The Art of Eating Artichokes

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Once upon a time, I Tweeted: “Artichokes: not worth it.”

As with all Tweets like this, it had its share of supporters and detractors. Though I was being tongue-in-cheek, I was also sort of being serious. I hate dealing with artichokes. For my cookbook, the terrific chefs Alex Raij and Eder Montero taught me how to make a gorgeous spring vegetable confit with fava beans and asparagus and lots of green things including the dreaded artichoke. In their kitchen at Txikito, Alex showed me how to cut through the top of the plant, how to trim the stem, how to cut out the choke. When we were done, what looked like a bowling ball suddenly looked like a ping pong paddle. Did it taste good after it was confited? Yes. But was this something I’d really want to do in my own kitchen? Not really. When it comes to artichokes, I’m happy to eat them. But prepping them is the pits.

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Sweet Potato Curry

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I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, a musical can be built around the poetry of Ezra Pound.

Wait, that was a ridiculous line from last week’s Smash (as recapped, hilariously, by Rachel Shukert here). What I meant to say was: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, it’s worth knowing how to make a curry. I’ve done it with chickpeas, I’ve done it with cauliflower, and today I’ll show you how to do it with a sweet potato.

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Hey! What Do You Do With Kohlrabi?

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They look like the aliens in Toy Story, the ones that gaze up and worship The Claw; only those aliens are cute and kohlrabi, which I often see at the farmer’s market, is rather beguiling. What is it? What are you supposed to do with it? What does it taste like? Last week, I bought a few orbs and brought them home in order to finally unpack the mystery of kohlrabi.

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Rustic Vegetable Ragu

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Cooking without a recipe. How do you do it?

You start with ingredients. My favorite way to do that is to open my refrigerator to see what’s there: on Friday night (when Craig was working late and his parents were flying in from Seattle) I saw carrots, I saw celery, I saw onions. I decided to cut them all up into big chunky pieces.

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Parsnip and Rutabaga Smash

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Snooki may like to smoosh, but when it came to the root vegetables that I brought home from the farmer’s market last week, I was in the mood to smash.

I was making roast chicken (my go-to weeknight dish) and my standard practice is to stick some root vegetables under or around the chicken, to crank up the oven and to rejoice as all that chicken fat infuses the vegetables with its chickeny goodness.

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Roasted Parsnips

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Easy. Shockingly easy. Are you ready? In one paragraph, here we go (courtesy of David Tanis and his marvelous book, “A Platter of Figs.”) Buy parsnips (4 to 5 pounds). Heat the oven to 375. Peel the parsnips. Quarter them lengthwise; remove the central core. If they’re large, cut them into 3-inch lengths. Toss with olive oil (appx. 3 Tablespoons), salt and pepper and roast in a small baking dish for 45 minutes until they’re tender and brown. They’re sweet and earthy and delicious and go great with roast chicken, pork, or other roasted root vegetables. And they take less than one paragraph to make.

The Best Broccoli of Your Life

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You know you’ve done something right with broccoli when the person you made it for describes it to someone else the next day as “better than biting into a steak.”

Those were Craig’s words and they were a marked change from the first words he uttered about the broccoli, before he bit in: “You made broccoli for dinner? Broccoli and sweet potatoes?”

Then he did bite in and his eyes lit up. “Oh my God,” he said. “This is the best broccoli I’ve ever had in my life.” Later he said: “If parents made this broccoli for their kids, kids wouldn’t hate broccoli. They’d beg for it.”

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My Alice Waters Moment

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After watching that Alice Waters video last week and reading the accompanying article, I was determined to recreate the meal she made for NYT author Kim Severson. I’m not sure I recreated it exactly–I added too much oil to my aioli so it broke a bit; and I used purple carrots just because they were fun. But this was a simple, delightful, and mostly healthy dinner. Although, come to think of it, I did fry the potatoes in oil: but c’mon, who prefers boiled potatoes to fried potatoes? And don’t carrots and radishes cancel out fried potatoes? If you do the math, this did more good for me than bad.