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artichoke_featured

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Artichoke Olive Spread or Failproof-Party-Food

  • 2 garlic cloves — peeled ‘n’ sliced
  • 1 cup garlic-stuffed green pitted olives
  • 1 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts — drained
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

If you think about it, Artichokes are pretty funky. They are harvested as weeds, and each thistly floret must be plucked off so you can really get cooking with them.

For whatever reason, my mother raised me to esteem these thistles a rare treat. I remember leaning back in the kitchen chair like a “big girl” with my mom, dipping prickly artichoke leaves in sweet melted butter. We’d laugh and make ridiculous faces as we sucked the juices off each piece. When we’d finally eaten our way to the heart (the best part: soft and chewy with no thorny resistance), we would close our eyes and savor each piece in loud Mmhmm’s.

Well, I’m a little too impatient to suck on artichoke leaves now, but any dish related to artichoke reminds me of my mom. Here’s a delicious recipe that combines two other tasty foods that remind me of this Italian lady: green olives and garlic. I’ve heard the Mediterranean diet is key for living long…Cheers to eating this the rest of my life.

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process for a few minutes, until the consistency is thick but with a few morsels intact.
Serve over fresh bread! Can also be made up to two days in advance. (Amazing.)

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mangu-featured

Thursday, December 8, 2011

mangú – plantains with red onions

  • 2 unripe plantains — green, preferably
  • 1 large red onion — red! not white or yellow
  • 1/4 C. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil — or pork drippings
  • water
  • salt

I realize something about myself. I love like crazy through food. I mean, I love people by making them food.

Last weekend my boyfriend took me to see his entire extended Dominican family (no pressure!). They are everything that epitomizes family to me: loud, loving, and caring. And, of course, food-centric. And while they stuffed me (literally: I could’ve hung myself above the fireplace and been identified as a new species of winter elk), I took notes. Now I’m slowly learning that I could dedicate the rest of my Dominican-cuisine education to just one solitary item: the plantain.

mangu-just-plantains

I didn’t grow up eating it, or even having heard of it. To me, food that makes me buzz with happy homesickness are more along the lines of buttermilk biscuits, tacos, and sweet potato pie (Southern for life). What is this plantain business. Bananas but no sweetness? Eat them while green?! Mix them with meat?!! Uh huh.

mangu-onions

But I am in deep with this guy. One sweet look from him and I could eat green plantain peels the rest of my life. I have to make him food that makes him happy…because bizarrely enough it makes me ecstatic. So I aim to get acquainted with these crazy fruits, one way or another. Please enjoy.

Seriously simple recipe (thank goodness!). And it may seem like I’m bein’ a stickler here (especially with the ingredients), but I’m just relaying the recipe as close to the source (his mom) as possible.

First, dice the plantains into eighths. Place in pot, cover with water. Lightly salt. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the fruit is tender).

While your pot is simmering (a watched pot never boils, aha), dice your onion into slivers. Now take a skillet and warm up 1 Tbsp of oil. When olive oil becomes fragrant, add the onion and 1/8 cup of vinegar (not all). Sauté by stirring occasionally; as vinegar reduces, add the second 1/8 cup. Onions are done when soft and translucent. Sprinkle over 1/8 tsp salt and stir together. Hopefully your plantains are done by now! Drain the fruit, and place in a big bowl. Take a regular fork and mash them until only medium-sized chunks are left. (Tip: gradually add a small stream of cold water to make the consistency smoother.)

Now bring the two beauties together! Mix the onions in with the plantains, salt to taste.

Voilá, mes amis.

3 Comments
berrybowl_featured

Monday, November 14, 2011

holiday jewels – bright fruit salad

  • 2 heapin’ cups of cranberries
  • 2 crisp, red apples — any kind will do, but I stumbled upon sweet sixteen at the Tompkins Square Farmer’s Market, so nice!
  • 5 beets
  • 1 pomegranate’s seeds
  • 3 T honey
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • dash of salt (1/8 tsp)
  • ground cinnamon

Back when I lived in Austin, I was grateful to live in a house with a bunch of crazy, hilarious students. Of all the fun things we did, my favorite memories definitely glow in the kitchen. One evening my roommate and I were prepping dinner for everyone, thrilled to get our hands on some luscious beets. All I can remember is, jaw-dropped, picking up these plump roots and gasping, “What jewels of the earth!” My friend laughed so hard and doubled over, several of the beets on my cutting board made a break for the floor…which escalated into a food fight…But I stand by what I said! These darn roots are beautiful.

I wanted to hang this beet-stained cutting board in my room.
Anyway, the dash of salt heightens the sweetness, and ginger pulls up the spice! A fresh take on the traditional Thanksgiving dish of canned cranberry gel (which, to this day, my dear dad insists on bringing to the entirely-homedid feast). The beautifully bright color from the cranberries, beets, and pomegranate seeds pack a punch to the table setting, too.

Put on an apron. (Or anything you don’t mind getting accidentally stained – beets rank right up there with ketchup and mustard). Place the beets in a small-to-medium sized pot, and pour in water until the beets are covered. Boil the beets for about 15 minutes, or until tender (easily pierced with a fork).
While the beets are boiling, prep the other foods. Rinse and chop up apples into 1/2 inch pieces; mince the ginger; dissect the pomegranate; and cut the cranberries in half. This is when half the food goes into my mouth.
Drain the beet water (or save it! apparently it makes for good dye), and let sit and cool for a few minutes. Dice into half-inch pieces (think the size of your thumbnail).
While the beets cool, pour the cranberries, the first tablespoon of honey, and the 1/4 C brown sugar into a saucepan.** Bring to boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for about seven minutes. (Or until the cranberries soften…and tartness is greatly reduced!)
Pour cranberries and glaze, apples, beets, and pomegranate seeds into bowl, then mix in the remaining honey, until evenly coated. Recommendation: slowly add chopped ginger, to taste. I tend to like things a whole lot spicier than most…And may have been slightly congested when making this.
After you’ve nibbled for a while and have the taste about right, add the dash of salt and lightly sprinkle cinnamon over the dish. I think it smells pretty darn heavenly.

Cheers!

**To make vegan, just nix the brown sugar cooking step. Slice the cranberries into quarters and reduce by 1 cup.

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