Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In season

Here in Milan the weather has been high 70's- 80's, beautiful sun has been kissing us and a light cool breeze brushing our skin. Spring is in the air and life is all around!
Each time I go into a store or walk through a market there are ample choices of strawberries and artichokes all for such a great price I have a HARD time passing them up! I just run into one problem: how to prepare them each time??
Sure, I loved a steamed artichoke with garlic butter, I love to stuff them and cut them up and cook them in pasta and risotto... but sometimes you need some one like Martha to give you a few variations.
Here is a really YUMMY risotto that I have made twice in the past week!
(photo via Martha Stewart, I am a bit too busy to remember to take pictures)
2 lemons
10 baby artichokes
6 cups homemade chicken stock or 3 cups low-sodium store-bought chicken stock mixed with 3 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt
2 cups short-grain Italian rice, such as Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano
1 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup mascarpone (*I used cream cheese and it was heavenly)


Remove 3 teaspoons grated zest from 1 lemon; halve the lemon, and squeeze out 1 tablespoon juice. Set zest and juice aside. Cut remaining lemon in half, and squeeze into a medium bowl of cold water; add all rinds to water.

Prepare the artichokes: Working with 1 artichoke at a time, snap off tough outer leaves until pale-green leaves are exposed. Cut off top third. Using a paring knife, peel dark-green layer from base and stem; trim stem. Quarter artichoke lengthwise. Transfer to lemon water. (*I cut up the artichokes into small bite size pieces)

Bring stock and bay leaf to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low.

Melt butter with oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is slightly softened, about 6 minutes. Drain artichokes, and add to pan. Cook, stirring often, until artichokes are just tender, about 12 minutes. Add rice, and stir until coated, about 1 minute. Pour in wine, and cook, stirring, until wine has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Add enough hot stock (about 1 cup) to just cover rice. Cook, stirring, until stock is almost absorbed. Continue adding stock, 3/4 cup at a time, waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next; cook, stirring, until rice is tender but still slightly firm in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.

Stir in chopped thyme; season with salt and pepper. Add mascarpone (or creamcheese), 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and the lemon juice; stir until mascarpone is melted and rice is moist and creamy. Serve immediately, garnished with thyme sprigs and remaining teaspoon lemon zest.

Moving onto the strawberries!!!
I love the simplicity of hulled and sliced strawberries with a bit of sugar and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice, I occasionally add a bit of fresh cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Sometimes I even drizzle some melted chocolate on top! However, when I saw this recipe I knew it would be a great one to try! I was not disappointed!

(photo via Martha Stewart)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.

What have you been enjoying these days??

1 comment:

Teresa said...

You are an inspiring cook! Thanks for sharing.