Tag Archives: Stuffed Artichokes

ASPARAGUS and ARTICHOKES

It is Spring in Melbourne and artichokes (carciofi) and asparagus (asparagi) season.

We do not see the numerous artichokes in large bunches with long stems that one sees all over Sicily but artichokes in the larger Australian cities have become more common and I have even seen some in supermarkets, but not necessarily fresh and crisp as they should be.

Artichokes in Siracusa Sicily

Last year I was able to buy artichokes from a grower in Werribee – not far from Melbourne.

Artichokes in Werribee Victoria

Asparagus are everywhere in Melbourne (other places in Australia as well). Mostly they are the thin variety of asparagus sold in bunches but in the last few years the thick asparagus sold by weight are easily found. Those of you who eat out or read recipes may have noticed that more and more vegetables are presented char grilled (rather than steamed) and the large asparagus are perfect for this.

In Australia (or at least in Melbourne) we have not yet reached the wild asparagus trend (photos above and below). Wild asparagus are appreciated all over Italy.

I  quite often cook asparagus and artichokes together. I have a friend who eats gluten free food so I stuffed these artichokes with almond meal, parsley, garlic and one egg (make a stiff paste). I braised the artichokes in stock and white wine and because I did not have the correct sized saucepan (I am not living in my apartment at the moment) I had to use a large saucepan.

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No problems – I used whole potatoes to support the artichokes in an upright position. I then added asparagus a few minutes before I was ready to present the artichokes.

IMG_7324I have written many recipes for artichokes on my blog… Use the search button and type in ‘artichokes’ if you wish to find how to clean artichokes and recipes.

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Stripped of their tough outer leaves artichokes are perfect for eating with just a fork and a knife. The artichokes in this photo were cooked by a friend and she braised them with beans (pulses).

 

THE AMAZING ARTICHOKE

Depending on the variety of globe artichokes, they may have green, violet or bronze coloured leaves.

In Melbourne it is mid October and the ‘Green Globe’ variety of artichoke is close to being out of season.

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However, notice that the head is still tight, heavy and compact. Fortunately for me, the green artichoke did not have a hairy choke, but in the next few weeks if you are purchasing the green variety, it is likely to have a hairy choke. Young and in season artichokes do not have chokes or may have a small choke that can be removed quite easily. The hairy, inedible choke becomes prominent when artichokes are going out of season and are left to mature on the plant; the hairy part becomes part of the seed body of the artichoke.

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The violet tinged variety has been available from my favourite vegetable stall in the Queen Victoria Market for the last few weeks and will continue to be in season for a few more weeks, but as long as the weather doesn’t get too hot. The spiny leaf tips can be prickly so I am always more careful when I clean the violet ones.

The green artichokes are at their best in autumn.

 

When I purchase any variety of artichokes I always select artichokes that are compact and avoid opened out artichokes with curled or dry looking leaves.

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Once stripped of its outer fibrous cover, the top of the stem, is very tender and tasty.

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Stuffed artichokes should always be upright in the saucepan and have the cooking liquid three quarter -way up. Sometimes I cook potatoes with artichokes to prop them upright.

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For recipes with artichokes see:

A Quick Pasta Dish for Spring: Asparagus, Artichokes, Peas

Artichokes From the Growers

Carciofi (Artichokes and How to Clean Them and Prepare Them for Cooking)

Carciofi Farciti (Stuffed Artichokes: with Meat and with Olives and Anchovies)

Carciofi Imbottiti (Stuffed Artichokes)

Stuffed Artichokes with Ricotta and Almond Meal

Pasta Alla Favorita (Pasta with Artichokes, Broadbeans, Peas Alla Favorita)

Carciofi (Artichokes)

Carciofini Sott’ Olio (Preserved Artichokes in Oil)

Globe Artichokes and Jerusalem Artichokes

When artichokes are in season, I obviously cannot get enough of them.

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GLOBE ARTICHOKES AND JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES

Artichokes on cooktop 2

Gluten intolerance – myth or misunderstood?

Saturday, The Age, June 28, 2014

Andrew Masterson

For complete article, see link at the bottom of this post.

This is a very interesting article about gluten being the possible cause of intestinal problems (celiac disease) and the relationship of intestinal problems and FODMAP (The acronym stands for “fermentable oligo-saccharides, disaccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols).

If I eat artichokes, I get cramp and wind’.

But, what type of artichokes?

