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Artichokes as starter

Main course will be duck - probably that 5 hour roast duck recipe. I'll probably serve asparagus and either some kind of wild rice pilaf or a potato gratin to go with it. But I just happen to have some fresh artichokes that I'd like to serve as a starter. Any ideas beyond the usual steam-and-serve-with-dip? I don't want to make myself crazy with some kind of complicated recipe but maybe something a little more interesting would be good. Suggestions?

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  1. Apart from a sald, the two things that jump to mind are: oyster and artichoke soup, or "anything" sardou, crabmeat sardou being the preference...one artichoke heart per person. It'll be an awfully rich meal....

    1. Mr. made stuffed artichokes for our starter last night: a simple breadcrumb/chopped shrimp/garlic/herb thing that he tossed with melted butter and used to stuff some fairly large 'chokes. Then he put them into a roaster, poured in an inch or so of white wine, and braised them. If you'd like actual proportions, let me know and when he wakes up I'll post it.

      15 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        That sounds fantastic. But that would be a whole meal for me. But, yeah, roust that 'boy' out of bed and give us some details please :)

        1. re: c oliver

          I make an ersatz tapenade, fly-by-seat-of-pants kinda thing, and stuff that in. The anchovies and olives work great. I have also crammed a bunch of italian meats in with, of course, some cheese.

          1. re: hazelhurst

            I make a non-bread stuffing of garlic, chopped parsley and other fresh herb if available, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Loosen up the artichoke a little by squeezing it and put the mixture among the leaves and on top not being too obsessive about it. Put into a pot that keeps them upright, drizzle with olive oil, add water and cut lemons and steam until very tender. Let cool some, drizzle with a little more oil and serve with wedges of lemon. Not heavy at all.

          2. re: c oliver

            Well, he made four medium artichokes, and this is roughly the quantity he says:

            Oven, 350 preheated; foil, small roaster.

            4 decent-sized artichokes, trimmed at tips and base and de-choked; soaked in acidulated water while rest of prep. happens....

            1 c. stale sourdough breadcrumbs, browned in 3 T. butter with:

            1 minced clove garlic

            1/2 minced shallot.

            add 1/2 c. chopped cooked shrimp w/ zest of 1/2 lemon and a good squeeze of lemon juice, toss in 1/2 t. Herbs de Province, s&p to taste. I think some minced mushrooms would be good in this too. Anyway, stuff your trimmed, flat-based artichokes, place in small roaster; pour in 1-2" white wine (nothing sweet, ever ever) and cover with foil and bake at 350 for an hour; remove foil and crank it to 400, and let go 15 minutes longer or until veg. edges are just browning.. Let sit for a few before serving.

            This was, truly, more of a meal-status item, which is why I waited quite awhile for the rest of dinner!

            1. re: mamachef

              Oh boy! I want that. Now. But I saw big artichokes at Safeway yesterday for $4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's not going to happen.

              I wonder with the cooking time and temp, what about not cooking the shrimp ahead of time?

              1. re: c oliver

                Well, if you really stick to making it an entree, $4 bucks per isn't TOOOOO horrible - beats a steak. At least that's how I justify buying expensive items. : )
                I think uncooked shrimp would be absolutely fine - we just happened to have that cupful of bays left over from himself's latest binge, which is shredded lettuce loaded with shrimp and chopped egg, with Thousand Island. Poor Man's Shrimp Louis.
                Oh, and I forgot to mention, when serving these chokes serve the braising liquid too; same bowl, extra bread.

                1. re: mamachef

                  Thanks for the point of reference re cost. I remain in stick shock over the cost of produce. I believe it was Safeway who had a sign up recently actually apologizing for the prices. I made Molly Steven's braised celery last night. Just have to be creative.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I saw that sign too, and all I could think of was, "advance damage control." It did, however, stop me from going and whining at the store manager.

                2. re: c oliver

                  They were a $1 a piece for huge ones right after the frost, haven't see them yet. Those "frost kissed" ones were nice and sweet.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    Just saw a SaveMart flyer and they have "medium" for 69 cents. Now that's more like it.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Had those for dinner last night. Good stuff.

                      To the OP - for an appetizer, I like to par-cook artichokes, then quarter and grill them. A little balsamic vinaigrette and you're good to go.

