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March 14, 2006

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mzn

I have seen cardoons from time to time in one of the fancy markets in Milwaukee. They are so large and unfamiliar that I have never taken a chance on them. And since they're from the same family as the artichoke, I fear they will be as much trouble to deal with.

I've been thinking about "something from nothing" since you first announced it. I'm really looking forward to seeing what people come up with.

Tania

I love the title of this post, Lindy! Well done!

Never tried cardoons myself, but I do remember one of the Two Fat Ladies (remember them?) singing their praises. The substitution of endives and fennel sounds inspired, though. Looks very creamy in the photo ... yum!

Kimberly

Overdoing it with almonds? Impossible. That sauce sounds wonderful; I imagine it would have also been nice with the first-of-season asparagus that I picked up a couple of days ago. (It was from Mexico, but it was pencil thin, and gorgeous, and I just couldn't help myself.)

I've had an idea or two for Something from Nothing, but I'm not sure that they merit much attention. Most of my starving grad student diet would fall under the category of food as fuel. I'm still thinking...

shuna fish lydon

When my cousin moved to England she went to the grocer and asked for eggplant. They almost fell of their stool laughing. "Here in England eggs don't grow on trees!" they reminded her.

lindy

mzn: If they are anywhere near as good as artichokes, I'm ready to deal with them. If I can find some, that is.
kimberly: I have a really good recipe for an easy belgian sauce for aspargus in here somewhere-I had it on some white asparagus, but it would be great on the green. I just bought some early asp. from out of town too-I'm getting impatient for the season.
tania:I regret having only seen the 2 fat ladies once, they seemed hysterical- and very good cooks, too.
shuna: I had some trouble sorting out the rutabaga/swede/scottish turnip issue in the uk myself. Are eggplants aubergines there? and then zucchiniare "courgettes"?
Sometimes, a person just has to point. In Cyprus, I got out a pencil and drew a picture of a head of garlic for a grocer in a hill town.

Baking Soda

Cardoons? .. that's another one to look up, as was rutabaga/swede/turnip. Love the internet, can find almost anything, now the grocery store in Holland that stocks these things LOL. I use Cook's Thesaurus a lot (they do pictures and substitutes!)

Bakerina

No cardoons at the Iggle? Oh, Lindy, that's just plain wrong. This may be more of a time and energy commitment than most reasonable people would want to make, but have you tried asking Sunseri Bros. if they would bring it in? I always thought that Jimmy & Nino were fans of off-the-beaten-path produce; cardoons sound right up their alley.

If it's any consolation, I don't have the easiest time finding them in New York, either. Occasionally, when someone at the Hunts Point Terminal Market has a lot to sell, my local greengrocer will bring them in, but they are no means consistently supplied. I tried to ascertain just when cardoon season was, and ended up weeping in frustration. As soon as some more come in, I am so taking a road trip to your front door. :)

lindy

Baking S-I have yet to see one cardoon in person myself, but I understand they are Very, Very Large!
Bakerina-Next time you pay a visit to the 'burgh, we'll have to go on a cardoon hunt in the Strip!
I have certainly seen some interesting veg at Sunseri's at times, but not as much that's really special in recent years. Last year I didn't see any fava beans at all e.g...maybe I just missed them.

Jen

I didn't see any cardoons when I was in the Strip this weekend, but of course I wasn't exactly keeping an eagle eye out for them, either. I'll be down there again this weekend, and I'll let you know if I spot any.

Cardoons or no, that recipe sounds delicious.

lindy

Jen-I was down there today at lunch from work. No cardoons in sight. But I found casing for the sausages-to-be at Wholey's!

C.C.

Cardoon is really hard to find. I grow the plant as it is beautiful and properly prepared, it is delicious. I have an Italian co-worker who literally swoons everytime I bring her a batch. She has graciously repaid me with wild harvested bolete mushrooms.

The only time I've seen cardoon in the markets is in the winter around Christmas time here in CA. The time I harvest it is when it is just coming up and is very young and tender. So I would look in the spring and try Italian markets as it is served roasted with Bagna Cuda. I'm not sure how I would send you some, but maybe you can suggest a way?

John H.

Could someone please, please, please tell me more about harvesting them? I've looked everywhere on the web and just keep finding the same incomplete information.

Do I eat stems or the ribs of leaves? Does each plant produce just one stem or multiple stems? If I'm going to blanche the stem, when do I start the blanching process?

What time of year can I expect to harvest them? I have been able (finally) to grow them as perennials, so I assume I'll get something harvest-able this year.

If I could figure out what that "something" is.

lindy

John-It looks to me like the comment from c.c. above is the work of a knowledgeable cardoon grower. Why not send him an email with your questions?

John H.

Thanks Lindy.

Elizabeth

John-- A farmer at my local market was not having much success here on the east coast where the weather is not as conducive to the plant's growth as it is in the more Mediterranean clime of California. Nonetheless, seeds from Italy helped a lot--this year's crop grown from Umbrian seeds are great. Seeds of Italy, I think, is name of one business; I got mine from a friend.

Your questions suggest you're not finding the best sources online. Patience. Try using the words "recipe" and "gratin" and "cardi" or "cardone" in addition to "cardoon".

However, I have to say, you may have been searching one year too early since cardoons seem to be showing up at more and more places in the past year!

Meanwhile, here are a few links to get you going, including info from farmers and gardeners:

http://www.frenchgardening.com/aupotager.html

http://twosmallfarms.blogspot.com/2007/04/two-small-farms-newsletter-issue-number.html

http://www.cibochepassione.com/detailRicetta.uk.html?id=479

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6221013

Best thing I've made: lamb tagine w cardoons, preserved lemons and olives in Paula Wolfert's book on couscous and the food of Morocco.

* * *
NOW, MY QUESTIONS/REQUESTS:

1) Please supply the original Spanish recipe w cardoons for those of us who have them. It looks wonderful!

FYI: Artichoke hearts (frozen, e.g. from TJ) will provide the taste of cardoons. Fennel is definitely complementary, raw, though the flavor is not the same and would probably overpower that of cardoons when braised or baked; delicate as it is, cultivated cardoons are even more faint.

2) Anyone have a recipe for candied cardoons? It's something done in France, related to the Italian (Mantua) mostarda.

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