19 March 2012

Lidia"s Italy in America

I recently had a birthday and what do you think I got for gifts. I bet you didn't have to think twice. My friend. Anne, gave me a copy of Lidia"s Italy in America. This is a bit funny as this was one of my go to presents this Christmas, but I did not get a copy....until now. Everyone I know loves, loves, loves Lidia. Frankly, I have never had a one of her cookbooks. It seems very strange as I have given copies of her books for many occasions. So now I have my very own copy.

Lidia"s Italy in America, Bastianich travels the country to find authentic Italian in the four corners of America. If you are of Italian descent, it must be a rush to have Lidia Bastianich show up at your restaurant and watch you cook. Italy is truly in her blood and even if the setting is America, the food is 100% Italian.

Now I have been a great artichoke fan, mainly because they seemed like a huge pain in the ass. But maybe if I started out small...with baby artichokes.

Braised Artichokes

2 pounds baby artichokes (about 16)
8 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon peperoncino flakes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1½ cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs

To clean baby artichokes and prevent them from oxidizing, fill a large bowl with approximately two quarts of cold water, and add the juice of two lemons, plus the squeezed-out lemon halves.

Peel and trim the stem of the first artichoke. Pull off any tough outer leaves and discard. Using a paring knife, trim away any tough parts around the base and the stem of the artichoke. With a serrated knife, cut off the top third of the artichoke and discard.

Combine the artichokes, garlic, lemon zest and juice, mint, parsley, salt, and pepperoncino in a saucepan of the size in which the artichokes will snugly fit in one layer. Nestle the artichokes in the pan with the ingredients, drizzle with the olive oil, and dot with the butter. Pour 3 cups water and the wine into the saucepan. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the artichokes are tender all the way through, about 40 minutes.

I know what you want to know. Did Anne make me baby artichokes? No! She made a beautiful cassoulet and a chocolate cake!

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