BBC Recipe: Baked Artichokes Stuffed with Roquefort and Walnuts

RECIPE: Roquefort and Walnut-Stuffed Baked Artichokes
Roquefort Artichoke

Roquefort-Baked Artichoke

For the BBC Radio Oxford, besides Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter segments, I recorded a series of four courses, for a simple Franco-English dinner that anyone could make any night of the week. This menu is something I adore, and of which I am most proud–and I have finally caught up with its airing schedule. Here is the starter: artichokes filled with a fondue of French blue cheese.

I adore artichokes. Normally, when I have them in France, I order what is called Artichoke Vinaigrette, a chilled steamed artichoke served with a perfect mustardy vinaigrette and some crusty, airy baguette. For me, it is lunchtime heaven. But sometimes it’s good to wander off the beaten path, and this stuffed, baked, nearly gratin-ed version, is a decadent and piquant departure.

4 Roquefort ArtichokesWhat makes artichokes so wonderful is their instant glamour. You’re not just serving a boiled green vegetable. Everyone gets his own, personal flower. It is the culinary answer to handing someone a bouquet. Plus, it’s so ritualistic. Pull off one petal at a time in a he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not kind of way, and the meal slows down. It gets a bit messy, and people laugh, and chat between the scraping and sucking of leaves. Artichokes are unique; they are fancy enough to impress those who come over but once a year, but fun enough to be a real treat for those with whom you eat each day. This version pairs the everyday verdure of the artichoke with a Marie Antoinette decadence of cream and Roquefort. The time in the oven makes the artichokes crisp and fragrant, and the cream and cheese melt into a little fondue for dipping at the heart of the artichoke.

Roquefort and Walnut-Stuffed Baked Artichokes
serves 4

Roquefort ArtichokeIngredients

  • 4 large artichokes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • 10.5 ounces/.44 pounds/300 grams Roquefort cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 sprigs thyme, divided
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

A Note on Preparing Artichokes

  1. Truth be told, trimming an artichoke requires instruction. Don’t be intimidated by the spiny flowers; they are easy to conquer. For this recipe, you’ll want to remove the stems. Using a serrated knife (the one with teeth that you use for bread), saw off the stem of the artichoke right at its base, so it has a flat bottom to sit on in the baking dish. You can cook these stems alongside the artichokes; just remove the thin outer layer of green skin with a paring knife, and cut off the very bottom of the stem. The rest that is exposed is all pale and tender, and very similar to the prized heart.
  2. Next, you’ll notice that most of the thorny leaf-tops of the artichoke meet at the top of the flower. Using the same serrated knife, cut off the top, about ½ inch or so. Then, because not all the leaves meet at the top, use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the tops off the remaining thorny leaves. This all sounds very complicated, but actually is more like a quick art project that you get to eat afterward.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, add salt (as if you were cooking pasta) and the white wine. Slice the lemon in half, and squeeze all its juice into the water, then throw the whole lemon in after it.
  4. While the water is heating, trim the artichokes as instructed above. Cut off the stems so they sit upright. Saw off the top tip. With kitchen shears, snip off the spiny top of each leaf.
  5. Put the groomed artichokes in the briny, wine-y, boiling water, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/205 degrees C.
  2. Prepare the Roquefort stuffing by combining the soft Roquefort cheese with the cream, the leaves from 1 sprig of thyme, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Mash together to combine with a fork.
  3. After 30 minutes, take the artichokes out of their hot bath, and allow them to cool enough so you can handle them. Discard the cooking liquid and lemon. Once the artichokes have cooled, use a small spoon to scoop out the very inner leaves and the choke. You’ll want to be careful when you do this, for if you remove too much, the outer leaves will fall out, and you won’t have a well for your Roquefort. So just lift out the very central, pale leaves, and you will see at the bottom of the well the choke which looks thick husky hair covering the coveted heart. Just remove that hair, and leave the heart.
  4. Divide the stuffing into 4 parts, and gently pat it into the hollow center of each artichoke, and a bit into the leaves themselves.
  5. Prepare the topping by combining the leaves from the remaining sprig of thyme, the bread crumbs, the walnuts, the parsley, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly over the artichokes. Drizzle the topping and the artichokes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, and you will have a little Roquefort fondue in the center of each artichoke, in which to dip each leaf.
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My First Cooking Show: A French-Moroccan Mother’s Day (Part I)

RECIPE: Mémé's Moroccan Salmon

I admit, I didn’t buy my Mother’s Day cards until Friday–and I don’t even have to ask maman or Meme if they’ve received them, because I know they haven’t. But, I do think I got them both a pretty good present.

