Thursday, April 17, 2008
I had alot of fun with the last roundup at Joelen's Culinary Adventures" . The general idea is to highlight a different kitchen tool each time to show the versatility of the roundup's chosen tool. This time we're looking at the many uses of scoops. Without even knowing it, I've been using my mellon baller for a variety of things other than mellons. If you get an opportunity, it's a real learning to see how people use their kitchen tools. Stop by Joelen's Culinary Adventure. Not only is she lovely but her blog is alot of fun to follow.
While shopping at one of my favourite (I have several) Italian markets, I picked up a few artichokes. Although a staple in Italian diets, most people I know are totally intimidated at the thought of even attempting this spiky little relative to the sunflower. I decided to stuff 4 just so I can say I'm really not a wimp.
I found this recipe in Eating Well
Prepping the Artichoke:
1. Cut off the top 1 inch of leaves from the artichoke.
2. Remove the outer layer of small, tough leaves from the stem end.
3. Snip all remaining spiky tips from othe outer leaves.
4. Cut the bottom stem to make a flat bottom, discarding the stem.
5. Starting at the outer layers and moving inward, pull the leaves apart to loosen.
6. Pull open the leaves at the centre until you see the lighter leaves around the heart.
7. Pull out the lighter leaves to expose the fuzzy choke.
8. Scoop out the choke (this is where I used the mellon baller)
9. Repeat process with all artichokes
10. Put artichokes in a large bowl of acidulated water (fancy term for water with lemon so the artichokes don't turn black)
1 - 1 1/2 cups coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and finely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
Before I go on I have to share a new toy with you. While at the National Home Show I spotted this handy little gadget. It looks like a plate but rough on the inside. You take garlic or ginger or whatever you want minced and scrape it against the rough inside of the plate. At first I thought okay, how is this any better than a garlic press. Then I saw this "plate" in action. It actually creates a butter consistency of whatever it is that you're scraping.
Can you see the smooth texture? Imagine mixing this with butter and making garlic bread - ooohhh baby!!! Of course, I picked one up for Psychgrad and in her usual sarcastic tone said "gee Mom, how did I survive all this time without one". Clearly the sarcasm doesn't stop me from getting new innovations for her and in this case it doesn't really matter how small her kitchen is - it'll fit :).
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients
1. Spoon approximately 1/4 - 1/2 cup stuffing into the centre of the artichoke.
2. Stuff into the outer leaves toward the base using a small spoon.
3. Repeat with other artichokes
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
4. Heat 2 tsp oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
5. Add 2 cloves minced garlic to oil for about 30 seconds just to infuse the oil.
6. Add 1-1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
7. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice to liquid
8. Carefully stand the artichokes upright in the pan.
9. Drizzle each artichoke with a tsp of olive oil
10. Cover and transfer pot to oven and bake until tender when pierced down through the centre with a knife - approximately 50 minutes
11. Uncover and continue baking until the stuffing is slightly browned (approx 10 more minutes)
12. Remove from the braising liquid and serve (use braising liquid for dipping)
As a recap: This was my first time stuffing artichokes. I didn't have the coarse whole wheat bread crumbs so I used regular bread crumbs. In retrospect, I would have opted for the coarse.
A good tip is to use the largest artichokes possible. Th ones I used were in my opinion a little too small for stuffing - so alot of fussing for a moderate amount to eat. I couldn't have used this as a meal but it is a nice snack and fun finger food for when people are gathered around the table.
On a final note - I bought myself a gift this week and once I master it, you can be sure you'll be seeing some Moroccan dinners being blogged. Meet my new tagine - yet to be named.