If we can cook it, you can cook it!

3 Side Dishes – Alex Guarnaschelli’s Stuffed Artichokes and her Oven-Roasted New Potatoes and the Lee Brothers Skillet Green Beans with Orange

        Almost all of the time, we share center of the plate dishes with you.  Today, we’d like to share three vegetable side dishes that put a spin on familiar favorites like green beans and potatoes, and we venture outside our comfort zone with Stuffed Artichokes.  In the process we were cooking in great company.

The Lee Brothers are determined to explore their culinary roots in the American South but they’re turning a lot of Southern classics on their heads.  They make them healthier, fresher and more flat-out modern.  Anybody who has ever wondered why on earth anyone would cook all the color out of green beans, will be happy here. Instead of cooking the life out of them, generally accompanied by a ham hock, the Lees use a deft  hand and a cast iron skillet to turn out this beautifully colored dish.            
        Alexandra Guarnaschelli is the Executive Chef at New York’s Butter Restaurant  (415 Lafayette St. (between 4th St & Astor Place) New York, NY 10003 (Tel: (212) 253-2828).  And one of her shows on the Food Network is one of our favorites: “Alex’s Day Off”.   If the Lee’s influence is the South, Alex’s is Europe combining her apprenticeship in France with the food of her Italian-American childhood.  Alex’s is not just a wonderful cook, she’s a great teacher.  Every step is explained.  And she’s fun to watch whether she’s flirting outrageously with her butcher or taking us through the intricacies of peeling an artichoke.  Which brings me to the subject at hand.
        I had never peeled an artichoke before.  I’m not going to say it was terribly difficult, it was just a little more time-consuming than I’d imagined.  My friend Keith says he’s got it down to a science.  I don’t think mine looked too bad and they tasted great, but it amazed me how much ‘choke had to peeled away.   But the effort paid off as I think you can see.  And finally, Alex’s oven-roasted potatoes are so easy, they more than made up for any time spent on the artichokes.
Here are the recipes:


At left, Lee Brother’s Skillet Green Beans with Orange are a great side dish with a simply grilled steak and Alex’s Oven-Roasted New Potatoes, the recipe for which follows.

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