Thursday, June 08, 2006

First time of a few things

This is strange. For someone who has more than she needs in terms of cooking tools, equipments, and appliances, for some reason, I am so lazy to buy a kitchen scale. As you probably know how important it is to have a kitchen scale in your kitchen but so far I can get by with using recipes that only require me to have cups, tsp, and tbs measurements. It is so much easier than measuring ingredients with the scale. Luckily most of US/Canada recipe books only use cups and the tsp or tbs. When I saw a recipe that using grams, I usually avoid it. But I think it is time for me to get down and dirty with the kitchen scale after living for 12 years without it.

How was my kitchen scale performance??? Hey... I just got it, I haven't use it yet, hahaha!!!

Anyway, since in a couple of months I am going to move to my home town back to Indonesia, I thought I better use my last few weeks to eat and try to cook using ingredients that I bet is not available in my home town. So I started with artichoke.

I found a story of someone like me, an artichoke virgin who finally tried it for the first time and she loves it. For me, actually it is not true. The first time I ate an artichoke was when I was about 16 years old and my family went to Spain. When trying local food, they serve us with an artichoke and none of us knew what to do with this weird looking veggie. The tour leader told us that we need to keep peeling until we found the heart of the artichoke then that's it. I thought what a weird thing that is, all the hard work just to get a tiny piece of artichoke's heart that doesn't even taste great anyway, just so-so. I never want to try it again until here in Vancouver, I tried it in a different form. I tried it when they are already marinated in vinegar, garlic, and olive oil then they chopped it and mixed it with pasta salad. They taste pretty darn good that way! Since then I am curious again on trying to eat it just the way I ate it before in Spain but I just can not bring myself to buy it because I am just plain scared that I won't be able to cook it! It looks complicated!

Until I read from Oswego Tea about a girl who cook artichoke for the first time. She got it from I think. Look up at her post titled "Master of My Artichoke".

Anyway, according to that blog, all I need to do is cut the top of the artichoke since the top is full of sharp points. Then, I just boil it in salted water for 45 minutes. When it's done, I have to put them upside down so that all the water will drip down away from the artichoke. Then I made the dip, it consist of 1 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of finely chopped, 1 tsp or more of lemon juice, black pepper.

My first time to eat artichoke, the tour leader did not tell me that I can eat the petals ( well, not eat them, just scrap it with my front teeth ). This is fun! I eat one petal after another,dip them in my lemon-basil mayo dip. Then I found that the bigger the artichoke, the bigger the heart is. It is very satifying that after you eat the petals one by one then you get the reward a big chunk of artichoke's heart! But in my opinion, I like the journey better than the finish line. Even my son loves it too because he said artichoke taste yummy and he had fun eating it. The only person who only look at the artichoke with such disdain is my hubby.... I think his sense of adventour in eating only travel as far as Asian food. Hmmm... not really, he still refuse to try to eat frog legs, doesn't matter if they are cooked Asian style or French style.

Right now... writing this blog, I am thinking of buying more artichokes tomorrow!

1. First peel the petal one by one and maybe you can see that the petal has my teeth mark on them because I use my front teeth to scrap the flesh out from each petal. Don't forget to dip it!

2. Then you get to the part where you can't eat. So, Just take it off with your fingers grab it and pull. Then you will see the hairy part. This part is also inedible.

3. All you need is either using your fingers or you can use a spoon, just scoop the hairy part out. Under all that hairs is the heart of the artichoke. The really meaty part. I made a mistake of cutting the stem off, actually the stem is a part of the heart and they are delicious too, but as you can see, my artichoke has not stem left because I cut them off.

NOTE: to get the detail of the recipe for the artichoke, you can go here.

Another story ...

Sometime when I am not in the mood to cook without recipe, I will just go to a grocery store and buy what ever the freshest or newest or any thing that interest me. Than 2 days ago when I went to search ingredients for our dinner, I saw 3 different color of cauliflowers. One is green, one is purple, and the other one is bright yellow! How cool is that huh??? I could just imagine it righ there how Kai Kai will react when he saw these colorful veggies on his plate! They are not that expensive also, it's about the same with the plain white cauliflower. So I grab all three of them without knowing what to do with them yet.

At home, I look at my freezer and I found a chicken breast. Alrighty then... without recipe, I just pound them till evenly flat, then I make a mix of flour, salt, and black pepper and I dip the chicken in it. Shake off the extra flour so the chicken only get a thin layer of flour, dip them in beaten eggs, and then dip them in a mixture of bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, Italian herbs, and parmesan cheese ( A lot! ). Then pan fried them in oil and butter. Simple.

For the colorful cauliflower, since I want to show off their color, so I don't use any sauce to cover them. I just steam them first. Then, in a hot pan, I pour olive oil, add 3 garlic thinly sliced, 1 tsp of chili pepper flakes, 4 fillet of anchovies that is marinated in oil. I am trying to keep it very Italian I guess since I use dried Italian herbs on the chicken. Then I sprinkle some salt and that's it.

NOTE: Don't worry, the colors won't mixed this way of cooking.

My son really loves this colorful cauliflower even though I only cooked 2 colors, the purple and the yellow one. When presenting this dish, I don't think I need anything. They are gorgeous just the way they are ...

A child serving size....

Adult serving size....

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