Jewish style Artichokes (carciofi alla Giudia)

I am a huge artichokes fan, and this dish is one of my favourite of all times. I discovered this specialty in Rome, in a restaurant called ‘Piperno’ located in the old Roman quarter (also known as the Jewish quarter in Rome). I have such fond memories of this place, with the green walls, elegant waiters in their white jackets and the beauty of this extraordinary dish. So here is the recipe, it’s actually very simple, you just have to prepare the artichoke correctly and deep-fry.

Ingredients: (for 6)

12 round, medium-sized fresh artichokes
Olive oil
Coarse salt & pepper
Parchment paper to drain the artichokes before serving

Remove all the tough leaves of the artichokes, and cut off the tip. Don’t be shy – you must take off as many dark green leaves as possible until you see the light ones. Then cut the stem and trim the underside of the base.
Hold the artichoke and push down gently until you flatten all the leaves (as if you were flattening a rose). You want the leaves open like a flower in full bloom.
Heat about 5 cm of oil in a large pan over high heat. A good test to see if the oil is ready is to throw in a small piece of bread – if it turns golden instantly, then it’s good. First place the artichokes head down for 5 minutes, then turn them over for 5 minutes more. They are ready if you pierce through the artichoke heart and it’s soft. They should be golden.
Place them on a parchment paper to drain off excess oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Perfect waffles

You will need a waffle iron – I’ve got a classic heart-shaped one that’s been working so well for years. Every week-end and Wednesdays (children don’t have school on Wednesdays in France), I make waffles. We all look forward to this ritual with such enthusiasm, it’s always so much fun to be together at the breakfast table and indulge. Served with nutella, jam and berries we are one big happy family. Here’s my little French touch – I love to add a dash of ‘Fleur d’oranger’ (orange blossom water). The smell and taste remind me of my grand-mother’s Madeleine cakes I loved so much.

Ingredients: (makes about 10)
400 grams plain flour
6 grams baking powder
125 grams melted butter
25 grams sugar
4 eggs
500 ml milk (enough to make the batter smooth but not too liquid)
A dash of range blossom essence/water

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the milk, adding the eggs one by one. Pour in the butter, stirring constantly, and finish off with a dash of orange blossom water. Mix well, the batter should be easy to stir but not too liquid.
Your dough is now ready for the waffle iron. One small ladle of batter is usually enough to cover the waffle iron, depending on the size. Cook 2 minutes or so (your machine usually has its own timer. Serve with jam, nutella, icing sugar and if you wish.