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There was a basket of cute purple and green baby artichokes in the produce section of the market. My intent was to buy the larger globe artichokes for my recipe but these charmed me. I figured that I would grill these up and serve them with a lemon-butter dipping sauce. Then I realized that was all wrong. They needed to be marinated, not dipped and scraped like their larger counterparts. So, I boiled them up and placed them in a big bell jar with a simple italian style marinade.
I’ve been known to eat one of those squat little jars of store-bought marinated artichokes in less than a minute, so I came up with a system to make them last longer. I pull off the leaves and eat them one-by-one before swallowing the little nub of heart that’s left. I end up covered in oil, which probably reduces my overall calorie intake (it’s listed at about 400 per jar). I kind of enjoy the mess, but the calories I can do without, so I made my version with a bit less oil.
You can also read about the grilled globe artichokes with lemon butter that I made later. The article will be published over at Broadway & Thresher starting 5-24-2013.
Recipe for Italian Style Marinated Baby Artichokes
5-6 baby artichokes (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice from 1 small lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Wash the artichokes, pull off any dry outer leaves, and cut them in half along their symmetrical axis as shown in the photo above.
Place them in a large pot, cover them with water and boil them until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. In a large size bowl, mix all of the other ingredients except for the water together.
Place the artichokes in a quart size jar with a lid and pour in the marinade. Add water to fill the jar full. Screw on the lid and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. The artichokes will keep in the fridge for about a week.
If you bake a layer of Parmesan cheese in the oven it will crackle and pop after a while, turning into a crispy, brown cheese cracker that’s much tastier than any pizza crust I’ve encountered. I topped this baked cheese crisp (which is a popular dish called Frico in Italy) with pizza spices and toppings before sliding it into the oven. The results: crustless pizza!
This dish is a fast & easy, low-carb, high protein way to enjoy pizza night anytime, and it travels well too. Recently, I took a batch on a flight. When I unwrapped my precious bag of “yellow gold” I’d stashed in my carry-on bag, my fellow passengers sniffed the air like dogs and stared at me jealously as the unmistakable aroma of baked cheese filled the cabin. This was quite a different response than the time I brought a Greek salad on board and was met with glares of disgust as the smell of onions drifted by.
I used a cookie sheet covered with a Silpat so that the cheese slid right off. You can also cover your cookie sheet with parchment or foil.
Line a 12x18" jelly roll pan or high-sided baking sheet with a Silpat, aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Cover with a layer of shredded Parmesan cheese. You should just barely see the bottom of the pan through the cheese. (See my photograph below.)
Sprinkle cheese with pizza flavored popcorn seasoning if you are using it.
Top with a layer of pepperoni. Feel free to experiment by adding/substituting your favorite pizza toppings.
Sprinkle on the fennel, pizza spice and crushed red pepper.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Monitor the progress carefully during the last few minutes. After the cheese starts to pop, it can burn quickly. You want the surface to have a nice lattice pattern and a golden brown color.
Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch before peeling from the foil or Silpat.
I have an on-going, and pretty much constant craving for buffalo wings. I’d alway thought that buffalo wing sauce was one of those fast food enigmas (like the McRib) that could never be replicated by average people. It’s turns out that wing sauce is based on a super simple recipe. Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter. That’s it! Once I knew that, I figured out how to modify it to my taste, which runs a little spicier than average.
For this recipe I’m using my basic buffalo sauce for wings, which works just as well on boneless/skinless chicken tenders for a super fast meal, anytime. You can even use pre-cooked chicken strips or rotisserie chicken. I like to mix in Greek yogurt in at the end instead of using a dipping sauce, so that it’s an all-in-one meal… It’s also great in tacos.
Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the hot sauces and chicken strips and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or unti the chicken is fully cooked, checking to make sure it's no longer pink inside. Remove from heat and stir in Greek yogurt and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.
For tacos: serve in lettuce cups or warmed corn or flour tortillas, topped with shredded lettuce or cabbage, tomatoes and cotija cheese.
