May 28, 2008

If I could pick anything I wanted for lunch!

When I was 7 years old and lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, my parents took me to spend the day with a friend of theirs, an older woman who was the wife of a retired rabbi. She enjoyed children and, I suppose, had set up a play date for us. Her name was Bibbi Wolf- I never knew her real first name because my parents just called her Bibbi. I don’t remember what we did together, but I do remember lunch. Bibbi told me that I could have anything I wanted for lunch. Looking back on the day, I suppose she expected that I would ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or maybe even grilled cheese--but I didn’t. I asked Bibbi for an artichoke with hollandaise sauce, and told her that it was my number one favorite food. She said, with a wink, that it was hers, too. As luck would have it, Bibbi had artichokes, and prepared them for lunch for the two of us. Later, I remember her telling my mother about the events of the day, both of them chuckling. I never understood what was funny about our lunch, not until several years later. Bibbi didn’t know who she was messing with, but I can pretty much guarantee you that she never again asked a young friend what she would like to have for lunch if she could have anything she wanted. 

This isn't Bibbi's recipe, I have made that for this blog before, but it's a great recipe for artichokes. It also works with the frozen hearts- just thaw them out and cook them this way for great flavor without any sauce.

Artichokes, Infused with Herbs

2 globe artichokes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
olive oil to coat bottom of pan
1/2 stick butter

Slice pointy tops of leaves off of artichokes.

Place them stem up and slice them in half.

Scoop out the choke with a spoon.

Wash well and pat dry.  Now they're ready for cooking!

Coat bottom of saute pan with olive oil, add the garlic and spices and heat to medium-high.

After just a couple of minutes, you will notice the spices have become fragrant. Place the artichokes, inside down, in the pan.

Leave the heat on medium high for 2 more minutes, then squeeze lemon juice in and pour 1/4 cup of water in and cover tightly. Turn heat down enough for the water to simmer and don't touch it for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check to see if the leaves pull off easily. If they do, they're done. If they don't, and if the water has evaporated, add a little more water and check after 5 minutes. When the leaves do pull off easily, toss 1/2 stick of butter, and replace lid until you are ready to eat.

What makes these artichokes different from steamed artichokes is that the thyme and tarragon flavors have been infused throughout the artichoke meat. These are delicious eaten as they are, no other sauce necessary. To serve, place artichokes halves on plate and spoon some of the pan juices over them. These make a delicious appetizer, and, even as a side dish, are always fun to eat!

There are dozens of ways to cook artichokes, my next attempt will be the grill- so if you have any suggestions for grilling methods or advice about grilling artichokes, lay them on me.

I wish Bibbi was still here, so I could make lunch for her, anything she wanted, of course. I wonder what she would choose. I have a sneaking suspicion it might just be artichokes, and I would be honored to make them for her...and the eggs.

Added June 2, 2008: I found a fascinating article which discusses Rabbi Sidney Wolf, and well into the article, his wife, Bebe, and their life. I didn't know most of this. My father was Rabbi Wolf's replacement in 1972. Click here for the article.

May 25, 2008

Grilled Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary Part 2

After a few hours, light the grill to high, or fire up the charcoal. Place the pork on the grill (direct heat) and close the cover for 5 minutes. The outside will begin to carmelize and even char a little bit--it's all good flavor. Flip and do the same on the other side. Now turn the heat to low (or move to indirect heat).

It should take 30-40 minutes for the thickest part of the loin to reach 160 degrees. That's it! Let it rest for up to 10 minutes, slice and serve.

The pork is tender and bursting with the flavor of garlic and rosemary. The only thing I would do differently next time is take the pork off the grill at 150 because the temperature goes up while it rests, which I didn't think of (probably due to the glasses of wine I consumed while it was marinating). That said, this recipe is good enough to make for company, and it is on my list to make again. The grill is for much more than hot dogs, hamburgers and steaks! Don't be shy, fire it up and throw something on it, you will discover a new world of possibilities...and the eggs.

