It's the first Monday of the month which means one thing: Secret Recipe Club reveal for Group A. This month I was assigned to I Was Born to Cook, a blog written by Melissa, a young-at-heart 40-something, first generation Italian/Greek girl who was born and raised in Northern NJ, right outside of NYC. She writes that cooking has always been a passion of hers. I can relate. And I hope she can also understand that while I was passionately inspired by these two recipes - Citrus Fennel Salad and Sicilian Artichoke Pie - I improvised, putting my own spin on her creations, based on what I had in my fridge.
I picked my first recipe almost immediately: Citrus Fennel Salad is a salad she serves during her Feast of the Fishes on Christmas Eve. She cooks seven fish dishes. When I lived in Italy - and ever since - if we do the Feast of the Fishes for Christmas Eve, we prepare twelve dishes. I remember it was one dish per apostle. I have heard that different regions in Italy do different numbers of dishes. I had heard nine before. I wonder what the significance of seven is...
Here's my version of her citrus fennel salad.
freshly ground sea salt
4-6 caviar limes
Inspired by Melissa's Sicilian Artichoke Pie (Tortino di Carciofini), I created a phyllo-crusted creation featuring artichoke's cousin cardoons.
Clean and chop the cardoons into bite-sized pieces and boil them until soft. Cool slightly and stir them into beaten eggs seasoned with sea salt and cinnamon.
Layer your baking dish with 6 layers of phyllo dough, brushing each sheet with melted butter.
Line the bottom of the crust with a layer of lowfat cottage cheese. Pour the cardoon mixture in and sprinkle with feta cheese. Top with 4 more layers of phyllo, brushing each layer with butter. Roll the edges in to form a crust lip.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until the phyllo is crisp and golden brown. Serve with a green salad dressed in an oregano dressing.