I overheard a child say that he and his friend were going to get their sleds out and attempt to sled down a grassy hill in the rain. It was so sad. So desperate for the Christmas they see in every movie, they are willing to fall in the mud, pretending it’s snow.
I remember snow, with all its pretty detailing. I also remember the stress of going somewhere as simple as the grocery store. How stop signs and sharp turns gave me cold sweats. How it feels to scrape ice off your car with numb fingers for 15 minutes before work. How no pair of snow boots can grip the black ice between you and your car. How traveling home for the holidays means much fretting, waking early for flights that may or may not have snow delays and lots of Weather Channel obsessions. How everything smells wet and the air hurts.
So yeah, I miss making snow angels and feeling the soft flakes on my cheeks. But the adult me is happy with mild temps and the true Christmasy spirit alive with too many cookies in the oven, too many presents under the tree and too many holiday-scented candles flickering all over the house.
I think artichokes are more of a spring-summer vegetable, but aren’t the holidays about having exotic tropical treats in the dead of winter? Plus, artichokes are so expensive, who knows the difference? I want them in the winter, when they are warm and tender and dipped into something creamy or lemony. I watched Ina Garten’s friend Mr. Zabar make these on TV and thought – surely regular artichokes are the same as baby artichokes, but with longer cooking times? Afraid not. BUT I made it work, friends.
I don’t deep-fry many things, but these called for deep-frying in olive oil, which I found too strange to resist. Wouldn’t it smoke up and overcook everything? What I found is this – it works, if watched carefully. Also, cutting artichoke hearts down to their most tender leaves and then frying them gives you crispy leaves with tender ends to dip in sauce, and soft, fragrant hearts to eat any way.
These were rich, which seems perfect for the holidays. I mixed together a quick yogurt dip, too, with lots of fresh herbs to cool and lighten things a bit.
Adapted from Food Network.
Fried Artichoke Hearts
- 3 artichokes
- Olive oil
- 6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Remove and discard the artichoke stems. Peel off lower leaves until you get to the tender center. Slice off the top half so that only the light green remains, then cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and remove the fuzzy part and the spiky purple petals. Cut halves in half again, so you have quarters.
Place the artichokes in a medium pot, flat side down, and add olive oil to just cover. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring the olive oil to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a low flame and simmer for 15 minutes. Insert a knife into the lower half and if easily penetrated, it’s done.
Remove the thyme and garlic from the pot, raise the heat and fry uncovered for approximately 2 minutes, turning over the artichokes midway. They are done when brown and crispy. Remove the artichokes from the pot and place them on paper towels flat side down. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
Mix together 1 c. Greek yogurt, 6 T mayo, and your preference of chopped fresh thyme, sage and rosemary. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into serving bow.
The artichokes were not easy or ladylike to eat, but it was kind of fun. Best to grab on piece, peel off the leaves for dipping then scraping with your teeth, and finish with the heart.
I would serve this at a party, easily, or as a nice snack during a football game.