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Do your best to listen to Mother Nature; buy locally produced seasonal & organic ingredients and you can't go wrong!

Step by Step: Crispy Homemade Hash Browns

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3 ingredients and 5 simple steps… now there’s no excuse for hitting up a drive-through for a couple of these bad boys when you can whip them up so easily yourself.

Serves: 4

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 washed baking potatoes (about 350g total)
  • 1 large shallot, peeled
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat or olive oil, divided

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  • Using the large holes on a box grater, shred the potatoes and shallot. There should be 275g of the shredded potato-shallot mixture.
  • Place the shredded potato-shallot mixture into the centre of a kitchen towel, gather the corners of the towel, and squeeze the potato-shallot mixture in the towel, extracting as much liquid as possible. It is very important to get out as much moisture as possible.

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  • In a medium bowl, toss the drained potato-shallot mixture with 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat or olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of bacon fat or olive oil in a large heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned potato-shallot mixture and press down lightly to evenly distribute the mixture.

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  • Flip the potato-shallot mixture after about 5 minutes, or when the potato-shallot mixture is crisp on the bottom. Press the mixture down to evenly distribute. Cook for about another 5 minutes, or until the potato-shallot mixture is crisp on the other side.

hashbrown-6Et voilà… A delicious homemade breakky is served. This is a great recipe to have up your sleeve for those sleepy, slow weekend mornings. Serve your hashies classic style with bacon and eggs benedict or with perfectly poached eggs, rocket and tomato relish.

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Step by Step: Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

Who else played this song on recorder ’til the cows came home when they were a kid? If someone handed me a recorder now, I reckon I could play that tune with my eyes closed! So ’tis the season for freshly baked, fruity and sticky buns to celebrate Easter! And how good do these ones look? I just want to pick one right up off that pretty plate, slice it open and smother it with loads of butter. I hope you get a chance to try out this recipe and share some Easter joy with your friends, colleagues, school mates and of course family. Have a happy and safe Easter everybody! Pssst… I also taped a how to make hot cross buns video so between this and the below step by step instructions, you’ll be whipping up buns tasty enough to sell at your local artisan bakery! So what are you waiting for!?

Curtis

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Makes: 18 buns

Prep Time: 30 minutes plus about 2 hours proofing time

Cook Time: 14 minutes

Make-Ahead: The dough can be made through step 1, then covered and proofed overnight in the refrigerator; proceed with steps 2 through 5 as directed. The cooled baked buns can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 2/3 cup full fat milk, warmed to 37°C
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (about 9g)
  • 1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 3 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, whisked to blend
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • 1/2 cup currants, rehydrated for 20 minutes in fresh orange juice then drained well

Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure cream

Icing:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk

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  • In a small bowl, mix the warm milk and yeast and set aside for 5 minutes to bloom the yeast.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the brown sugar and orange zest. Using your hands, rub the zest into the brown sugar for about 1 minute, or until the zest becomes fragrant.
  • Add the flour, salt, and cinnamon and mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment to blend. Add the milk-yeast mixture, eggs, melted butter, sour cream, and orange blossom water (if using) and knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

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  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the currants into the dough to distribute evenly, about 3 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set aside in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.

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To form the buns and toppings:

  • Punch down the dough and divide it into 18 equal-size pieces, weighing about 50g each. Form each dough piece into a ball and place them on 2 sturdy baking sheets that have been lined with baking paper. Cover the dough balls with an oil sheet of plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Meanwhile, position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). In a small bowl, mix the egg and cream to blend.

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  • Remove the plastic wrap from the raised dough balls. Using a pastry brush, coat the dough balls with the egg wash. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until golden brown.

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  • While the baked buns cool slightly, mix 1 cup of icing sugar and about 1 tablespoon of milk in a small bowl to form a thick icing. Transfer the icing to a small piping bag or place it in a resealable plastic bag and snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag. Pipe the icing crosses over the top of each slightly cooled bun and serve warm.

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Now you don’t have to wait for the bakeries to sell these comforting buns once a year… you can make them any ol’ time you like! How about that?!

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Step by Step: Roasted Banana Soufflé

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So everyone loves a classic choc soufflé but have you ever tasted the warm banana kind complete with a dollop of cold, creamy vanilla ice cream? I’m a self confessed chocoholic but I’ve gotta tell ya, this banana version really gives the classic a run for its money!

