Most of the time, you can’t go wrong with a simple artichoke that’s steamed and served with a buttery dipping sauce. But for people like my husband, who only likes artichoke with a nice, tangy aioli (he pretty much only eats artichoke for the aioli, using the leaf merely as a vessel to transport the dip), this is a good way to add pizzazz to a plain ol’ artichoke when you’re bored with aioli.
It starts with a fresh artichoke… perhaps harvested from your garden, and if you do, leave a few inches of stem on the bud as the stem is one of my favorite parts to eat!
Then you add pesto. Fresh, garlicky pesto… maybe a nasturtium pesto if your
weeds crop is flourishing right now, which will give your artichoke a slightly spicy kick, or just a traditional basil pesto for a sweeter flavor. You can make pesto out of darn near everything (have you tried arugula? Cilantro-mint?) and the recipe is always the same. Just substitute the leaves for the greens of your choice, and play around with different nuts or cheeses (pine nuts and parmesan are the old school favorites, but cashews, almonds, asiago, and pecorino are all delicious). You add butter at this stage too, and we all know that butter makes everything better.
Top all of that with Italian-seasoned bread crumbs, stuff them in between the artichoke leaves, and you’ve got an artichoke that even non-artichoke eaters will eat. Rejoice!
For the last few weeks, my 6 artichoke plants (8? 10? More? They’ve multiplied so much that I’ve lost count) have been going off. Each plant bears beautiful spiny buds of the Purple of Romagna variety, an Italian heirloom that’s said to be more tender than the typical green globe.
Even though I live in SoCal, NorCal (and more specifically, Marin) is like my second home. The hubby grew up in Marin, has family all over the Bay Area, and we head north several times a year for holidays, birthdays, and some such shenanigans (really, we need no excuse for a NorCal visit).
Though the Taylor property has unobstructed views out to Mount Tamalpais and even a local trail right off the driveway (built by father and son back in the day), we don’t often have time for even a day hike in between dinner dates with family and drives into the city to see friends.
But a few weeks ago, we saw a sign. In between the cold and rain and fog that usually comes with spring in Marin, one perfect afternoon emerged. It was uncharacteristically sunny and warm, and we had a few free hours to ourselves… so, we set out for the trail to Steep Ravine.
There’s a new place where you can find me each week, and that’s over on KCET’s new Living section!
The nation’s largest independent public television station recently launched their online Living division, which features all the things that make life good: food, travel, green living, and home and garden. My focus is on Home & Garden but you’ll find my stories across all the channels as Living continues to expand its content. We’ve already added several new categories within the Home & Garden page in the last couple weeks!
The five little things that made my week…
1. Starting my six-day weekend with a paddle at Sand Harbor, home of the bluest water I’ve ever seen.
Quite literally, đồ chua means “sour stuff” — or Vietnamese pickles, in this case. It was a staple in my parents’ house while growing up, and eventually became a staple in my own grown-up house. It’s a very Vietnamese thing and reminds me of all the wonderful home cooking from my childhood. I can eat a whole jar of this sour stuff in one sitting.
What I discovered years ago was that in Vietnam, đồ chua is mostly made with daikon since it’s cheap and commonly grown. Carrots are added just for color. On the flip side, some restaurants in the US (especially those in small towns with less of an Asian population) tend to go a tad heavier on the carrots, which are easier to source.
I like a 50/50 mix of daikon and carrots, and I’ll even throw in non-traditionally colored carrots for fun. Essentially, daikon is a mild white radish — Korean varieties tend to be large and round, while Japanese varieties are long and cylindrical. I’ve seen Chinese varieties both ways at the Asian market, and you’ll be fine with whatever you find. This season I grew Miyashige daikon at home.
This easy recipe will be familiar for many of you who’ve tried đồ chua before. It tastes quite similar to what you’ve had in a down-home Vietnamese restaurant, and that’s what I like most about it. You can’t beat simplicity.
This is one of my favorite times of year… The season that straddles spring and summer, when the days are long and warm and my lemon tree is bursting with bright yellow ornaments. These sunshiny days simply beg for the clink of ice cubes in a mason jar and the cold sip of a fresh homemade lemonade. Preferably outside. Preferably with condensation all over your table, and you don’t even care because you’re in a carefree summer lovin’ state of mind.
I prefer Eureka lemons over Meyer lemons since I like a more acidic lemonade — tart and tangy, just like the ones I used to drink growing up. (Conveniently, I happened to move into a house with a Eureka lemon tree in the backyard.)
When I want something a little different, I’ll sub some basil in place of the rosemary. And when I want to make a spritzer, I’ll make this delicious lemon-basil syrup to keep in the fridge for those carbonated cravings (as you might have guessed, you can turn that into a lemon-rosemary syrup too).
Let’s all raise a mason jar (or a tall glass, as long as it’s icy) and count down to the dog days of summer!