Since I've been back the weather has been truly summery and it's so enjoyable to spend lots of time outside, especially having dinners out on a patio that MJ built last year (and if anyone is interested, I can have him write a guest post on his experience while building it, it was quite a project). Our menu has changed quite a bit with the arrival of summer, I am sure you understand: you want lighter foods, more veggies,dishes that are served cold, etc. I'll post what we're making through the summer, but how about I'll start with this one - the one to enjoy on a warm summer night with a cold glass of wine or beer while really taking your time with it and having long great conversations with your love/friend(s) - artichokes with lemon butter sauce. That's what we had for an appetizer tonight and, as MJ correctly pointed out, it takes forever to eat them, but I think that's the beauty of it! Artichokes are in season now, so they are inexpensive and taste great. They are also very easy to prepare and eating them always feels so fancy! I like fancy when it comes to food! This dish is also great, because it uses the whole artichoke, as opposed to just the hearts, so no waste of products, as my dad likes to say. The sauce recipe is straight out of Julia Child's book, why mess with perfection?! But frankly, if I wasn't going for fancy, I would be just as happy dipping artichoke leaves into mayo (I am a big mayo fan).
Steamed artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce
4 medium sized artichokes
For the sauce:
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1 stick chilled butter, cut into 8 pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Select a pan that all of your artichokes would fit, fill it with about 2 cups of water (enough to cover artichokes halfway) and bring to a boil. In the meantime prep the artichokes. A good knife and a pair of kitchen shears is all you need.
Start by cutting off the stems off the artichokes to make their bottoms flat, so they can easily sit in the pan while cooking.
Next take off the very tops,so you can see the insides of the artichokes
And lastly, with kitchen shears snap off the top of each leaf.
Ok, they are ready! Beauties...
By now the water must've boiled. Salt is liberally and add a splash of vinegar if you wish, it's supposed to keep artichokes greener while they cook. Artichokes don't have to be submerged, they will steam nicely!
Cover with a lid and let them cook for about 35-40 minutes (depending on the size).
The sauce will take about 10 minutes to cook, so start cooking it accordingly.You want it to be ready right when artichokes are ready, so the sauce is nice, hot and fresh then.
Start by juicing your lemons to get 1/4 C of juice (usually 2 lemons)
Boil the juice (along with salt and pepper) down to about 1 tablespoon, take the pan off the heat and add 2 pieces of cold butter into the juice. Now you're supposed to whisk the butter into the juice, but I use electric mixer and it works just fine (gets a bit messy though, so it's not a bad idea to do this in a sink, actually)
Once it's incorporated, return the saucepan to a low heat and mix (or whisk) in the remaining butter.
Remove the artichokes from the water and place them on a platter whole along with the sauce. To eat, you just snap off leaves one a time, dip into the sauce and eat the "meaty" part of the leaf. Discard the rest (so when serving those, remember to have an empty dish for those parts).
Enjoy and I hope you're having a great weather wherever you are!