Roasted Banana Souffle

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 45 minutes (30 minutes inactive)

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Make-Ahead: The banana cream (steps 2 and 3) can be made up to 1 day in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before proceeding to step 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 125ml thickened cream
  • 125ml full-fat milk
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 100g (tk cups) caster sugar, divided
  • 20g plain flour
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Butter, softened, for brushing
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

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  • Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 190°C (170°C fan-forced oven). Place the bananas on a sturdy baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes, or until completely blackened on the outside and soft on the inside. Remove the peels and blend the flesh, cream, and milk in a blender until smooth.
  • Transfer the banana mixture to a medium heavy saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the banana mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

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  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk 40g of the caster sugar and the yolks for about 1 minute, or until light and fluffy. Whisk in the flour. Gradually whisk in the banana mixture. Return to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high. Boil for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Transfer the banana cream to a medium bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream and cool to room temperature.

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  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed for about 3 minutes, or until the egg whites begin to froth. Increase the speed to medium and whisk for 2 minutes, or until the whites liquid has mostly dissipated. Slowly rain in the remaining 60g caster sugar. Increase the speed to medium high and whisk for about 2 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Meanwhile, using a pastry brush, coat 4 round ramekins with a 9cm diameter and 6.5cm height with the butter.

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  • Place a sturdy baking tray in the preheated oven. Whisk one-third of the whipped egg whites into the banana cream. Fold in one-third of the egg whites and repeat with the final one-third of the egg whites. Divide the mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.

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  • Place the ramekins on the preheated baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the soufflés have risen and are still a bit liquid in the centre.

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  •  Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with the ice cream.

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All rise for the Roasted Banana Soufflé!!

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Listen and Learn at Maude

scallops-shell

Kicking off artichoke month with a team trip to Castroville really set the tone for a great month ahead. Seeing artichokes in the field and meeting the growers, who truly live and breathe these thorny thistles, just spurred us on that little bit further to get the best out of their leaves, stalks and hearts. The time has come for us to move onto pea month, and I’m a pea fanatic so I’m pretty excited, but not before I call out a couple of highlights from our March menu.

Our Scallop Crudo dish with caviar, fennel and nasturtium flowers was such a pleasure to conceive and make every night. I grew up around the ocean in Australia and I love fresh seafood—I’m a big fan of scallops in particular. I love them raw, I love them cooked…anything with a scallop is okay with me. The UK actually gets some of the tastiest scallops in the world and one of my best jobs working for Marco was to open the scallop shells each morning to expose that perfect circular disc of pinky-white flesh. Just beautiful. This particular preparation has tahini, which has a really interesting earthy flavour, and I made the sauce super frothy with mineral water, soy milk, cream, caviar, preserved lemon, and some lemon juice. The taste of these guys takes me right back to great times spent at the beach in Oz.

For a dish-by-dish photographic account of March’s tasting plates, check out The Delicious Life blog.

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It goes without saying that I’m loving being back in the kitchen cooking this sort of high-level food again. I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by super talented, eager and energetic chefs and front of house staff. My somm team, headed up by Ben Aviram – formerly of Alinea in Chicago – are just awesome and their passion for wine is infectious. To be in the same room as them as they’re doing their tastings and pairings is a special experience. We’re slowly drinking our way through our old and new world wines and their pairings really round out the experience of eating delicious food. Maude has become somewhat of a restaurant/classroom. The more you listen, the more you learn and I’m enjoying being a teacher and a student in there.

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Maude’s March Artichoke Menu

We begin taking reservations for rhubarb month on Tuesday 1st April. Further reservation information here.

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Spring Board

 

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Mirroring Maude: Onion Bhaji

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The Story Behind the Bhaji

I lived in London for eight years in my twenties and remember going to the best curry houses in Brick Lane, East London and beginning a meal with onion bhajis, or fritters. Bhajis found in Brick Lane are much spicier than this version, which we served as part of our very first monthly menu at my restaurant, Maude – we toned down the spice to avoid blowing everyone’s palates out on their first bite of a nine course tasting menu. It’s those fond memories of my time spent in England and those delicious, crispy onions that inspired this moreish dish.

The layers of Indian spices make this dish super tasty and interesting. We toast fennel and mustard seeds then grind them to get all of those fragrant oils going, and mix the ground seeds with chilli powder, fresh turmeric, ginger and garlic. We are talking about some pretty intense flavours here but together they work harmoniously with the strong and naturally sweet onion. The mouth cooling lime crème fraîche with mint and cilantro wipes through the rich, spiciness of the bhaji.

