Sunday, May 27, 2012

Grilled Artichokes, Herbed Lemon Aioli Dipping Sauce, and The Most Random Week Ever

Is everyone enjoying their long weekend?  You better be.  It's a beautiful day here in sunny Arizona... mid 80's.  We always hang on tight to these last few days before the constant streak of triple-digit days hits.  I've been here for over ten years now.  At this point, I'm fine up to 108 degrees.  It really doesn't bother me and it's not unusual to find a lot of us wearing jeans or full black suits in that weather.  But let me tell you, when you walk outside at midnight and it is still 102?  That's just effed up.  True story.

On our theme of hot weather meals, let's do an appetizer.  Grilled artichokes with a lemony garlicky dipping sauce.    If you have never handled a fresh artichoke before, it can be a little scary.  It's thorny, it has something they actually call a "choke" in it because it will attempt to choke you to death, and it just looks kind of weird.  BUT.  Don't be afraid.  It's actually pretty easy.

Grilled artichoke hearts
Prepping an artichoke:

Put about two inches worth of water on to boil.

Using a very sharp knife, cut off the top two inches of the artichoke, where it comes to a point.  Then, using a scissors, go around the outside of the artichoke and snip off the very ends of the leaves to remove the sharp pointy part.

Throw the artichoke in the boiling water and let it steam for 15 minutes to get it softened up.

Now we will put together the dipping sauce...

What you need for the dip:

2 tablespoons of mayo
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 big squeeze of lemon
1 teaspoon of so of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the above together in a small bowl and store in the refrigerator while we finish up.

Mayo, dijon, garlic, lemon, and fresh thyme

Right now.  Yes, NOW.  Go turn on the grill.

When the 15 minutes is up on the steaming, very carefully remove the artichoke to a cutting board.  Let it cool down for a couple of minutes or you can be impatient like I am and use a dishtowel to hold onto it for the next part.

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and set aside.

Using a large knife, cut the artichoke in half, length-wise.  When you open it up, you will see this weird shit inside that looks kind of like hair or very fine straw.  YOU GOTTA GET RID OF THAT CRAP. Using a spoon, start scooping it out and throwing it away.  You need to get all of the "hair," which is actually called the "choke" out of there.  Scrape against the bottom of the artichoke pretty firmly to get it all and then curse when it goes flying across the room.  You can also scrape out the little tiny interior leaves that are attached to it at the same time.  You are done when it looks hollowed out and there is no more "hairy shit" inside it.

Brush the artichoke on all sides with the olive oil and lemon juice mixture.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Time to grill.  Finally.  Put the artichoke on a medium heat grill, cut side UP, for ten minutes.  Flip the halves over and grill another 5 minutes.


Serve with your dip as a light appetizer.  I'd say one artichoke probably serves about 2 people depending on the size.  

Nutritional Info:  The artichoke is practically a freebie.  The entire quantity of the dip is about 300 calories and this makes enough dip for 4 artichokes.


The over-arching list of what I have to do this week looks like it belongs to a schizophrenic.  Everything from handling a hearing in a homicide case to making meatballs for Good Doggy Gourmet to doing a wedding reception for 50 to Gaga only knows what.  It should be an interesting week!

By the way, not to self-promote too much... But if you are in need of a good knife or knife set, you can help your pal Jules out by ordering off my website.  Pretty please?    


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