Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Garlic au Gratin

During the intermediate days of sikes (The Feast of Tabernacles, whatever those are) the Wee’an, the Glaistig, and I visited the garlic festival in Saugerties, NY, and we had a very silly, happy good time, and learned some garlic related botany (see more pictures here).
I brought home four pounds of garlic: one pound each Music, German red, Roja, and German white (seen left-to-right). The Music is the mildest and most complexly-flavored. I hope I will be able to get supplies of this amazing variety of garlic more often. The German red is by far the sharpest and hottest of the four. The Roja is similar to the Music in its bouquet of flavors, but sharper and with firmer cloves. The German white is the most common garlic in this area; it is medium hot and very flavorful. German red is a rocambole variety of garlic and all the others are porcelain. This useful site describes many garlic varieties with wonderful pictures. You will also want to look at Farmgirl's landmark post on growing garlic.

Naturally, I came away very excited about garlic and eager to prepare something that would use garlic as a main ingredient rather than just a flavoring. I decided to make this gratin, based on a similar recipe from Marcella Hazan for baked cauliflower. In my version, you use a pound of garlic (seventy cloves) instead of cauliflower. You can’t tell from the picture that there is garlic in there instead of cauliflower, but I promise there is. In fact, I have made this three times since the festival, once with Music, once with the German Red, and once with the German white. They all are delicious. If you use the German red you need to blanch it in two waters before it is mild enough to cook.

Garlic au Gratin

1 pound garlic (70 cloves)

béchamel made with

1 ½ tablespoons butter

1 ½ tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

5 ounces grated parmesan (sharp cheddar also works very well)

salt, pepper, and paprika

Smear a baking dish with butter, and heat the oven to 350.

Peel the garlic cloves. You can speed up the process by submerging them briefly in boiling water.

Make the béchamel: melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Cook, stirring for several minutes and add the milk. Cook and stir until the sauce becomes thick. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.

Boil the garlic in salted water until the cloves are tender. Depending on the type of garlic this may take ten to twenty minutes. If the garlic is especially hot, as is German red garlic, blanch it for one minute, discard the first water, blanch it again in a fresh pot, discard the second water, and then cook it for twenty minutes. Save the garlic water for your next soup, or to cook pasta.

Mix the cooked garlic cloves with most of the béchamel sauce and cheese, reserving a bit for the top. Spread the saucy, cheesy garlic in the baking dish, pour on the reserved béchamel, and sprinkle on the reserved cheese. Bake for about half an hour. Yummy!

This recipe appears in Yiddish here.

דער רעצעפּט געפֿינט זיך אױף ייִדיש דאָ.

I just learned from Margot’s gorgeous Coffee and Vanilla that October is vegetarian awareness month. I can’t believe I was entirely unaware of this until the month was almost over, so I am very grateful to Margot, and with just a few hours of October left this year, I humbly submit this recipe for her World Vegetarian Day recipe event.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

געבאַקענע גראַטאַן (קוגל) פֿון קנאָבל

חול־המועד סוכּות בין איך געגאַנגען אינעם קנאָבל יאַריד אין סאָגערטיז, ניו־יאָרק און אונדז האָבן מיר זײער גוט פֿאַרבראַכט,

זיך געלערנט אַ סך װעגן דער באָטאַניע פֿון קנאָבל, פֿאַרזוכנט אַכטערלײ קנאָבל, און סתּם זיך געשפּילט.

איך האָב געװאָלט מאַכן אַ מאַכל אין װעלכן קנאָבל איז אַן אמתער אינגרעדיענט, נישט נאָר אַ געװירץ. האָב איך געמאַכט אַ „גראַטאַן“ פֿון קנאָבל. אַ מען זידט אײַן די צײנדלעך קנאָבל װערן זײ װײכער און זיסער, קימאַט װי קאַרטאָפֿל אָדער קאַליפֿלאָר.

