Food Flirt

Food, recipes, cooking, travel,

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Location: Petaluma, California, United States

Jacqueline is an international award winning journalist whose stories about food never fail to tantalize her reader's taste buds.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Roast Potatoes and Baby Artichokes Roman Style

Spring is the time for baby artichokes and in Rome they are a big favorite.   I was lucky enough to find some at my local farmer’s market and decided to try out a recipe from my food travel’s file.

Roasted potatoes are a big favorite of mine.  This dish combines sautéed onion and garlic along with crunchy potatoes and tender, sliced baby artichokes, then sprinkled all over with grated Pecorino Romano cheese had me drooling.

Roast Potatoes and Baby Artichokes Roman Style

2 pounds Yukon gold or other good roasting potato
1-1/2 pounds baby artichokes (a package of frozen artichokes hearts can be substituted)
1 lemon (for acidulated water)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 large yellow onion sliced
1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)

Cut potatoes into thin slices and place in a large bowl.

Trim the artichokes, slice lengthwise ¼-inch thick and, if using fresh, put the slices in acidulated water, (which is sliced lemons squeezed into a bowl of cool water).

Pour 4 tablespoons of the olive oil into the skillet, stir in onion over medium heat. Cook for 4 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onions soft and golden.  Add garlic and toss around in the pan until it wilts and gives off its oil and juice.

Drain the artichokes and drop them into the skillet. Stir and season with salt and the pepperoni. Cover the pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are slightly wilted and can almost be pierced with a fork tip. (If using frozen artichokes, be sure to defrost them before adding to pan).  Scrape the softened artichokes, onion, garlic and all the oil from the skillet into the bowl with the potatoes.  Toss mixture until potatoes are coated, adding more olive oil if needed.

Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 12 baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 450 or until vegetables are fork tender, approximately 35 minutes.  Lower heat to 350.   Remove foil and sprinkle with grated Pecorino cheese and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes or until potatoes are crispy and golden brown.

Recommended wine:  Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Moscato Bianco.
Artichokes are notoriously difficult to pair with wine.  However, this Moscato Bianco has delicate floral aromas with lively citrus notes that beautifully accent this dish.  Moscato Bianco, also known as Muscat Canelli, is considered one of the world’s most ancient grape varieties. Originally grown primarily in the Piemonte district of Italy, Grapes for Jacuzzi’s wine are nurtured in the deep fertile soils of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

The fragrance of baking bread roused me from my sleep.  I quickly showered, dressed and hurried into the dining room of the Waterford Castle where I was greeted with large round loves just baked Irish Soda Bread. What a heavenly scent.  I cut off a hunk from one of the loaves, slathered it with Irish butter and then added a dollop of wild berry jam.  Oh my!  It was delicious.
I was touring around the southeast part of Ireland, tasting as I went along.  The fresh fish were divine, the potato dishes, like Champ, were excellent and the dairy products made with the milk from cow's who dined on the 40 shades of green grass, wild flowers and herbs, was rich and creamy, but that soda bread was by far my favorite.
When I returned to San Francisco I couldn't get Soda Bread out of my mind so I did some research and found a fast and easy recipe for the bread.  I couldn't resist baking a loaf.  Sure enough, the wonderful fragrance of baking bread filled my apartment, snuck under the door and spread itself down the hall.  When the bread was done and cool enough to handle, I cut off a piece, slathered it with Irish butter (I found some Kerry Gold imported from Ireland at my local gourmet shop) and added a smear of my homemade apricot jam.  Ahhhh!  It was lovely.


 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
 3 tablespoons golden raisins (optional)
 1 teaspoon baking-soda
 3/4 teaspoon salt
 1 1/2 cups (about) buttermilk


 Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet. Mix flour, caraway seeds and/or raisins, if using, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps.

Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and knead gently just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round.

Place on greased baking sheet. Cut 1-inch-deep cross on top of bread, extending almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes.

Transfer bread to rack and cool completely, if you can wait that long before cutting into it.

Rory O'Connell, (chef and cooking teacher at Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry, East Cork, Ireland), explains that the purpose of cutting a cross on top of the bread is scientific, primarily, because it allows the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread, so it assists cooking. And obviously the cross is a cruciform shape, so in a Catholic country that had a resonance—it had the symbolic note of crossing the breads and giving thanks. There was also the expression "to let the devil out of the bread," so it was slightly superstitious. And if you make that cruciform shape on the bread, when it comes out of the oven it breaks beautifully. So you've got the blessing of the bread by putting the cross on it and then you've got the symbolic breaking of the bread.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Glorious Orchids

I have the most spectacular orchids blooming on my balcony.  Oh me oh my!  I'm SO proud of them.  

There are two large branches with at least 25 orchids on each one.  I've had this plant for four years and this is the first time it has produced flowers.  I'm just plain thrilled!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Guinness and Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Crouton

We've had a lot of cold rain around here the past month.  Perfect weather to stay inside and make a pot of soup.  With St. Patrick's Day coming up it's a perfect time for some Guinness Onion Soup.  I got the recipe from watching Michael Chiarello's Easy Entertaining on the Food Network.  It's absolutely delicious!

Guiness and Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Crouton

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves minced garlic
8 cups thinly sliced onions
Gray salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 1/2 cups dark beer (recommended: Guinness)
6 cups beef stock
6 slices country bread cut 1/2-inch thick, toasted
1/2 pound Irish Cheddar, sliced thin

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and cook briefly to release aroma. Add onions, season with salt and cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden brown.

Add the thyme, vinegar, and beer. Reduce beer by half and add the beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Transfer soup to an ovenproof serving dish or individual ovenproof soup bowls. Top with toasted bread slices and sliced Cheddar. Broil until cheese melts and starts to brown slightly. Serve piping hot