I am going to make a bold statement and say that you can indeed win friends with salad in stark contrast to the Simpson’s clip I’ve posted below. Here’s a good one to start with:
Greek Country Salad with Lemon-Anchovy Vinaigrette
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup roughly chopped cucumber
1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed or chunks
2 tablespoons seeded Greek olives, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped pepperoncini
For the dressing
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Place all of the vegetables and feta in a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, pour top of salad and mix well with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy. Serves one as a meal or two as a side salad.
I’ve hit a carb overload. The holidays are over, thank god. I’m really ready to get back to eating healthy, but I also want food that carries some weight to it, so I came up with these easy recipes for the formerly carb loaded comfort food, Johnny Marzetti, from the original, which I’ve also posted below and at Broadway & Thresher.
Johnny Marzetti was invented in my hometown, Columbus, Ohio at the Marzetti restaurant that used to be downtown on East Broad Street. My parents ate there on occasion. My mother called it, “a white tablecloth type of place” but she couldn’t remember if she ever ordered Johnny Marzetti. Regardless of her patronage to the dish, it rose to international fame, becoming not only a staple in cafeterias around the word, but the state dish of Panama. Here’s an article in the Columbus Dispatch which shows a photo of the restaurant:
I wanted to demonstrate the various ways that a recipe can be modified so I came up with two versions of this dish based on the original recipe which I also posted below.
Both are low-carb options. One is made with grass-fed beef, and the other is vegetarian. I’ve noticed that there’s not a lot of recipes out there for the low-carb vegetarian, so I thought I’d contribute one. If you want you can add spaghetti squash to the vegetarian version as well… do your own experimenting and let us know what you came up with in the comments below. Frankly, I had planned on using low-carb pasta for these recipes but could not find an acceptable version. To my surprise, I didn’t miss the pasta at all when I skipped it entirely, but the spaghetti squash also made a nice addition.
Johnny Marzetti With Grass Fed Beef and Spaghetti Squash
Humans eat entirely too many corn products. Grass fed beef is healthier for you, the cows, and the environment. It’s now readily available at Trader Joe’s and other markets including, most likely, an independent butcher near you. Not convinced? Read this article to learn more.
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound grass fed ground beef
1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato puree or prepared spaghetti sauce
1/2 of a green pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded low-fat or non-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
To cook a whole spaghetti squash, poke it all over with a fork and cook in the microwave on high for eight minutes, turning the squash over after four minutes. Let the squash sit in the microwave for an additional 5 minutes. It will be very hot. Cut it in half when you are ready and scoop out the seeds and throw them away. Then scoop out the rest of the innards and set aside. There will be much more squash than you need for this recipe, but you can freeze the rest if you wish and use it for something else.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees
While the squash is cooking, cook the onion in the olive oil over medium-low heat until soft and browned (about 8 minutes)
Add the beef and green green pepper and sauté, until the beef is browned. Drain off the fat by dumping the whole thing in a colander. Return the mixture to the pan and add in the tomato puree. Pour into a 9 inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top, followed by the oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Top with the cheddar cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until the top in nicely browned. Serve with a nice italian salad and a glass of your favorite Chianti.
Low-Carb Vegetarian Johnny Marzetti
1 package ground veggie crumbles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup smoked or regular mozzarella torn into bits
1 cup tomato puree or prepared spaghetti sauce. (I used Trader Joe’s spicy Aribiatta)
1/2 of a green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-low heat until soft and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the veggie crumbles and green pepper and continue to saute until heated throughout (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat and mix in the tomato puree to coat. Pour the mixture into a 9 inch casserole dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, followed by the oregano and red pepper flakes. Dot with the torn mozzarella cheese so that it spreads over the dish when melted. Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the top is browned. Serve with a nice italian salad and a glass of Chianti as stated above.