קנאָבל גראַטינײ

1 פֿונט (70 צײנדלעך) קנאָבל

5 אָנצן שאַרפֿע קעז

סאָס בעשאַמעל פֿון׃

1 טאָפּ מילך

1 ½ לעפֿל מעל

1 ½ לעפֿל פּוטער

זאַלץ, פֿעפֿער און פּאַפּריקע

װאַרעמט אָן דעם אױװן אױף 350. שײלט'ץ אָפּ די צײנדלעך קנאָבל, און זידט'ץ זײ אײַן אין געזאָלצענע װאַסער 10 מינוט אָדער ביז זײ װערן װײכלעך. די יױך קאָן מען נוצן שפּעטער אין אַ זופּ אָדער עפּעס. מאַכט'ץ בעשאַמעל אַזױ׃ קאָכט'ץ פּוטער און מעל אין אַ טאָפּ, מישנדיק זײער גוט, און גיסט'ץ אַרײַן די מילך. קאָכט'ץ און מישט'ץ די סאָס זאָל װערן געדיכט. רײַב אָן די קעז. באַשמיר אַ באַק־טעפּל מיט פּוטער. מישט אױס די צײנדלעך קנאָבל מיט כּמעט אַלע בעשמאַל און קעז, און טו עס אַרײַן אינעם באַק־טעפּל. דעקט'ץ עס צו מיט די איבעריקע סאָס און קעז, און באַקט'ץ 30 מינוט.

עץ קאָנט נישט זען אַז ס'איז דאָ קנאָבל אין דעם און נישט קאַרטאָפֿל, אָבער איך זאָג ענק צו אַז עס איז פֿון קנאָבל!


געבאַקענע גראַטאַן (קוגל) פֿון קנאָבל
Garlic au gratin

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Bostini Cream Pie for the Daring Bakers

This is the first recipe I have prepared for the Daring Bakers, a blogging community devoted to the delight and edification of all bakers who dare, or would like to dare a bit more. This month’s recipe was selected by Mary of Alpineberry. Have a look at our blogroll, to see how everyone has interpreted this recipe.
It is a deconstruction of the dessert commonly called Boston Cream Pie, another misleadingly-named food, along with Zuppa Inglese (neither English nor soup). Boston cream pie is not a pie, nor has it any historic connection to Boston, apocryphal claims of the Omni Hotel megalith to the contrary.

I am grateful to have been challenged to make a recipe I would have been unlikely to select for myself, because of the prodigal amount of cream and yolks, and the use of cornstarch as a thickener.

For many years I thought this was the only worthwhile use of cornstarch, but I have come around of late to appreciate this unfashionable ingredient (I also use a cornstarch slurry in sauces for Chinese vegetables like these baby bok choi). The pudding is the star in this dessert, and immoderate as the recipe seems, all elements are in perfect balance. Each of the three components is easy to make in itself, and you may assemble them as simply or elaborately as you wish. The alert reader will note that lots of eggs go into the cake and pudding. The pudding recipe calls for one egg and nine (lordy, nine) yolks and the cake takes eight whites and three yolks, giving us a net of four extra yolks. I now have four whites from this recipe and four from the maple sugar cookies to reckon with. In the blogger labels below this recipe is listed under “4 yolks,” and I will similarly file other recipes with a yolk or white surplus so you can find them easily when you have extra whites or yolks on hand.

Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
Makes 8 very generous servings

Vanilla Pudding
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (I use bourbon vanilla beans)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 wineglasses. Refrigerate to chill.

Orange Chiffon Cake

5 ounces flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (juice from 2 and ½ oranges)
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest (zest from 3 medium oranges)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 12 by 17 inch half-sheet pan with parchment. Brush the parchment and the sides of the pan with oil and dust with flour.
Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and spread it gently to fill the corners.
Bake 18 minutes, or until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Cover the cake to keep it moist.

Chocolate Glaze

8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a steel bowl over hot water, or simple let the bowl rest near the hot oven while your cake is baking. Stir the glaze well and allow it to cool slightly.

Use a biscuit cutter of the same circumference as your wineglasses to cut the cake into little rounds. Place one or two cake rounds in each glass and pour or spoon over the chocolate glaze.

I cannot believe I have eaten one of these every day since I made them.

The Omni Hotel what?

Sorry about that. There are legends that this dessert was first made at the Parker House Hotel, and the chain that has acquired the Parker House has been trying to make the most of these, but recipes for the dessert predate the hotel’s existence.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Maple Sugar Cookies

I have been extending my Canada sojourn virtually, first by attending the Ukranian Wave festival of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance here in New York, and now by making these cracking good maple sugar cookies in celebration of our dazzling local leafage. I looked at Maida Heatter’s sugar cookie recipe, and a few others, and then I used this very handy food blog search gadget to find this recipe over at The Old Foodie:

Maple Sugar Cookies
One cup of sugar, one cup of crushed maple sugar, one cup of butter, two well beaten eggs, two tablespoons of water, two teaspoons of baking powder, and flour enough to roll out. Do not make too stiff. Bake in a quick oven.
[The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book; c1909.]

