May 4, 2012

Monthly Cooking Adventure: Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

"Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke." -- All About Eve.

 This month's recipe actually features artichoke bottoms, not hearts, and let me tell you -- it took some effort to find them! I know I should have just butchered my own, but I was feeling quite lazy yesterday, especially knowing that I'd be cooking a full meal for three guests later on! So I used canned artichoke bottoms. Lazy, yes. And delicious? Oh, yes yes yes! So I recommend laziness if that's where you are. And, if so, this recipe comes together so quickly it's just delightful.

Because the vegetarian isn't crazy about artichokes, and therefore wouldn't be eating them, I treated myself to the addition of an omnivore ingredient -- anchovies. In my opinion, anchovies get a totally undeserved bad reputation. As our friend Hill put it last night -- they're like delicious additions of salt. And, really, how bad can that be? (For a vegetarian version, add 1 tablespoon soya sauce.) Along with some garlic and sour lemon juice and zest, they were the perfect accompaniment to our Arugula and Fava-Bean Crostini and Smoky Fried Rice. To drink I recommend an Espiral vinho verde. Enjoy!

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms
Adapted from The Book of Jewish Food

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix anchovies (or soya sauce), garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, oil and lemon juice and zest together in a medium-sized bowl. Place artichoke bottoms in a baking dish and fill with stuffing. Pour water around artichokes, making sure it doesn't reach the filling. Bake 25 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Bon appetit!

Edible Inspirations:

May 1, 2012

Kreplach: Pasta Stuffed with Veggie Burgers (or Lamb)

Last Friday night, Stina, a friend from college, came over for Shabbos dinner and a cooking lesson. What a treat! The vegetarian and I rarely have Friday nights off so our ability to have a real homecooked Jewish meal has been quite reduced recently. Not wanting to make something too complicated (or that had to cook for hours) and also wanting an easy way to make our dinner vegetarian-friendly, I decided to teach her how to make kreplach

Kreplach are the Jewish version of ravioliOften served in chicken soup, you can also have them with gravy as a pasta dish. Because the filling has to be cooked beforehand, they're a fantastic use of leftovers. They're often a "second-day meal," meaning that you use leftovers from a holiday meal to make them. But they're so delicious that you can make up whatever kind of filling you want -- just for them!

And because they're a pasta, they're my entry for Presto Pasta Nights #262, hosted (and created) by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. Join us!

These kreplach, I must caution you, are anything but traditional. First of all, I make them with wonton wrappers. Easier to find than fresh pasta sheets (and certainly simpler than making your own), these have always been our "family secret" when making kreplach, ravioli or dumplings. They're easy to work with and, more importantly, delicious!

For these kreplach, I made two batches of filling -- one with ground lamb and the other with crumbled California Veggie Burgers (from Dr. Praeger's -- super delicious). Everything else about both fillings stayed the same. Both of these "proteins" have sweet and astringent notes. So in went some pungent pearl onions to balance it out. (Buy these pre-peeled to save time.) Everything got sauteed in neutral canola oil and seasoned with  fleur de sel and pungent, hot black pepper. To bind the filling (and make it easier to work with), I whisked it in the food processor with cream. Round out the meal with a bottle Cotes du Rhone (we had a fantastic biodynamic bottle from that I brought back from Paris three months ago) and, of course, challah. Some apple pie makes a wonderful dessert. Enjoy!

Kreplach (Pasta Stuffed with Lamb or Veggie Burgers)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it moves in the pan like water. Add onions and cook 5 minutes, until soft. Add lamb (or veggie burgers), salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the meat (or patties) with a wooden spoon, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink (at least 5 minutes). Let it come to room temperature, then blend to a paste in food processor with heavy cream and parsley.

Transfer to a bowl and make the kreplach. Place 1 teaspoon filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper (don't overstuff!). Lightly run water around the edges of the wonton wrapper (this is best done with your finger). Fold diagonally to make a triangle. Press out excess air and and seal the edges (the water makes them stick). Now make a ring with two opposite corners of the wrapper and press them firmly so they stick together. Let stand 15 minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook kreplach 20 minutes, until they all have floated to the top and the wrappers have turned translucent. Serve in soup or dry, with sauce. Bon appetit!

Inspirational Links: