Extravagance with Artichokes

I want to do wildly extravagant things with artichokes.  They are so cheap and plentiful that this is my time, if ever, to try all of those artichoke recipes I’ve always dismissed as being for people who live in California.  One little hurdle in my mind can be getting past the separation of leaves and stem.  First, it is physically challenging to peel and de-choke an artichoke.  It’s not impossible, but I wish I had a better technique.  Second, if I don’t use the whole artichoke, I feel like I’m wasting the meat on those leaves.  I am currently steaming them off separately and Allan and I will either just sit and have a big artichoke leaf fest or I will try scraping the meat off of each individual leaf to add a layer of artichoke paste to a lasagna.  That’s my current plan.

Concurrently, I have been saving nutrient rich greens from the cutting room floor all week.  The vegetable sellers here are very quick to cut the greens from the bulbs of carrots and fennel, and on to beets and turnips, which we know are delicious.  I bought a bunch of beets a few days ago and had my back turned when the owner chopped off the greens and tossed them in a bundle on the shop floor.  When I asked for the greens, he put the decapitated heads of two other customers’ bunches in my bag, too, so now I have plenty of beet greens.  Plenty.

I bought a beautiful cookbook last summer, Turquoise, by Greg and Lucy Malouf that I am long overdue to start learning from.  The subtitle is A chef’s travels in Turkey.  Greg is an experienced Australian chef, Lucy is an evocative writer and they also had a fantastic photographer along because every page makes you want to crawl right inside.  They try everything they can, but then Greg puts a little Australian spin on the dish so it’s just a tiny bit fusionized for Western cooks.  This is my first recipe to actually cook from the book and it’s perfect for what’s available to me at the moment.  Rather than chicory and chard, I used beet and turnip greens.

Bitter greens, artichokes, and shallots with poppy seeds

Adapted from Turquoise, by Greg and Lucy Malouf

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 fresh artichoke hearts, cut into quarter and kept in acidulated water
  • 12 small shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 leek, white part only, cut lengthwise into thin strips and washed
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, lightly crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon hot paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground sumac
  • 1 1/3 pounds chicory, roots trimmed
  • 5 ounces Swiss chard, shredded lengthwise
  • 5 ounces chicken stock
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter

Directions

 Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the drained artichokes, shallots and leek.  Saute over a low heat for a few minutes, then add the poppy seeds, paprika, pepper and 1 teaspoon sumac and cook for a further couple of minutes.  Add the chicory, Swiss chard and stock.  Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes until the artichokes and onions are tender.

Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the lemon juice and butter well and put into a warmed serving bowl.  Sprinkle with a little more sumac and serve.

Serves 6

I prepared this using two separate pans to keep the beets from turning everything pink.  If you use chicory, kale, or endive, you can just use one pan.  I had never sauteed raw artichokes before and I love this method.  I will do this more often this winter.

Two Ways with Turnips

So here it is, my debut post at my new site.  I’ve considered this carefully and I know just what I want to lead with:  turnips.  You know, I’ve talked a turnip game before, but about all I’ve really done is boil a few to whip with some mashed potatoes.  I see them in the market.  They’re so pretty.  You get all the greens and the bulbs and they’re cheap as dirt itself, but I often walk by and get something safe and green that I know how to easily cook.

I bought this bundle of turnips last weekend and I took a picture of the price tag.  Here is a good opportunity to show you that our currency goes to the thousandths place.  When we go shopping here, we feel like we’re carrying around ‘pieces of eight’.  Even men have to have a change purse to hold all of the coinage.   The currency converter wouldn’t let me convert less than one Tunisian Dinar, but one dinar is worth about 66 cents.  This is one fifth less than that so it’s a little more than 50 cents.  Sorry to be so about the money, but look at the food you get for 50 cents!

I had to break this bundle into two dishes because I could.  Following, we have two distinct ways to go with a bunch of turnips:  all leaves and all bulbs and I really recommend them both.  Now, I’ve got three strategies in my game.

SAUTEED FRESH TURNIP GREENS

Adapted from COOKS.COM


1 lb. fresh turnip greens
1 tsp. salt
1 hard cooked egg
1/3 c. minced green pepper
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 strips bacon
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Wash turnip greens thoroughly. Trim off coarse stems. Fry bacon until crisp and remove it from the fat. Save bacon for later use and discard fat. Heat 5 Tbsp. olive oil in a saute pan.  Add onion and green pepper and saute until limp. Coarsely chop turnip greens and add to onions and green pepper. Stir to mix well. Cover tightly and cook 10 – 15 minutes, or until tender. Add salt, black pepper, sugar and lemon juice. Toss lightly. Turn into serving dish and garnish with crisp, crumbled bacon and slices of hard cooked egg. Yield: 4 servings.

CRISPY TURNIP FRIES

Adapted from COOKS.COM


8 med. turnips
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp.garlic powder
1 tsp. ground paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pare and cut turnips into 2 1/2 x 1/2 inch sticks.

Put 1/8 cup olive oil in a gallon-size sealable plastic bag.  Toss cut turnips in oil.   Combine cheese, garlic powder and paprika. Add combination to turnips and toss to coat.  Place turnips on baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until turnips are tender and golden. Makes 8 servings.