This is very close to what I ended up doing. I substituted coconut oil for the butter since these are for a dairy-free event, and I added extra yolks to make up for the lost butteryness. I also added some vanilla and maple extracts, which you can certainly leave out, but I do have this bottle of maple extract, and the last time I used it was seventeen years ago when I made this cake:

Those are the actual opening chords of Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, a particularly difficult piece to render in chocolate. I don’t know if you can tell from a seventeen-year-old Polaroid, but click for the full-size image to read the notes.

These cookies are quite sweet, perfect with milk or coffee, and your house will smell like a sugar shack for days.

Maple Sugar Cookies

1 pound flour (about 4 cups)

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup coconut oil (8 ounces)

1 cup granulated maple sugar (5.5 ounces)

1 cup white sugar (7 ounces)

2 tablespoons water (not sure why this is needed)

1 egg

4 egg yolks

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)

½ teaspoon maple extract (optional)

Heat the oven to 400. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cream the coconut oil with the sugars. Beat in the egg and yolks, the water, and the extracts, if you are using them. Mix in the flour, scraping down the sides. This will make a beautiful satiny dough. Chill the dough briefly, but not as long as you would chill a dough made with butter, just twenty minutes or so. Divide the dough into batches and roll ¼ inch thick. Cut with maple leaf-shaped cutters or plain biscuit cutters. Place the cookies on parchment-lined sheets and freeze them for about twenty minutes. I add this extra step of freezing the rolled cookies whenever I make cookies with coconut oil, since such cookies will spread during baking more than butter cookies. Bake them, two sheets at a time, for about 15 minutes for large cookies, slightly less for smaller cookies.

The Yiddish word for maple tree is נעזבױם (nezboym)
The Yiddish word for maple sugar is קליאָנצוקער (klyon tsuker)

I tried to make naturally colored sugar to decorate the cookies by adding a few drops each of yellow carrot juice, orange carrot juice, and beet juice to separate batches of granulated sugar. You can see from the photo that the resulting decorative sugar was too pale to be worth the effort. Has anyone had better luck coloring sugar? Any wild ideas?

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Friday, October 26, 2007

די גױיִשסטע שטאָט

װי פֿריער דערמאָנט, בין איך געװען אין קאַנאַדע, אָדער ערגעץ אַזױנס, מיט אַ װאָך צוריק. קעבעק־שטאָט איז גוט שײן, אָבער זי איז װײַט די גױייִשסטע שטאָט אױף דער װעלט. עס איז שװער צו זאָגן דװקא פֿאַר װאָס, אָבער אַ געדכטע גױישקײט דעקט אַלצדינג צו. אין האָטעל, למשל, אַמשטאָט אַ ביבל, האָבן זײ נאָר דעם קריסטלעכן טעסטאַמענט.

איך האָב שױן געהאַט געהערט אַז מען טאָר נישט שמײכלען אױף דער גאַס, אָבער איך קען זיך נישט אײַנהאַלטן, און עס האָט מיך אַ ביסל דערשראָקן װי די מענטשן האָבן צו מיר געקרימט די פּנימער, אָבער דאָס מאַכט מיר נישט אױס. נאָר אײן איבערלעבונג איז געװען טאַקע שרעקלעך. איך בין אַרײַן אין אַ קלײנעם געשעפֿטל אין דער אַלטער שטאָט, און װען די פֿרױ האָט אַ קוק געגעבן מײַן קרעדיט קאַרטל האָט זי זײער מיאוס געקרימט דאָס פּנים און געזאָגט „זשאַק–א–נער–איץ—זזזעט איזזז נאַט אַן אינגלעששש נײם” מיר איז פֿינסטער געװאָרן פֿאַר די אױגן, און איך האָב אױסגעשריגן אַז עס איז יאָ אַן ענגלישער נאָמען, נישט װײַל מײַן נאָםמע איז אַן ענגלישער, נאָר צוליב דעם װאָס אױסן איז זי געװען אַז ייִדן האָבן נישט קײן רעכט צו זײַן בירגער אין ערגעץ נישט, נישט אין קעבעק, נישט אין קאַנאַדע, און נישט אין קײן לאַנד אױף גאָר דער װעלט, און איך האָב געװאָלט ענטפֿערן אַז אין אַמעריקע האָבן זײ יאָ אַזאַ רעכט.

אונדז האָבן מיר זיך סײַ װי סײַ גוט פֿאַרבראַכט. איך האָב ליב געהאַט די אַרטישאָקן אין גאַס, און דעם פֿאָנטאַן פֿון באָרדאָ מיט שײנינקע זשאַבקעלעך.

