In which a disgruntled hero tackles a disappointing result hands on hips.
Well, the hero (or heroine rather) would be me, and the adventure a culinary one from which even Aesops might draw a moral. It all began with my being attracted to a recipe for cooking artichokes in a way completely different from my usual Roman trope (alla romana, alla giudia or even fried in batter). Indeed, the recipe hails from Lombardy and the hint of mint made my nostrils flare with anticipation: parmesan, breadcrumbs and mint – what’s not to like? To be baked in the oven as opposed to the stove top – curioser and curioser. So, nothing loath, off I trotted to buy the carciofi, the artichokes.
Ingredients for the disaster Baked Artichokes
The original recipe called for six artichokes but because there were going to be only two of us for dinner I halved the amounts. Thus: 3 artichokes, 40g grated parmesan, 25g breadcrumbs, fresh mint leaves, 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Usually I comment the photos I take, one by one. This time I won’t reference throughout because the procedure is quite obvious.
The artichokes need to be trimmed and their tough outer layers of leaves be unsparingly removed (show no mercy). Simmer the artichokes whole in boiling salted water for 15 minutes, drain and place in cold water until they cool down.
Put the stuffing together (breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, minced mint leaves, and olive oil).
Stuff the artichokes, sprinkle salt, dribble olive oil and place head down in a pyrex dish, with each head of artichoke covering a whole mint leaf.
Put the dish in a preheated oven (150°) for around 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven … and this is when I am supposed to say, “And Enjoy”.
Oh woe is me. I cannot. This was the first time ever my favourite husband disappoved of something I had cooked; he nodded his head disapprovingly from side to side and confessed that, “No … they just aren’t good. I can’t eat them. Sorry.”
They were … haaard. Woody. Woody and weird. Unappealing in the extreme. I tried two bites and then gave in myself too.
And I was angry. I hate it when a recipe fails to satisfy. In this I am very much like Richmal Crompton’s character William Brown, from her Just William book series. I expect readers much younger than I will have never heard of them and you don’t know what you you are missing – I think people suffering from depression should be made to read them as part of their recovery programme (here is a link to an episode from the TV series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TycXDEZdqgo – and here is another one, from a previous series:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEVm4MuB9_c ) but the original books are bound to be better). Anyway, in one of the stories, I’m afraid I can’t remember the title, William is spurred to break apart a grandfather clock, following the instructions from a Do-it-yourself book on how to recreate something or other. When he attempts to put the clock back together again, and is unable to, he blames the book. “You’d think the book would know what it’s talking about!” he complains bitterly, feeling quite betrayed, and amazed that his parents should get cross with him for his misdemeanour. And that’s a little how I felt about that artichoke recipe. And so, just before falling asleep that night, I vowed that I’d teach those artichokes a lesson or two, huh. Scroll down and you will find out how I salvaged the situation.
Ingredients for the Salvation Artichoke Patties: diced chunks of mozzarella, 1 egg, breadcrumbs, groundnut oil or olive oil for frying
This is what I started off with. Basically, two cooked artichokes.
I placed them in the processor and turned them to a pulp.
I cut up a mozzeralla into small chunks. And I rolled the pulp into ball shapes.
I flattened the balls and placed some mozzarella over each one.
I rolled them back into a ball again. So, in other words, each ball was stuffed with some mozzarella.
I I beat one egg and coated the artichoke balls with it.
I then coated the balls with breadcrumbs.
And I fried them in batches in very hot oil for a very short time (they were already cooked after all) – just until they turned golden.
Here is one of them, cut in half … the molten mozzarella looking like the telephine line of a supplì !
And this time, they WERE good, phew. Not sure I’d make them again but at least I managed to salvage the situation and make something good of a kitchen catastrophe.
Three left over the next morning. Good even at room temperature.
So: three cheers and hurrah for luscious leftovers and delicious fried artichoke patties. The fried food fanatic (FFF) did it again, yeay!
PS St Lawrence is the patron saint of cooks. Does anyone know if there is a patron saint for fried foods?