A few week’s ago, the lovely Sophia Brittan of the online cooking show Kitchen Caravan asked me if I’d like to do a show for the site. I could not have been more excited, as it was to be my very first filmed cooking show. For the theme, we decided on Mother’s Day: a fusion of Meme’s Moroccan and maman‘s French, for the perfect Mother’s Day menu. The idea behind these recipes is to learn, and to remember, and to reinvent the classic dishes that every family has, that have been in that family for decades or even centuries. Meme has been making this Moroccan salmon her whole life, and taught me a version of it when I was ten–but every woman in my family has her own version, and this is mine. I have added my own touches: replacing olive oil with dry French white wine in the salmon, adding a flash of hot harissa to the Olive Ratatouille. For maman’s famous creme brulee, I’ve added a dash of Morocco in the form of sweet, fragrant orange flower water. And for my own modern take on Meme’s requisite pure Moroccan mint tea, I’ve sweetened and spiked until I came up with the perfect Mint Tea Martini.

These recipes are dedicated to the two woman who not only taught me how to cook, but what to cook. Food is legacy, and heritage, and like blood and genes, it should always course from one generation to the next.

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you make these recipes for your mom today, or better yet, reinvent one of her old recipes and impress her today.

The recipes and videos are reproduced here, but can also been found, along with some tasty tips, at Kitchen Caravan

Mémé’s Moroccan Salmon

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Mémé's Moroccan Salmon
Ingredients
  • 6 carrots, cut into sticks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into sticks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into sticks
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into sticks
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on salmon steaks, totaling about 2 ¼ pounds in weight
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 preserved lemon, chopped (use two if you really want to enhance this flavor)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine

Procedure

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and salt it. Place the carrot sticks into the water to blanch. After 2 minutes, add the peppers. 2 minutes later (4 minutes will have passed since you added the carrots), drain the vegetables, and set aside.

Season the salmon steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup olive oil with the paprika. Toss the salmon in the seasoned oil to coat.

Now that you are rid of the vegetable blanching water, you can use the same pot—preferably wide, with high sides. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set the pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and peppers back in, along with half the garlic, parsley, and preserved lemon. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Add the white wine.

Nest the salmon steaks down into the vegetables, and pour the remaining paprika oil over the steaks in the pot. Top the steaks with the remaining garlic, parsley, and preserved lemon.

Lower the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, basting occasionally, and rotating the vegetables around the pot.

Serve with warm baguette.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Kitchen Caravan, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Watch
 

My First Cooking Show: A French-Moroccan Mother’s Day (Part II)

RECIPE: Orange Flower Crème Brûlée
Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

As featured in FrenchEntrée’s 100 French recipes to celebrate 100 issues of FrenchEntrée magazine

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème BrûléeIngredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus extra
  • 1 scant teaspoon Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • Zest of ½ orange

Procedure

Heat the cream over a medium flame until it is hot, but not boiling. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and bring a kettle to boil.

Meanwhile, cream together the egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until the sugar dissolves and the yolks are pale.

Add the orange liqueur, orange flower water, and orange zest to the yolk-sugar mixture. With the mixer on low, slowly stream in the hot cream.

Pour the crème brûlée mixture into 4-6 ramekins, and place into a baking dish. Pour the boiling water from the kettle around the ramekins in the baking dish, so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Allow the crème brûlée to cool in the water bath, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the broiler, or find your crème brûlée torch. Then, sprinkle the top of each crème brûlée with a layer of sugar, about 1 teaspoon per ramekin, and crisp the top until the sugar just bubbles and browns. Under my broiler, this takes about 8 minutes, but you want to be vigilant. Garnish with a candied slice of orange (recipe follows), a piece of candied orange peel, and/or some edible flowers.

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My First Cooking Show: A French-Moroccan Mother’s Day (Part III)

RECIPE: Mint Tea Martini

Mint Tea Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups boiling water
  • 2 mint tea bags
  • 8 mint leaves, plus 16 mint leaves
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup vodka, very cold

Procedure

Brew a pot of mint tea, with 2 ½ cups hot water, 2 mint tea bags, and 8 fresh mint leaves. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then pull out the tea bags (leave the mint leaves), and refrigerate until very cold.

