A bit of California at the Manisses
On a car trip with our California relatives going from southern California to the northern redwoods near Oregon, we passed many farms and wineries in the central part of the state. It happened to be time for the artichoke harvest, and they were for sale at roadside stands, just like corn on the cob is back East. A few short-order restaurants even advertised fried artichokes, but we never seemed to find any when we were hungry and ready for a stop.
The other night I noticed artichoke croquettes on the Manisses menu, and thought that at last, I would be able to taste fried artichokes. I love artichokes anyway, whether they are chopped hearts from a can that I mix up with other ingredients as a dip, or just steamed whole, so the petals can be peeled and eaten.
The Manisses croquettes were scrumptious, preserving the unique flavor of the artichoke with a crunchy coating.
I looked up recipes for this dish and found that in Rome they fry them in oil whole and without breadcrumbs, but they also are made into croquettes simply by taking canned artichokes, dipping the pieces in egg and then breadcrumbs, and frying.
Chef Brian Hartmann at the Manisses was kind enough to send his recipe for “Spanish Croquettes.” He says,
“In a food processor combine these ingredients together:
1 cup sliced and julienned jamon serrano
1 1/2 cups artichoke hearts
1/3 cup homemade garlic aioli (substitute mayonnaise if necessary)
pinch each sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup soft spanish goat cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup fine bread crumbs
Shape filling into croquettes or balls and roll in more bread crumbs. Heat fryer or chip pot with clean oil to 375 degrees and fry until golden brown (about three minutes). Remove to paper towel lined pie tin to remove excess oil.
One version of presentation is to make puff pastry 'cups' in the oven and making a simple salad of micro pea tendrils, roquefort cheese, fresh lemon juice, cracked pepper and extra virgin olive oil and serving it in the warm pastry cups. Enjoy!”
As I was writing this blog, my editor Pippa Jack said she had planted an artichoke plant in her garden last year, and then wrote it off by the end of the summer when it did not produce globes. A warm winter kept it alive, however, and just the other day, she harvested six.
Artichokes are a perennial thistle in the sunflower family, according to the website “whatscookingamerica.net,” and the globe we eat is actually the flower bud. It’s no wonder they have a flavor so like a fragrant aroma.