                      ETA: read down and noticed that they're small. Carciofi alla giudia?

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        You had to go there, didn't you, alanbarnes? I love the hell out of the Jewish-style artichokes, but don't like to deepfry much at home, and now I have to.
                        Hey, I'll post a recipe shortly for a smoked-tomato mayo that they serve w/ grilled arties down in Santa Barbara.......perfect stuff.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Alan, could you elaborate on the parboil/grill thingy please?

                  2. re: mamachef

                    Take away the shrimp and shallots, add grated Romano cheese and chopped parsley, and steam instead of braise, and you have the only way we ever had artichokes prepared when I was growing up. No coincidentally, it was my favorite vegetable. I'm curious about the size of your artichokes and whether the shrimp get tough for cooking so long after being cooked!

                    1. re: roxlet

                      I'd say the were the size of a woman's fist; not the artizillas that are showing up now. And the shrimp was really okay - I think being combined with the buttered crumbs and then the steaming kept it moist enough - but thinking about it, next time I'd go w/ the raw.
                      Oh yum on the fact that you got to eat like that growing up - IF we got arties, which were crazy-exotic, they were served with nothing more than lemon butter for the longest time. It was a great day when mom the uncook discovered curry powder - and curry butter's still one of my favorite quick dips for them.

              2. Jamie Oliver has a fabulous stuffed artichoke recipe that I posted about here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5837... The rest of dinner sounds great -- what day did you say? ;)

                1. I'm actually worried that this will be too rich. I have a tendency to go overboard on things like that. Are the artichokes pushing it too far? I won't do a soup - more likely either steamed with dip or stuffed. For dessert I'm thinking a light strawberry panna cotta. This is for Saturday night.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Nyleve

                    I read in an old cookbook somewhere a recipe where you boil the artichokes with salt, olive oil, lemon juice and bay leaf. I have really liked the way they come out - trick is to get the timing right and not overcook them.

                    I like to stuff them with a mixture of chopped tomato, chives, capers, olive oil, lemon juice, maybe some flat leaf parsley and then tossed with garlic croutons just before stuffing into the artichoke. Very nice and not nearly as heavy as mayo.

                    1. re: marsprincess

                      I've been cooking 'em like that for ages, but I also add some garlic cloves and whole pepper corns.

                    2. re: Nyleve

                      I agree that a creamy soup might be too much - also you can just braise the crumb/herb stuffed artichokes as described above, without the shrimp addition. Be careful with your wine selection for this meal, re: the artichoke/asparagus factor, also.
                      No matter how you cook it, or what you serve with it, duck is a very rich food and should be followed by something tangy and palate refreshing, IMO. To that end, you might even consider making something like strawberry soup shooters for dessert; or cantaloupe; and serve with thin, crisp cookies of some sort.
                      Enjoy the evening!

                    3. I think the stuffed route is a little too rich for a starter to your wonderful sounding duck dinner. How about grilling them ahead of time and then serving at room temp with an interesting dip. I don't know how big they are but you could do 1/2 artichoke per person on a bed of butter lettuce with maybe a couple of grilled shrimp (or not)alongside.

                      1. What about artichoke bottoms? I know that they're a bit of work cleaning. Trimming is a bit of work, but you can use a spoon or melon baller to scoop the thistle out. Rub with lemon juice to keep the color, then arrange in a saute pan to be cooked with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Depending on size the time will vary, so pierce with a knife to find out if they're done.
                        I think them served stem up with lemon garlic, olive oil drizzle and parsley is a beautiful thing.
                        I've also seen them filled with purees and a browned butter, or whatever you decide.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          Sounds fabulous but I just had a look at my artichokes and - gulp - they're a little on the small side. Not quite small enough to be baby artichokes, but almost small enough to need two per person. Now I'm wondering what to do. If I could trim them, cut them in half and braise or fry them - maybe serve them on some greens as a salad? A bit of cheese? Sorry I started this whole thing now.

                          1. re: Nyleve

                            I love to fry the artichoke hearts and serve in tossed salad. Trim completely and take away the beard and then cut in paper thin slices. Put this into water with lemon until you are ready to go. I fry mine in olive oil until tender (about 1 - 2 min) and then toss with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice on top. Toss baby lettuces with a light tangy vinegarette and pop artichokes on top and thin slices of parmigiano reggiano. A dollop of home-made mayo on the side is nice.