אַלץ װאָס אונדז האָבן מיר געגעסן איז געװען געשמאַק. איך װעל קײן מאָל נישט פֿאַרגעסן אַ רעטשנע „קרעפּ“ מיט זאַלץ־פּוטער קאַראַםעל. ממש אָפּצולעקן די פֿינגער. איך בין געװען צופֿרידן צו געפֿיןען אַ געזונטערײַ „דער פֿרײלעכער מײער“ און אַ װעגעטאַרישן רעסטאָראַן.

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Language and Peas

Don't miss this lovely story over at Language Hat; A parent has difficulty encouraging her young son to learn her native language:

That all changed during a trip to India when Jai was 4. I was sitting with my mother on the floor, shelling peas. As we were laughing and talking, Jai wandered over, picked up a pea pod with great curiosity and asked what it was. It is mattar, my mother told him. Peas? he wondered. Inside this? He loved the fact that he could open the pod and find a treasure. He opened one, then another and another. He sat still, which in itself was an achievement. He began to listen to us, to ask questions.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Palate of the Court, As Well As Its Conscience

According to a new book about the Supremes, Justice Souter had never seen or heard of diet Coke before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Lucky devil he is.


Acorn Squash, Just So

I made baked acorn squash recently, and enjoyed than more than I thought I might. Sugary sweet and conventionally pretty, this Ann Sheridan of squashes has never been in the first tier of my favorites and I wouldn’t normally pick it out for myself, but these acorn squashes came from my CSA and of course they are to ordinary acorn squash as the apple tree to the trees of the wood. I just baked them cut side down for about thrity minutes, and then flipped them over to add butter, salt and pepper. There is really nothing else you need to add.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

זײ האָבן עס יאָ

איך האָב זײער אַ סך צו שרײַבן װעגן מײַן רײַזע אין קאַנאַדע, אָבער איך װיל ענק שױן לאָזן װיסן די װיכטיקסטע זאַך. זײ האָבן יאָ נישט־פֿאַרצוקערטע סאָיא מילך, ברוך־השם.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Uchiki Kuri Squash Soup with Lentils

Holy cow! I like winter squash, in fact I like winter squash a whole lot, but I have never before been the least bit tempted to try it raw. Just before I left I got this smashing uchiki kuri squash from my CSA. As soon as I cut it open the fresh, sweet, fruity, and completely irresistible smell filled the kitchen and I just had to slice off a bit and have a bite. The dense flesh is juicy and sweet. I cooked them anyway, but these kuris present a whole new level of squash possibility, clear, pure, and beautiful. This Beverly Sills of squash will make you smile from ear to ear and fill your heart with sunshine.

Sometimes these are orange all over, but look at those snazzy green speckles! The skin is tender, so you don’t need to peel them.

Late October Lentil Soup with Uchiki Kuri Squash

1 dense-fleshed squash such as uchiki kuri or kabocha, about 1 ½ pounds after trimming

3 cups lentils

olive oil

3 medium or largish onions, diced

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

several stalks of celery, peeled, destringified, and sliced (just one stalk is fine. So is a whole bunch)

salt and pepper

leaves from one bunch of parsley, chopped

parmesan rinds, if you happen to have some

lemon wedges, ditto

Cut the squash open and remove the seeds and fibers. Cut the flesh into cubes or oblate parallelepipeds that will fit comfortably in a spoon, and set aside. Wash and pick over the lentils. If you like, you can let them soak a bit while preparing the vegetables. Heat oil in a soup kettle and add the diced onions and cumin seeds. Stir and cook until the onions are relaxed and add the celery. Add the drained lentils and about three quarts of water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer for thirty minutes. Add the squash, parsley, and parmesan rinds if you are using them. Cook for another half hour or until the squash is quite tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may serve this soup with parmesan, or lemon wedges, or both, and it is just right on its own.