There are two types of artichokes, the leafy Globe artichokes and the tuber Jerusalem artichokes. Globe artichokes have NO relation of the tuber-like, Jerusalem artichoke.

In my experience problem “artichokes” are more than often he tuber variety, the Jerusalem artichoke.

In many other cultures when one mentions “artichoke”, Globe artichoke is the one that they think of. The Globe artichoke is considered to be the ‘true’ artichoke – one of a large member of the thistle family. Globe artichokes are beneficial – liver, kidneys.

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The tuber artichoke contains a surprising lack of starch, but is rich in the carbohydrate (76% inulin), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Also if they are stored for a length of time they convert their inulin into its component fructose and this is the possible offending factor.  T

The Jerusalem artichoke grow as tubers  of tall, herbaceous perennial  plant that grows up to 3 m high with a yellow flower like a sunflower and this is why the tubers are also referred to as a sun-choke. In Italy the tubers are called Girasole- sunfllower because of  the plant’s resemblance to sunflowers.

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As a person who appreciates and offers stuffed Globe artichokes to many friends during the artichoke season, I want them to know that they are not likely going to suffer.

REFERENCES

Low FODMAP Food: www.StephanieClairmont.com

Gluten intolerance – myth or misunderstood?

Recipes for stuffed artichokes on All Things Sicilian and More:

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CARCIOFI FARCITI (Stuffed artichokes: with meat and with olives and anchovies)

Stuffed artichokes, I can’t get enough of them.

Carciofi  are artichokes; farciti, imbottiti and ripieni all mean STUFFED in Italian.

If you are invited at my place for dinner during artichoke season it is very likely that one of the courses will be stuffed artichokes.

I braise stuffed artichokes in stock and white wine and all the stuffings  have a proportion of breadcrumbs (1- 2day old good quality bread).

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There are two  other recipes on other posts for stuffed artichokes:

Two lots of friends last week, two lots of artichokes and two more recipes. Although I braised the artichokes in stock and white wine, tomato pulp (canned or passata) are an option and would compliment the flavours of the following stuffings.

The cooking time will depend on the type and maturity of the artichokes. Sometimes I have found that they take 40 minutes and at other times almost double the time. To test if the artichokes are cooked, pull on one of the outside leaves – it should detach easily.

There may or may not have a fuzzy choke, depending on the maturity of the plant. If there is, remove it with a teaspoon, carefully turning it without snapping the sides of the vegetable.

 

STUFFED WITH MINCE MEAT

2 medium – large artichokes
stock/ white wine/water/tomato pulp
bay leaves
 
Stuffing:
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup of good quality lean ground beef
1tbs parsley, cut finely
1 garlic clove, chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for the stuffing and ½ cup to cook the artichokes
½ cup pine nuts
ground nutmeg; I also added a bit of cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the stuffing: Place all of the ingredients together in a bowl and combine them with your fingers. The mixture is the same as when making meatballs.
 

Clean the artichokes, see: CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them and prepare them for cooking).

Trim the stalk with a small sharp knife to pull away the tough, stringy outer skin (just like the strings of celery). Keep the artichokes and the stem in acidulated water (water and lemon or water and a little white vinegar) until ready to stuff.
Drain the artichokes, remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off the top. Use your fingers to spread out the leaves; the stuffing will go mainly in the centre of the artichoke. Sprinkle a little salt between the leaves.
Stuff the centre of the artichokes – I use my fingers; press the stuffing firmly into the centre.
Pour the rest of the olive oil in a pan and heat it. 
Place the artichokes upside down into the hot oil – this will brown the meat stuffing.
Turn the artichokes the right way up i.e. standing upright so that they can cook in an upright position (choose your pan carefully).
Add braising liquid. The level of the braising liquid should be about 1 cm below the top of the artichokes. Add a little salt to the braising liquid.
Cover and cook artichokes over low-medium heat for about 50- 80 mins. The cooking time will depend on the type and maturity of the artichokes.

 

VARIATION

Peas can be added during the braising – add these about 20 minutes before the cooking is finished.

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STUFFED WITH BLACK OLIVES AND ANCHOVIES AND A CUBE OF CHEESE

Cheese: I used pecorino fresco but a sharper cheese like provolone or mature pecorino or parmigiano would also be suitable.

Artichokes with olives, parsley & cheese 2

2 medium – large artichokes
stock/ white wine/water/tomato pulp
2 cubes of cheese
 

 (In  the photo above, the artichokes are ready to be cooked.)

