I love entertaining and cooking for friends. It's also much easier when you have a well-stocked pantry because you're not spending a ton of money on staple items. I've cooked for a lot of groups over the last couple of years, and I've found that given the low pay and high rents in D.C., young people in this city don't exactly appreciate the effort... or feel the need to bring a bottle of wine and pitch in a few dollars.
After a few of those experiences, a few friends and I came up with a new scheme: pick a price point, whether it's $5 per person or $20. The other three show up with a cheap bottle of wine and said dollar amount and I provide the meal based on the price point. This appetizer was part of a $15 meal that I managed to turn into four full courses, that if you ask me, were darn well worth the 15 bucks.
This recipe will be enough for small bites for four people in a larger meal, or an appetizer for two. And, yes, Taylor, I'm posting this sooner than I anticipated for you!
Flash-fried Artichoke Hearts
- 4 baby artichokes
- 1 lemon
- 3/4 c. homemade aioli (recipe to follow) or mayo
- 1 T. Sriracha or other hot sauce
- 1 T. Worstershire sauce
- blended oil
- pea shoots or other micro green for garnish
Set up a bowl of cold water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Trim the artichokes by cutting off the top half and snipping the sharp ends of the remaining leaves off. Trim the tough portion of the stalk. Immediately drop the artichokes into the water. They will turn brown right before your eyes otherwise!
Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it liberally. Add the lemon halves and artichokes. Cover the pot and let the artichokes cook until the hearts are tender; approximately 7-8 minutes.
Remove the artichokes. Using a spoon and paring knife, remove the remaining leaves and "choke" of the artichokes.
While they cook, mix together the aioli with the hot sauce and Worstershire and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a small pan of oil. To check if the oil is ready, place the handle of a wooden spoon to the bottom of the pan. If bubbles appear, the oil is ready.
Cut the hearts into quarters. Drop them into the oil, making sure to not crowd the pan. Cook in batches if necessary. Cook until light brown; about 3-4 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove immediately to a paper-towel lined plate.
Put a dollop of the aioli on a small plate and top with the artichokes. Garnish with the pea shoots.
Basic Aioli (1-2 servings)
- 2 egg yolks
- splash white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- olive oil
Combine the yolks, vinegar and garlic in a blender. Once combined, slowly drop the oil in a drop at a time until a base forms, then start streaming it in slowly until a thick sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper.