“Artichoke!” “Artichoke, who?”
“Arti chokes when he eats too fast!”
This was one of my most favorite childhood jokes. While many friends say I have a good sense of humor, my biggest deficit is I can count on one hand the funny jokes I can remember. Go figure!
When I think of Mom, I think of her special white artichoke plates; these made frequent appearances for our great gatherings in the 1970s. I don’t think I’ve had an artichoke since then but was happy to be reunited with their taste as an adult – the artichoke reminds me of the great taste of an avocado – just with a different texture/composition.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ My Grandmother “Nanny” absolutely loved Falfurrias brand butter. If you want to make your taste buds happy, buy it!
♥ I’m a big fan of warm butter. I don’t have any butter warmers but will be looking to get some soon!
1 or more | fresh artichokes
1-2 | cloves (optional)
1 | lemon slice (optional)
1-2 | bay leaves (optional)
¼ cup | falfurias brand butter
1-2 teaspoons | lawry’s brand seasoned salt
ii. what to do
1. Wash the artichoke well and drain. Prepare the artichoke by cutting and discarding about ¾” – 1″ of the artichoke top as well as part of the stem. Some folks like to eat the stem but you can remove all of it if you have no plans on eating it.
2. If you want a “restaurant style” presentation, you can cut and remove the tops of the leaves as shown; this is typically done to remove the thorned tips of the leaves. Rub the top and bottom of the artichoke with lemon to help prevent discoloration.
3. You can boil, microwave or steam your artichoke. Mom always steamed her artichokes so this is how we’ll detail them here in this post. To do so, insert a steaming basket into a pot and fill with water (fill to just underneath the bottom of the basket). You can add a couple of cloves, a slice of lemon and a bay leaf to season the water.
4. Place the artichoke on top of the steaming basket, cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer the artichoke for 25-45 minutes – until the leaves are soft and they can be removed.
5. Just before the artichoke is done prepare the sauce by melting the butter and mixing some Lawry’s seasoned salt into it.
6. Remove the artichoke from the pan and place on a serving dish similar to the white one shown – below not the soup bowl I used (sorry, I don’t have the proper plates)! Remove a leaf, dip the bottom/root end into the sauce and place it in your mouth, dip side down, and pull the leaf through your teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.
7. Dip, pull, repeat until all leaves are gone! You can enjoy the artichoke heart by scraping out and discarding the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut it into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.
One of my earliest cooking tips hailed from a floury, flat, flying disc-like object; the tortilla.
Cooked in soup, tortillas were the fast and economical way to plump up chicken and dumpling soup, rather than making dumplings by hand. This cooking tip was shared with mom by our family friend and housekeeper Miss “Essie.”
I don’t remember a day when Essie wasn’t smiling. She was rich with a happiness that money cannot buy and she was a hard-working lady who helped our family for many years. She helped Mom pick-up and organize the house as Mom was more than busy raising three boisterous boys (I was the angel son, of course) and working as an independent contractor; a court reporter.
When the temperatures start to drop, I search for loose clothing, as I know chicken and dumpling season is among us. There’s no better comfort food than the warm, silky, doughy greatness of this belly pleaser.
I’m tucking this recipe here in Mom’s digital cookbook as it’s one of my favorites and certainly a dish I would make for Mom, Dad and you. Over the years, I’ve adapted this recipe and included rosemary, one of my favorite home-grown herbs.
Let’s Get Cookin’
i. soup ingredients
1 pound | boneless chicken breast, cubed. add more chicken, if you’d like.
2-3 medium | white onions (1 onion will be pierced with clove, 1-2 onions will be chopped)
splash | olive oil for sautéing (or some chunks of butter, if you’d like)
8 | whole cloves
3-4 medium | carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 sprigs | parsley on stem (or cilantro, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon | salt
2-4 sprigs | rosemary (not chopped, just for flavor)
½ teaspoon | freshly ground black pepper
2 | celery ribs, chopped
4 cups | water (or chicken broth, if you want to pump up the jam)
1 cup | whole milk
ii. dumpling ingredients
1 cups + 3 tablespoons | sifted flour
1 + ½ teaspoons | baking power
dash | salt (and some pepper, if you’d like)
2 tablespoons | chilled shortening
½ cup | milk for dumplings plus ¼ cup milk for a “slurry”
2 – 4 sprigs (~ 4” each) | chopped rosemary
iii. what to do
1. Make Soup: In a large pot, sauté chicken with 1 or 2 of the chunk-chopped onions and oil (or butter). Set in the pot the onion that is pierced with cloves then toss-in carrots, celery, parsley (or cilantro), salt, rosemary, pepper, 1 cup of the milk and 4 cups water (or chicken broth). Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring occasionally (between glasses of wine, of course). Reduce to low and simmer covered for one hour. Simmering will give you ample time to drink more wine and make the dumplings! [ side comment: Please realize step 1 is really 14 steps rolled into 1 but nobody will make soup that requires a lot of steps.]
2. Make Dough: Sift 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt (and pepper, if you chose) together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut in chilled shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ½ cup milk all at once, the rosemary and mix until dough holds together.
