Okay, first I shall yammer about Artichokes...
A rather strange vegetable, the Artichoke. It's actually a flower. More specifically, a species of thistle from the Sunflower family. And it *is* rather daunting - as a food - if you're unfamiliar. But, trust me, they are delightfully delicious!
It actually was one of my favorite foods, when I was a kid. I'd come home from the sitter (back in MY day, we didn't have Day-Care, we had Baby-Sitters!), late in the afternoon, and whenever I heard the familiar "chit-chit-chit-chit" of the pressure cooker, I would shriek most gleefully "Arrrrrrtichooooookes! Yayyyyy!!!"
Over the dinner-table, we would often wonder about WHO was brave enough to actually eat the first artichoke (According to Google, artichoke-eating has been going on for a verrrrrry long time! Like, since Ancient Greece). Whoever it was, we were glad they *did* eat 'em 'cuz they are splendiferously tasty!
And - they're a huge California crop - so they definitely satisfy the "Locavore" in me :-)
So I picked up a couple of Jumbo Artichokes at the store the other day - and that's what I had for dinner tonight. Now, you'd think I woulda dragged out my Pressure Cooker (what with my Happy Childhood Memories and all), but I figured I'd just steam 'em instead. Takes a wee bit longer, and they aren't *quite* as tender, but it seemed like the most expedient approach.
I'd like to thank Kaylyn's Kitchen for posting her Artichoke-Prep tips. First, I found her post on pressure-cooking (which, obv, I didn't follow tonight!). Then I found her "illustrated guide" to preparing an artichoke - which I *did* follow. And - "Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!" - The splitting and de-hairing prior to cooking was a FANTASTIC suggestion!
I don't do anything fancy to my 'chokes. Basically just steam 'em over boiling water with a TBS of lemon juice (If I'm feeling *really* exotic, I'll toss a whole clove of garlic into the water). Then, after it's cooked, I peel the leaves, dunk 'em in Mayo (or butter) and enjoy 'em "plain." The heart, of course, is the BEST part (even better - now that I don't have to peel "hot hair" off of it!) Maybe I'll try her "Mom's Dipping Sauce" at some point but - like I say - I prefer them plain.
So that covers Artichokes!
Next-up: Bacon-Onion Jam.
At the Canning Club Jam Exchange - back in November (and, Gee, I guess maybe I didn't blather about that - weird!) - there were appx half-a-dozen ladies who came to my house, the Saturday after T-Giving. Now, there was no "Formal Planning" nor were there any specific "Rules" for the Exchange. Nor did we even know how many people were going to show up! But everybody basically arrived with munchies to share, and several different jars of jam to exchange.
Amazingly, the Exchange worked out perfectly because everybody brought the EXACT-RIGHT number of jars, so that everybody got to go home with the EXACT-SAME selections. I have NO idea how *that* happened - but it was absolutely perfect!
Anyway, we had lots of "normal" stuff. Plum jam, Persimmon jam, Strawberry jam... Then some interesting "combos" like Orange-Cranberry Jam, Nutmeg-Apple Conserve, Raspberry-Rose Jam... Then lots of cool Relishes and Chutneys like Tomatillo Chutney, Roasted Lemon Chutney (delicious on my leftover turkey!), Pear-Corn Relish... This is, by no means, a complete list - but my point is: it was a super-nice variety!
Now one of the things I got was a small jar of Onion Jam. I'll be honest, my initial reaction was "Onion Jam???" - as I smiled and said "Thank you!" That just sounded too weird for words - to tell you the truth! But one of the gals posted on the Cannig Club page that she had served D's onion jam with brie cheese, at a party, and that she got nothing but Rave Reviews.
Well, the other night (as I was still dying from the Worst Cold Ever), I wanted to eat something that might actually *penetrate* my sinuses - and maybe even reach my taste buds! So I opened up the jar of onion jam. I toasted a hunk of crusty sourdough bread, heated up some brie cheese, and schmeared the cheese and jam on the bread. That was my dinner and - let me tell you - it was UNBELIEVABLE!!! We're talking full-on "OH. EMM. GEE! I *must* have this recipe!!!"
I Googled-around and was surprised to find LOTS of onion-jam recipes.
One that sounds particularly interesting (and I probably will try, at some point) is Onion and Rosemary Confit.
There are also a couple of Red-Onion Marmalade recipes floating around. One from Joy of Cooking and One in the Ball Blue Book Canning Guide.
(And there are even some intriguing-sounding Bacon-Onion Jam recipes out on the 'net)
I was beginning to think I was going to have to attempt to "cobble together" a recipe from multiple sources - and wasn't sure I could successfully duplicate it because it had a very savory, "smokey" flavor to it. But then D pointed out that she *had* blogged her original recipe here.
Yayyy D!!! (Who seems to be another QT! Hey!!!)
Well, subsequent "discussions" on the Canning Club FB page have led me to believe that BACON needs to be added to D's Recipe. 'Cuz Bacon makes EVERYTHING better, right???
So I think that, tomorrow, I will be busting out my Brandy-New Mandoline Slicer *and* my as-yet UNUSED Pressure-Canner, and brewing up a batch of D's Smokey-Onion (+ Bacon!) Jam.
When I started this post, I was thinking I'd post my proposed recipe here - but I think I'll put it in a separate post because - Surprise!! - this one has gotten a bit long-winded.
Yeah, that NEVER happens! ;-)