Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm so sorry if you live in a part of the country (or world) that is not experiencing delightful weather.

Here in Chicago, we are.  On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, we took a walk around the neighborhood with our dog.  It was so beautiful we just strolled around and walked a different way than we normally do.

Lucky for us!  We happened to walk past a woman (the lovely, Reina, I learned) who was gardening.  She gave a bunch of herbs to a man who was pushing his shopping cart down the alley, and then she asked us if we would like some basil and lemon balm.  My basil plant just died, so it was great timing.  We gladly took big bunches off her very generous hands.

I had immediate plans for the basil--pasta sauce and pesto, but wasn't sure what to do with the lemon balm.  I decided to throw a bunch of leaves into the cooking water with my artichokes, thinking that might make a nice addition.  I was right.  The lemon balm gave the artichokes a lovely, fresh flavor.  I didn't measure it out, so this is more a cooking suggestion than a recipe.

Before I get to that, though, I have to share some exciting news about my book.  Welcoming Kitchen just got a great review in Library Journal!  You can read it here.

Now, on to the recipe suggestion.

Artichoke with Lemon Balm

Ingredients:
1 artichoke
1 handful lemon balm leaves
pinch of sea salt

Preparation:
Trim the spiny ends off of the artichoke leaves with a kitchen scissors.
Put the artichoke into a small or medium saucepan.
Fill with water 2/3 of the way up the artichoke.
Add a pinch of salt and the lemon balm to the water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Turn the artichoke over to make sure that it's cooked all the way around.
Simmer for 25-45 minutes.  The artichoke is done when you can pretty-easily pull away one of the bottom leaves.

If you want to really up the lemon balm flavor, you can add some minced lemon balm into warmed olive oil or melted Earth Balance, if you like a dip for your leaves.

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan


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