What’s in the bag, Part 2 – The side

Do you find artichokes interesting? I know I do. It’s like nature’s little secret hiding place. I wonder who was the first person to try to figure out if they were edible. I mean, they’re not especially ‘come hither and take a bite of me’ looking. Who do you suppose look at one and thought ‘I bet the heart of this unfriendly looking greenery is yummy’? I don’t know, I’m sure Wiki does, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now. What I DO know is that I’m glad that curious person went to town on that first artichoke and passed it on to his or her loved ones to enjoy.

When Lindsay came home with about 4 of these, my first reaction was panic. Then I remembered I had steamed artichokes about 12 years ago, so they weren’t completely foreign. The ones he picked up were different in that they had the stems attached. All 6-8″ of stems.

My first task was to find out if the stems were edible and look for suggestion on how to prepare both, stem and choke. I wanted something other than steaming and dipping them into butter, so imagine my elation when I read that the long stems were edible AND that sometimes they are fried! A meal was born.

The few recipes I found for frying the artichokes, suggested frying them in some olive oil. Nothing fancy. Just sorta pan frying. I decided to take a step further and bread them before deep-frying. I ended up with French Fried Artichoke Stems; a perfect accompaniment to the NY strip steaks in this recipe.

Now, I must admit that the preparation of¬†this side dish took some doing. First, I separated the stems from the chokes, then trimmed the inedible¬†bits. Finally sliced them into sticks before dipping them in buttermilk and panko¬†crumbs in preparation for the fryer. I also breaded the chokes themselves–or tried to. They didn’t really hold on to the buttermilk very well, but they were still delicious, particularly once you got to the hearts.¬† Here’s what I did.

4 artichokes with stems attached
1 lemon
1-1/2 cp flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cp buttermilk (or regular)
1-1/2 cp panko crumbs
Oil for deep-frying

Fill a bowl with cool water and squeeze the lemon juice into it, leave the lemon halves in the water. Cut the stems from the chokes. Pare the tough peel off the stems and drop them in the bowl of water as you remove all the bark. Then trim the chokes by removing loose leaves, and snipping the points of the leaves left. Quarter the chokes and dunk in the water bowl. Slice the trimmed stems into sticks.

Preheat¬†oil to 375¬į. ¬†Set up an assembly line. Combine the flour and seasonings. And put the buttermilk and panko¬†crumbs in 2 separate bowls/containers. First dredge the sticks in the flour, then dip in milk, finally roll through panko. Repeat. The chokes will pick up some of the breading, especially on the areas where the leaves are still tight.

Fry them in hot oil until golden brown, sprinkle some sea salt as you pulled them out of the oil. Enjoy!




What’s in the bag, Part 2

This is what I created with the other half of the items in the bag Lindsay brought home. I won’t bore you with the details of this¬† challenge, you can read all about that in this post.

We’re big meat eaters, the hubby and I. So it was no surprise to find these beautiful strips in the bag. To up the stakes, I decided to season them differently than we usually do¬†and to¬†pair them with something I had not worked with before. Alas, artichokes! I did have to scour the internet for ideas on how to prepare artichokes. Check out the recipe here.

My sis-n-law brought me goodies from her last trip to the South of France. She came back with this little bottle of Piment¬†d’Espelette. I had never heard of this before and¬†was dying¬†to try it since I got it, so I used it to marinate¬†the steaks. Usually I would’ve added garlic to a beautiful piece of meat such as this, Herbs d’Provence¬†too. Different. That was my mission. I stayed away from both my favorite steak condiments and ended up with this most incredible steaks. If you do not have access to d’Espelette pepper, you could sub it with hot paprika.


Espelette Pepper Steak

 NY strip steaks (about 1lb)
2 tsp¬†Piment¬†d’Espelette
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp herbs d’Provence (optional)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Mix the spices and oil, then rub on steak. Allow it to marinate for 15-30 minutes.

We cooked our steaks on the stovetop, but I’m sure this will work just as well on the grill. If cooking on the stove, use a heavy-bottom skillet; it needs to be¬†able to get pretty hot to sear the steaks without burning them. Heat up the skillet until it begins to smoke, dab the bottom of the skillet with an oil-soaked paper towel or napkin, just enough to ensure¬†the steaks will not get stuck to skillet. Now put the steaks in, try to avoid crouding them on the pan, otherwise they may begin steaming.

Depending on the thickness of the steaks, it will take about 3-4 minutes per side for rare doneness, don’t forget to lay them on their sides to sear the fat as well. Once you’ve cooked them to your taste, remove them from the pan and let them rest for 5 minutes. This allows all the juices to be redirected around the steak. Now eat!

I served these with Artichoke Fries, follow the link for that recipe.