Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Garlic Eggplant & Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Yesterday I introduced you to the marvelous adventure I'm having this week: care-taking an urban farm east of Boulder, Colorado.

That's me at left, standing by the fresh-cut Dahlias on the table, extensive vegetable garden in the background, and though you can't see them, the foothills to the Rockies beyond the trees lining the property.

This morning when I wandered down to let the chickens out of their coop, the early morning mist clouded the spectacular westerly view of the foothills. At 6.30 a.m. the air is crisp and damp out here, already heavy with the scent of fall.

The two goats, Jupiter and Mercury (left) like to stand on the east side of their barn in the morning. They're both neutered, arthritic males and I'm sure the warmth of the rising sun soothes their rickety joints

Next to the goat's paddock is Barbara's tomato enclosure. She's growing several types of tomatoes and thus she has her vines numbered to indicate the varietals.

On Sunday afternoon, I noticed one ripe Romano and a few ripe cherry tomatoes which I picked to line the dish of marinated artichokes hearts pictured below.

In the hot house, to the right of the tomato enclosure, are rows of ripening peppers, melons and eggplant. I picked two green bell peppers and two eggplants for the garden dinner I made Sunday.

In all, I prepared 5 vegetable sides for the dinner I mention above and today, I'm going to share method recipes for two of those dishes:

Garlic Eggplant
1) Trim the ends of two medium-sized eggplants.
2) Pour about a 1/4 cup olive oil into a skillet, turn heat to med. Toss in two smashed and chopped garlic cloves.
3) Turn heat to med - low, watching skillet to ensure garlic doesn't burn. The idea is to infuse the warming oil with the flavor of garlic.
4) As garlic begins to dry and brown, remove it from the pan.
5) Turn hot plate to high, toss in sliced eggplant -- it will quickly soak up the oil. Stir eggplant about with a wooden spoon, browning pieces evenly.
6) Turn hot plate to med, and continue stirring eggplant so that it doesn't burn. Cook for about 10 mins.

To Serve:
Slide cooked eggplant onto a plate, drizzle with roasted Tahini and the juice of half a lemon. Sprinkle the edge of the plate with chopped parsley. Serve either hot or warm. I wouldn't refrigerate it; it will loose its flavor served cold from the fridge.

Marinated Artichoke Hearts
1) Trim the outer woody leaves and stem from 4 globe artichokes.
2) Boil a pot of water, placing artichokes into pot so that they're submerged. Add half of a lemon, skin and all.
3) Allow artichokes to gently boil for about 20 mins.
4) Drain. Cool artichokes in a colander.
5) Once they're cool enough to handle, remove more of the outer leaves, scraping the succulent flesh from the bottom of the leaves into a bowl.
6) As you near the heart of the artichoke, the tips of the leaves are quite spiky, trim the spikes from the tips and from the base trim the fuzzy hair.
7) The heart of the choke contains very delicate leaves, which also need to be trimmed top and bottom. The base is also covered in fuzzy hair --scrape the fuzzy hair off the choke base. Yes this is a very fiddly process, but boy, it's worth it!
8) Toss the base of the choke and trimmed leaves into the bowl with the scrapings. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, enough to coat the contents of the bowl.
9) You may like to season with ground Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I didn't season any of the vegetables from the garden; they didn't need it!

To Serve: Onto a plate place halved cherry tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, decorate with basil leaves, and into the center of the plate, put the bowl of marinated artichoke hearts. Serve at room temperature. Again, I wouldn't refrigerate before serving, as freshly cooked, delicately flavored food looses flavor served cold from the fridge.

No comments: