Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fried Baby Artichokes with a Thyme Yogurt Sauce

I love summer entertaining and if you're going to make one hors d'oeuvre this summer - make this one!  It screams summer to me.  Picture yourself with a drink in hand - maybe a vodka lemonade, it's dusk - just before dinner time, there is a slight breeze and the kids are playing in the back yard.  The Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra is playing in the background, a few friends are over and everyone is munching on these scrumptious morsels.  Perfect summer night.  I happen to love artichokes and their nutty, earthy flavor works so well with the cool, lemony yogurt dipping sauce.  A sprinkle of sea salt adds just the right touch.  For some reason, I remember summer nights so well.  Mason is getting older now and it's so much fun to watch him play sports in the backyard and so cute to watch little Gabby trying to keep up with him.  Having friends over and good food to enjoy an evening is the best.  This recipe is very simple.  It is inspired by The Barefoot Contessa - my all time favorite.  When I have a moment sometimes I sit and imagine we are friends - don't laugh, she is the best cook/ baker/ entertainer of all time;)  The only downside is that sometimes it's hard to find baby artichokes.  But, when you find them, buy a bunch and hoard them.  I am currently planning my summer garden.  I am a novice but I wonder if artichokes are hard to grow?  I'll have to do some research, and I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, try to buy some in the store and make this delicious treat.  Here's to great summer nights with family and friends!

La Recette:

12 baby artichokes washed, trimmed, and cut in half (see pictures below)
1 -1/2 cup (or until artichokes are covered half way) Canola Oil
7 oz plain greek yogurt like 2% FAGE - my favorite
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (zest before cutting and squeezing)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme - removed from stems and finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon chives - finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Sea salt for garnish 

Cutting board
Chefs knife
Parchment paper
Paper towel
Medium sized sauce pan
Slotted spoon
1/2, 1/3 measuring cups
Medium bowl
1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon
Rasp or microplane zester

-Place 1/2 cup of oil into a medium sized sauce pan and turn the heat to medium high.  Just eyeball it and make sure the artichokes will be covered halfway.
-Make sure the oil is very hot ( I usually heat about 2 minutes before starting) and being very careful, place the artichokes flat side down into the oil and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.  
-When one side is done, using tongs, flip to the other side and cook until golden brown as well.
-Using a slotted spoon, remove the artichokes and let them drain on paper towels
-In the meantime, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, chives, kosher salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.  Mix until everything is well incorporated.  Place in a small serving bowl.
-Place a piece of parchment paper on a serving platter, transfer the artichokes to the platter and while they are still warm, sprinkle with sea salt.
*Helpful hint - have everything mised out before you start.  Referring to mise en place, meaning- to put in place.  See my quick kitchen tips.  What I mean is to have everything chopped, ready, and measured out before you start the artichokes.  It makes everything easier. 

Baby artichokes look just like the big ones…just cuter :)

Cut off the top but still leave a little bit of the stem in place.

Peel back all of the outer leaves.

Remove all of the outer leaves until the artichoke looks something like this.

Cut the artichoke in half.

Cover the artichokes halfway full with Canola oil.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes/side. 

Enjoy.  Yum!

And for a short fashion break, I love this dress.  The cut is amazing…everything about it is gorgeous.  Emma Stone is beautiful and I think I prefer it with the black pumps she is wearing but I would happily wear it with the knee high python boots.  The entire look = perfection.      

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