Comfort food

A is For

Artichoke.  Hey, everyone, let’s eat this giant thorn-like thistle! I can’t imagine who first figured how to cook and eat these things, but I’m glad they did.  Stuffed artichokes are one of those things, comfort food and a luxury at once.  Luxury because of the cost and the work involved.  I haven’t made them in a long time, but yesterday I was inspired.

I know people have different ways of cooking them, and some stuff while others just dip the leaves. My favorite is pretty much the way I first encountered them, a little tweak of the stuffing.  Trim the bottom stems, take off the toughest outer leaves at the base, trim the sharp points of of the leaves, and then cut off the top of the artichoke (about two inches straight across the top, through the layers). Apparently my knife really needs to be sharpened, because I couldn’t actually trim the tops until after part 1 of cooking them, which is steaming/boiling in a tall pot for about 20 minutes.  Throw a bit of white wine, or lemon juice, or white or red wine vinegar in the boiling water before you add the chokes.  Last night I used a champagne vinegar.

Post steam. I really botched trying to trim them with that dull knife beforehand.

Post steam. I really botched trying to trim them with that dull knife beforehand.

You have to let them cool a bit before moving on to the next step, I generally turn them upside down to make sure any water caught in the leaves drains out, helping them cool.

I make the stuffing mix while they’re steaming. Equal parts fresh bread crumbs and ground parmesan (a good one! yesterday I used some romano I had left and then parm), a handful of finely chopped walnuts, a few cloves minced garlic (at least one for each artichoke), snipped flat leaf (Italian) parsley and mint leaves, fresh ground pepper.

Mix it all up.

Mix it all up.

Now that your artichokes have cooled a bit, finish trimming any sharp points–last night this is when I chopped off more of the tops, use your hands to spread the leaves some, and remove the centermost leaves and the fuzzy part in the bottom center of each choke.

A grapefruit spoon would work best for removing the furry middle, I don't have one, and use a teaspoon.

A grapefruit spoon would work best for removing the furry middle, I don’t have one, and use a teaspoon.

Beginning in the middle, start stuffing, pushing out as you go, so the mix spreads out, and gets through all the layers, a nice coating on each leaf.  I overstuffed last night.  Place each artichoke on each stem, standing straight up in a baking dish.  Put an inch or two of water at the bottom of the dish/pan, I also squeeze half a lemon in the water.  Drizzle a little olive oil over all.

I like a tight fit so they don't fall over.

I like a tight fit so they don’t fall over.

Tent aluminum foil over the whole thing, so steam will be created and cook everything further as it bakes. In the oven at 375° for about 40 minutes.

Enjoy, one leaf at a time, scraping the stuffing and soft bottom of each leaf off with your teeth, leaving a “shell.”

It's possible I ate so much I put myself into a carb coma last night.  Possible.

It’s possible I ate so much I put myself into a carb coma last night. Possible.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Carb Coma

Breakfast for lunch!!! Mangu, queso frito, sal...

Breakfast for lunch!!! Mangu, queso frito, salchichon, y juevos #dominican #breakfast #lunch #foodporn (Photo credit: pics)

Husband and I went out for breakfast this morning.  There’s a local Dominican restaurant with the best (and best priced) coffee in the city a few blocks away, and there’s nothing like a big plate of yuca con cebolla–cassava with sweet red onions and vinegar–for comfort food.  It won’t even hit my large intestine until tomorrow, but hey.

Now I feel physically the way I’ve been feeling mentally; overly stuffed, and unable to even look at more food or another word of fiction, until I can process what I’ve already taken in.

Husband asked if I got a lot of writing done yesterday.  Nope, not a word.  Not the day before or the week before either.  I’m in overload, not to be confused with overdrive.  Not writer’s block,  just a pause.


Ink (Photo credit: heidarewitsch)

Sure, there’s that little voice in my head telling me I should be writing.  I’m telling that little voice to shut up.  There are certain perks to being forty thousand years old and having written off and on for much of that time.  I know better, know when to stop giving the voice an ear.  Uncertainty about what I’ve produced?  That’s forever.  But I know I will write again, taking a break can be a break without the ceremonial gnashing of teeth and wailing that I’ll never write again .

Six weeks ago I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t retreat from the world and do nothing but write for a month.  I was on a roll, and knew that inevitably real life would interfere.  And so it did.  Cycles.  Life will settle again, I will settle again, and then I’ll find myself muttering and clicking over Astonishing again.