Stuffing

1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbs of one herb: parsley or fresh oregano or mint, cut finely
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for the stuffing and ½ cup to cook the artichokes
½ cup stoned black olives
¼ cup chopped anchovies

 

Prepare the stuffing: Place the breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs and the drizzle of oil in a bowl. Combine them with your fingers. Add the olives and anchovies and mix them through lightly. (I do not use extra salt – I find that the salt in the olives, anchovies and cheese is sufficient.)
 

Clean the artichokes, see: CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them and prepare them for cooking)

Trim the stalk with a small sharp knife to pull away the tough, stringy outer skin (just like the strings of celery). Keep the artichokes and the stem in acidulated water (water and lemon or water and a little white vinegar) until ready to stuff.
There may or may not have a fuzzy choke, depending on the maturity of the plant. If there is, remove it with a teaspoon, carefully turning it without snapping the sides of the choke.
Drain the artichokes, remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off the top. Use your fingers to spread out the leaves; the stuffing will go mainly in the centre of the artichoke. Sprinkle a little salt between the leaves.
Stuff the centre of the artichokes – I use my fingers; press the stuffing firmly into the centre.
Press one cube of cheese into the centre the stuffing so that it is covered.
Place the rest of the oil in the pan and arrange the artichokes standing upright so that they can cook in an upright position (choose your pan carefully).
Add braising liquid. The level of the braising liquid should be about 1 cm below the top of the artichokes. Add a little salt to the braising liquid.
Cover and cook artichokes over low-medium heat for about 50- 70 mins. The cooking time will depend on the type and maturity of the artichokes.
Present with cooking liquid around them.
 
 

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IN PRAISE OF WINTER VEGETABLES

How I love winter vegetables. Come to think of it, I love all vegetables!!!

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These are some of the seasonal vegetables I bought last week from the Queen Victoria Market and I always make the most of them.

Although the seasons have become blurred and are becoming even more so (changes in climate, new strains of seeds, faster and better refrigerated transport) I still look forward to seasonal vegetables and tend not to buy them out of season.

What I did with the above vegetables and the recipes (click on the links)

I stuffed the Artichokes with ricotta, almond meal and pistachio.

The Cime di rape were cooked with orecchiette.

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The KALE was braised with garlic and eaten as a side vegetable. The left over cooked kale went into LENTIL SALAD

The CAVOLO NERO went into a soup.

The Frisée went into a mixture of leaves for salad.

I used half of the Celeriac raw with some rocket (dressed with homemade mayonnaise) and the rest I cooked and made a mash with cooked potatoes (Ratio: more potato than celeriac- I used 3 medium cooked potatoes and ½  cooked celeriac, butter and milk or cream, salt and pepper).

celeriac and potato

With the left over potato and celeriac mash, I added garlic, extra virgin olive oil and a little warm vegetable stock and made a Skordalia  with a difference. There is no celeriac in skordalia and I am probably offending many fine makers of skordalia (those from a Greek culture), but it tasted great. The pink peppercorns I grounded on top also made a difference. I presented it with  Sardinian carta di musica (music sheet)- a yeast-free, paper-thin bread.  It is called pane carasau in Sardinian.

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The red radicchio was made into a salad with canned tuna, cooked borlotti and red onion (Recipe from my book: Small Fishy Bites).

The fennel was braised and topped with TAPENADE

SEE: RADICCHIO, TUNA AND BORLOTTI SALAD and BRAISED FENNEL WITH TAPENADE

You will find other recipes for some of these vegetables on my blog: key into the search button the name of the vegetable you are looking for, and different recipes should come up.

In this photo there are artichokes, fennel, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, red radicchio and a baby endive (which is sometimes called curly lettuce or frisée).

QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET (Carmel and Gus’s stall in B Shed, Stall 61- 63)

STUFFED ARTICHOKES WITH RICOTTA AND ALMOND MEAL

My favourite Italian vegetable is the carciofo – artichoke. These have been eaten in Italy from ancient times and especially appreciated during the Roman period. They were then grown extensively in Sicily and Naples particularly around the 9th century.

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Italians still love artichokes; they stuff them, boil, braise them, roast them in ashes, fry them and preserve them with the help of olive oil. They are used to make risotti, pasta sauces, frittate. Older artichokes are stripped of all their leaves and the tender ‘fondo’- base – is stuffed and braised or baked. Tender raw artichokes are sliced thinly and eaten raw as a salad with a dressing and in Sicily made into a caponata. Older artichokes are stripped of all their leaves and the tender ‘fondo’ (base) is stuffed and braised or baked. And the stem of artichokes, once stripped of its fibre is as appreciated.

