Books - A New Turn In The South
I like myself a good cookbook, they are great inspiration but I never follow the recipes in them. For a change I decided to pick one of my newer books and follow a recipe word for word. The South is quite big in the food world right now - Sean Brock's amazing cooking at Husk in Charleston, Paula Deen making a bunch of money showing people how to make jokingly horrible food, getting Diabetes from that food, then making money selling people pharmaceuticals, etc... Hugh Acheson, a Canadian that moved to the South to study and cook has come up with a book filled with creative new takes on Southern classics. You still have dishes like Fried Green Tomatoes,
Shrimp and Grits, Boiled Peanuts along with new takes on staples all made fresher, cleaner and polished. I picked the Artichoke and Spinach Gratin to make, a great vegetarian side dish, richer than the sum of it's parts using Southern staples and French technique. The Gratin got finished easily and the recipe was perfect though I would use a little more cheese than asked for. Give the recipe a try but buy the book too, its worth it.
Chef Acheson says: “Everybody thinks there is a lot of complexity to artichokes. Cooking and cleaning an artichoke is not difficult. There is just that time. We should take the inconvenient route away from canned artichokes, which taste like canned.”
For the gratin:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 1/2 quarts cleaned fresh spinach
3 large, fresh globe artichokes, trimmed and cooked, then quartered lengthwise
3 soft-boiled eggs, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup Leek Crema (see recipe, below)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated vegetarian Parmesan
1/4 cup freshly toasted breadcrumbs
For the Leek Crema:
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 leek, white only, cleaned and minced
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
Prepare the Leek Crema:
1. In a small saucepan, melt the teaspoon of butter over medium heat. Add the leek and 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook, steaming the leeks for about 5 minutes, until very tender.
2. Add the salt, then the cream, and warm through. Remove the saucepan from the heat, purée the mixture in a blender and strain through a fine strainer. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Prepare the gratin:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter a gratin dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Set aside.
3. In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and sweat them down, cooking for 20 minutes until they are caramelized and full of flavor. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
4. To the pan, which is off the heat but still warm, add the spinach, artichokes, eggs, thyme, parsley, Leek Crema and nutmeg. Gently mix together and season with the salt and pepper. Pour this into your buttered gratin dish and top with Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
5. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Yield: 6 servings.
Links, Thoughts, Videos, Reviews, Recipes and things I think are relevant
The Melting Pot Obscurities
Ideas In Food
The Food Experiments
Eco Friendly Foods
Chefs Knifes To Go
The Wok Shop