this process, allows each vegetable to keep its own distinct flavor without being compromised by the other vegetables; the result, a perfectly balanced dish. Also, adding salt and pepper to each vegetable after removing the from the skillet will keep the natural juices from escaping and prevent the vegetables from being “boiled” and becoming mushy.
 

Add two tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet and cook the peppers for 5 minutes, remove to paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

Add two tablespoons olive oil to skillet and cook onions for 5 minutes, remove to paper towel and salt and pepper to taste.

Add two tablespoons olive oil to skillet and cook mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, remove to paper towel and salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble:

In a large oiled casserole dish begin layering the vegetables in the same order as they were cooked; eggplant, zucchini, squash, peppers, onions and then mushrooms

 
 
 
Pour tomato sauce over layered vegetables and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. More salt and pepper can be added by your guests, but I found it wasn’t necessary as the flavors were a delicate and delightfully seasoned.
 
Don’t forget the wine…I served a spicy and beautifully structured Zinfandel blend.   Ridge 2005 California Sonoma County Three Valleys, Zinfandel.   A perfect combination of grapes from multiple vineyards this was a wonderful pairing for my ratatouille. Priced around $26-$30 dollars per bottle and worth every penny!
 
 
I also serve garlic crostini to sop up all the juices. 
 
 
 
Not having any previous experience with eating Ratatouille, I was blown away by the complex flavors of this dish!  Each individual vegetable retaining its own distinct flavor but perfectly combined to create a mouth-watering, soul satisfying meal.  My family, minus the vegetable challenged man of the house, loved it!!
 



Spicy Cauliflower Pickles

SpicyCaulifPickles

 

 You can forget the food coloring when using these stunning, high-bred, cauliflower for pickling. High-bred varieties range from orange to dark purple, lending their vibrant color to the mix.

The orange cauliflower has higher than normal levels of beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that encourages a healthy skin. “These are the results of traditional selective breeding – where different strains have been cross-bred, and cross-bred, until these strains have been created. Source: UK Mail Online.

Perfect for making cauliflower pickles: high-bred varieties keep up their color, and crunch, for months after pickling. I recently opened a jar that was six months old, they were delicious and crisp as the day I pickled them…yum! 

SpicyCaulifPickle

 

This years pickle project uses the base from last years Hot Giardiniera mix (pictured above, for recipe click the photo) spicier, and a little sweeter, this years pickles pack a real punch. 

Last years Hot Giardiniera recipe is tart, spicy, and maintains the crisp texture of the vegetables for several months however, over time the vegetables tend to lose their natural color, leaving them a bit unappealing compared to store-bought, which contain additives, and color enhancers. 

When canning, I prefer to use as many natural ingredients as possible, allowing jams, and jellies to reduce to set, without the aid of pectin. I occasionally use pickling Lime but prefer to leave it out unless I’m making Lime Pickles 

Pickling lime for pickling cucumbers the old-fashioned way for extra crispness and flavor! Makes Cucumber Lime Pickles (recipe on each jar), Green Tomato Pickles, Watermelon Rinds and Citron Pickles. Pickling lime is food grade calcium hydroxide with no additives or preservatives. A quality pickling product from Mrs. Wages.

Choosing not to use pickling lime, or adding dye to the recipe, I opted to use the vibrantly colored hybrid, purple, and orange cauliflower.  I was pleasantly surprised to see their color held, despite the liquids purple tone. The orange cauliflower turned to a darker, red-orange, and the purple stayed, a deep purple color. 

On a side note: I tend to dig around the jar to evacuate the cauliflower pieces first,  as they are my favorite part of the mix. This years recipe is a spicier blend of seasonings, using only the cauliflower, forgoing the traditional celery and carrot. The result, less food remorse when tossing out the uneaten bits.

When the family has eaten up all the pickles, I save the pickle juice to use as a condiment for salmon balls or tuna fish cakes. I also use the leftover juices as a pickling brine for hard boiled eggs (purple pickled eggs), very yummy!

Pickling Spices

Delightfully colored, this is my new favorite pickle recipe, and the perfect accompaniment to my next post…Fried Chicken Livers.   By the way, they look amazing!

