Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Roasted Artichokes with Roasted Garlic Butter

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the final day of the Southeast Produce Council's Southern Exposure Conference.  About 200 companies set up exhibits of their products.  This means row upon row of the finest fruits and vegetables you have ever seen.  It really is amazing.

One of my favorite companies was there: Ocean Mist Farms.  They grow one of my all time favorite vegetables - artichokes.  Indeed I have been a member of their Artichoke Club for years.  Every month they send you tips on preparing artichokes and an opportunity to win a case of them.  You can check them out here:  http://www.oceanmist.com/

Yesterday I got a wonderful surprise in the mail from one of the representatives I met.  A case of their wonderful Heirloom Artichokes direct from Castroville, CA.  I plan to try several different preparations and began today with these Roasted Artichokes with Roasted Garlic Butter.  The roasting caramelized the artichokes giving them a deep rich flavor.  I served them as an appetizer.

Remove the choke.  It is not hard!
Put garlic where the choke used to be.  It will roast right along with the artichoke.


1/2 to 1 whole artichoke per person
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 peeled clove of garlic per artichoke half
1 tablespoon butter per artichoke half

Preheat Oven to 450.

1.  Trim about 1/2 inch off the stem end of the artichoke.  Place it stem side up on the cutting board and cut it in half.  Immediately brush the cut side with lemon juice using a pastry brush.
2.  Use a pairing knife to cut right under the fuzzy choke then scoop it out with a spoon. Brush again with lemon juice.
3.  Brush the artichokes all over with olive oil and season with salt.  Place a garlic clove in the cavity where the choke was.
4.  Making sure the garlic stays in place put the artichokes cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast for 15 minutes.
5.  Turn the artichokes cut side up, keeping the garlic in place and roast for another 15 minutes.
6.  Turn them a final time and continue roasting until done.  Another 10 minutes or so.

To serve, melt the butter.  Have each person mash their garlic clove in their butter dish and then divide the butter evenly among the dishes.  Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ginger Sesame Noodles

Happy New Year!  Welcome to the year of the goat and sheep.  Indeed today only marks the first day of the Chinese New Year.  The celebration lasts for 15 days and each day has a special meaning.  It all culminates with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day.  That makes for one long party!

There is some seriously good eating going on too.  Yum!  Of utmost importance is eating noodles.  They represent longevity.  So here is a really delicious way to enjoy some noodles.  My kids love these, they will eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Noodles are meant to be a side dish and as such, this recipe will make 6 generous servings but my kids will eat them as the main event any chance they can.  These noodles complement so many main dishes - BBQ and grilled meats, roasted meats.  They are so simple to make, so enjoy.

Ginger Sesame Noodles


8 ounces angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion rings
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon pure sesame oil
freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Cook pasta according to package.  I don't add salt to the water because the seasoning ingredients have plenty.  Drain when done.
2.  While the pasta cooks, toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium low heat.  Stir frequently and watch carefully.  This will take about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat just as they are taking on color.
3.  Thinly slice the scallions and mince the ginger.
4.  Put the oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil in a large skillet.  Add drained pasta, sesame seeds, ginger and scallions.  Toss over low heat to just heat through and combine all ingredients.  I like to use 2 forks for this to get the scallions and sesame seeds all mixed in.  Season to taste with pepper.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Clementine Cake

Clementine Cake
I am not a frivolous person.  I am frugal, practical, efficient but not frivolous.  I despise wastefulness.  At this stage of my life I have pretty much everything I need.  When Christmas rolls around I am sure to tell my husband and kids I do not need anything and please do not go buy stuff just so there is something under the tree for me.  Really.  That is what will make me happiest. 

And that is just what I said to them back in November.  Until one day this little catalog came in the mail from Pier One Imports.  Oh - I also do not bake much.  I am not good at it.  I drool over dessert and baking blogs but I leave it to them.  My cakes never look like theirs. Nor my cookies, or cake pops, or cupcakes.  Luckily I have kids so I let them do the decorating and then it is okay that it does not look like theirs.   So back to that little catalog that arrived in the mail.  In it was this beautiful cake stand.  For some reason I wanted it.  And I did not stop wanting it.  Usually I can talk myself out of pretty much any purchase.  But not this.  It is definitely not practical.  It is totally frivolous.  Really not me at all.  But I wanted it all the same and made sure everyone knew it.  So here it is.  I found it under the Christmas tree.

I promised that from now on I will put all the birthday cakes in it.  But I did want to try it out.  So today I made a cake.  I wanted something light and refreshing.  Something that would make the stand the star.  I had just purchased a box of clementines and they turned out to be perfect.  I pieced together this recipe and for once it came out exactly as I wanted it to.  It is perfect with a cup of hot tea. 

Isn't it beautiful?!

Clementine Cake

Ingredients for cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4-5 clementines to make puree (to make 1 1/3 cups)
1 tablespoon apricot jam

Preheat oven to 350. One eight cup cake pan or bundt pan well greased and floured. 

1.  Remove the zest from the clementines.  I found this easiest to do with a carrot peeler.  Place the fruit and the zest in a food processor or blender and puree. Strain 1/3 cup of the juice and set aside for syrup and glaze.  You should have about one cup puree remaining.  Do not strain remaining puree - leave in the pureed fruit and zest. 
2.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3.  Using a hand blender blend the eggs and sugar together until the eggs are light and the sugar is dissolved.  Blend in the oil and the 1 cup of puree.  Blend in the flour mixture.
4.  Pour into cake pan and bake 50 - 55 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Turn the oven off. Remove from the oven and poke holes all over the cake with a skewer.  Pour the syrup slowly over the cake.  Put the cake back in the oven for 5 minutes. 
5.  Remove the cake from the oven and let stand 5 minutes more.  Then gently loosen the cake and turn it onto a plate.  Melt the apricot jam and lightly brush a thin layer all over the cake.  Let the cake cool completely.
6.  When the cake is cool make the glaze and drizzle it over the cake.  Place the cake on a beautiful cake stand and enjoy!

Ingredients for syrup:

Reserved strained puree
1/4 cup sugar

1. Remove 1 tablespoon of the clementine juice and set aside for glaze.  Put the rest in a small pan.  Add the sugar and bring the a simmer.  Stir and cook until the sugar is dissolved completely. 

Ingredients for glaze:

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon reserved clementine juice
1 cup confectioners sugar

1 Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave.  Add juice and sugar.  Whisk until smooth.  Drizzle over cake.  This glaze sets up pretty quickly so make it right before you will be using it.