Fried Artichokes

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I got two more small artichokes from the plants I planted in heavy clay soil a few months ago. I have great expectations for good harvests next year. Because the artichokes were small and tender I decided to fry them. The last harvest I fried in  a batter of only flour and water, as is traditionally used in Italy when frying vegetables, but today I dipped the boiled artichoke in egg and covered it in crumbs. I love fried artichoke, frying brings out a flavour so delicious and that lingers in the mouth, making one wonder if one should destroy it by taking another sip of wine. ( Now that is some flavour)

Fried Artichoke

2 young, fresh artichokes with as much stem left on as possible. Do not cut the stems off as everything is edible.

1 egg, whisked

1/2 cup unflavoured dried breadcrumbs (Home made)

olive oil or vegetable oil

salt and pepper to taste

Boil the artichokes in salted water until just tender – about 10 minutes should do it.  Cut the artichokes in half and dip the pieces in the beaten egg. Add salt and pepper to the crumbs and  liberally cover the pieces in crumbs. Use a smallish saucepan that fits all the pieces and pour in the oil up to about 1 cm deep, when the oil is hot, slip the artichoke pieces in and cook until golden on all sides .

Serve immediately with a slice of lemon if you have any – I had mine without anything .

The Curse of the Cookbooks

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I had to photograph the result of a cooking discussion or, cooking bickering, if you must.

The great thing about being self sufficient and eating from the vegetable patch is the joy of harvesting something one grew oneself. It is organic and fresh even if, at time whatever is harvested is gnarled and puny it still tastes wonderful. The bad thing is that one is held hostage by the blackbird that eats all the seedlings the chickens overlooked when they were free ranging last time. The seasons and climate, especially here in Dunedin , dictate whether things grow or not and the person in control of the garden constantly suffers arched inquiries as to why in the world so much (or so little) of something was planted

Sometimes there is a glut of something and then the search for a great recipe, or, often many great recipes of one particular vegetable or fruit depending on the amount harvested. The frantic paging through the cookbooks begin, and since my 200 plus books are all about regional Italian cooking the search can not be narrowed down to, say, Indian or Chinese, and mutterings of  ‘ it was always in this book, where has it gone’ are commonplace. A lot of time is spent getting side tracked when I see something fondly remembered or something I always wanted to try. Once the recipe is selected sudden resistance from the household to the ingredients could flare up, prompting the beginning of a new search and the hauling out of more books!

Pappardelle Verde al ragu d’Anatra – Green hand made pasta with Duck sauce

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We had a couple of friends over for dinner and decided to make Green Pappardelle wit Duck Ragu.


Pasta is one of those wonderful products where with just two or three ingredients many different products can be created, and it should always be the pasta that is the prominent component of the dish and not so much the sauce. The sauce and the type of paste needs to match in such a way that they both compliment each other. In this case Pappardelle and Duck Ragu is the ideal match

When making fresh pasta you need about 100 g of flour per serving, if you are not having a dish to follow after the pasta as many people do. We however always have the pasta as a first coarse (Primi Piatti) after the Antipasto and before the second coarse (Secondi Piatti), finishing off with a salad, and in this case 60 g flour per serving should suffice.

500 G Plain Flour

5 Eggs lightly beaten

15 – 20 Fresh Spinach leaves

Mix the flour and eggs and knead until smooth. This should be a hard dough, but should it be too difficult to work, add a small bit of water. Leave it covered to rest in the fridge for one hour. Take small quantities (about 50 g) at a time, flatten it out by hand and then roll it out with a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Fold it over, turn it 90 degrees and put through the machine again. Do this a couple of times until the pasta is smooth and homogeneous. Use enough dry flour during this process to avoid stickiness. Lay the pasta sheets out on a floured surface and repeat with the rest until all the dough has been used. On half of each sheet of pasta, lay out the fresh spinach leaves and fold the sheet over to make a sandwich. Now repeat the process of putting it through the pasta machine, folding over, turning 90 degrees and putting it through again, until the pasta and spinach are well mixed and smooth. Once all his is done, put every sheet gradually through a thinner setting of the pasta machine, until the finest setting ( 7 ?) is achieved for each sheet. Remember to use flour to make it all run smoothly.  Cut the pasta sheets with a knife or pizza cutter in about 20 mm strips. The pasta is now ready to cook or dry, for later use. I normally make this in the morning , or day before, and let it dry for use when required. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly (about 5 minutes) and it is very important not to over cook it (Pasta al dente) otherwise it will be soggy.

Make the sauce of choice to suite Pappardelle and once cooked, drain and mix with the sauce in the sauce pan, heat through while mixing gently and serve immediately.


Smoked Eggs for Brekky = Kruger National Park

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I bought some Manuka Smoked Eggs (scroll down in the link for contact details ) at the Stadium Market on Sunday. I was very eager to taste them but managed to save them for breakfast this morning. The eggs look stunning, one side is dark chocolate and the other almost caramel, much too lovely to break! The vendor, Rachel told me that the best way to eat them was scrambled.

The taste was lovely and smoky and lingered long after the last bite, a taste that took me back 45 years to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Now breakfast is cooked on gas there but in those days big communal fires were made and my father would happily trot off with his blackened pan and eggs,  and bring back delicious scrambled eggs from the  cooking kitchens. Every one would fetch a few burning logs from the big fire to put in the fire place in front of their hut at night and after barbecuing the family dinner we settled down to listen to the night noises of the animals! You have to admit that that is quite a remote flashback – in time and distance – just because of a bit of scramble egg eaten on a very chilly. wet,  Dunedin morning.

Peperoni Soffritti con le Uove (Sweet Peppers)

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This is peperoni preserve time and I have been asked what to do with “Peperoni Sott’Olio” other than serve it as anti pasto – here is but one recipe. It could also be used in any recipe that calls for capsicum, or you can make a fresh panini with your preserved capsicum, fresh tomato and strong cheese or salami and a fresh bread roll just out of the oven.

Fry your preserved peperoni in some of the oil used to preserve it in for a few minutes until soft. Ad  some chopped peeled and deseeded fresh tomato. When the tomato and peperoni are both soft pour on two slightly beaten eggs (eight eggs if you use quail eggs), add salt and pepper, and cook very briefly until just set. Sprinkle with a bit of grated Parmigiano Cheese. Serve immediately with that bread that just came out of the oven – Breakfast fit for a King (and Queen).

The only problem is that the peperoni in the photo is not from my garden and I am still trying to grow it successfully in Dunedin – maybe next year!