ORIGINAL JOHNNY MARZETTI – preserved by the Ohio Historical Society
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3⁄4 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 1⁄2 cups tomato sauce
1 1⁄2 pounds cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
Sauté onion in oil until limp, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and fry until juices are released, about 5 minutes. Add beef and cook, stirring, breaking up clumps, until no longer red. Remove from heat and mix in tomato sauce and all but 1 cup of cheese. Transfer to greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish and add macaroni. Toss gently to mix. Scatter remaining cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, in 350-degree oven until browned and bubbling (35 to 40 minutes). Serves 10 to 12.
In the 1920s, Ohio’s favorite dish appeared out of necessity at Marzetti’s Restaurant at 16 E. Broad St. in Columbus. Owners Teresa and Joseph Marzetti sought a simple main course, easy and cheap to make. You can learn more about the dish in this article.
The Wedge salad is one of these very classic, simple recipes that’s accessible to everyone. One that’s been loved for generations and modified along the way to accommodate changing tastes. When I’ve had this at steakhouses it’s usually served with a very thick blue cheese dressing, but I prefer to leave that to my buffalo wings. This version is topped with a lighter vinaigrette. I’ve smashed the blue cheese into the vinegar & oil base so that the flavor caries throughout the salad. It can be made into a meal by adding some chopped chicken breast, chopped hard boiled egg or tiny shrimp.
The salad feels festive, even if you’re just making it for yourself to eat alone in front of the TV. Usually I present it to myself all pretty on the plate, and then I proceed to chop it into bits at the table with my knife and fork.
Iceberg Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
1 head of iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of your favorite mustard
3 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon of bacon bits
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the iceberg lettuce by yanking out the hard core, filling the crevices with water and then draining the whole thing upside down in a big bowl. Chop the lettuce into four wedges with a big knife. Save the other three for another night or use them to make salads for your family/friends.
Place one tablespoon of the blue cheese in a bowl with the vinegar and oil. Smash the blue cheese into the liquid with a fork to make a chunky paste. This step will help distribute more blue cheese flavor throughout the salad. Then, whisk in the mustard.
Set the wedge on a plate and drizzle it with the dressing, being sure to get it into all of the wedge's cracks and crevices. Sprinkle on the remaining blue cheese, bacon bits, meats if your using them, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
How could I not after hearing that song year after year. So, I came up with this recipe for Chocolate & Coffee Figgy Pudding for my latest article in Broadway+Thresher so that you can have some too.
I don’t really have any winter holiday traditions, so when Broadway+Thresher invited me to present a holiday themed recipe, I turned to an idealized version of Christmas. For no other reason than remembrances of old carols my Christmas vision is set in England sometime in 1800′s. Obviously everyone has the appropriate accent, wears charming Victorian fashions, and eats figgy pudding and sugar plums along with their roasted goose. How enticing, right?
For my first concept, I wanted to explore the delectable sounding sugar plum. Having never seen or tasted a sugar plum, I may have over-romanticized these sweet sounding delights. I had imagined that they would sparkle as candlelight hit the surface of the perfectly ripe, sugar encrusted fruit and small children would laugh merrily will nibbling on them.
In reality, sugar plums are blobs of dried fruit stuck together with molasses.
Quickly losing my enthusiasm for tarry preserved fruit blobs, I turned instead to figgy pudding for inspiration. Here was a real winner. Dark, rich and subtly sweet the figs are offset by decadent cocoa flavors making this a complex, somewhat sophisticated, warm winter dessert. For the full experience, I strongly suggest you serve your pudding with cognac or perhaps mulled wine (recipe also included) while sitting by a roaring fire. If you want, you can even let some visions of sugar plums dance in your head. Then again, maybe not.
Chocolate & Coffee Figgy Pudding Cakes
8 fresh black figs, such as Black Mission or Brown Turkey
1/2 cup milk
2.5 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup all-purose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. I use Ghirardelli's Premium Baking Cocoa.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup of strong black coffee
powered sugar (to garnish)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla in a medium sized mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, chocolate powder, cinnamon and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, leaving 1/2 cup of sugar for the sauce. Be sure to break up any lumps. Slowly add the milk and egg mixture to the dry mixture and combine using a rubber spatula. Set aside.
Pour the coffee into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and bring to a boil.
