Monthly Archives: January 2011

Artichokes 101

Artichokes look way more intimidating than they actually are.  If you’ve never bought a fresh artichoke and cooked it yourself I highly encourage you to do so. It’s a much different experience than eating the (better known) marinated-in-a-jar kind and in my opinion taste better too!

There are numerous ways to prepare an artichoke.  You can also cook the artichoke with all of the leaves intact since there is a little meat on the surface of the green, but here is a basic braising method of the artichoke heart. 

Step 1: Begin by cutting off the stem and peeling off all of the green leaves around the body until it looks like the picture above. 

Step 2: Using both hands, hold the artichoke with one and a pairing knife in the other.  Trim all of the green off the sides and bottom, leaving the choke (the hairy inside) in place.

Step 3: Once you have cleaned up the artichoke heart place it in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice while you prepare the others. This will help prevent discoloring.

Step 4:  Transfer the artichokes to a medium saucepan and add water just to cover.  Add about 1-2 Tbs of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 Tbs of butter, and a generous pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to low and simmer for about 25 minutes or so, or until the artichokes become tender and the water has evaporated.

Step 5: Once the artichoke is cooked, using a spoon, clean out the choke (the inedible fuzzy center) and discard.  You will be left with a delicious little cup-like artichoke heart.

Step 6:  There are tons of ways to eat your beautiful and freshly cooked artichoke!  Serve by filling with cooked veggies for an elegant side, quarter the artichoke and serve with a tangy lemon- parsley dipping sauce (see below), or stuff it with creamed spinach and parmesan cheese and broil until brown.  Bon Appétit!

Tangy Lemon-Parsley Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • handful of chopped parsely
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Healthy Options, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Split Pea Soup with Bacon and Cilantro

So, the new year is here and it’s time to put all of those (grudgingly) spoken words into action.  This means you’ll be seeing way more of me in the weightlifting section of the gym this year, I’ll be hitting the hay at a reasonable hour each night, and definitely cutting back on my afternoon coffee consumption.

I’m totally kidding!  I really try hard each year to focus my resolutions on more meaningful pursuits; the kinds that bring a deeper significance and purpose into my life.  Such as improving my food photography skills, using up that dang bag of ginger I’ve had in my cupboard since July, and the most important of all — finding more ways to incorporate my absolute all-time favorite herb into more dishes.  The things that count.


  • 1 bag split peas
  • 7 strips applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 3 cans chicken stock
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cummin
  • salt/pepper
  • cilantro

Begin by rinsing peas in cold water and sorting out any unwanted pieces. Set aside.

In a large pot cook bacon until slightly crisp and remove from pot.  Leave a small amount of bacon grease in pot and add onions, carrot, celery and sauté for about 5 minutes or until onions become translucent.  Add garlic, curry and cummin and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

Add rinsed split peas to the pot along with chicken stock and bring to a boil.  As soon as your soup begins to boil reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 45-1 hour or until peas are soft and have absorbed some of the liquid (if you prefer a thicker soup you can use an emulsion blender quickly to thicken).

Season soup with salt and pepper and return bacon back to pan.  Serve topped with a fresh cilantro.


Filed under All Posts, Side Dishes, Soup, Uncategorized