Purple and Yellow Cauliflower Pickles
Yields 6
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 9 cups white vinegar
  2. 6 cups water
  3. 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  4. 2 teaspoon sea salt
  5. 3 large garlic cloves, slivered
  6. 2 teaspoon black whole peppercorns
  7. 7 small bay leaves
  8. 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper, sliced thinly
  9. 1 yellow or red sweet bell pepper sliced thinly
  10. 14 Thai hot chili peppers, whole
Instructions
  1. Prepare canning jars: wash in soap and water, rinse, and set into a large stock pot, pour enough water into the pot, enough to reach half to three quarters up the sides of jars, wash and rinse lids and rims. (for more info see manufactures instructions)
  2. Wash and break or cut cauliflower into small florets
  3. In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients, reserving the cauliflower until later
  4. Cook over medium high heat until just under a boil
  5. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, do not reduce the heat
  6. Using a strainer or slotted ladle, quickly remove vegetables to a large bowl, set aside
  7. Using a clean pot holder, remove hot jars from boiling water, set on a clean dish towel,
  8. Fill jars with cooked cauliflower leaving 1/4 inch head space, distribute peppers, and spices evenly among jars
  9. Using a ladle, and funnel, pour hot liquid over vegetables, to cover
  10. Place rims and lids on jars, twist to tighten (do not over tighten lids at this point)
  11. Return the sealed jars to stock pot, and process filled jars for 15 minutes in boiling water
  12. Carefully remove jars from stock pot to a clean dish towel, rest until each has sealed. You will most likely hear "ping" or "Pop"
  13. Gently tighten the lids after 30 minutes
  14. Check seals after pickles have cooled, about 1 hour (it can take up to 24 hours for jars to seal) if the top pops "up" when pressed the jar is not sealed correctly, and should be reprocessed in the hot water bath or can be immediately refrigerated to consumption for up to 2 weeks.
Notes
  1. To avoid eating canned foods that have gone off and may be dangerous to your health, throw away jars that show warning signs. A convex lid means the container was not sealed properly; liquid leaking from the jar means it is possibly broken or was overstuffed; liquid spurting out of the jar when opened is a sign that your food may have started fermenting and is past its due date; and, when unnatural or off odors can be detected, it is time to toss your canned goods into the garbage.
  2. Clostridium Botulinum
  3. Most often found in improperly canned foods, the bacteria Clostridium botulinum produce a toxin that causes an illness affecting the nervous system called botulism. The bacteria is an anaerobic organism, which means it lives and grows in low oxygen conditions such as an improperly sealed can or jar.
  4. Read more: http://www.ehow.com/info_8461422_dangers-home-canning.html#ixzz2d6e0bUyr
Adapted from The Household Searchlight Recipe Book 1931 Edition
Adapted from The Household Searchlight Recipe Book 1931 Edition
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/

PurpleYellowCauliflower

PurpYellowCauliflower

Spicy Cauliflower Pickles

 

For detailed sterilization and canning instruction click HERE

 




Fresh Cut Green Beans, Sauteed with Potatoes, Bacon and Onions

This recipes is one of my favorite summer fresh creations. Filled with flavorful memories of hot summer days in the garden with mom, the crisp cut green beans snap alongside the creamy texture of the sauteed potatoes and onions.  Bacon rounds out the dish with its savory smoke flavor.   

The simple flavors of summer express themselves in perfect harmony in this basic side dish!

Sharing the dish for lunch with my son, I prefer mine with a splash of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of scallions. My son gobbled his share right from the pan.

Fresh Cut Green Beans, Sauteed with Potatoes, Bacon and Onions

Recipe
serves 4

1 pound fresh green beans
1 medium white onion
3-4 medium potatoes
1/4 pound bacon
2 tablespoons butter
red wine vinegar
2-3 scallions
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Cook bacon in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until crisp, remove bacon and all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan
  • add potatoes and onions and cook covered, stirring frequently until potatoes are tender but not soft.
  • add cut green beans, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • serve with red wine vinegar, garnish with chopped scallions
DELISH!!



Fried Green Tomatoes

This is my favorite version of fried green tomatoes. There are other recipes that call for eggs and making more of a batter and deep frying just too heavy for me.
Fried Green Tomatoes
4-6 green tomatoes sliced thick
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup butter or vegetable oil

 

Method
Slice tomatoes thickly, in a medium bowl mix dry ingredients, flour both sides of a tomato and place in a hot skillet, repeat until your skillet is full but the tomatoes aren’t to crowded.
Cook on first side for 3-5 minutes without turning, flip over and cook the other side 3-5 minutes. The idea is to creat a very brown crisp crust without loosing any of the flour mix. Season with salt and pepper taste.

Serve alone or as a side dish, YUM!!