Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Artichoke Pizza with Thyme and Feta

An attractive entry today. Colorful and tasty.

First, a word on the aphrodisiac qualities of artichokes:

I found this amusing quote: "From the Book of Nature, by Dr. Bartolomeo Boldo in 1576, 'it has the virtue of . . . provoking Venus for both men and women; for women making them more desirable, and helping the men who are in these matters rather tardy.'"

And "In the 16th Century eating an artichoke would be a scandalous adventure for any woman. At that time, because the artichoke was considered an aphrodisiac, it was reserved for men only. In fact, the artichoke was denied to women and reserved for men because it was thought to enhance sexual power. "

And: "Artichokes are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, but it is their phytonutrient content that really makes them shine."

No matter what the actual reason for believing they are aphrodisiacs, and the fact that there is no science proving their passionate qualities, they are delicious. I grew up eating these yummy buds steamed in water with a little lemon juice added and then served with a bowl of melted butter. It was a definite comfort dish for me.

For this dish from Intercourses:

canned artichokes, premade cheese pizza crust, mayonaise, garlic, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, pepper, feta cheese, olive oil and dried thyme. I also added a shallot and shredded mozzarella, just because I happened to have them on hand.

Slice the peppers, shallots and garlic.

Saute the peppers, shallots and some of the garlic in olive oil.

Puree the artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, remaining garlic and pepper in the food processor until creamy.

Spread the artichoke mix over the pre-made pizza crust.

Then I put the mozzarella over that.

Top with the sauteed veggies.

Then top with the feta and thyme and bake until golden brown.

It was well worth the time spent in making it. But I discovered that when using one of the pre-made pizza crusts, do not, and I stress, do not put it on a pizza pan with holes in it. It diasppointingly hardened the crust way too much. Also, next time, I'll cut back on the artichoke "sauce" by nearly half. It overpowered the peppers and cheese. It was too "wet" on top.

Carlo liked it, hard crust and all. A & J like each individual ingredient while I was prepping it, but they did not like the assembled pizza. They ended up eating peanut butter and jelly.

Is this recipe a keeper? Yes. Did it have any aphrodisiac qualities? No.

Pin It!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Taking the easy way out - Beer Marinated Steak

I'm tired. I haven't had a decent night sleep in over a week. Yes, I'm going to whine and moan now. Last night I was up from 2:30 until 4:30. J woke up and said the air conditioning was "too noisy" in his room. I let him try to sleep in Carlo's and my bed, but he just couldn't get comfortable, and then a thunder and lightening storm rolled through (again) so J just wouldn't settle down. I finally got him back to bed about 3:15. The night before that I was up several times with pain from a rupturing cyst. For the four nights prior to that it was the cyst pain combined with lower back pain. I'm just exhausted.

Yesterday was my birthday, so Carlo took me out to dinner. We went to Mapleside Farm Restaurant. It was good, but not great. I had their Maryland Chicken which was a boneless chicken breast, battered in a buttermilk ... well ... batter. Deep-fried, and topped with thick-cut bacon and a country gravy. It was very bland. Even the bacon didn't have any flavor, and anyone who knows me, knows that bacon is my all-time favorite food. I would have thought that for a restaurant known for their apples, they would have used an applewood-cured bacon. The buttermilk batter didn't have any seasoning in it, and actually, neither did the country pan gravy. I saw specks of pepper, but didn't taste anything. I ended up drowning the poor thing in salt and pepper. Carlo had their Stuffed Chicken Breast which was a breaded chicken breast that was stuffed with ham and cheddar cheese and topped with a chicken gravy. His had a lot more flavor than mine. The loaded baked potatoes were really good, though. They salt crusted the potatoes which left the inside really fluffy. We ordered Apple Fritters for an appetizer, and so we could have some to take home to A & J. They were tasty. Plenty of them, but a bit on the small and overcooked side. A little darker than golden brown. There was also just a small square of chopped apple in each. I was expecting full apple slice fritters. Don't get me wrong. The evening was very nice. My mother watched A & J so Carlo and I really did get to spend some quiet time together. After dinner, we sat on the hill overlooking the Mapleside Orchards and watched the deer run through the trees, the swallows flitting overhead, the occasional burst of fireworks that dotted the surrounding landscape, and then finally, we watched the occasional flash of lightening streak through the sky as the rains approached. Did I remember to bring the camera with me? Of course not.

Because I'm lazy, and also because I left my flash drive at home, I'm posting the dish I made for father's day. Yeah, how many weeks ago was that? Anyway, this is a food blog, right? I have to talk about the food I make, right? This was really very easy. The recipe is from Cooking Pleasures Magazine.

Sirloin steak, lager, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cider vinegar, hot sauce, ketchup, worcestershire, soy sauce (a great way for me to finally get rid of all those take-out packets I've collected) and the recipe called for dijon mustard. I thought I had some. I had honey mustard, so I used some of that and took whole mustard seed, which I crushed with the mortar and pestal. I think I worked pretty well.
Marinate the steak overnight, turning occasionally. The next day I grilled the steaks to a medium rare.
Then for the side, I got this uber simple recipe for grilled asparagus from The Biggest Book of Grilling. Blanch the asparagus, then marinate in lemon juice, vinegar, herbs of choice and oil for about 15 minutes. Grill in a pan for about 8 minutes; plate and shave some parmesan curls over the top.

The asparagus had a nice zesty flavor to them. The steak was so tender. The flavor went all the way through the meat. I also grilled some fresh mushrooms in butter, olive oil, and a splash of red wine. Then I crumbled some gorganzola over the top.

Carlo was very happy with his father's day dinner.

So, Happy 4th of July to everyone. I hope you enjoy your long weekend. I'm taking Monday off, too, so I'll see you again Tuesday. Peace.

Pin It!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

Just a little birthday note to myself to have a wonderful day.

Pin It!