Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rosie Makes Stuffed Artichokes To Rave Reviews.

Wednesday was a very exciting day for us. It was the opening day of the new Harris Teeter in Kitty Hawk, so Mr. Hawthorne and I, apparently along with everyone else on the Outer Banks, showed up to check it out.
The parking lot was full.
I have to admit, their produce department is beautiful.
But my roses can take on their roses anytime.
I found a lovely pair of artichokes which ended up as dinner Wednesday night.
I've never seen artichokes this size before, so I'm going with stuffed artichokes tonight. But before I do, let's go into the legend of the artichoke. According to Aegean legend, Zeus was visiting his brother Poseidon one day when he saw a beautiful young mortal maiden, named Cynara. She was not frightened by Zeus's presence and Zeus seduced her. Zeus liked Cynara so much, he decided to make her a goddess so she could live closer to him on Olympia. Cynara soon grew homesick and sneaked back to the world of mortals to visit her mother. Upon discovering what Cynara had done, Zeus, enraged, hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the artichoke.
Now, on to the artichoke preparation. I pulled off the very bottom leaves, then trimmed each leaf, cutting straight across the tops, and sliced about an inch off the very top. After rinsing off the artichokes, they're ready for cooking.
I poured a few inches of water in my pan and added some vermouth and sherry for a little extra flavor.
When my water came to a boil, I threw in 5-6 cloves of garlic and added some olive oil. Then I plopped in the artichokes, covered them, and simmered for about an hour.
Halfway through, my liquid was getting a bit low, so I added more vermouth and sherry and I figured a lemon couldn't hurt.
While my artichokes cooked, I prepared my stuffing: tomato garlic lemon juice and zest parsley basil mint capers baguette
I chopped my tomato, added the minced garlic, the zest and juice of one lemon.
I minced the parsley, basil, and mint and added that to the tomato mixture.
I shredded the bread and toasted it, waiting until the last minute to add it to the tomato stuffing so it wouldn't get soggy.
When my artichokes were done, I turned them upside down to drain and let cool enough so I could handle them.
Left artichoke = before artichoke. Right artichoke = after artichoke I pulled out the center leaves first ...
... which exposed the inedible fuzzy choke.
Scrape out the choke and you reveal the heart of the artichoke.
One of the best ways to eat an artichoke is also one of the simplest. Just dip the leaves in melted butter. I melted butter and added some lemon juice and squished some of the cooked garlic from the artichoke cooking liquid.
When I was ready to serve, I poured my toasted bread into the tomato mixture.
From left to right, tomato stuffing, leftover crabmeat dip from my crabmeat crostini, and lemon/butter/garlic sauce.
I heated the crabmeat dip and spread that on top of the artichoke heart.
Then I added the tomato/bread/caper/lemon/herb mixture in between the leaves. Mr. Hawthorne is NOT easily impressed. But he called this dish a "masterpiece." "A showpiece." "Original." "Superb." "Delicious." "Fun." He described this as both an "appetizer and an entree." He said it starts with an appetizer of excitement and interest as he pulled off each individual leaf, dipped it in the melted butter, and scraped the flesh off the leaf. And since the leaves were rigid, he could add the tomato stuffing on top and have that additional pop of freshness. Then he said it ends with a "crescendo." And that would be the entree - the unexpected crabmeat mixture on top of the heart, which he didn't know was there, since the leaves covered it up. It was a special surprise at the end. You get the sweet richness of the crabmeat and the intense, meaty, artichoke flavor of the heart, all in one bite.
Here's Mr. Hawthorne's crescendo - crabmeat on artichoke heart. Oh my ... this was something else.


Kathy said...

Well dang, they look right tasty. (I thought that description would be a nice foil to the gloriousness of Mr. Hawthorne's description)

Bad Zeus.

Anonymous said...

Those are the biggest artichokes I've ever seen. Were they as tender as the regular globe ones HT usually sells? I bought some last week, and added some bay leaves (along with garlic & lemon) when steaming, very nice flavor.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

They were extremely tender.
And excellent.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow! We live in Calif where we grow artichokes and I cook them often, but I must tell you, those are biggest frickin' artichokes I have ever seen. Stuffing artichokes is food from the gods. Your recipe looks delicious. I will try that, for sure.

Donna-FFW said...

Gee, I must tell you that was one fantastic post, I learned some things, and your step by step photos are incredibly helpful. I have to go check out those brownies you mentioned now. Love the placement of your artichokes in your first picture.. haha.

Hairball T. Hairball said...

Looks yummy!