The holidays are upon us and it is time for friends, family and feasting. My Voodoo house celebrates this as another joyful time to share with the ancestors and renew our spirits. There is cornbread, black eyed peas, collards, ham, and the delicious list goes on. Each food fulfills it’s own special role providing healing, fertility, abundance, financial success and the like. I grew up with the Sicilian portion of my Family and as my grandfather always said “the Sicilian part takes over,” well especially where Christmas food is concerned. The traditional Christmas eve dinner is the feast of the seven fishes. Frutti di mare, scallops, sole, clams… the fish seemed to go on forever. Truth be told, I hate fish. I always have. The last time I ate it was over a decade ago when my Voodoo priestess made me. Lucky for me when I was growing up there was always something delicious to accompany the fish. My favorite were the stuffed artichokes. I can’t imagine growing up without them. For more great recipes please check out my cookbook African-American Ritual Cooking (sorry for the shameless plug, but a lady’s got to buy artichokes somehow.)
The vegetable which is really the flowering top of a thistle, has been an honored aphrodisiac for centuries. They were sacred to Roman culture, and are thought to have originated in Sicily. The ancient Greeks thought eating large amount of artichokes was said to ensure the birth of healthy male offspring. King Henry VIII of England had them growing in the royal gardens. There is even an aperitif from the vegetable, called Cynar (pronounced CHEE-nar.) It is popular in Brazil, Italy, and Switzerland. All across the globe, artichokes are widely believed to stimulate both the body and the soul.
Sicilian Stuffed Artichoke Recipes ( For 2)
Note about the breadcrumbs- My Sicilian family always made bread crumbs from stale Italian bread, chopped up in the blender. Now I use gluten free breadcrumbs, or you could use a paleo breadcrumb if you like.
2 large artichokes
3 cloves garlic
½ cup chopped mushrooms
1 tbs. fresh basil, minced
1 tbs. fresh parsley, minced
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 tbs. romano-pecorino cheese, grated
2 tbs. Bacon bits
juice from ½ lemon
2 tbs butter or olive oil
4 tbs. Chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare artichokes for cooking by cutting off stem, snipping off ends of leaves, and cutting an “x” in the bottom. Boil a saucepan full of enough salted water to cover the artichokes. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from water with a spoon and place upside to drain and cool. Remove choke, by twisting and scooping out with a spoon. Meanwhile in a frying pan heat butter or oil, add onions, when they begin to become translucent, add mushrooms and garlic. Cook over low heat for two minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, spices, cheese and bacon bits. Stuff mixture into artichokes. Place in a baking pan. Add lemon juice and chicken broth to the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, remove foil during last 10 minutes of cooking to crisp up the tops. Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Wishing Everyone a Safe and Joyous Holiday from the Voodoo Universe !!!