During May and June, a Cena Ristorante is celebrating Spring and an essence of Italian Cuisine—Spring Vegetables.
We have not forgotten the Spring Lamb.
On Gabe’s favorite vegetables list: a Cena is celebrating two products from the Italian Cuisine that are both delicious and intriguing—the artichoke and the porcini mushroom. Both are also abundant now in America and are translated by Chef Gabreski for a Cena Ristorante.
Carciofi alla giudía (literally “Jewish style artichokes”) is one of the most famous dishes of the Roman Jewish cuisine.
This recipe originated in Rome and is basically a deeply fried artichoke. Especially suited for this dish are the Artichokes of the Romanesco variety, which are harvested between February and April in the coastal region between Ladispoli and Civitavecchia, northwest of Rome. They are a specialty of the Roman Ghetto, where Jewish restaurants prepare them each year during spring. Here in Oregon we are able to get and use baby artichokes for several months. They are from Northern California.
a Cena wishes to celebrate this Roman region tradition by presenting this and other of Chef Gabe Gabreski’s familial and recent recipes. Please come and enjoy this experience at a Cena.
Of course our regular dinner menu is always available.
There’s no telling how old this recipe is — it could conceivably date back to Imperial times, when the Roman Jewish community numbered about 50,000. In any case, Carciofi alla Giudia are a wonderful treat: they look like golden sunflowers and their leaves have a delicious nutty crunchiness. This recipe uses large artichokes. If you can get baby ones, try it. Either way there will be a “hit”.
- Artichokes (they should be large, round, and firm, and have some stem — 2-3 inches, or 5-7 cm) – figure one per person, and perhaps one more
- Oil for frying
- Salt and pepper
- A half a lemon, and the juice of a second lemon for acidulating the water
Take one, and begin trimming the leaves away, from the base, removing the outer darker part that is tough, and leaving the more tender inner part. As you work your way up the artichoke you will have to trim away progressively less of each ring of leaves. When you reach a little past the half way point of the artichoke, where the leaves begin to slope in, make a horizontal cut to remove the top quarter or so of the artichoke. Next, cut into the top of the artichoke, keeping your knife almost vertical, to remove any spines there may be in the smaller leaves towards the heart of the flower.
Next, trim away the tip of the stem, which will likely be black — you will see a ring in the middle of the cut surface. The outside of an artichoke stem, beyond the ring, is tough and fibrous. What is inside is however both tender and tasty. Remove the fibrous part, rub the artichoke with a cut, partially squeezed lemon to keep it from blackening, put it in a bowl of water acidulated with the juice of a lemon, and do the next.
Continue until you have prepared all your artichokes.
Come time to cook your artichokes, heat 3 inches (8 cm) of olive oil, or another oil with a high smoke point if you prefer, in a fairly deep, fairly broad pot (one large enough to contain the artichokes flat, and the oil should almost cover them).
While it is heating, stand your artichokes on absorbent paper to drain, and prepare a bowl with fine sea salt (non-iodized) and pepper. Season the artichokes inside and out with salt and pepper and shake off the excess. Some people also slip finely chopped garlic and parsley between the leaves, but purists frown at this.
Slip your artichokes into the hot oil and cook them for about 10 minutes, turning them in the oil so they cook evenly. Remove them to a plate lined with absorbent paper — at this point they’re partially cooked, and you could, if you want, resume cooking them later. Assuming you want to enjoy them now, however, reheat your oil — it should be hot now, because this is the frying stage — before they simply cooked in the hot oil — and slip the first artichoke in, initially horizontally.
Fry the artichoke for 3-4 minutes, until the stem is browned, and then use a pair of long-handled implements along the lines of BBQ forks to upend the artichoke. Press down gently; the leaves will brown thanks to the heat of the bottom of the pan, and the artichoke will open like a flower.
While the artichoke is browning, line a second plate with absorbent paper. Put the first artichoke to drain blossom down, and continue with the next. Continue until you have finished frying your artichokes. I like them sprinkled with sea salt.
Additionally, some chefs put garlic gloves in the oil and serve lemon wedges on the side.
a Cena Kitchen Hint
When trimming and cleaning artichokes have a large bowl or bucket of ice water with lemons, cut into wedges, to toss the clean artichokes into. This will prevent the artichokes from oxidizing.
Other Spring Vegetables in Italy
May is prime time for some of Italy’s most delicious and vegetables. Chef Gabreski and the staff at a Cena wish to share this blast of green. Green is good, tasty and healthy.
Fava beans are a treat that are traditionally associated here with May 1st holiday, which is also the start of fava season.
Spinach is a Contorni accompanying many meals in Italy.
Asparagus is probably everyone’s favorite, whether it is a simple salad or accompanying your favorite salmon recipe.
Open for Lunch
11:30am – 2:30pm Tuesday through Saturday. Here is a sample of our current lunch menu. There will always be something new to try as our menu does change frequently.
June 3th is 1st Friday
Check out First Friday the evening of June 3, 2016 in Sellwood and other eastside neighborhoods. The evening features new gallery exhibits, artist receptions, live entertainment and other special events. Of course a Cena will be in the heart of this action, so plan ahead.
Kiosk and Walking Map
The Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance has constructed an informational 3-sided kiosk placed permanently at the key intersection of Milwaukie and Bybee on the NW corner. One side displays the newly created map showing our SWBA members, while the second panel displays the same map but with neighborhood resources and amenities such as parks, walking trains, library, community center, etc. All three panels feature upcoming neighborhood events.
Our Local Farmers
Grazie to SuDan Farm, Rising Stone Farms, Creative Growers, Sweet Briar Farms, Braesco, Weppler, Peck Forest, Morning Star Farm, Bonnie Stern, and Deep Roots Farm and Allen Brothers Angus for their wonderful products and their great service.
If you are aware of any upcoming Sellwood events or happenings, shoot us an an email or call Chris at a Cena. We would be pleased to include them in our next communication.
What Can We Do For You
A Cena’s individualized attention
Plan a Party
Intimate and Special – Allow us to plan a Party that your guests will appreciate and remember. Contact Gabe at a Cena and together you can design your next private party. In-house or catered, we will do the food, service and clean-up.
A Great Gift
Gift cards are available for that special someone; family celebration, birthdays, anniversary, business or a special ‘thank you’. Order a gift card at your next dinner, or over the phone. Again, a gift card is a thoughtful and delicious present throughout 2016
A Cena Ristorante e Enoteca
Portland, Oregon 97202