I am excited to share my special restaurant recipe with you, which I’ve tailored for the home cook. It’s a fancy little starter dish and I really hope you find a nice occasion to cook this up for your friends and yourself! It has WOW factor on the plate and palate. Enjoy guys!!!!

Onion Bhaji with Lime Crème Fraîche

Makes: 24

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes

Make-Ahead: The lime crème fraîche can be made up to 8 hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.

Ingredients

Lime Crème Fraîche:

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 serrano chile
  • 1 lime, finely grated and half juiced

Onion Bhaji:

  • Grapeseed oil, for deep frying
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh turmeric
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds, toasted, coarsely ground
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted, coarsely ground
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 small red onion (8 ounces), very thinly sliced

Method

To make the lime crème fraîche:

  1. In a food processor, blend all the ingredients until smooth. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate.

To make the onion bhaji:

  1. Into a large heavy saucepan or deep fryer, pour enough grapeseed oil to reach a depth of about 3 inches and heat the oil to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the cilantro, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. In a small bowl, mix the potato starch, rice flour, chili powder, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt. Using your hands, mix the flour mixture into the cilantro mixture. Add the iced water and stir just until a thin batter forms and some small lumps remain. Stir in the onion slices.
  3. Working in batches and using about 1 tablespoon of the onion mixture for each bhaji, drop the mixture into the hot oil and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bhaji to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle with salt. Serve the hot bhaji with the lime crème fraîche.

As served at Maude: On each serving plate, smear a spoonful of the crème fraîche mixture across the centre of the plate. Place the hot bhaji on top and serve immediately. 

 

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Everyone’s Juicing!

My two-year-old boy, Hudson, and I (along with the rest of Los Angeles and beyond) are a little juicing obsessed! The first thing Hud says to me in the morning is “Make juice dada? Make juice dada?” We go out and pick a few things like kale and carrots from the garden and we make a healthy start to the day. For some reason, Hud’s fascinated with the fact that you put the fruit and veggies in the top and the juice dribbles out the bottom. He can’t quite figure out how it works, which only piques his interest even more.

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Here’s an early morning snap of my pride and joy – my veggie garden.

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If you can get your hands on a good juicer and some fresh, seasonal produce then you’re on your way to making some pretty delicious juices. I share a little juicing inspiration below but I urge you to get creative and discover your signature juice.

Energising Green Apple Juice

Tart green apples are juiced with fresh ginger, a handful of whatever greens I have on hand – usually spinach, kale, or beet greens – along with mint, lime, celery, and pears. Together they create an energising juice with fresh bright flavours that will have you up and at ‘em.

Serves: 2 (Makes 2 1/2 cups)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Make-Ahead: This juice is best enjoyed as soon as it is made.

Ingredients

4 tart green apples, such as Granny Smith, quartered, cored

2 pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett, quartered, cored

4 celery stalks, quartered crosswise

2 cups (loosely packed) fresh spinach

1 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

One 2-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled

2 cups ice cubes

Method

1. With the motor running, feed all the ingredients except the ice into a juicer.

2. Fill 2 drinking glasses with ice cubes, pour the juice over the ice and enjoy immediately.

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Braised Beef with Roasted Baby Turnips and Multi-Coloured Baby Carrots

brasied-beef

I developed this recipe for my partner Coles‘ March magazine. Raise the mid-week meal stakes with my beautiful braised beef and roasted autumn veggies. Feeling a little too time poor to be braising mid-week? No worries! This recipe allows you to braise the beef up to two days in advance. Have an awesome autumn guys! Be sure to turn your inner kid on, kick about in the falling leaves and make the most of everything that Mother Nature is serving up to us… apples, pears, figs, persimmons, quinces and carrots are just a few of the foods on my hit list.

Braised Beef with Roasted Baby Turnips and Multi-Coloured Baby Carrots

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours

Make-Ahead: The beef can be braised up to 2 days in advance, cooled, covered and refrigerated.

Rewarm, covered, over medium heat before serving.

Ingredients

500g beef oyster blade, cut into 4 individual 125g pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced

1 large rosemary sprig

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups beef stock

1 cup (about) water

12 baby multi-coloured carrots (about 250g total), scrubbed

12 small European turnips (about 250g total), peeled and halved

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Method

To prepare the braised beef:

1. Position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan forced).

2. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy medium casserole pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, then add the beef and cook, turning as needed, for about 10 minutes, or until the beef is brown on all sides. Remove the beef from the pot and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil.