One of my most favourite ways to eat artichokes is to stuff them with fresh breadcrumbs, grated cheese, garlic, parsley and then braise them in white wine and stock.

Carciofi heads

See recipe for Stuffed Artichokes

There are many regional and local variations for the breadcrumb stuffing all over Italy and probably the most common is the addition of anchovies. Different herbs or the addition of minced meat are also enjoyed in some regions. The stock can be water, vegetable or meat stock and /or white wine. Some also use tomatoes (peeled and chopped or blended tomatoes) as the braising liquid.

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Ricotta is sometimes combined with fresh breadcrumbs and used for the stuffing and because nuts – pine nuts, almonds or pistachio – go well with ricotta I chose almond meal and some pistachios. Instead of parsley I added basil, a much sweeter herb, and finally nutmeg, a spice generally used with stuffings in the northern parts of Italy especially if ricotta or mince meat is used.

2 artichokes
100 g ricotta:
½ cup of basil
½ cup fresh white breadcrumbs
½ cup almond meal
¼ cup pistachio
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 2 will be used for the stuffing
salt and pepper and nutmeg
stock and a little white wine to braise the artichokes

Clean the artichokes, see: CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them and prepare them for cooking)

Trim the stalk with a small sharp knife to pull away the tough, stringy outer skin (just like the strings of celery). Keep the artichokes and the stem in acidulated water until ready to stuff.
Prepare the filling by mixing together in a bowl the breadcrumbs, seasoning, herbs, nutmeg, ricotta and 2 tbs of olive oil. 
Drain the artichokes, remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off about 2 cms of the top.
Use your fingers to spread out the leaves, the stuffing will go mainly in the centre of the artichoke. There may or may not have a fuzzy choke, depending on the maturity of the plant. If there is, remove it with a teaspoon, carefully turning it without snapping the sides of the vegetable.
Sprinkle a little salt between the leaves.
Stuff the centre of the artichokes – I use my fingers, press the stuffing firmly into the centre.
Pour the rest of the olive oil in a pan. Place the artichokes into the pan standing upright so that it can cook in an upright position (so choose your pan carefully).
Add a combination of water, stock and white wine as the braising liquid (I used little wine and mainly vegetable stock). The level of the braising liquid should be about 1 cm below the top of the artichokes. Add a little salt to the braising liquid.
Cover and cook artichokes over low-medium heat for about 40 mins.

See other recipes for artichokes:

CARCIOFI (Artichokes)

CARCIOFINI SOTT’ OLIO (Preserved artichokes in oil)

PASTA ALLA FAVURITA (Pasta with artichokes, broadbeans, peas alla favorita)

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QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET (Carmel and Gus’s stall in B Shed, Stall 61- 63)

I buy freshly picked vegetables and fruit that are in season – it is more likely to equate to optimum flavour and nutrition.DSC_5457

Many cooks are not familiar with particular vegetables or do not know how to cook them. For example: artichokes, chicory, fennel, cavolo nero, cime di rape, prickly pears, broad beans, cardoons, endives, kale (to name a few) would be classed as unusual vegetables to some shoppers.

Gus and Carmel's stall @ Vic Market

But I can buy all of these ingredients from Carmel and Gus’s stall at the Queen Victoria Market (B Shed, Stall 61- 63).

On my blog you will find many photos of produce from their stall and recipes on how to cook them. This season the cavolo broccoli have been interesting to try .

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I have again much enjoyed the artichokes and the cime di rape (see photo below). Most of the time, I stuff my artichokes with breadcrumbs, parsley, grated pecorino (if cooking Sicilian), garlic and I moisten the stuffing with extra virgin olive oil.

Carciofi hero

I braise them in broth and white wine. Great stuff.

carciofi cooking

CARCIOFI (Artichokes)

We are now well into autumn and the green artichokes have been in season for a few weeks now in Victoria (see photo above) and soon we will also have the purple tinged ones – all Victorian produce.

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Good news for carciofi lovers. They can be eaten in so many ways. Here are some of the ways that I have enjoyed eating artichokes:
• raw, as a salad, the centre of young, tender artichokes, sliced very thinly and dressed,
• thin slices of raw artichokes dipped in batter (or in egg and then breadcrumbs) and then fried,
• small ones preserved in oil,
• boiled and dressed in a salad,
• cooked and almost disintegrated in a pasta sauce,
• grilled over hot coals,
• as the principal ingredient of a caponata,
• in a frittata,
• an ingredient in a tart or pie,
• boiled and once cooked, leaf by leaf is dipped into a dressing (one’s teeth extracting the soft part found at the bottom of each leaf)
• stuffed in a variety of ways, then baked or braised.

