Friday, May 28, 2010

A long long time ago

OK so really just a few days ago. Another hot night, another nice salad.

If you like a good piece of meat with your vegetables then you are in luck.
My wife marinated two sirloin steaks in Merlot Sauce, think steak sauce with a richer flavor. But you could really marinate the steaks with anything that suits your fancy.

Grill the steaks, let them rest before cutting and lay the slices over the top of your salad. To me a steak salad needs some blue cheese or one of its cousins. We went with Gorgonzola which works wonderfully. The steak melts the cheese a bit and that really makes it for me.

Avocado is another nice ingredient for the salad, it adds another creamy texture to the salad and a forkful with some crisp romaine, avocado, Gorgonzola and steak is just about perfect.

As good as the salad was, the star of that meal was the grilled artichokes (Kerrie will not agree). I love artichokes in any way you want to serve them. There is something about scraping your teeth down the length of an artichoke leaf and getting the buttery sweet taste that they deliver that just makes me happy. Of course artichoke hearts are the part that everyone loves.
Two problems with fresh artichokes that keep them off of most peoples tables and relegates them to nothing but a canned or jarred product:

One, they are a pain to prep. And yes they are at first, though once you do it a few times they are pretty easy. I found a video that is very close to the way I do it. It is worth a watch if you have never trimmed an artichoke before.
If you purchase the more conical shaped artichokes then you can trim off the top 1/2 inch or so then lay them  down on your board and your slide your knife down the side from the large end to the small end and cut of the tips of each leaf. Do this on each side and you should be all set without losing too much of each leaf.

Two, they are a lot of work to eat for very little artichoke on each leaf. This is not actually a problem in my book because I like the experience of eating them that way, it kind of forces you to slow down and pay attention to your food. If you really don't like it and want to just eat the heart, stem and the tender inner leaves, just put your bigger leaves on my plate and I can forgive you. If you know up front that you won't eat the leaves then you can actually trim away most of them during prep and not worry.

Assuming you decide to proceed you will need
Two whole artichokes, you can certainly use as many more as you like, figure half an artichoke per person, unless one of those people is me, or my mother, and then figure on a whole artichoke per person
One lemon
4 cloves of garlic chopped
3/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of mustard, I used yellow, you can use whatever you like

If you are serving more people then use more of each ingredient, simple I know but the last thing you want is to not have enough sauce for dipping.

Before you start trimming your artichokes Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cut your lemon in half, squeeze the juice of one half into a bowl of water for use as you cut your artichokes, as you cut them dip the exposed surfaces in your lemon water (like in the video you should have watched) Trim up your artichokes

After you have trimmed the artichokes cut them in half lengthwise, the stem can bit a be fragile so be careful. The cooked stem is one of my favorite parts to eat so I try to keep as much as I can.

When your artichokes are ready
Add them to the boiling water, and cook for about 15 minutes
If you are going to grill the artichokes right away skip the next step

If you aren't, and to me this is one of the beauties of this recipe, remove the artichokes from the water and drop them into a bowl of ice cubes and water to stop the cooking. Sprinkle them with some lemon juice and you can stick them in the fridge. You could do this the night before you want to use them. If you are doing more than a couple of artichokes I recommend doing so.

When you are ready to cook; heat your grill up to medium or medium high. If you are using a charcoal grill you should know what you are doing. You already have a hot grill for the steak anyway right?

Squeeze the juice from the other half of your lemon into your blender or food processor.  Add the mustard garlic a pinch of kosher salt and some pepper.

Turn your blender or food processor to low and slowly pour the olive in until it is all blended and you have a pretty yellow sauce. 

Transfer to a bowl and grab your basting brush

Brush the artichokes with a coating of the sauce, and place them on the preheated grill. 
Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with sauce and turning frequently, until the tips are a little charred. 
Serve them while they are hot and use the leftover basting sauce as a dip for the artichokes. 

A nice Sauvignon blanc or a Samuel Adams summer ale would go perfectly. Both have some grassy lemony  flavor to them that would work well with the artichokes and the salad

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