May 24, 2008

Grilled Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary Part I

Who can resist a garlic and herby, easy to make, big 'ol hunk of pork? This recipe couldn't be easier. Mix 4 minced garlic cloves in a bowl with 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (or 4 teaspoons dried), 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (it's odd, isn't it, that kosher salt works so well with pork?), a teaspoon of olive oil, a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper and a couple of good shakes of white pepper.

Cut a few slits into the loin and then rub the mixture all over the pork roast, filling the knife slits with the stuff.  Refrigerate for a few hours...have a glass of wine, light the grill...more to come...and the eggs.

Happy 40th Birthday, Muffin Face!

Here we are testing cake batter at a tender young age.  Happy 40th Birthday to my little sister! 

May 15, 2008

Time flies when you're enjoying every delicious little morsel of it. Thanks for reading!

May 12, 2008

Chickie's and Pete's-Like Hot Shrimp! (Food Testing, Part II)

Two heads are better than one. Nunu and I came up with a dish that, while it may not be 100% Chickie's, is darn close, and for this transplanted Philadelphian, it's close enough!

In large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 sticks of butter, 1/4 cup hot chili oil and 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the following ingredients:

2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Worcheshire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Paprika
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon Celery Seed
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
3 Tablepoons, or a few good glugs of beer (any kind)
1 Teaspoon Spicy Deli Mustard
Red Pepper Flakes (to taste- we did 20 shakes)
Juice from 1/4 lemon

Turn heat to medium high to let the spices get fragrant, but don't let the minced garlic burn. When the temperature is up there, throw in 2 pounds of shrimp (we used shells on and deveined).

Cook for 2-3 minutes, turning with a spatula so they cook evenly. Serve in individual bowls with some of the pan sauce poured on top (see above). This recipe makes enough for an appetizer for 4 people. The shrimp are messy to eat but I think you'll agree that they're worth it. Serve with crusty bread to dip in the sauce. Mmmmm! As you peel the shrimp, give them a dip in the sauce too. Even if you never tried Chickie's Hot Shrimp, you will quickly become a fan of this dish. The only ingredient we didn't add was some vinegar, a convenient excuse to try making it again next weekend...and the eggs.

May 4, 2008

Hot Shrimp- Food Testing

Chickie's and Pete's is a Philadelphia institution, famous for their hot shrimp, steamed crabs, mussels in red sauce and crab fries. In anticipation of Mimi Nunu's upcoming visit, I decided to try to replicate their hot shrimp recipe. This was no small task, the recipe is closely guarded and although I have eaten it at the restaurant 1000 times, I just haven't been able to crack the code.

1 pound shrimp (medium or large)
1 box Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil
1 lemon quartered
minced garlic
Chili oil
Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning

First, cook the shrimp with the crab boil according to the directions on the box including the quartered lemon, except when it tells you to leave the shrimp in the water after the 1 minute of boiling- don't do this. You'll be cooking it again, so take it out and drain it.

In a saute pan, add enough chili oil to thinly coat the bottom. Add a few glugs of olive oil and a tablespoon of garlic. Add the Italian seasoning- a few generous shakes (or more, to taste). Heat over medium-low heat until it becomes fragrant and turn up to medium-high, being careful not to burn the garlic. As soon as it reaches temperature, add the shrimp and toss for up to 5 minutes until the shrimp are cooked through and coated with the oils and spices.

Serve in individual bowls with some of the pan juices. I didn't do this, but Ishould have- that way, you can peel the shrimp and dip it in the spiced-up oils. The shrimp had great flavor, and three of us devoured them. As I ate, I started a mental tally of my successes and mistakes and have a plan in place for my next attempt.

I wasn't successful at duplicating Chickie's recipe, but I did make something new which turned out well and was definitely worth the effort. It was good enough to make for Mimi- and, with her input, I believe we'll come closer to the Charrocchi family's secret recipe, or at least make some damn good hot shrimp...and the eggs.