3. Add the onion, rosemary, and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot, for about 8 minutes, or until the onion is golden. Reduce the heat to medium, add the vinegar and then the stock, stirring to scrape up any remaining brown bits. Return the beef to the pot and add enough water to just cover the meat. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Braise for about 2 hours, or until the meat is almost tender. Transfer the pot the stove top. Increase the oven temperature to 260°C (240°C fan forced).

4. Simmer the braise, uncovered, over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender and the sauce has reduced to about one quarter of its original volume. Remove the rosemary stems. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, to roast the vegetables:

5. On a heavy large baking tray, toss the carrots and turnips with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer over the baking tray and roast for about 15minutes, or until crisp-tender. Toss the carrots and turnips with the butter and parsley. Serve the vegetables alongside the braised beef and braising liquid.

 

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A Guide to Spring Veggies

There’s no hunger quite like the craving for spring. I see that the season has arrived not by a date on the calendar. It’s only when the daylight has lengthened and the ground has warmed enough to produce the first fiddleheads that I know it’s really spring.

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Like all young things, there’s an unspoiled tenderness to spring’s bounty. And like youth, it fades far too quickly. Some spring veggies—like baby carrots (not the pre-washed, finger-sized, peeled baby carrots) and new potatoes—continue to be available later in the year in their more mature form. Others, such as ramps and English peas, make an appearance only for a short time before disappearing for another year.

A few of my favourite short-lived and not-to-be-missed spring vegetables are below. Keep in mind that chefs take a lighter touch with spring veggies. To make sure you don’t overwhelm their subtle flavour and delicate texture, stick to shorter cooking times, lighter sauces and gentle seasoning.

Fiddleheads are tightly coiled, edible ferns that eventually become pretty green ferns that no one eats. They have a woody-grassy flavour similar to asparagus or green beans. They last only 2 days in the fridge, so use them as soon as you get them. Snip off an inch from the bottom and simmer, steam or sauté in olive oil and top with lemon.

Ramps are wild onions. Both the greens and the bulb can be eaten and taste like a cross between garlic and leeks. Ramps are always foraged, so they can be hard to find. If you see them at a farmer’s market, grab them. Just beware—they’re pungent, so tread carefully if you’re using them raw. They can stand in for leeks, scallions or onions in any dish.

Fava beans are a bit of a tease. You’ll only find them fresh in the pod from spring to early summer. When you do get your hands on them, they need to be shelled twice—once from their pod and again from the tough skin surrounding each bean. But it’s worth it. With their nutty flavour and meaty texture, fava beans are can be sautéed and tossed into pasta, mashed, or pureed into a dip and served on crostini.

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English peas, or what the French call petit pois, are small bright, green peas with sweet taste and crunchy texture. Peas begin converting their sugar to starch as soon as they’re picked, so buy them as fresh as possible and use them quickly. In their pod, they’ll keep in the fridge for 2 days. Blanch quickly and add them to salads or simmer and puree them into a spring soup.

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Rhubarb is the first fruit of spring. The only edible part is the vibrant, cherry-coloured stalks (the leaves contain oxalic acid, which is mildly toxic) and it’s almost always served cooked. The flavor is intensely tart, so you’ll find it commonly stewed into compotes, sauces or jams using a fair amount of sugar or maple syrup. Rhubarb pairs beautifully with strawberries or ginger and adds a zing to cakes and baked goods.

Other favourite fruits and veggies also pop up in springtime. Head to the farmer’s market or your local grocer for asparagus,strawberriesartichokesbaby lettuces and radishes.

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Need some inspiration to celebrate spring? This Seared Scallops and Peas with Bacon and Mint dish shows off the season’s best.

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Cheers to the ‘Chokes!

 

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It’s Artichoke Hearts Day this Sunday 16 March and we’re cooking them up all month long at Maude so I thought I’d cheers to these guys by sharing a gallery of photos from our recent field trip to Castroville a.k.a The Artichoke Center of the World. Here I am with Arty the Artichoke, hahaah only in Castroville!

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Chris Drew, production manager at Ocean Mist Farms, shows us how to harvest an heirloom artichoke in preparation for Maude’s 2014 artichoke month.

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Beautiful perennial plants basking in the Northern California winter sun. If you see artichokes with whitish, blistered leaves, don’t be scared off! These ‘chokes have been ‘winter-kissed’ or ‘frost-kissed’ and are actually really tender and have beautiful, intense flavour.

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My chefs (and my little sous chef on my shoulder) and I hanging out with Ocean Mist Farms partner and artichoke aficionado Hugo Tottino, who has dedicated over 50 years of service to the artichoke industry.

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