3. Make Dumplings: Remove onion pierced with clove, parsley (or cilantro) and rosemary from soup and throw them away. With slotted spoon, remove the chunky items (chicken, carrots, celery, etc.) from the soup and place in bowl. It’s OK to leave the chopped onion in the pot. Bring soup to a simmer and drop dumpling mixture by rounded tablespoons on top of liquid. [ When forming dumplings, dusting hands with flour helps! ] Simmer soup uncovered for 10 minutes; then cover and simmer 10 more minutes.
4. Make Slurry & Prepare To Dismount: Stir remaining 3 tablespoons flour into remaining ¼ cup milk until smooth. You just made “slurry.” Stir slurry into soup and bring soup to a boil. Stir until thickened. Return the chunky items (chicken, etc.) and simmer for a few minutes. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley (or cilantro or rosemary).
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Add more pepper if you have a cold. Trust me.
♥ You can add more herbs if you like. Bay leaves, cilantro or thyme are all good. You can place the herbs in a cheese cloth and tie-off the ends so you don’t have to “fish” the herbs and stems out of the soup.
♥ Need more fillin’? I’ve tried this with a couple of cans of yellow corn and chopped green chilies. My taste buds and tummy “high fived” each other.
♥ If you haven’t already read here on Betty’s Cook Nook, when I say butter, “Falfurrias Butter” is implied. Thank you, Nanny!
I still remember the “clang-clink-clang” made by the stainless teaspoon as I scooped the tea mix from the Kiker household staple – the Lipton tea jar. I’d drop a couple of spoonfuls into mom’s plastic strawberry iced tea glasses, add tap water, stir, then fill with some ice cubes. Mom would add a sliced lemon if we were going gourmet all the way, like for the Thanksgiving feast.
While we’re on the topic of ice cubes, one of my childhood chores (yes, Laura Ingalls wasn’t the only one with them), was to keep the ice cube trays full. Why? Well, modern conveniences like automatic ice makers didn’t exist in most homes so I had to make ice the old-fashioned way. Magic!
Tea. Simple and refreshing. Let’s “jooj” it up a bit with mom’s recipe for Russian Tea.
Два чая, пожалуйста
(two teas, please)
1 cup | instant tea powder (unflavored)
2 cups | orange instant breakfast drink
3 ounces | imitation lemonade mix
1½ cups | sugar
½ teaspoon | ground cloves
½ teaspoon | ground cinnamon
ii. what to do
1. Mix all of dry ingredients together. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar.
2. When ready to serve, add 2 slightly rounded teaspoonfuls of the drink mix into your cup of choice.
3. Add boiling water.
Makes: 1 quart
Foodie Tips ~
♥ The dry mix makes a great gift ~ especially during the chilly holidays! Place the powdery mixture into a glass jar, wrap with ribbon and gift away.
♥ This tea is also good served over ice.
♥ Who doesn’t like sliced lemon with their tea?
♥ Make sure and check out the recipes below; the bottom two were donated by my super-cousin Alison-Sutton-Bergin. All I can say is… “Gig That!” The recipes are slightly different from mom’s and that’s inspiration to try something new. The top “spiced tea” recipe is from Debbie (Alison’s mom)… and the bottom recipe “instant russian tea” is penned by Alison’s dad, Bill(y).
I was really excited when I found this candy apple recipe in Mom’s cookbook.
After making my first batch, I was less than excited (more de–fla–ted) when I realized that I’ll need a little more practice before I become a master of the red apple makin‘.
While my failed attempt at creating the ultimate delight on a stick, give this a whirl and see if you can make a go if it.
Treats for eats rule!
12 | small red eating apples
3 cups | sugar
¾ cup | light corn syrup
1 cup | water
few drops | oil of cloves
a few drops | red food coloring or 12 red cinnamon candies
ii. the *special stuff*
iii. what to do
1. Wash apples in hot water, removing stems, then dry.
2. Insert skewer into the blossom end of each apple (the side of the apple opposite the stem side… a.k.a. the top).
3. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, mix sugar, corn syrup and 1 cup of water. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
4. Add the oil of clove and a little red food coloring.
5. Continue cooking without stirring until a small amount of the mixture forms a hard piece that cracks when dropped into cold water (when it reaches 290°F on a candy thermometer). Don’t cook over 290°F!
7. Stand apples on a parchment covered tray to cool and harden.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Scare-up the best of Halloween foodie fusion ~ Drizzle or dip melted caramel on top of the apples for a doubly-delicious creation. Did somebody say caramel?
♥ Not sure how to clean your pot of the red sugary mixture? Don’t do what I did and leave it sitting out overnight; it’ll harden into a brick. Re-melt the mixture if necessary on the stove and empty it into a plastic bag and discard. Don’t pour it down the sink unless you want to invite clogs into your home.
♥ Go fresh. Use fresh eating apples and eat them soon after making them. I made the mistake of buying my apples before I had found my oil of clove, popsicle sticks and my new candy thermometer. A week later, the apples were s-a-d, making my finished treat a little meek.
♥ Don’t substitute your candy thermometer with a meat thermometer! The candy thermometer registers and calculates much higher temperatures than it’s meatier kissin’ cousin.
♥ I have a new appreciation for the love of candy apples. I’ll think twice about making vs. buying them next time! Truly a labor of love.