Artichoke and garlic

Creamy Artichoke Soup For Easter Brunch

Asparagus soup

I love the concept of serving a soup in a demitasse. It whets the appetite just enough for the next course. I worked in a place known for luxury that served every patron a small demitasse of chicken consommé. Perfect for the ladies that lunched, or just a soothing balm on a cold rainy day. When you start think of your Easter brunch ideas, dust off the collection of demitasse and fine tea cups you hardly use, and greet your guests with an elegant cup of soup to offer a warm welcome.

Artichoke and garlic

I had some artichokes that were screaming to be used in my vegetable bin after serving as models for an illustration. If you don’t have raw artichokes you can use canned bottoms or hearts. It will easier, but I love the process involved in this soup with roasting and coaxing the flavors. Don’t be afraid of the process in the kitchen. It can be very Zen . Use the recipe as inspiration and enjoy. I hope you enjoyed the featured illustration. Its one of many food illustrations I’m working on  for Coco Collection and a book project.

Creamy Artichoke Soup For Easter Brunch
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A creamy artichoke soup with roasted garlic and leeks.
  • 2 whole raw leeks
  • 2 whole raw artichokes
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large russet potato
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • pink peppercorns crushed for garnish
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • > and black pepper
  1. Break down the artichokes but slicing off tops and stems.
  2. Trim to get to the center. Halve and remove any fuzzy center( the choke)
  3. above the stem and purple leaves if any. You want the
  4. tender heart of the artichoke.
  5. Soak in cold water with half a
  6. lemon to prevent discoloration and browning.
  7. Slice entire leek ( white and green part) and soak I cold water to remove
  8. dirt and grit.
  9. In a roasting pan toss the artichokes and
  10. leeks with olive oil and the remaining half of lemon juice.
  11. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Slice tip of garlic fist and drizzle with olive oil.
  13. Wrap in foil and roast with the other veggies.
  14. Roast on high at 450FPeel and boil the russet
  15. potato.
  16. When deeply browned, remove vegetable and start
  17. pureeing with the chicken stock.
  18. Squeeze the garlic out of its papery skin and pulse with the other vegetables.
  19. Peel the skins off boiled potato.
  20. Add the potato to the blender for puree.
  21. Now take a strainer and strain the fibrous soup
  22. through a fine mesh strainer , forcing the liquid out with a
  23. stirring motion, with a pot or bowl underneath.
  24. You can use a food mill too.
  25. Once all strained, transfer the soup into a clean pot.
  26. Simmer on low.
  27. Add heavy cream.
  28. Reheat gently.
  29. Garnish with pink peppercorns and a bit of minced chives if you have some.


Basler Brunsli and Tozzetti…A Saveur Cookie Challenge Double Post

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Yesterday was hot day at Coco Cooks. But now I’m shifting my focus back to holiday baking. Certain Someone took me to New York last week and I didn’t get a chance to post week three’s cookie from Saveur. So today I’m doing a double post ( weeks 3 and 4), so there is still time to get some cookies in your repertoire.

For my final two cookies I chose the complex and rich Basler Brunsli from Switzerland

and a Tozzetti from Rome,Italy.

Both were relatively easy to prepare. Allow for time with Basler Brunsli as it requires a drying out and rest time of three hours. The appealing part of the Basler Brunsli is that it is a Gluten Free cookie, for those that need  a good gluten free recipe. Originating in Switzerland its composed of ground almonds, chocolate, cloves and cinnamon. I cheated and took a cue from some other bakers and used almond meal rather than grind my own.

For the Tozzetti, I took Bakers License. I didn’t have all the ingredients but variations of it. I mixed Anise extract with rum, rather than anise seed and Sambuca. I didn’t have whole hazelnuts, but chopped. And I only had ground almonds which I toasted with the hazelnuts. The flavor profile didn’t change, just the presentation of whole sliced hazelnuts in the Biscotti. This is a different recipe from other Biscotti , as you don’t mold a slab but pour the batter in  a jelly roll pan and bake. But it works. I like them as they are not too sweet.

I would call both of these cookies the Grown Folks cookies. The flavors are more sophisticated and complex. They are sturdy cookies that will pack well in your holiday gift boxes. You can find the recipes for Basler Bunsli here and for Tozzetti here.

Check out the other Smart Cookies in our Holiday Baking Pursuits.

Onion and Broccoli Bhajji

The other week Certain Someone and I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and some new ones at Jaipur, a  new Indian restaurant in the West Loop. As our friends were Indian, this place passed their critical palate. One of the food items I couldn’t get enough of was the Bhajji, a fried onion fritter. I decided to replicate these at home and realized I had all the ingredients sitting in the pantry. The main ingredients are Gram flour( chickpea flour) and sliced onions. The spice ratio can be adjusted to your tastes. I decided to add some chopped broccoli for color.The taste to me is similar to a Falafel, but more spicy I served these one night for dinner and Certain Someone couldn’t get enough. They serve well as leftovers too. No wonder this is among the most popular snacks and starter courses throughout India. I like mine plain, but serve with a pickle or chutney on the side. And it’s Gluten-free if that’s what you require.