See Nami Nami, where Pille will be rounding up this Weekend's Herb Blogging creations.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

מײערן אײַז קרעם Carrot Ice Cream

מיט אַ פּאָר טעג צוריק בין איך געפֿאָרן אַדורך פּראַספּקט פּאַרק אין ברוקלין און זיך אָפּגעשטעלט בײַ אַ יאַריד פֿון אַפֿריקאַנער קונסט און קולטור. דאָרטן האָב איך זיך באַקענט מיטן באַרימטן אײַז קערם מבֿין אַל דוראַנט. מיר איז געװען שװער אױסצוקלײַבן נאָר אײן טיפּ אײַז קרעם, אָבער איך בין געװען שטאַרק צופֿרידן מיטן מײערן אײַז קרעם װאָס איך האָב ענדלעך באַשטעלט. אין באַנד 1,קאַפּיטל 19 פֿון מלחמה און שלום מאַכט מאַריאַ דעמיטריאָװנאַ אַ װיץ אַז זי װעט דערלאַנגען מײערן אײַז קרעם, אַ דעזערט װאָס האָט דעמאָלט עקזיסטירט נאָר אין װיצן. דוראַנץ אײַז קרעם אָבער איז אַן אמתער און געשמאַקער מאכל, אָן איבעריקע געװירצן. דער פֿרישער טעם איז נאָר פֿון מאײערן און קרעם. װאָס קען דאָך בעסער זײַן?

“You won’t ask,” Natasha’s little brother was saying; “I know you won’t ask!”

“I will,” replied Natasha.

Her face suddenly flushed with reckless and joyous resolution. She half rose, by a glance inviting Pierre, who sat opposite, to listen to what was coming, and turning to her mother:

“Mamma!” rang out the clear contralto notes of her childish voice, audible the whole length of the table.

“What is it?” asked the countess, startled; but seeing by her daughter’s face that it was only mischief, she shook a finger at her sternly with a threatening and forbidding movement of her head.

The conversation was hushed.

“Mamma! What sweets are we going to have?” and Natasha’s voice sounded still more firm and resolute.

The countess tried to frown, but could not. Marya Dmitrievna shook her fat finger.

“Cossack!” she said threateningly.

Most of the guests, uncertain how to regard this sally, looked at the elders.

“You had better take care!” said the countess.

“Mamma! What sweets are we going to have?” Natasha again cried boldly, with saucy gaiety, confident that her prank would be taken in good part.

Sonya and fat little Petya doubled up with laughter.

“You see! I have asked,” whispered Natasha to her little brother and to Pierre, glancing at him again.

“Ice pudding, but you won’t get any,” said Marya Dmitrievna.

Natasha saw there was nothing to be afraid of and so she braved even Marya Dmitrievna.

“Marya Dmitrievna! What kind of ice pudding? I don’t like ice cream.”

“Carrot ices.”

“No! What kind, Marya Dmitrievna? What kind?” she almost screamed; “I want to know!”

Marya Dmitrievna and the countess burst out laughing, and all the guests joined in. Everyone laughed, not at Marya Dmitrievna’s answer but at the incredible boldness and smartness of this little girl who had dared to treat Marya Dmitrievna in this fashion.

In War and Peace, Marya Dmitrievna, driven to the end of her carrot by Natasha, jokes that dessert will be carrot ice cream (Book I, chapter 19). Al Durant’s fresh and sunny carrot ice cream, unmasked by extra spices, is no joke, but real and delicious. I came upon Mr. Durant and his ice cream at a fair in Prospect Park, and he also has a shop.

Flavors Ice Cream and Bakery
761 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fresh Pistachios

When I got this amazing dried cantaloupe at Sunflower Market in Queens, I also got these fresh pistachios, The husks are easily removed and the tender kernels taste just like pistachios, but more so. I had never seen anything like this before, and I betcha Sweetnicks hasn't either!


Monday, October 15, 2007

זײער אַ גרױסער קאַלעפֿיאָר

צי גענקט עץ די קלײנינקע חנ'עװדיקע קאַלעפֿיאָרקעלע װאָס איך האָב געזען אין בױרקלי מיט אַ פּאָר יאָר צוריק? 30 פֿון זײ װאָלט געװען גלײַך אײנער די־אָ. זײ זעןען אַכט פֿונט אַ הײפֿטל. איך װײס נישט אױף װיפֿל עץ קאָנט זען פֿון בילד די גרײס פֿון די קאַלעפֿיאָרן. די געלע קאַלעפֿיאָרן אױף דער לינקער זײַט זענען רעלאַטיװ נאָרמאַל.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Artichokes and Dill, Doubly Delicious

Yes, I am overwhelmed by the quantity of vegetables I am receiving every week from my miraculous CSA collective, and yes, I will be leaving shortly for Canada, or somewhere of that sort, for several days, but even so, I just had to bring home seven pounds, oh my gosh, seven pounds, of these amazing prickly artichokes from Muddy River Farm at Union Square last Friday. Not too many farmers in this part of the country grow artichokes, but when we get them they are the best thing in the world. A few weeks ago we had these tiny little guys and now they are huge!

