Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oscar Hammerstein, Artichoke Bottoms, Brie, Fruit Cake.

Last night we watched a production about Oscar Hammerstein, Out of My DreaThe King and I2ms. A fascinating story about a fascinating man. This was on PBS out of Buffalo, WNED, and one of the thank you gifts was 12 DVDs of Rogers and Hammerstein shows fully restored and remastered. All for a donation of $125 which we have meant to do for 38 years. I have often felt guilty for not contributing to WNED before so now I feel much happier. We loved all these shows in our younger days and we can sing practically all the lyrics, albeit badly, but we both know all the words. Carousel, Oklahoma, Showboat and The King and I are amongst the DVDs we are going to get. When I was young I used to be in love with Gordon McCrae, Howard Keel and Yul Brynner. For many years If I Loved You from Carousel was my favourite love song. I hadn’t realised, seeing the shows over the years, how politically involved Oscar Hammerstein was; how he fought in his own way against injustice and prejudice and what a strong social conscience he had. He really was quite a man.

It is still snowing round here, at this rate, it should last over the Christmas period, but the roads are such a mess at the moment. We had to go do some shopping this afternoon, and there is so much dirty slush around, luckily when we look out of our windows, all we see is a park covered in beautiful white snow. One of the things I artichoke bottomswas looking for today was frozen artichoke bottoms. Vincenzo’s which I have mentioned many times, told me they had frozen hearts so we went there, but they were exactly that, frozen slices, not the cup shaped bottoms of an artichoke. Not suitable for the recipe I posted. Spinach and Brie Topped Artichoke Hearts, however, it turned out they did have cans of artichoke bottoms by Clic from Egypt of all places. I don’t associate Egypt with artichokes, but we live and learn. I gather they need to be rinsed well before using in this recipe.

We also came across some rounds of Brie so I decided to try a Brierecipe I posted for Baked Camembert a few days ago. Having decided to use Brie instead of Camembert I put the cheese into a small round dish to cook. I slashed the cheese and poured some Vermouth on it plus added herbs and chucked a few pecans on top for good measure, it was cooked in the toaster oven. I enjoyed it but the Brie flavour was extremely delicate and Matt swore he couldn’t taste it at all. He thinks it’s because it was cooked, I think it’s because this particular Brie we bought today didn’t have a very strong flavour in the first place. This will be settled later when we eat the second Brie uncooked. Unfortunately this does happen sometimes that some Brie have such delicate flavours one can hardly taste them.

Talking of food, I am one of the few people who like Christmas fruit cake. For some reason hundreds of people in this part of the world Christmas Cakedon’t like it. There is always a joke about fruit cakes being gifted on all the time passing around for years. A friend came to pick up her Avon today and brought me a piece of her cake which she recently cooked. I knew she included a particular rum in it, she had been talking about it on Facebook, so later, at lunchtime, we tried it (Matt doesn’t much like fruit cake either) and we both enjoyed it. I haven’t made a Christmas cake in 41 years (or since I married Matt) because Matt didn’t like them. Amazing isn’t it. At least he did like my Christmas puddings. I don’t make those either any more. This picture shows one topped with marzipan, I used to use marzipan and then royal icing. I made some gorgeous looking cakes but never took pictures.

I just got this recipe from the Food Network. I like roasted root vegetables and am thinking seriously of doing them this Christmas for a change from the usual Brussels Sprouts.

Anna Olson's Roasted Root Vegetables

serves 6

Anna Olson's Roasted Root Vegetables
Seasonal root vegetables get kicked up a notch with a homemade vinaigrette.


Roasted Root Vegetables
1 cup peeled and diced carrot
1 cup peeled and diced parsnip
1 cup diced celery root
1 Delicata squash, seeded and diced (you can leave the skin on)
2 shallots, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Warm Vinaigrette
1+ 6 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds


Roasted Root Vegetables
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Toss carrot, parsnip, celery root and squash with shallots, olive oil and thyme and season lightly. Place in an 8-cup baking dish and roast for 30 to 40 minute, until vegetables are equally tender. Remove thyme sprigs.
Warm Vinaigrette
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil and sauté shallot for one minute over medium heat. Whisk in mustard, vinegar and rosemary and reduce heat to low.
2. Whisk in remaining 6 tbsp oil in a slow drizzle and season to taste.
3. When ready to serve, toss warm roasted vegetables with warm vinaigrette, garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve.

Have a great day


  1. Oh, I love those musicals, too. My favorite is probably The King and I...but it's hard to choose.
    As to the brie, I also prefer the ones with stronger flavor, and do enjoyed them warmed (so much easier to spread and usually come with supporting players...). One of my favorites is to wrap it in puff pastry to bake, and then serve with jalapeno-raspberry jam. Of course, I usually put some roasted garlic and onions on the side, too, since I can do about one bite with the jam...
    Roasted root veggies are amazing. My sister-in-law who sells Pampered Chef (is that in Canada?) has done a lot of experimenting and always brings a new twist to holiday gatherings. They are gobbled up by kids (even my picky youngest) and adults alike. Her Brussels sprouts recipe is amazing.
    I still haven't found the artichoke bottoms for that recipe I saved...Egypt you say...
    Tina @ Life is Good

    1. I'm the same, they are all favourites.

      Your brie sounds good. I love spicy jams with cheese too. Yes, we have Pampered Chef. Never been to a party though. Does she share recipes to non customers, I would be interested in her Brussels Sprouts recipe.

      According to the internet there are lots of canned varieties around even if you can't find the frozen ones.