Onion and Broccoli Bhajji

  • 2 onions halved and then sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cup chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups Chickpea Flour
  • 1/4 cup Rice Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry
  • 1/2 teaspoon black onion seeds/ nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup or more of water
  • Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil for frying
  1. Slice onion.Chop Broccoli.
  2. In a bowl mix all dry ingredients and spices.
  3. Add onion and broccoli.
  4. Add water a little at a time and mix until all ingredients are moistened and form a ball. You may need more or less water.
  5. Heat oil for frying.
  6. Make small balls of mixture and drop in for frying.
  7. Turn and make sure browned on all sides.
  8. Drain on paper towels.
  9. Serve  with lemon, lime, or Indian pickle or chutneys.


Consider this for upcoming Meatless Monday options.

Cooking For Isaiah…Gluten Free and Dairy Free… A Book Review

Let me preface this post by saying I’m not Gluten Free nor do I have any plans, God willing , of turning to a Gluten Free diet. As of late the whole food allergy issue is just exploding. Now all of sudden people are claiming to be allergic to Gluten, or this and that and it creates many challenges as a host or cook to make sure everyone is taken care of. Look in any aisles of the supermarket and the Gluten Free Category is taking off .

… In fact, the number of kids with food allergies went up 18 percent from 1997 to 2007, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 3 million children younger than 18 had a food or digestive allergy in 2007, the CDC said…

I admit I’m a bit of a cynic with all these professed limitations food wise people claim to have. The reason being I have seen a few people in my world just latch on the fad and diet craze, believing Gluten Free will make them thinner. However I do acknowledge , there are many with serious allergies out there. And for them I applaud Cooking For Isaiah by Silvana Nardone for the love of her child Isaiah , who was stricken with both gluten and dairy allergies. Silvana is a former bakery owner and founding editor of Every Day With Rachel Ray. She defiantly  has the food chops and credentials, but love is her motivating factor in writing Cooking For Isaiah. 135 recipes of gluten and dairy free recipes  from breakfast to desserts, and all that falls in between. As with any great book her basic sections includes her Silvana’s All Purpose Flour Blend , Silvana’s Pancake Mix, and charts for substitutions to cook and bake gluten and dairy free.

As baking is my primary interest I went ahead and made Silvana’s All Purpose Flour Blend. If you look on a grocery aisle a small box of Gluten Free Flour ranges in the neighborhood of $5. Making Silvana’s blend gave me probably 6x that amount. Way more economical , as going Gluten Free isn’t cheap or easy. Silvana is very pro certain brands likes Bobs Red Mill or  Shiloh Farms as she believes they influence taste. I had most of her brands but went with a bulk off brand of Rice Flour purchased in an Ethnic Market (Swad Brand for Indian Foods).

I’m not one to follow a cookbook exactly but use it for inspiration. So having made the flour blends, I attempted to make the Cherry Turnover recipe with Cinnamon Glaze. The whole texture and feel of Gluten Free dough takes some getting used to, and while she warned to not be afraid of crumbling dough, and to make water your friend, my turnovers didn’t turn over. So I plopped the dough and my cherry blend into a mini loaf pan made a cobbler with that pie crust. I also made a mini pie with the other half of ingredients.

I found the dough was crisp and flaky. The taste took some getting used to, but that can be attributed to the rice flour brand I used.As I’m not dairy free, I want to use butter next time for this Gluten Free Pie Crust rather than vegetable shortening.

Having plenty of Silvana’s All Purpose Flour Blend left I decided to make her Pizza Crusts. All of her Pizza Recipes are Dairy Free. I need cheese on my pizza, and just worked on her crusts from the book. The Gluten Free Pizza crusts are assembled and pre baked. One can freeze them or make up the pizzas right there. No real rising time is needed with the yeast which perplexed me. Again, another oddly textured dough .You need to forget about your preconceived notions of traditional baking when baking Gluten Free. My crust didn’t puff in my new super hot oven. Maybe I rolled it to thin. What I got was  a tasty crisp flat bread with the right sugar/salt content, that I added cheese , Mortadella , and basil to. Was it tasty? Yes , it was, . Was it what I think of as pizza dough, not quite. But it was pretty good for what I expected from Gluten Free. From the two recipes I tried, I prefer the savory applications as the topping of the pizza absorb the different tastes of Gluten Free flour blends. The texture still takes some getting used to.

Cooking For Isaiah is  great introduction to the world of Gluten Free. Besides baking, Silvana has many  main dishes, soups, rice, salads, vegetables and sides to chose from. I’m amazed at her creativity with the limitations set. You will find recipes the whole family can enjoy, In my case I will use this book to be conscientious host, cook, friend, and caterer to those that  have gluten and dairy restrictions. Cooking for Isaiah has a wealth of ideas.

Visit Silvana’s  Blog Dish Towel Diaries