Write On Rubee

An Arizona-based food, beverage and travel writer since 2008,  I launched this website in 2015 to document my culinary adventures, beverage escapades, gardening endeavors, and travel in the Phoenix area and beyond.  Also find a comprehensive calendar of Phoenix-area food and drink-related events on my Events page.

Filtering by Category: Cooking In

In the Kitchen - June Edition

June cooking and baking.

Grilled artichokes

Happily, the Globe artichoke I planted in the spring of 2013 (which gave me 4 artichokes last year) has exploded in growth and I'll probably get 50 off of it this season.  

So far, I've been cutting in half and grilling because it's easiest (less trimming).  Some recipes call for trimming the pointed tips of the outer leaves, butI pick them when they're still young and tender and this isn't necessary.  It's also a great entertaining dish since I can steam and marinate ahead of time and throw on the grill when guests arrive.

Directions:

  • Snap off a layer of tough outer leaves and cut off the top 1-1/2 inches.  
  • Cut in half, rub with lemon to prevent discoloration, and steam for about 20 minutes.
  • Now that the choke is soft, it's easy to scoop it out with a spoon.  
  • Let cool slightly and toss with extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, fresh herbs, and a favorite seasoning blend (I like the rub that our local Arrowhead Grill Steakhouse sells, or Penzey's Fox Point).   At this point, you can chill for a few hours or even overnight.  Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • To finish, simply grill over high heat for about 5 minutes to mark and impart that smoky flavor and serve with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon or a creamy vinaigrette.    

Nicoise-inspired salads

One of my favorite dishes for guests is a composed salad, especially if I have crisp sweet lettuce from the garden and fresh juicy tomatoes.   The components can be prepped ahead and plated at the last minute with a generous drizzle of vinaigrette.  I use high-quality canned Italian or Spanish tuna, although a tuna steak off the grill is a nice change of pace.  For the vinaigrette, I give 3 tablespoons of champagne vinegar,  1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and a 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil a good shake in a glass jar to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper, toss in any combination of minced herbs you have on hand, and you're ready to go. 

Bonito del Norte (Spanish White Tuna) with red potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, and lettuce and tomatoes from the garden

Especial Tuna Wild Pacific albacore, olives, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes with red and green lettuce and tomatoes  from the garden.

Homemade herb and citrus seasoning salts

This seasoning salt is not only a great use of garden herbs, but also makes lovely gifts.  Right now in my pantry, I have rosemary and garlic, mixed herbs, Meyer lemon and garlic, and plain Meyer lemon (great to rim margaritas!).  The ingredients are simple - mince herbs and toss with kosher salt.  I use roughly 1/2 cup of kosher salt to 1 cup of packed herbs.  If using a food processor to mince the garlic and/or herbs, add a little salt to help them process, before tossing with kosher salt.  With our arid desert weather here in Arizona, leaving the mixture out overnight on a sheet pan is usually enough time for it to dry.  If I'm using garlic or citrus zest, it takes a little longer and I'll sometimes leave the pan in the oven with the light on overnight to speed things up . 

Lucques salad with Valencia and Moro Oranges

Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin is in my top 5 cookbooks for many reasons - seasonal menus, perfect for entertaining, delicious flavors, and every single recipe is a winner. This is a favorite winter salad with arugula, almonds, and dates.  I used homegrown Valencia and Moro blood oranges with plump Arizona dates we picked up at Dateland on a drive back from San Diego.   About this recipe, Goin says, "This salad is my homage to those blood oranges that won my heart so many years ago. Layered with sweet dates, Parmesan, almonds, and a few leaves of peppery arugula, the blood-orange slices burst with sweet, tart juice".  

This is my Arizona variation of her recipe found in Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table.  I use two kinds of oranges to take advantage of my backyard harvest.  If you can get your hands on the seasonal Sphinx Black Dates, all the better.  This is a beautiful but simple company-worthy dish.  

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup toasted whole almonds or Arizona pecans
15 Arizona Medjool dates or Black Sphinx dates
2 Moro blood oranges
2 Valencia oranges
1/4 pound of Parmigiano-Reggiano, thinly sliced or shaved.  
2 ounces arugula
2 tablespoons pure almond oil
Salt and pepper (I like sea salts from local Go Lb Salts). 

DIRECTIONS

1. Halve the dates lengthwise and remove the pits.
3. Take a slice off the stem and blossom ends of the oranges so they sit flat. Following the shape of the fruit with your knife, cut the peel and white membrane from the orange, trying not to cut too much into the actual fruit, rotating as you go. Slice each orange horizontally into thin wheels.
5. Layer the salad in a large platter or individual salad plates:  Place about a third of the arugula on the plate and top with the sliced oranges, dates, cheese, and nuts. Follow with two more layers . Drizzle the nut oil over the salad, squeeze some fresh orange juice over it, and finish with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  If  you would like more acidity, add a splash of champagne vinegar. 

Serves 6.