Friday, June 13, 2008
a kitchen of my own
I've left that dark four-bedroom place with the three roommates I never saw, and now I'm settled into a tiny studio with high ceilings and big windows. And a proper kitchen space.
It's a tiny kitchen space, but the gas(!) stove is full-size, with a proper oven, and the sink is decently-sized too. There's very little counter space, but I have a butcher block on the way.
And now I can cook whatever I want for dinner. I think I'm in the mood for artichokes.
Stuffed Artichokes with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts
Despite appearances, this isn't a gluten-free recipe unless you have a source for gluten-free blue cheese. You could try substituting a creamy, nutty goat cheese, though I make no promises about the results.
(Allow one artichoke per person for a starter; two per person for a light meal. They are deceptively filling.)
I should explain something before we begin. The only reasons why you'd ever want to make stuffed artichokes are if you're trying to impress company, or you have masochistic tendencies. The process of preparing stuffed artichokes is a pain in the neck.
If all you care about is getting artichokes with blue cheese and hazelnuts, then the process is simple: Steam your artichokes. Melt your blue cheese, thin with milk, add chopped hazelnuts. Serve alongside as dipping sauce. Tuck in.
Of course, if you insist on doing things the hard way, it goes like this:
Take your artichokes, wash them, and cut the stems off at the base so that the artichokes sit on a flat surface without tipping over. Take a pair of scissors or kitchen shears, and cut off the thorny part of each leaf. When you get to the crown, just cut off the top quarter-inch entirely.
Next, part the leaves at the crown until you reach the leaves in the very middle, which are thin like flower petals and have unpleasantly sharp thorns. Try not to prick your fingers. (You won't succeed.) Take a teaspoon and scrape out these leaves, along with the choke. The choke is soft and furry. Try not to scatter fuzzy bits everywhere as you do the scraping. (You won't succeed at this, either.)
When you've finished scraping, the artichokes will have nice little hollows for stuffing. Give them a rinse to get rid of any stray fuzzy bits, then put a tablespoon or two of crumbled-up blue cheese in each hollow. Follow up with another tablespoon or two of chopped hazelnuts.
Place your artichokes in your steamer basket and cook until the leaves detach easily from the artichokes - about twenty-five to thirty minutes. Transfer the artichokes to plates or a serving platter. Serve.