The Artful Artichoke

The artful artichoke.
Elegance for all seasons.
Cheers to the Artichoke.
Sensational as appetizers or small plate offerings.
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Perhaps  develop a small plate menu this spring.
Bacon-Wrapped Artichokes ( Fondi di Carciofi )
Artichoke Soup
Artichoke and Crab Dip
Artichoke and Olive Tapenade
Excellent springtime snacks or elegant amuse bouche
Bacon-Wrapped ArtichokesFondi di Carciofi )
Canola oil, for frying
2 14-oz. jars artichoke hearts
8 slices bacon, halved crosswise
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
Pour oil to a depth of 2″ in a 6-qt. Dutch oven–heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Place each artichoke heart on one end of a bacon slice, sprinkle with some of the Parmesan and pepper, and roll up; secure with a toothpick. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain. Serve creatively.  Sauced?
Artichoke Soup
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 8-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed *or preferably fresh
21/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
Puree 3 tablespoons oil, cheese, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic in mini processor until smooth. Season pesto with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Add all remaining garlic–stir 30 seconds.  Add artichokes and
2 1/2 cups broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until artichokes are soft, about 7 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until almost smooth. Strain into same saucepan, pressing on solids to release liquid. Thin with additional broth by 1/4 cupfuls if desired.  Season soup with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls–drizzle with pesto.
Dips and tapenades…ideal for rustic loaf or bageuette…pita chips or crackers.
Artichoke and Crab Dip
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts
3/4 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeño chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cook artichoke hearts according to package instructions, then drain well and finely chop. Cook bell pepper in 1 tablespoon butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in artichokes and transfer mixture to a bowl. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderately low heat, then add flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Add half-and-half in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in artichoke mixture, scallions, 1/3 cup parmesan, lemon juice, jalapeños, salt, and celery salt. Gently stir in crab. Transfer to a buttered 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish and sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake dip in middle of oven until bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.
Artichoke and Olive Tapenade
1 13 3/4-ounce can artichoke hearts, well drained
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
8 large brine-cured green olives, pitted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Finely chop first 5 ingredients in processor.
Add 1 tablespoon parsley and oil–puree until coarse paste forms. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to small bowl. Sprinkle with
1 tablespoon parsley. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover. chill.)
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