Make the mint syrup by put 16 mint leaves, lightly chopped, into a sauce pot with ¼ cup water and ½ cup sugar. Heat on medium-high until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is translucent. Set aside to cool, and then drain.

In a large pitcher, strain the mint tea. Add the cool, strained mint syrup, and the vodka. Serve, garnished with fresh mint leaves.

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Categories: Cocktails, Drinks, Eat, Kitchen Caravan, Recipes, Series
 

My First Cooking Show: A French-Moroccan Mother’s Day (Part IV)

RECIPE: Olive Ratatouille with Harissa
Olive Ratatouille with Harissa

Olive Ratatouille with Harissa

Olive Ratatouille with Harissa
Olive Ratatouille with HarissaIngredients
  • 3 5.5-ounce (156-gram) jars Manzanilla Spanish olives (pitted, unstuffed)
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons harissa
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Zest 1⁄4-1/3 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, partially drained
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

Prepare the olives by boiling two medium saucepots half full of water. Drain and rinse the olives, and then put them into the first pot of boiling water for 2- 3 minutes. Drain. Then put the olives into the second pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain. This removes a lot of the over-salinity of the olives.

In a medium saucepot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the olives, tomato paste, harissa (use 1 teaspoon for good flavor, 2 teaspoons for good heat), bay leaves, lemon zest, and sliced garlic. Add a most-drained can of petite diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and stir.

Cook on medium-low heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, raise the heat to medium-high to boil off some excess liquid for 1 or 2 minutes.  Serve with baguette.

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For Eyes Only: My First Cooking Show!

Kerry Kitchen Caravan

With Sophia Brittan

This Wednesday, I teamed up with Sophia Brittan of Kitchen Caravan to film my first ever cooking show (after my audio-only BBC segments). A Mother’s Day episode, it highlights four recipes from Meme’s and Maman’s kitchens, that I have loyally and dutifully reinvented with a French Revolution twist. The video should be up this weekend, and I’ll post it as soon as it arrives.

Until then, happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the mamans

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French in a Flash: Asparagus Parmesan Pain Perdu with Homemade Tomato Jam

RECIPE: Parmesan Pain Perdu with Asparagus and Tomato Jam
Asparagus Pain Perdu

Asparagus Pain Perdu

What’s in a name? A whole lot. Did you ever consider why French fries, French vanilla, or French toast are called “French” in America, but go by completely different names in France itself? French toast, for example, is known as “pain perdu,” or lost bread, because it is recycled day-old bread rejuvenated with the help of a custard and some pert flavors. It is also served as dessert–not for breakfast. This savory version pairs rosemary-roasted asparagus and parmesan with hearty country bread. Top with a savory-sweet homemade tomato jam for a spike of color and flavor.

As always, my French in a Flash series for Serious Eats contains the full text and recipe for this post. Here is this week’s Asparagus Parmesan Pain Perdu with Homemade Tomato Jam–easy, quick, unusual, unorthodox, and really, really good.

Parmesan Pain Perdu with Asparagus and Tomato Jam
serves 4

Asparagus Pain PerduIngredients

  • 16 asparagus tips
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 4 1 to 1 ½ inch slices of dense white peasant bread
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Toss the asparagus tips with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the rosemary, and salt and pepper.  Scatter on a baking sheet, and roast for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the half and half, eggs, and Parmesan together in a pie plate, and season with mixture with salt and pepper.
  3. Take 4 cooked asparagus tips, and line them up, facing in alternating directions, on one piece of bread.  Dip the bread in the egg mixture, and, holding the asparagus flat to one side of the bread, flip it over so the asparagus side is also coated.  Press the asparagus into the soggy bread.
  4. Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in the pan, and place 2 pieces of bread, asparagus side down, into the pan.  Sauté low and slow, about 4 minutes per side, pressing down so the bread browns evenly.  Flip when golden, and brown another 4 minutes on the other side.  While it’s cooking on the second side, sprinkle the asparagus side with about a teaspoon or so of Parmesan.  Keep warm in a 200°F oven.  Repeat for the next two slices.  Serve with tomato jam.

Tomato Jam Ingredients

  • 1 pint halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Tomato Jam Procedure

  1. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pot over high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
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