Cut half of the figs into quarters. Fill 4 large (approximately 8-10 oz. capacity) ramekins half-way with the chocolate mixture. Push the fig quarters into the batter and gently top with a whole fig. Spoon the coffee sauce around the fig, leaving about 1/8 inch of room at the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
These easy candied apples are a healthy, sweet treat that are fun for kids to make. I used Lady Apples, which are stunning, tiny, sweet apples that resemble crab apples. Also called Christmas Apples, they are generally available in stores starting in mid-October. The candy melts are small discs that come in a variety of colors and are available at Michael’s and other craft stores as well as some supermarkets. I chose pink because I thought it looked nice with the red apples, but it’s fun to play around and find the colors you like best.
Pink Candied Lady Apples
You Will Need:
microwave safe ceramic or glass bowl
stir stick or butter knife - I use disposable wooden skewers.
8 -10 Lady Apples with long stems
4 oz candy melts
Place the candy melts in the microwave safe bowl on top of a plate. The melted candy gets very hot so be careful. Heat in microwave for 60 seconds at 50% power stirring half-way through. If the candy is not completely melted continue cooking at 20 second intervals. The melted candy and the bowl will be very hot, so be sure to use an oven mitt when removing it from the microwave.
Take the apples by the stem and swirl them into the hot melted candy, leaving some of the apple showing at the top. Place them on the parchment sheet to cool. When all of the apples are coated place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or until the candy is hard. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I’ve re-posted the recipe below. Please check out the Broadway & Thresher site for additional photos as well as other recipes from their contributors and editors.
The first time I saw a fennel bulb I thought that if it wasn’t poisonous, it would definitely be bitter. I was wrong. It does have a slightly medicinal quality to it in the way that certain herbs do, but that makes sense because it’s really good for you.
It tastes sweet and clean and a bit astringent. Fennel isn’t a frail herb like cilantro. This plant has substance; a big fat bulb with sturdy stalks similar to celery. It’s become my secret ingredient and it’s a main component to this pizza where I incorporate not only the bulb and stalks, but also the seeds, which are central to authentic Italian cooking.
The fun thing about pizza is that I can throw a bunch of seemingly unrelated items together and make something new. I’ve been experimenting and have found that almost any combination that tastes good on a salad will also be good on a pizza. For these mini pizzas I started with a classic herb and cheese crust. I used good olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of tomato sauce. For the toppings I did a hot layer of fennel and blue cheese, and then a cold layer once it came out of the oven. of meats and fresh tomatoes.
Mini Fennel and Bleu Cheese Pizzas with Chorizo, Prosciutto and Heirloom Tomatoes
1 package pre-made pizza dough - I used Trader Joe's herb crust
1 tablespoon cornmeal - for the pan
2 tablespoons good olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch, Miller's Blend) - plus enough extra to grease your pizza pan ( I use a spray pump to coat the pan)
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
1 small bulb of fresh fennel
2 tablespoons of grated Romano/Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes
1 teaspoon pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbled
8 slices of thinly sliced spanish prosciutto
8 slices of thinly sliced dry spanish chorizo
2 fresh heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin.
Preheat your oven to 480 degrees. Spray a large pizza pan or stone olive oil and dust with corn meal. Divide your pizza dough into eight pieces. Flatten each piece onto the pan using a rolling pin or stretch with your hands. Using a pastry brush, paint each pizza with a thin layer of olive oil. Follow by brushing on the balsamic vinegar. Then, sprinkle each pizza evenly with Parmesan/Romano cheese, hot pepper flakes, pizza spice and fennel seeds.
Remove the foliage and all but and inch or two of the stalk from the top of the fennel bulb. Cut off the bottom 1/2" of the bulb and discard. Set the bulb with the flat bottom facing you. Slice vertically through the remaining bulb, creating long very thin cross-sections of fennel. Place a slice of fennel onto each pizza and then top with the blue cheese crumbles.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pizzas are nicely browned and cooked throughout.
Remove from the oven. Tuck a piece of chorizo and a piece of prosciutto next to each other and anchor with a tomato slice.