There are many ways to eat artichokes, but when friends come they always ask me for stuffed artichokes. During artichoke season I seem to be stuffing artichokes very often . See recipe:

CARCIOFI IMBOTTITI (Stuffed artichokes)

Photo below: Photographer Graeme Gillies, food stylist Fiona Rigg. Both worked on my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking.

My brother who lives in Adelaide uses egg and no cheese in his bread and herb stuffing so when I visit him I am pleased that they are a little bit different. Last time I ate artichokes at his house he added peas (which I often do) and we had the peas, stalks and juice as a pasta dressing and the stuffed artichoke as a second course.

I have written recipes about artichokes on this blog before. See:

CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them)

CANNULICCHI A LA FAVURITA – CANNOLICCHI ALLA FAVORITA (Pasta with braoadbeans, peas and artichokes alla favorita)

 

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Cardoons will also be in season in winter.

CARDOONS (Cardoni or Cardi in Italian)

CARDOONS/CARDI continued

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CARCIOFI IMBOTTITI (Stuffed artichokes)

There are two words for carciofi in the Sicilian dialect, cacocciuli. and carcioffuli.
The Italian word for artichoke is carciofo and carciofi is the plural. And were would Italian cooking be without artichokes?

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My favourite way of cooking artichokes is the simple way that my mother has always cooked them. My maternal grandmother Maria (originally from Catania but who lived in Trieste for about 20 years) also cooked them this way. She used the same mixture to stuff sardines, tomatoes and artichokes. I researched Sicilian recipes for stuffed artichokes and found that they are all braised in the same way, but there are regional variations in the stuffing, for example in some parts of Sicily they add mint, others include eggs, some minced onion, or more cheese and even salame.

In Australia, although artichokes are now widely available, they are still thought of as exotic and possibly difficult to prepare. Exotic? Yes, maybe – for their unique taste and appearance, but once you know how to prepare them, they are simple to cook. You may need to tell your friends how to eat them (most will attempt to eat artichokes with a knife and fork).

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Selecting good artichokes is important. Time and time again I have chosen not to buy artichokes as they have been picked too late (too mature). I suspect that some of the inexperienced growers may think that big is better, however this is not necessarily the case (some of the green coloured ones can be large but also tender). And as with all vegetables, I never select ones that are bruised, blemished or withered

INGREDIENTS AND PROCESS
Select and clean the artichokes carefully (as described in my previous post, Carciofi – artichokes and how to clean them). Cut the bases off flat so that they can stand up in a saucepan. Select the size of the saucepan carefully – you do not want them falling over, the artichokes should be close together. Do not forget to include the cleaned stems to add to the braise and keep the artichokes in acidulated water as you work.

Carciofi hero

INGREDIENTS

I include one artichoke per person and each artichoke only needs 2-3 teaspoons of stuffing.

STUFFING: Combine the ingredients for the stuffing in a bowl. This ratio is good: 1 tablespoon of fresh breadcrumbs (made of good quality bread), 1 teaspoon of each – chopped parsley, extra virgin olive oil and grated cheese (you can use parmesan, but generally pecorino is traditionally Sicilian) and some chopped garlic to taste.

Drain the artichokes, spread the leaves (especially in the centre) and sprinkle salt and pepper in between the leaves. Push the stuffing mainly in the centre and if there is any left over, between the leaves. I use my fingers.

Arrange the artichokes standing upright in a pan, put the stems between them and drizzle well with more extra virgin olive oil. Add enough cold water to reach to about 1cm below the artichokes. Cook slowly with a lid for about an hour. Having lived in Trieste, I always add a splash of white wine and sometimes a little stock or a good quality vegetable stock cube to the poaching liquid.

If you are adding peas, broadbeans and/or potatoes just add them to the poaching liquid. The potatoes can go in at the same time, the peas and broadbeans about 15 minutes before the artichokes are cooked. ‘Those Italians’ would cook them all at the same time –they like their food overdone, but maybe they are right and there is more flavour.

I like to present carciofi as a single course – they are too fiddly to eat as an accompaniment to a main course.

Fabulous!!

Key in “artichokes” in search button for more artichoke recipes.