Kind of pokey, artichokey…..

So, in all the years I have been cooking, I have never actually cooked an artichoke. Doing so, requires a bit of time consuming prep that may possibly be filed under “not worth the effort”. Still deciding.


I found a bag of HUGE Land of the Lost sized chokes at local wholesale club only a couple of days after I watched an episode of Giada in Italy where she served grilled artichokes with “bagna cauda” or  “hot bath” dipping sauce of lemon, butter, garlic and anchovies.


That’s the easy part..first you have to get the chokes ready and cooked.


‘First cut the tip of the artichoke off, about two levels of leaves down and peel off the outside leaves. Then snip the tops off the outer leaves. I definitely had to size up on the knife when lopping off the top!


Cut the chokes in half and trim the stem of outside layer.


Then, use a teaspoon and remove the soft chokey part. ( see example on the right)

Add some wine, water and fresh herbs to a large non reactive pot.

Nestle the halves and some lemon halves in the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, so the artichokes are good and soft. The color will fade too like all cooked veggies.


Then toss the cooked halves in olive oil and grill for about 8 minutes per side.


Lessons learned…

I needed to peel off more outer leaves after cooking to find the very tender and sweet inner leaves…yum!

Everything tastes good dipped in anchovy butter!

It’s easy being green…

One night last week I did a little round up of the fridge to find the accompaniment for some lovely grilled lamb chops I had planned. Other than the tomatoes on the kitchen counter, every vegetable in the fridge was green. No carrots, no red onion, no squash or corn. A nutritionist’s dream… So ” green it is” I thought.

As you can see, I had green beans, asparagus, broccoli, romesco, and zucchini. I got them all seasoned and oiled and the Hubs indulged my OCD tendencies and kept everything organized in the grill basket for me.


Just before I served them I whipped up a dipping aioli of mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic. Aioli is forgiving so you can make it to your specifications and taste.


Dip, dip, hooray!

Wow!

What the heck have I been doing? Cause I haven’t been spending time with all of you here at Cashmere Tea…

I have been doing a little gardening and drinking rose wine and other joyous activities, which I’ll share soon. I’ll be back after the holiday weekend with some good books for the beach, some new crushes and probably a recipe or two. Stay tuned!

Oh and sitting by the fire in clement weather…

Just another meatless Monday

IMG_0877If pepperonata is a dish made with peppers as the main flavor, then caponata features one of my personal favorite ingredients.  Those wonderful little salt bombs, stars of piccata everywhere, ladies and gentlemen put your hands together for…..capers!

I whipped up a quick caponata the other nite, featuring mini eggplants cut into 1” pieces, cauliflower florets ( fresh, not frozen) and a medium yellow onion cut into thick slices. Tossed with olive oil and a little pepper.

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Out of the oven, I added more olive oil, some red wine vinegar, some  parsley, capers, and kalamata olives along with some sliced mini roma tomatoes.

So many things you can do with it. Toss with fresh arugula and some lemon juice and large fresh croutons for a fattoush like salad, topped with crumbling of feta cheese and stuffed in a pita or wrap, or served over brown rice and topped with some golden raisins for a little sweet, the caponata is a master of disguises!

 

Simple….#2

IMG_1018 2Once again the NYTimes comes through with a dead simple recipe of Jacques Pepin that has 3 ingredients other than salt and pepper. How easy can it be?

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Zucchini that’s been cut into 1/2 inch slices ( I used a mandoline for consistency) laid on a sheet pan and roasted to just a caramel state. Toss with 4 Tbsp of canola or vegetable oil, 2 Tbsp of white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Check out the recipe!

Might have taken 10 minute start to finish…ok 12 minutes….

 

Simple…#1

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I forgot to take a picture of the corn after it was roasted but some of the easiest and best tasting seasoning for corn on the cob is found in a jar of mayonnaise, a spice jar of cayenne, some cilantro chopped up and a little garlic powder. Mix together, spread over corn on the cob, wrap in foil and either roast in oven or on side of hot bbq grill. It will steam itself.

Known as “Mexican street corn” you can also spread the mixture on boiled corn or shave the kernels off the cob and cook in a cast iron skillet with the seasoning mixed through.

Also great with chopped jalepenos!

More from the garden….

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I finished up planting the annuals over the weekend, in between the raindrops! In the fall when I closed up the patio, I got rid of a lot of chipped, broken, too big, too small pots that I had hanging around. During a visit about 8 years ago, my mother sat patiently on the back step and counted over 100 pots on my little 10’x20′ patio. The years have taken their toll and now the number is down to a much more manageable figure somewhere in the vicinity of 3 dozen.

