Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Artichoke season

Still no cookbook review (slap wrist) but I was excited to share my first fresh artichoke of the year. It might well also be the last of the year, why is n0-one selling them? There were all of 2 available at Waitrose, for, eeks, £1.99 each. Phew. But if it's the only one we're getting then hell, it's worth it. It makes my insides cry when I see chefs on TV cutting into an artichoke and only using the heart or the bottom, especially when they're obviously so expensive. No doubt in their restaurants they would use the remainder to make soups or foams but I think the best way of eating artichoke is simply, with a nice vinaigrette, and eating as much as possible.

Too right it's a bit of a faff getting through all the leaves but it's good to fool your brain into thinking you've eaten loads when you've only had a taste of the bottom of the leaves until you get to something more tender. I've always been the vinaigrette maker in the house, learnt from my French side of the family - Dijon mustard, vinegar (your choice of flavour), pinch of salt and oil mixed in little by little until it tastes nice! This time I used sherry vinegar as we've had it for a while and never really used it, very nice. I like balsamic but I use much less as it's so strong. I also avoid using olive oil as I think it's too strongly flavoured, sunflower oil is perfect.

So very happy with this simple meal, just wish we could find them somewhere else.

The only other dish I can report on is a Jamie Oliver risotto recipe from the Sainsbury's Magazine from October 2009. The upside to tidying up magazines is that you re-discover some nice looking recipes. I went for Jamie's red wine and mushroom risotto as we already had all of the ingredients at home. I used a gorgeous selection of dried wild mushrooms, using the water they'd soaked in as the stock for the rice. The red wine added a nice depth to the flavour without hiding the flavour of the mushrooms and cubes of pancetta in the dish. I didn't go for celery or onion for the base as I'm not a great lover of either but I honestly don't think the risotto was lacking anything without them. Plenty of parmesan on top and it was great. A good recipe to have on hand when you can't think what else to eat but want something homemade.

I'm now going to be creative in other ways, making a card for my friend's birthday and then testing out a new nail art kit! Do I go for flowers, stars or leopard print?!


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