Carciofi alla Giudia with Fried Lemon

I fear that this dish takes me one step closer to getting a Texas-State-Fair-style reputation as one who fries things that aren’t meant to be fried. But, dear reader, this is so. good.  And it’s really an adaptation of a classic Jewish-Italian recipe, so it’s legit.  Here artichokes are trimmed and quartered and then dropped, sans batter, into hot oil.  The result is a real testament to the power of frying.  The stem and heart of the artichoke become golden and tender, while those delicious leaves take on a crispy, potato chip-like quality that cannot be beat. This must, must be served with a slice or two of fried lemon, which is really just one of the most beautiful things in the world.  A crispy, intensely-lemony delight.  I served this on a chickpea puree featuring gremolata flavors, but if you’re in a hurry you could definitely skip this step and just serve these on a plate with a smear of Greek yogurt. 

Carciofi alla Giudia with Fried Lemon

For the Artichokes

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 2 lemons, meyer if available
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
  • chickpea puree (recipe follows) or greek yogurt
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Make the chickpea puree (recipe follows).
  2. Cut one of the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl of water. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the artichokes. With your hands, peel off the tough outer leaves of the artichoke. keep peeling until you start to see pale green tops on the remaining leaves. use your knife to cut off the top third of the artichoke (not the stem end). Use your knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layer of the stem, and trim off any rough areas around the base of the stem. Cut the artichokes in quarters and remove and discard the feathery choke. Put the prepared artichokes into the bowl of acidulated water.
  4. Heat the oil (it should be about 1 inch deep) in a large pot over medium heat, until shimmery but not smoking. (you can put the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil- if bubbles form around the base, your oil is hot enough).
  5. Dry your first 4 artichoke quarters as best you can with a kitchen towel and ease them quickly into the oil. Be careful! Remaining water may cause the oil to splatter. Let the oil settle down a minute before you attempt to poke and prod the artichokes. Then fry, turning occasionally until the artichokes are golden and tender. Remove from the oil and drain upside down on paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt while the artichokes are still glistening with oil. Repeat this step with the remaining artichokes.
  6. Slice the remaining lemon into very thin slices, and remove any seeds that cling to the slices. Pat the slices dry with paper towels and then drop them into the hot oil. Fry, turning occasionally, until the insides of the lemons are golden brown and the outsides are bright yellow. Drain on paper towels.
  7. To serve, spoon some of the chickpea puree (or a smear of greek yogurt) onto a plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with two artichoke quarters and a slice or two of fried lemon. Enjoy!

For the Chickpea Puree

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • zest and juice of two lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/3 cup water
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Put all ingredients except parsley into a food processor and process until smooth. Toss in the chopped parsley and pulse a few times to incorporate.

Blood Orange Chicken Wings

Hi friends! In just 30 minutes Helen and I are gonna hop on a plane to LA, and then we’re off to sunny Mexico on a cruise with my 90-year-old granny and big brother Cameron! I’m excited.  I’m going to eat lots of food.  It’ll be so weird to be away from the computer/internet/cell phone for a week but, aside from missing Andy, it’ll be fun too!

A couple days ago I made these chicken wings for this week’s food52 contest (of course).  The contest this week was über fun (umlaut!).  You were supposed to submit a dish featuring blood orange, feta, and mint.  Helen and I both eschewed the traditional blood orange salad and instead opted for very silly creations! Helen made a feta frozen yogurt! And I made chicken wings! I think they turned out ‘right nice too.  They have a blood orange reduction as a glaze, that’s sweet and tart and a little bit spicy from an addition of chile flakes.  Then I served them with a whipped feta with mint as a dip.  That dip was good too! If you make it, make sure you rinse your feta before you crumble it- otherwise it will be too salty.  The dip also firms up if you refrigerate it, but it’s a great spread for crackers at that point!

So happy spring break friends! I’ll miss you!

Blood Orange Glazed Chicken Wings with Minted Whipped Feta

For the Wings

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3/4 cups juice from 3 blood oranges
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon blood orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil, then with parchment paper.
  3. Cut the chicken wings into thirds, and reserve the wing tips for stock. Pat dry thoroughly. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping the wings every 15 minutes.
  4. While the wings are baking, make the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, mix the blood orange juice, zest, honey, and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes, or until the glaze has reduced to about 1/4 of a cup. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. After the wings have baked for 45 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and brush the wings all over with the glaze. Return to the oven to bake for 5 more minutes. Serve warm with Minted Whipped Feta (recipe follows).

For the Whipped Feta

  • 3/4 pounds fresh feta, rinsed and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  1. Put the crumbled feta, olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. It should look a bit like hummus. Add the chopped mint and pulse a few times to incorporate.
  2. Serve in a pretty bowl topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of mint.

Olive all’Ascolana

Behold, in all their majesty: deep. fried. olives.

I really thought that I might be the first person in the world to have thought of frying olives.  Turns out it’s a classic Italian recipe called Olive all’Ascolana.  But, oh boy! They’re fun.  I stuffed mine with a goat cheese mixed with rosemary, garlic, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes, rolled them in egg and breadcrumbs, fried them, and then topped them with feathery shavings of cheese and lemon zest.  These make for a very happy little snack 🙂

Olive all’Ascolana

  • 24 large green olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or panko)
  • 1/3 cup parmigiano reggiano, or similar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • parmigiano reggiano, for sprinkling
  • zest and juice from one lemon, for sprinkling
  1. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, mustard seed, rosemary, chile flakes, and garlic. Stuff the olives with the cheese mixture (I like to use my fingers, but you could also use a piping bag if you’re really classy). Put the stuffed olives on a plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes, to let the cheese firm up.
  2. While the olives are chilling, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan to 375 degrees.
  3. Set up three plates for your breading station. Put the flour on one plate, the beaten egg on the next, and mix the bread crumbs and cheese on the last plate.
  4. When the olives have chilled, roll half of them in the flour, then in the egg, then in the bread crumbs, and carefully drop them into the heated oil. Fry until golden brown, about one minute per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and repeat with the remaining olives.
  5. Pile on a plate and finish with a shower of freshly grated cheese and lemon zest and a spritz of lemon.

Snuggles likes goat cheese.