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I’ve had this multi tier whizbang thing hanging around taking up various duties over the years. For a long time it held the detritus of the kitchen that didn’t go in a cupboard…the odd candy bar, bunch of bananas and loaf of bread type of stuff along with the weeks’ tomatoes. But that clutter got old and I moved the stand along to the patio where for the last 2 summers, it has held tiny pots with tiny plants, which dry out way to fast in the high heat of summer. ( Given that the temps this week won’t crack 60°F I don’t think I have to worry just yet…)

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So for this season, I bought 2 el cheapo coir basket liners at Lowe’s along with a bag of sheet moss. I cut the coir liners to fit and lined the bottoms and sides of the baskets with the sheet moss and then put the liner inside that. Then I just planted the heck out of all the levels with 6 packs of annuals ( impatiens in pink and white, Irish moss, dark pink zonal geraniums, lavender ivy geraniums, a meuhlenbeckia wire plant and some verbena. The coir and moss will help hold moisture in and I can drench the whole stand with the hose as well as misting as needed! Plus as everyone knows it gives a little height to the garden! As you can see I also like to put little toys into my plants, so often you will find shells, starfish replicas, and tiny dime store bunnies tucked in among the green.

The Hanging Garden of Brooks St. 2017

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Remember these from last spring?  Little hanging balls of old orchids and new impatiens….harrumph, didn’t really last. Dried out fast even in the limited morning sun of my east facing patio. They would have sizzled in the front of the house! In the same spirit but with improved facilities, I’m proud to present….(drum roll please)

The 2017 version of the hanging garden, featuring lettuce and parsley. Shamelessly stolen from Pinterest!

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I bought 2 hayrack coir half round planters at Lowe’s for under $10. I bought 2 six pack plants of lettuce and 2 parsley plants and went to town. I bought some peat moss for moisture retention because …wind, sun and lettuces need a lot of water.

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I cut slits in the coir matting and pushed the seedlings of lettuce into each hold. (Top picture is outside, bottom picture is inside)

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Then, alternating layers of potting soil and peat moss, until the first 1/2 is filled. I laid the parsley plants right on the edge so they would fit between the two halves. I repeated the slits and the lettuce seedlings with the second 1/2.

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Once the second 1/2 was planted and filled with soil and peat moss, I stretched a plastic bag over the open side. I figured it was sort of like an crepe or omelette in that you need a plate to flip it on once it’s cooked. I also figured I could do a presto chango thing after and pull the bag out like a tablecloth from underneath a full set of dishes…yeah..not so much.

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Anyway, once together forming a sphere, use cable ties to secure the two halves together. You can’t use enough cable ties….

To quote Joan Cusak in ” Working Girl” …”it needs a bow or something!” I know it will fill out with lettuce and parsley but I will probably get some nice sheet moss and tuck it in her and there to decorate a little.

Watch this space for updates!

 

Wet Hand, Dry Hand…


That’s how you learn to do breading for proteins in culinary training. Always keep a dry hand…or things get messy. Very messy.

In an ongoing effort to cut calories and reduce portions and waste, I’ve been using a lot of chicken tenders versus chicken thighs or bone in chicken pieces. Over the weekend I wanted to try a baked chicken tender and break out of the sauté or stir fry rut…


Start with AP flour with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika blended in.


Then instead of buttermilk or yogurt, I used olive oil, basil and garlic


Lastly the crispy outer layer of shredded cheese, paprika, panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

Dredge each tender in flour, then oil, then panko and lay on a baking sheet, lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Keep your hand for the dry and wet coatings separate!


Bake in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes, turning once.

I served over a kale salad with a Poppy seed dressing and still had 3 tenders for leftovers!

Currently Crushing

It’s like buttah! No more crystallized honey in a teddy bear bottle! A little goes a long way…


I’ll never make my own again. The Hubs thought it was rice and was trying to figure out what holiday it was, because he thought he was eating rice…And! You can make it in the microwave ! In your grocers’ freezer!


Sometime over the winter on 2 separate occasions, I saved a photo of this wine to either my Facebook or Instagram account.and promptly forgot about it. Then I found it at a local wholesale club and thought…”why not?” Rose season is fast approaching and I cracked a bottle for my birthday weekend recently. ( Unofficially, my birthday is the start of Rose swilling season and cute shoe season…) This one was bright and flavorful and comes with this cute pink glass stopper instead of a cork. Because…added value!


More next month! Stay tuned !