                            1. re: Nyleve

                              Do what you said, clean and trim saute and serve or toss with a little pasta/ or arugula,drizzle lemon, ,light on the garlic, and olive oil and black pepper and parm. It's a starter, it's supposed to be small.

                              There's also a garlicky spicy artichoke spread with parm, and garlic that baked. But I use whole artichoke hearts (canned in water or frozen) serve on crostini.Scratch that, this is more of an apppetizer.

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                I like the frying thing, actually, roasting, even if they're smaller, trim the leaves back well, split them, hollow out the choke a bit and roast with herbs in olive oil or braise in a little wine, until tenderish. You can then serve them on a salad, or simply combined with a fresh pitted chopped cured olive, orange supremes and caper mix, topped with a browned crisp breadcrumb parm mix "gratin," plated with a nice lemony viniagrette on the plate. Throw some fresh herbs in when braising and definitely in the mix. Maybe use some diced pancetta in the roasting process for big flavor. No big portion is necessary, as you are having the rich duck and a full plate of sides.

                                What's for dessert?

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  Fantastic ideas all - I think I'll trim and either roast or grill. Slice or quarter and make into a salad with blood oranges (which I have), capers, shaved parmesan and arugula or baby greens. Lemon vinaigrette. Brilliant.

                                  Dessert will be a strawberry panna cotta made from last summer's frozen berries served with a strawberry coulis and possibly some fresh berries. Maybe a drizzle of balsamic or maybe not.

                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                    What you're doing sounds delicious. I also like the Zuni artichokes with onion, lemon and olives: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3559...

                                  2. re: bushwickgirl

                                    I love the diced pancetta in the mix, that would really be lovely. I just bought a bottle of orange/champagne vinagrette from TJ's, that's a nice idea. I'd not thought of the flavor of orange with artichokes, but I like it!

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      Thanks, that viniagrette woild be nice on just about any steamed chilled green vegetable salad, asparagus and green beans come to mind, as they seem to be very plentiful and not terribly pricy right now.

                                      I think Nyleve has come up with a excellent appertizer resolution, and the dessert sounds wonderful. I do like the balsamic drizzle, maybe reduced balsamic?

                                      However you roll, Nyleve, have a great dinner!

                              2. Sounds like you're good to go, but i thought i'd still toss off another couple of ideas...

                                Steam and quarter the artichokes, and marinate in lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, coriander seeds, salt, pepper and a dash of chili flakes. Broil some portabella mushrooms and onions, then serve open face with the artichokes on top, and a few shreds of basil.

                                OR, a tomato and artichoke panzanella salad (go easy on the bread). steam, prep, and toss with tomatoes and prepared toasted bread cubes, basil, (cooked and chilled onions if you're feeling up to it), and a vinegarette.

                                1. Thanks for all your suggestions - dinner was great. Started with a couple of crostini apps (roasted tomato with fresh mozzarella and pesto and chicken liver sort-of-pate topped with caper berries). Also some olives. For the salad I trimmed and steamed the artichokes whole, then halved them and grilled. Cut into slivers and served on top of baby greens with some thinly sliced red onion, a bit of tomato, shaved parmesan and a lemon vinaigrette. The artichokes were nice, if just a bit strawy to eat in spots. But it was good anyway. Main course was 5 hour duck, sauteed snap peas, Sicilian potato gratin with capers (an Epicurous recipe - really delicious) and roasted brussels sprouts. One of our dinner guests arrived with an assortment of cheese - so I served an ad-hoc cheese course before dessert. And dessert was strawberry panna cotta with strawberry coulis, aged balsamic (the good stuff that I keep hidden away) and a few fresh berries. Port. We were a bit sorry the next day (thanks to the port) but it was all delicious.

                                  I think I'll make some kind of pasta for tonights dinner with the leftover duck.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                    Sounds just great, glad it came off well! I'll look for that potato recipe, thanks for the suggestion.

                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                      So glad dinner worked out deliciously, Nyleve. And pasta with duck ragu? I'd walk a mile for a plate of it.

                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        I'm going to have to hide the leftover duck so that my husband doesn't eat it all for lunch. Going to the kitchen right now.