Spring is here!! We are so excited to be eating fresh healthy foods again (a great thanks to our garden and gardeners everywhere)!! The great thing about all of this is that all the freshness and blossoming has led our inspiration for making as much as we can homemade. Since we definitely go through plenty of beer and wine and Merlin works at a brew store, we figured it was really time for us to start making our own drinks (really this was led by Merlin’s knowledge and inspiration). Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post I tried a batch of fried artichokes (gently fried if you remember) at a restaurant in our visit to the city, and I decided I would try to take it on at home. So, why not take on some artichokes and ale in the same night!!
In light of not getting off of good healthy habits I will post some great ayurvedic reminders about what the body loves best from an informative site, ayurvedicyogi.com .
“Food should be light, easy to digest and assimilate. Heavier food is OK in Winter but in Summer it must be lighter. Use spices intelligently to balance the doshas. Cooked food is considered easier to digest than raw. Certain foods do not go well with others eg: Milk does not go well with sour fruits or banana…Different sorts of food are required at different times eg: pregnancy and post illness. Ideal foods are ‘tridoshic’, balancing all three doshas eg: green mung dhal and coriander…” Following this post some great ayurvedic recipes and reminders like post-dinner mint tea and digestive wines.
Anyways, on to the dinner and ale experiments…I will not include the ale recipe for now because I will need Merlin’s help in remembering what exactly we did and how, but I will include the photos and for you brewers you will understand there’s cooking of grains,
fermentable sugars added,
and yeast pitched, for the process to begin.
Now our house smells as yummy as the brew store and in a few more weeks we will have free homemade beer!! Now that that project is sitting and fermenting away in the nice summer heat (the gas bubbling through those airlocks is unbelievable!! ), it’s time for dinner…
I’m just going to say that once again “fried” is a very discouraging term so I made sure that this was the main course and the accompanying sides would be vegetables and tea, but it couldn’t certainly serve as a side dish or appetizer for a dinner party or something. I also want to point out that this is the first go at the fried artichokes from scratch so I’m not sure that they’ve arrived to my taste buds quite the right way yet (although Merlin seems to disagree).
Fried Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Aioli Dipping Sauce
2 cans of artichoke hearts
~3/4 cup of bread crumbs
~1/4 cup of cornmeal (always good to make sure the cornmeal is from a good source)
a splash of milk
olive or vegetable oil for cooking
salt and pepper
Parmesan to taste
chopped chives to taste
~1/4 cup of mayonnaise (probably even veganaise would be delicious and healthier)
1/2 lemon (for zest and fresh juice)
~1 tsp of chili powder (more if you like it spicier)
One key thing I made to do sure first because I found that it really is essential in frying foods is drying the food to be fried off before it is coated in anything. Drain both cans of artichoke hearts keeping them in tack as best you can and lay them out on some towels to dry (even patting them with towels to soak up excess moisture is good).
Next I prepared the stations for which I would be moving through (BEFORE my hands got covered in raw egg and crusty things). I filled the cast iron with probably a quarter inch of oil and let it heat until it sizzled when water dropped on it, but it wasn’t burning the oil (this temp. will depend on the stove you have). Next I whisked the egg and a good splash of milk (like you might do for an omelet), with a sprinkle of s & p, in a bowl. Then I whisked together my bread crumbs (they were already pre-italian seasoned for me, and primarily made with panko just to note) and cornmeal (the cornmeal I used was not quite as fine as some out there, and I liked the crunch it added).
Next, go ahead dip each artichoke in the egg mixture (good to have a spoon to help coat it) then into the crumbs and then gently lower into the hot oil (also good to have a soup spoon to help move artichokes around they tend to be fragile). Cook until they get coated and golden brown all the way around. When they are done definitely sprinkle with parmesan and fresh chopped chives. As far as the aioli goes mix all the ingredients together (just a bit of zest), taste, and adjust. One thing I did not mention on the aioli ingredient list was garlic, the powder would probably work best for the sauce, I just wasn’t feeling garlic that day.
Gather up some nice vegetables (fresh from the garden preferably)
and arrange them amongst your (modest) portion of artichokes and aioli mmmmmm……..
Enjoy the nice meal in the sunshine, with family and/or friends, and you really do have a well-rounded meal!!
Notes: Some things that did not work for me in this recipe were the artichoke hearts themselves, I THINK. I was finding that every time I ate one I had this lingering sugar taste in my mouth and the only thing I could link it back to was the artichoke hearts. I had already recycled the cans so I didn’t look to see if there were added preservatives in the ones I bought so next time I will consider a different brand. The rest of my ingredients (bread crumbs, cornmeal, egg, and milk) were very simple and didn’t seem to have any traces of sugar (but I am wondering about the cornmeal a little…).
Also, the further I got into the frying process the harder it was for the coating to stick. This was for a few reasons, one of them was because I was constantly contaminating my two different bowls with crumbs and egg and because the last artichokes were not as dry, so I would be sure to take them time to do these things.
One last thing, next time I might mix the parmesan into the crumbs for a little bit of a new flavor to back up the artichokes.
Anyways, enjoy enjoy enjoy!!