Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Side Dish Tuesday

The first round is complete it's hard for me to say who may of had the edge there, do you have any thoughts? Well I do know I love shrimp, well this next round may prove to be a bit more challenging for our heroes.  They may have to argue this one out and it is not going to be over if Steve is wearing cargo pants (though seriously isn't that a given?).

There was a rough go of if last night, but one does need to blow off some steam, maybe release it in the form of some distinctive and creative side dishes.  We do have to admit seeing WoFat having his rewards handed to him by McG, AWESOME!  

Though what obstacle can I give our guys today, well that is simple, an Artichoke. This  Mediterranean thistlelike plant which is in the composite family, that has pinnately divided leaves should offer a  challenge to their culinary devices.

Steve is up first this time he offers us a variation that is easy to prepare, that looks rich and creamy, with the goodness that only Gorgonzola can add.  Though I bet Steve would let you swap another cheese if you preferred we will have to ask later.   

Baked Artichokes with Gorgonzola and Herbs 

4 artichokes
3 lemons, plus 1 lemon
10 ounces mild Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus 1 tablespoon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the artichokes by cutting off the top 1-inch or so. Cut the stem close to the base of the artichoke so it can sit up straight, and remove some of the bottom leaves. With kitchen shears, trim the sharp points off of any remaining outer leaves. Add the artichokes to the boiling water. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the boiling water. Toss in the lemons. Cook the artichokes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the artichokes and let cool.  
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the Gorgonzola, cream, thyme, 2 teaspoons parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. In another small bowl stir together the bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.  
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4.  Remove the center choke of the artichokes using a small spoon. Stuff the cheese mixture into the center of the artichokes. Place the artichokes into a baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the artichokes. Drizzle the tops of the artichokes with olive oil. Bake until the artichokes are heated through, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish and serve.

Oh Danny has a trick up his sleeve for us, an exceptional dish using the artichoke with an herb sauce made with fresh basil, with tender spring vegetables for a rather tasty treat.   

Artichoke and Vegetable Ragout with Pesto

2 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 globe artichokes
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1⁄2 cup plus 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced, plus 8 cloves
   peeled and left whole
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs each sage, thyme, and parsley, tied together with kitchen twine)
3⁄4 cup white wine
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 lb. fava beans in their pods, shelled and blanched, skins removed
20 asparagus tips, blanched

  1. Combine lemon juice and 6 cups water in a large bowl.   One artichoke at a time, place artichoke on its side. Using a serrated knife, cut off leaves by making a crosswise cut about 1 1⁄2" from where the stem meets the base; discard leaves. Cut away tough outer leaves remaining on artichoke's base until you reach inner yellow leaves. Using a peeler, remove green outer layer from stem and base. Trim off bottom 1⁄2" of stem. Use a spoon to scoop out fuzzy choke from center of artichoke. Quarter trimmed artichoke; transfer to lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes. 
  2. To make the pesto, combine the basil, 1⁄2 cup olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth; set aside.  
  3. Drain artichokes. Heat remaining oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat; add the garlic cloves, onions, bouquet garni, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the artichokes, wine, tomatoes, and 1⁄2 cup water; cook, covered, until artichokes are tender, about 25 minutes. Add the peas, fava beans, and asparagus and cook until tender, about 3 minutes; remove and discard the bouquet garni. 
  4. To serve, divide mixture between four bowls, top each with a generous spoonful of pesto, and serve with crusty bread.

Don't forget to vote for you favorite recipe each day, this way we can see which Iron Chef will reign supreme.

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