Cooking an Artichoke

Grooming an Artichoke!

Preparing an Artichoke is no big deal.  You just need a sharp knife, and I mean Chef sharp!  An Artichoke is a very tough budding flower from an extraordinary plant so you have to bust through the meaty exterior to get to that wholesome tender center.  Not to mention that the leaves have thorns at their tips.  So, the first thing you want to do, after you get your seasoned water boiling, is cut through the base and sever the stem, and then expose all of the pedals by cutting the leaf tips.  This Allows the seasoned boiling water to penetrate through the entire Artichoke when it’s fully submerged, thus tenderizing the heart and making the leaves eatable.  Boil for approximately 8 minutes then serve an Artichoke with melted butter and mayonnaise.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip or Spread

Artichoke Recipe Favorites

My Favorite ways to eat an Artichoke usually involves the hearts.  And, because I’m lazy, I’ll just break down and by a jar of pickled or marinated Artichoke hearts and incorporate them into my recipes.

Here’s a few, with links if you want to look into making a few these your selves.  Broccoli and Cheese Dip with Marinated Artichoke Hearts,  Spinach and Artichoke Dip or Spread and one I haven’t added yet is Roasted Artichoke Hearts on my Alfredo Sauce Pizza.  So that’s just a free tip!

Artichoke Ingredients:

1 Artichoke
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Add enough water to a pot to fully submerge an Artichoke while it’s boiling.

Lobster Bisque with Langostino Lobster Tails

Lobster Bisque with LangostinoThe Lobster Bisque Challenge!

Lobster Bisque isn’t over rated, but it is often over cooked.  You’ll find that most recipes use a ton of cream to define their soup recipe as a “bisque”, then hours of waiting time to reduce.  Is all of this really necessary?  I say Nay-nay!  I’ll prove it to you in this recipe I’ve developed that not only cuts your cooking time in half but knocks out 2/3 of the fat content because you don’t really need that much cream.  Even Bobby Flay’s Lobster Bisque recipe has 6 cups of Heavy Cream in it.  Crazy!  I use only 2 and I promise you it’s just as good and if not, even better.

Langostino Tail MeatIn this Lobster Bisque Recipe I’m going to be using Langostino Lobster.  I honestly prefer Squat Lobster if you have it available.  The benefits of each are the same but there are some differences.  First, the price is incredibly reasonable.  I bought 3 pounds of solid meat, not shell, for just 20 bucks!  The difference in my opinion is a sweeter, softer lobster tail meat when you are using Squat Lobster to make Lobster Bisque.  Don’t ask me why, it’s just that way.  Regardless of the reasons, they’re both very affordable and they both make a very impressive Lobster Bisque come to life.

Lobster Bisque Ingredients:

1 cup water
2 tsp Tomato Bouillon
6 Roma Tomatoes
2 Celery Stalks
1 Carrot
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Tbsp Chopped Ginger
3 Parsley Sprigs
3 Large Basil Leaves
3/4 cup Red Wine (sweet)

1 Onion
2 Tbsp Butter
1/3 cup Corn Starch
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 lbs Langostino Lobster tails

Set the water and bouillon on medium heat on the stove.  Combine all the vegetables except for the onion in a food processor or blender and puree.  Then add mixture to the Tomato Stalk.  Chop onion and sauté until Caramelized, and then add the Corn Starch and Cream.  When the Cream thickens like a country gravy, add the seasoning and add all the onions and cream to the soup.  Chop half of the Langostino Lobster tails into small pieces and add to the Bisque.  Stir frequently and wait to reduce; 20 to 25 minutes.  It will burn the bottom if you’re not stirring!  Once it has reduced to your desired consistency, add remaining Lobster tails and serve.  If you are using large lobsters for this Lobster Bisque Recipe, all directions still apply, only adding the meat in increments isn’t necessary.

Salt and Pepper Calamari – P.F. Chang’s Recipe

Tender Calamari is Possible!

For most people, making tender Calamari is no easy chore.  Even restaurants struggle with it.  The reason is because of the cut they are using.  When you get it in rings, it’s slices of the body on those six inch squid, so it tends to be very chewy.  When you get all eight of the legs and tentacles, you are just getting the lower half of the same squid.  Understand?  Top and Bottom.  No matter what you do, Cooking Calamari like this isn’t ever going to make it any less chewy, and tenderizing them with a mallet is just ridiculous.  So you need another solution, and here it is; Calamari Steaks!IMG_0259

Thumb Smith's Food and DrugThis isn’t just a good alternative; it’s the best way to turn out Tender Calamari.  It’s not chewy this way at all.  It’s soft yet Crispy and very flavorful.  In fact I can eat an entire plate of it cooked this way, and you will to if you haven’t already.  Oh, and if you can’t find it at your local grocery or seafood market, tell them to order it for you.  How do you think I got these?  Smith’s Food and Drug just pitches me a phone call when ever anything I ask them to order arrives.  No extra cost to me, and they get exactly what I want, when I want it.  It’s sweet!

Anyway, the Salt and Pepper Calamari recipe can be found at various restaurants around the globe.  I think the most popular menus include P.F. Chang’s Salt and Pepper Calamari (my personal favorite), and Typhoon’s, which I don’t like at all.  So today I’m going to model P.F. Chang’s.  If you’ve ever had their recipe, you know it’s to die for.  So let’s dive right in to this Tender Calamari recipe and get started.

Tender Calamari Ingredients:Calamari Sauce Ingredients

2-4 Calamari Steaks Thawed and sliced
1-2 Green Onions thinly sliced
2 Pinches of Margarita Salt and Pepper

Marinade:

1 egg white
2 tbsp canola oil (any oil is fine)
1 pinch of Garlic Powder
1 pinch of Ginger Powder (Curry powder isn’t bad either)
½ tsp Soy Sauce
½ cup of Corn Starch

Calamari Dipping Sauce:

1 pt Hoisin Sauce
½ pt Black Bean Garlic Sauce (or Bean Curd)
1 pt Orange Chili Sauce
You can also add a little bit of sugar soy and vinegar if you’d like.

After ½ hour of marinating the Tender Calamari, dredge the slices through Potato starch, or corn starch until it is evenly coated, then fry at 375 degrees for 1 ½ minutes.  Be sure to separate Calamari slices with a spider or a slotted spoon while frying.  Then toss the Tender Calamari in a bowl with Slices of Green Onion and season with Salt and Pepper to your taste.


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