Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Baby Artichokes baked with Bread Crumbs

Packing up a house is a mixed bag. In some ways I am really happy to get rid of about half of my things. On the other, it is sad to move my life under such sad circumstances. I am resigned to letting the emotions come out as they wish. It has been an exercise in loving for myself. No matter the thought, emotion or conversation I am having, I am doing it with a new found confidence for myself and my struggles.  I never thought I could be thankful about my life falling apart, but I am finding that I spend more and more days filled with gratitude and a sense of myself I have never had before. Suffering has been an unbiased teacher that has shown me the way to loving. The biggest gift in my life so far.

And so we have artichokes. I wait for the baby artichokes to show up in the market and then buy pounds of them. It has taken a few years of working with them to feel comfortable cooking them.  But I have mastered the learning curve! My secret is trimming them down to the yellow leaves. I cut off the bottom stem and almost the top half. Then I pick off the exterior leaves until I get down to the light yellow ones. If they are not trimmed enough, they are tough when you eat them. I have also tried to oven roast or pan sautee them, but have come to the conclusion that they should be steamed first and then are ready for a second cooking method if you want to impart more flavor. I mostly save baby artichokes for a special dinner occasion. They can get expensive if you buy a lot, and you need quite a few if you are using baby artichokes (I would say 4-6 per person). Today I made bread crumbs with fresh thyme and a buerre blanc sauce to add to the artichokes. Little M kept coming into the kitchen and digging her fingers into the buttery bread crumbs after they had cooled.  They have a bit more butter than I usually use, but it was the main dish for dinner tonight. Nice and hearty for cool January nights....

Baby Artichokes baked with Bread Crumbs
makes 4 small portions

12 baby artichokes trimmed
2 tbls butter
1 tbls fresh lemon juice (I used meyer lemon)
1 small shallot finely chopped
pinch salt
2/3 bread crumbs
2 tsp.
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp mustard
1/3 cup white wine

Trim artichokes (see above paragraph for directions) and steam for 10 minutes. Make sure they are knife tender before removing from heat and cook longer than 10 minutes if needed. Cooking time will be slightly variable depending on how big the artichokes are.
In a pan add butter, lemon juice, shallot and heat until butter starts to foam. Add wine, mustard and thyme. Reduce to half and add artichokes (about 4 min). Use a spoon to scoop buerre blanc on top of artichokes until sauce has reduced and has thickened (about 5 min). Remove artichokes and set in a heat proof dish. Add breadcrumbs to pan with buerre blanc and heat through. Spoon bread crumbs over artichokes and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and bread crumbs start to brown.
To serve set artichokes on plate and scoop a spoonful of bread crumbs on top of each artichoke.


heather said...

I am never successful with artichokes! But you have given me the determination to try again!
I am sorry life is hard right now. Too many people I care about are going through similar things....I wish we all had your grace.

Catherine said...

Something one of my yoga teachers said the other day really resonated with me and I thought might with you....
Sometimes when you think things are falling apart it turns out that they really are falling together.
I hope that is the case for you!

Becky said...

Those look so good! How do you always know the foods I am afraid of, or have no idea what to do with?! You make it look so easy!!

I know that you are struggling to get your bearings right now, but you sure do it gracefully.

Jessica said...

Thanks Heather and Becky! I am hanging in there!
Catherine; what a beautiful way your yoga teacher framed falling together. Could not agree more.


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