Suzi’s Blog

The Week To Come Here at Suzi’s Blog: Tomatillos and the Best in Cookbooks for Your Consideration

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Suzen and I are happy to announce the first ever Tomatillo Week. Over the next seven days you’ll see recipes for tomatillos in myriad uses. Salsas, of course. On Monday and Tuesday you’ll see recipes for first uncooked and then cooked tomatillos salsas, ones pictures above. But you’ll also be entertained with a salad dressing, a savory chicken dish, another with shrimp, guacamole made with tomatillo instead of cilantro, and even a tomatillo shrub for a very different Bloody Mary.

So, stock up now on your tomatillos, some chiles, avocado, onions and that ever-needed cilantro.

And, in the coming week, we’re going to visit our past year of cookbook reviews. We’ve reviewed hundreds of books and they do only appear here if they really offer you some great recipes. It’s impossible to work through all these books and not have some favorites. We’ll repost the very best, the most enjoyable books for your summer enjoyment. Actually, for your year‑round enjoyment!

 

 

 

Pistachio and Lemon Cake from World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey

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Suzen and I first posted this recipe last year. We've returned to the recipe again, and gotten a better picture in the process. This is an elegant dessert for any time of the year but the combination of pistachios and lemon makes it very refreshing on a summer evening. Take this to the table before slicing up for dessert. Everyone needs to see the visual beauty of this cake before enjoying its lovely flavor. One piece and you'll be booking a Mediterranean cruise.

From the back of the book, you learn that Roger Pizey is a renowned baker and patissier. His experiences in Great Britain, in top restaurants and television food shows, have given him eminent skills.

But as you turn the pages of World Class Cakes, his latest book, none of that matters. All that you will care about is how quickly you can get to baking yourself.

Tomorrow, I’ll post an overview of this powerfully packed book with recipes that are, truly, from around the world. In a tribute to Turkish ingredients, Roger has created this cake filled with lemon flavor and pistachio crunch. The cake is spectacularly beautiful.  As you turn pages of World Class Cakes, you’ll stop on many pages, but this one captured my attention and Suzen’s. She likes lemons, but pistachios are a passion for her.

Roger is British. So the temperature and dimensions you’ll see below may not match your oven settings or the cake rounds on your shelf. We did 325°F and a 7-inch round. No problem.

Pistachio and Lemon Cake

Yield: serves 8

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • ½ cup [1 stick] utter, soft
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup good quality pistachios, chopped
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 310°F, and grease and line a 6 ¼ inch round and 2 1/ inch deep cake pan with parchment paper.

Make a sugar syrup by heat the ½ cup super fine sugar and ½ cup of water in a pan. Cook over low heat until clear, stirring continuously, then boil for a minute or so. Pass the liquid through a strainer. Removed from the heat and let cool.

Place lemon and the lime slices and sugar syrup in a pan and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, and add the eggs on at a time.

Sift in the flour, salt, and baking powder, then add two-thirds of the pistachios, the lemon and lime zests, and the lemon juice. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, place the fruit slices on top and sprinkle over the remaining pistachios. Bake in a preheated oven 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clear.

Removed from the oven and let cool for 15minutes in the pan. Then turn the cake out onto a wire rack and strip off the parchment.

Ideally, serve with a glass of aromatic Turkish tea.

Source: World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/100th second at ISO-2000

Roasted Stuffed Artichokes with Mint Oil from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia

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It is two days in a row for looking at wonderful recipes from The New Persian Kitchen by author and chef Louisa Shafia. With a Persian background, Louisa takes an inventive look at an array of Persian dishes from appetizers to desserts. Some are classical dishes and some are one inspired by Persia but using the ingredients or techniques of an American kitchen.

I always wonder who figured out how to cook artichokes. I was lying in bed last night pondering this one more time. I think I figured it out. With that drought in California and the constant wildfires, I bet some American Indian came across a wild artichoke that had been roasted in a recent fire. Hunter-gatherers learn to gather whatever and wherever they can. I can see that blacked artichoke being picked up, the leaves plucked off, and a careful mouth exploring the meager sustenance that hovers at the base of each leaf.

It’s a good story. Or theory. Unprovable but a bit plausible. Maybe I came up with idea by looking at this recipe. Ordinarily, Suzen prepares our chokes by boiling them in lemon water and then serving with a chipotle mayo. It’s a lovely, and has been a hundred times or more.

I never considered baking the chokes, as we do here, instead of boiling. And I would not have dreamed of having them stuffed with cheese. This is definitely not a classic California recipe. It is, however, equally inspired.

[Oh, dear, I just looked at Wikipedia and my California Indian theory is shot down. Artichokes are from the Mediterranean and it was the ancient Greeks who first began cooking them.]

This dish can be a side for a late night summer meal, after the sun is long down and the warm artichokes don’t seem out of place. Or, you can have a small side salad and offer each person two artichokes to be the main course. No one will complain.

This is one of Louisa’s recipes, following the Persian love for wild cardoons — very similar to artichokes. The fluffy ricotta filling is homage to Italy, one of the first European countries to fully and happily embrace artichokes. The mint oil is pure Middle East.


Roasted Stuffed Artichokes with Mint Oil

Yield: serves 2 [yes, the picture shows 3 artichokes]

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 globe artichokes
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Sea salt
  • 2 ounces ricotta cheese, drained
  • Pinch of saffron, ground and steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Fill a medium bowl three-quarters full with cold water. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water, and throw in the rind.

Slice off the top third of 1 artichoke with a serrated knife, and cut off the stem to make a flat base. Pull off the small leaves around the bottom, and snip the tips of the remaining leaves with scissors. Stretch open the center of the artichoke with your thumbs, and pluck out the inner yellow leaves. Pull out the purple choke, and scrape out the fibrous hairs with a melon bailer, a grapefruit spoon, or a paring knife. Place it in the lemon water to prevent browning, and repeat with the remaining artichoke.

In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the mint, oil, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt, and set aside for a few minutes to allow the mint to soften.

Whisk together the ricotta, saffron, and lemon zest in a small bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the egg. Spoon the ricotta into the center of the artichokes.

Place the artichokes in a rimmed baking dish. Pour the mint oil over the artichokes, drizzling it on the outer leaves as well as the filling. Add a splash of water to the baking dish, and cover tightly. Roast the artichokes for 1 ½ hours, until the flesh is very tender and the ricotta is firm and doubled in size.

Serve warm, topped with the pan juice. To eat an artichoke, pull off the leaves and dip the fleshy part in the pan juice. When you reach the center, cut into the ricotta and the artichoke heart with a fork.

 

Source: The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia [Ten Speed Press, 2013]