Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I don't think we're in the city anymore, Toto

So, my resolve to post more didn't really pan out. Oh well, all I can do is resolve again to post more. And with our new move to the country, I think I will have much more free time on my hands. I had decided that the city wasn't the place I wanted to raise my daughter, that city life was a little too expensive, a little too overwhelming, a little not-what-I-want-right-now. So, after some compromising with various individuals, a few mental meltdowns, and informing my company that I was peacing out of the NYC metro-area, I was offered a new job and a place at my mom's house. So, here we are.

I do have to say: I love all the craft stores, TJ Maxx and Marshall's, having an office with a real desk, and all the greenness surrounding the house. However, I'm totally unstimulated, kinda bored, and irritated that I have to drive a car (which I don't have) to get anywhere. That being said, another love is the cheapness of groceries! I have been preparing all our meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), COMPOSTING (so exciting), and even brewing my own coffee that is tasty :) All the money I've saved by eating the food in my fridge I've been spending at fore-mentioned shops.

Last night, I made a tasty casserole. If you like artichokes, give it a try! You could even turn it into a spinach-artichoke dip: just cut out the egg, and stir in mayonnaise instead, bake it in a bread bowl or dip vessel and voila!

Artichoke-spinach Casserole(serves 6)

1 pound frozen artichoke hearts (Trader Joe's sells 'em)
1 3/4 cups 2% milk
1 3/4 cups aged Fontina cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup low-fat fresh ricotta
4 cups fresh baby spinach (frozen would be ok too- just cook and drain prior to adding)
1 large leek or 3 small, white and light green parts only, cut into rounds and separated
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbs fresh tarragon leaves, chopped (dried would be ok too- about 2 tsps)
2 Tbs all purpose flour
lots of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
Olive oil (or butter, if you prefer)

Pre-heat oven to 350˚ F. Cook artichokes according to package directions. While the artichokes are cooking, heat a few tablespoons of oil or butter in a large skillet or dutch oven. After you've diced up and separated the leeks, rinse them in a colander to get rid of all the sand. Add to the pan and sauté leeks until translucent. Drain water from artichokes and add artichokes, salt and pepper to pan and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add tarragon. Add milk and flour, mix well and simmer for ~8-10 minutes until mixture thickens slightly. In a separate bowl, slowly add a few tablespoons of the hot milk mixture to the lightly beaten egg to temper (so it won't curdle). Remove pan from heat. Add the egg mixture to the pan, followed by the spinach and the cheeses. Stir until cheese melts and ingredients are well combined. Add additional salt and pepper if desired. Pour into a large casserole dish. Grate some more Fontina over top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs (if desired). Cover loosely with foil or with dish cover and bake for 35-45 minutes or until casserole is set (check after 35 minutes). Remove cover, and let bake additional 5-10 minutes, until brown and bubbly. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Mmmmmm tasty! I ate this with a side salad of frisee, pears, and walnuts. This would be awesome with any kind of of protein too!

Enjoy the spring, and get the as much of the ingredients as you can at the green market or from you neighborhood farmer :)

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