There are a number of reasons I am especially grateful to get artichokes (usually considered a spring vegetable on the west coast) in the late summer and fall. One reason is that it allows me to prepare Alfredo Viazzi’s Artichoke Pasta to accompany the exquisite late summer dish of carrots, beets, and zucchini as the maestro intended (I will be making every effort to post that vegetable recipe while you can still make it this year). Another reason is that it gives me an opportunity to write about my very favorite vegetable just in time for the second anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging, the inspiring blogging event founded more or less by accident two years ago this week at Kalyn’s Kitchen. A third reason: they are artichokes! I want to have them all the time!

Kalyn suggests that we observe this auspicious occasion by posting a recipe that combines a favorite vegetable and a favorite herb. It so happens that one of my favorite preparations involves artichokes and dill, but it is so simple I am a little embarrassed to call it a recipe. I trim the artichokes, wash them obsessively, and cook them in one inch of boiling water, and serve them with this dill vinaigrette. You can also make them easier to eat by removing the center leaves and choke for your guests. Hmm, maybe it is not as simple as I thought.

Deceptively Simple Artichokes

Artichokes (any size, any shape, any amount)

Wash the artichokes obsessively and soak them in acidulated water to coax out stubborn dirt and bugs. Trim off the stems and tops of the artichokes, and use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the spikes off each leaf in a graduated fashion (I suppose you may skip this step if you really cannot bear to do it, but see how cute they are). At this point, give them another bath just to make sure they are dirt- and bug-free.

Bring one inch of lightly salted water to the boil in a pot large enough for your artichokes and set them in the pot on their little bottoms, so the bottoms can seethe as the tops steam. Stick the stems in the gaps. They have delicious artichoke flesh as well. Cover and cook until the hearts are tender—forty minutes for the real gigantors, less for smaller varieties. Serve the artichokes hot, warm, or room temperature with melted butter or dill vinaigrette. For an especially user-friendly presentation, spread open the outer leaves, and pull out the innermost leaves but keep them in their little floriform cluster. Scrape out and discard the fuzz, and pour some vinaigrette into the heart. Now replace the inner-leaf bouquet on top. That’s nice.

Happy anniversary herb bloggers and congratulations Kalyn.

You will also want to try La Vignarola, a satisfying artichoke stew, and Artichoke, Leek and Matzo Pie.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Bumpy Pumpkins of Provence

You have, it seems to me, two choices. You can buy a couple of pounds of peanuts and glue them to the surface of your pumpkin, or you can skip the middleman by getting a Poitron Brodé Galeux d’Eysine.

I am told that this lovely but unconventional surface goes along with a surprisingly powerful flavor. This must be the Ida Lupino of Squash.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

אַ קנױליקע דיניע

עץ האָט צװײ ברירות, דאַכט זיך מיר. עץ קאָנט אָדער קױפֿן אַ פּאָר פֿונט סטאַשקעס און זײ צוקלעפּן צו צו ענקערע דיניעס, אָדער קױפֿן להתּחילה אַ פּראָװאָנסאַלער דיניע „בראָדײ גאַלעאו דעזין.“ ד"ה „געשטריקט מיט די שטײנדלעך פֿון עזין“ אוּװאַ!

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Wooly Bear Prognostication 2007

I thing this little fella is saying that this year will bring another moderate winter, milder at the beginning, but quite cold into the early spring.

Dried Cantaloupe

It seems like months ago that I posted a photograph of some unidentified dried fruit. Now it can be told! This is dried cantaloupe from Sunflower Market in Rego Park Queens. Beautiful, huh? and wonderfully sweet and lush. In its dried form, cantaloupe is caramel-sweet with notes of chocolate, coffee and dates. At first, I couldn't believe it was cantaloupe, but then the fresh flavor of cantaloupiness blossoms out in the second wave of tasting. Here's the coolest part: when next I had fresh cantaloupe, I was able for the first time to perceive the subtle notes of the datey and chocolaty flavor that must have been there all along.
Thanks so much to everyone for your excellent guesses. I think the clear winner is Always Write who saw the fabled "Shroud of Turin Kugel." Honorable mention goes to Miriam for this helpful comment on the origin of the phrase "have a shifty":
the phrase "have a shifty" is from the anglo-arabic "have a shufti" - shufti means look (imperative) in arabic. In syrian-jewish brooklyn, kids often tell each other to "shuf" this or "shuf" that as a way of saying "check this out".

Really, you want to read them all.