16 hours ago
Monday, May 23, 2011
My dream when I grew up was not to be a doctor or lawyer (or antique dealer/food blogger), but to be an Italian.
I always thought I could pull it off.
If I learned the language, married an Italian, wore an Italian horn around my neck in high school to ward off the evil eye (aka "maloik" or "malocchio"), then maybe it would happen.
I cooked the sauce, made Pasta con Sarde on St. Joseph's day, watched my friend's moms stuff zucchini flowers and enjoyed the Feast of the 7 Fishes on Christmas Eve.
But it didn't happen.
I still have hope that I will find out some day that my great grandmother's sister was a Roman or Venetian Jew. Hey, you never know.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I think preparing artichokes correctly and artfully is in the genes. Italian genes.
The Cucina Ebraica (Hebrew cooking) of Italy showcases artichokes in almost every meal.
The Carciofi Guidia (Artichokes Jewish style) is the specialty of the Jewish ghetto in Rome. My friend just got back from Rome and told me how amazing the artichokes tasted in season in that part of Rome. They enjoyed them every which way. Fried, baked, thinly sliced, with and without breadcrumbs. My mouth was watering listening to her tell me about them.
So I decided to find my pretend roots and prepare some carciofini.
Marie recently sent me a great recipe from Mario Batali to try, sans breadcrumbs.
The preparing of the artichokes takes a little time, but it's worth it in the end.
You have to slice the garlic cloves razor thin (or "Goodfellas thin") and make a bath for the artichokes. Boil them first in lemon juice and water, then bathe them in the garlic cheese oil, then bake them for 40 minutes.
We ate these beauties for dinner with bread. No meat was needed.
Carciofi Ripieni: Stuffed Artichokes (from Marie and Mario)
4 jumbo artichokes or 9 baby artichokes
2 lemons, juiced
10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 bunches chopped Italian parsley leaves, to yield about 1/2 cup
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, combine 4 quarts of water the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add the artichokes and blanch for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain, cool, and set aside.
Remove the outer layer of leaves from the artichokes and cut the artichokes in quarters. Use a small knife to remove the spiny choke.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Mix the sliced garlic, Parmigiano, parsley, and extra-virgin olive oil loosely.
Season the cavity of each artichoke with plenty of salt and pepper and stuff in and around the leaves with cheese/garlic mixture.
Put the artichokes in a shallow baking dish, place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let rest 10 minutes. Serve immediately, or serve at room temperature.
Like Anthony Bourdain says "doesn't everyone want to be Italian?".
There is hope for me yet.