I've always loved artichokes, and I've always enjoyed them the easy way: steamed and then dipped in aioli. Maybe twice have I bothered to snip off all the little thorns and clean out the center choke before cooking them. It's nice, sure, but hardly worth the effort. I highly recommend that you try artichokes the lazy way at least once.
This way of preparing artichokes was more work, but the results were so beautiful that I think it's worth the effort. My father-in-law made these for dinner one night, and halfway through watching him make these I realized this would be either disgusting or brilliant. I wisely started taking pictures just in case. This is a variation on what I think is a classic artichoke recipe, but it takes a huge creative risk and throws in a bizarre assortment of things I promise you never before associated with an artichoke. The results were wonderful. Whether or not I follow this recipe closely, once I saw this done I realized the possibilities and now lie awake nights dreaming up what bizarre combination I will try that will make me rich and famous.
I will not include amounts since all you do is sprinkle a little of each filling in. I had never had this and I stuffed these with the help of a small child; I don't think you can mess this up. The original version had just slivers of garlic and parmesan in it, so if the lunch meat sounds too over the top, you can always try it that way. However, having that little bit of meat in it made it feel like a more complete meal. (As I type this, my husband is telling me how disgusting this sounds. Rest assured, it was really good.) I might try this with leftover ham soon.
parmesan, either grated or chopped
shredded turkey lunch meat (!)
chopped green onion
garlic flavored hoisin sauce (!!)
If you've never cleaned an artichoke before, you begin by taking a pair of scissors and cutting off the thorns. When you get to the thin "petals" toward the center, do your best to cut the thorns off and then clean out the fuzzy part by scraping it out with a spoon. Artichokes begin to oxidize right away, so a lot of people throw them into a bowl of cold water with lemon juice added, but the oxidation doesn't affect the flavor so it's up to you. The stems can be eaten too after you peel off the tough outer stem.
Open the petals up a little. One at a time, sprinkle in first the garlic, then the parmesan, the turkey, parsley and green onion. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top, then add a drizzle of olive oil, and then a drizzle of the garlic flavored hoisin.
Drizzle some olive oil in a pot and put the artichokes and their stems in. Add about an inch of water and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to let the water simmer, cover the pot, and wait. The artichokes are done when the outer leaves can be pulled off easily. Usually the artichoke holds its shape, but the one in the picture below didn't and it was DELICIOUS.
And if you would like to try the traditional version, here is a note from my mother-in-law, on how to prepare traditional Sicilian artichokes that my husband grew up with- also excellent.
I prepare them the same way, but I only use garlic slivers, parmesan cheese slivers around the leaves and salt/pepper and parsley on top. In the pot I add water to half way up the artichoke and steam them for 45m to 1 hour. I found to only use male artichokes with the pointy leaves. They are tastier. Don't know why. :)
Okra has a mucilaginous texture that few love at first bite. Apparently it helps with digestive issues, encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, is loaded with antioxidants, loaded with vitamins, and rich in fiber. If you'd like to read more about it, you can look at a couple sites I found when I googled the health benefits of okra here and here.
But really, who cares? You can eat it with bacon and that's all you need to know. If you are afraid to try okra, just rest confident in the fact that bacon is the painless path to a love of okra. It worked on my four year old daughter- one day she was eating the bacon off the okra, the next day she was shoving raw okra pods in her mouth.
My friend Noriko first made this for me, and I wish I had taken pictures that day, because her skewers were much prettier than mine. Thanks, Noriko!!
Okra that is not too long or it might be a little too fibrous
bacon cut into pieces about 3 inches long
Line a baking sheet with foil because this is a little messy. Wrap each pod in bacon and secure with one or two wooden skewers. Place the baking sheet about 5 inches under the broiler and flip it after the bacon looks done to you. Keep a very close eye on these since they go from perfect to burnt in one minute.
This is a very simple way to cook zucchini that has a pretty presentation. I originally tried this over 15 years ago from Rozanne Gold's Recipes 1-2-3, and as far as I can remember this is faithful to the recipe in the book. I served this with a pound of pasta cooked and mixed with a cup of grated parmesan and 2 cups of stem pesto. Both kids ate it without complaining.
3 tablespoons butter
3 zucchini sliced into circles
1 or 2 lemons sliced into circles
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Put the zucchini down in the hot butter in one layer. Season them lightly with salt and pepper. When the zucchini have browned nicely, flip them over. The ones in the center of the pan will cook first, so you may have to do some shuffling. Once they have cooked through and both sides are browned, carefully remove the zucchini and put the lemon slices in. Use the back of a spoon to press the juice out a little. You may have to turn the heat down a little at this point if you hear the lemon juice sizzle too hard. Now pour the lemons and butter over the zucchini. Add salt and pepper if it needs it.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!