Thursday, June 11, 2009

LATE NIGHT COOKIN' WITH A+A - Stuffed Artichokes and Lemon Bars!

So Amy was in town for a spell a few weeks ago and we decided to have another sleepover wherein we make/consume baked goods. We decided to start the night with some stuffed artichokes, and follow them up with some lemon squares - two really spring-y, fragrant foods. Amy graciously picked up some groceries and made her way over. (Between the lemon squares and the artichokes I think she bought like 12 lemons. I love lemons.) We used the following NY Times recipe for the artichokes. It looked like a pretty basic, solid recipe, and it came out really well. BUT I am curious - DO any of you have a stuffed artichoke recipe that you like to use? Feel free to paste it in the comments!

But like I said, damn. These were so tasty.

Stuffed Artichokes With Lemon Zest, Rosemary and Garlic

1 1/2 lemons, zested, then halved

4 large globe artichokes (we only used two, and halved all other ingredients.)

2 1/4 cups plain bread crumbs (we used Japanese bread crumbs aka PANKO - which is not traditional, but still tasty and maybe a bit lighter. In any case, if you want to make these and all you have is panko, by all means, go for it.)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus 4 whole sprigs

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (We omitted. I'm weird about rosemary. Don't know why!)

8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

2 carrots, peeled

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped capers

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1/2 cup dry white wine. (Didn't have this either. It's not essential, but would definitely add to the flavor. Next time I will definitely use wine.)

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze juice from two lemon halves into water. Cut off artichoke stems, peel them with a vegetable peeler, rub them all over with remaining lemon half (this prevents browning) and drop them into water.

2. Use a heavy, sharp knife to cut top 1 1/2 inches off an artichoke. Pull out pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom, where leaves were, is a furry bed, the choke. Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works wonderfully) to scoop out choke. (Seriously - USE A SPOON - I didn't and I got stuck by a sharp piece of the "choke". It hurt!) Next, using kitchen shears or a pair of scissors, trim pointy ends from outer leaves of artichoke. As you work, rub lemon half over cut parts of artichoke. When you are finished trimming, drop artichoke into bowl of lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.(At this point, we felt really connected to our artichokes and decided it would be a good idea to name them. If memory serves - Steven and Tricia? I forget which was which.)

3. To prepare stuffing, in a large bowl combine lemon zest, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped parsley and rosemary. Mince 6 garlic cloves and add to bowl. Finely chop one carrot and add to bowl along with capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss.

Amy is listening to the "artichoke-cean" - get it!?

4. In a small roasting pan or baking pan large enough to hold artichokes, scatter onion slices. Add reserved artichoke stems, 4 sprigs parsley and remaining garlic cloves. Slice remaining carrot into rounds and add to pan.

5. Holding artichokes over stuffing bowl, stuff choke cavity and in between the leaves with bread crumb mixture. Stand stuffed artichokes upright in pan and generously drizzle olive oil over center of each artichoke.

6. Fill pan with water until it reaches 1/4 way up the artichokes. Add wine and remaining salt and pepper to water. Cover pan with foil and poke several holes in foil. Bake artichokes for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender; when done, a knife should be easily inserted into artichoke and a leaf should be easily pulled out.

While these baked, we began prepping the lemon square/bars/whatever you call them. We used this recipe from the ever popular Smitten Kitchen.

Lemon Bars
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

[Or] for a thinner lemon layer: (We used these proportions, it was PLENTY.)

4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (We just used an electric hand mixer.) Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (less if you are using the thinner topping), or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

YUM. These two creations of ours complimented each other very well. We even finished baking by my self-imposed cut off time of 2 AM - (had to work in the morning). I was sleepy the next day but very happy to have a lemon bar wrapped in aluminum foil waiting for me at lunch time.


  1. I find artichoke very tasty. It is good for health. It is rich in iodine. It reduces cholesterol and improves blood circulation, it is also helpful for diabetic people and is great for liver. It is also good for hair and is excellent treatment for eczema. It has many more uses and benefits.

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