Monday, January 28, 2008

In Case of Emergency

Life, Love, and Food is not a decadent blog. If you, like me, troll the blogging world with any regularity, you soon see that decadence rules the day, particularly when it comes to desserts and loads of butter. I have nothing against desserts nor butter, but I eat them in carefully controlled quantities. And I like it that way!

Occasionally, however, it’s time to break out the goodies. Sometimes that time is NOW. Last week I almost quit graduate school. After four plus years (and still no degree at all—boo to these Ph.D. programs that don’t grant Master’s degrees!), I almost walked away. WALKED AWAY! It turns out that I don’t like to fail. I seem to be good at failing these days, though, because failure constitutes most of what I’ve done for the past three months. THREE MONTHS! That’s just ridiculous! But it’s true, and it’s how science works: experiment, fail, experiment, fail, experiment, fail, experiment, SUCCEED! The trick, I think, is being able to hold on long enough to get that last part. It is far easier said than done, I can now assure you from experience.

In the midst of all this failure, a girl needs some pleasure, some visceral, sigh-inducing, oxytocin-releasing, naughty pleasure. This pleasure need not involve taking off one’s clothes, although I’m a big fan of those sorts of pleasures as well. The pleasure I bring you here might be a good prelude to sex, but to me, it stands alone in its rich, lemony, basily, buttery goodness. It’s the Easy Artichoke Sauce from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

This sauce is among the more decadent recipes I’ve introduced here, almost up there with my infamous
Garlic, Chickpea, and Kale Soup. But since it’s a sauce, it’s up to you, dear reader, to decide how decadent you want to be. A quick-fix recipe, it brilliantly combines garlic, basil, and fresh lemon juice in a bath of olive oil, butter, and canned artichoke hearts. This baby can be whipped up in less than fifteen minutes. That’s less time than it takes to figure out how to tell your graduate advisor you’re quitting after three years in his lab! Thank goodness for that—I’ve decided to stick it out at least until spring.

Easy Artichoke Sauce
Ever-so-slightly adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
Makes 1.5-2 cups

Oh, the things we learn by experience. The Moosewood folks (bless them and their wonderful cookbook) recommend this sauce as a pasta sauce, but when I tried that, I was really disappointed. My pasta was practically naked(!) as all the sauce slithered into a pool at the bottom of my bowl. My recollection is that I used spaghetti; perhaps this sauce would work better with a short pasta, like shells? At any rate, my current preference is to use this sauce on really good bread, toasted. The crispy bread soaks up the sauce and holds the artichokes in place. It makes for an indulgent starch to accompany a bowl of soup or lentil stew. This sauce can also be part of an entrée by topping a sauced piece of toast or two with some scrambled eggs. Add a vegetable or two, a piece of fruit, and you have yourself one simple and satisfying dinner.

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup (half a stick) butter
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14-oz. can of artichoke hearts, sliced in half
A handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and saute until golden, 1-2 minutes.
2) Add the artichoke hearts, basil, and lemon juice. Cook gently over low heat for several minutes (Moosewood recommends ten minutes; I’m not sure it matters too much). Taste (careful—it’s hot!) and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Serve over a deserving starch.
3) Refrigerate any leftovers. This sauce keeps really well, which means it might come in handy during an unforseen emergency!


phoenixed said...

ooh i get to leave comments now without revealing my (currently MIA) alter-ego! this comment could be titled:

In Defense of Olive Oil.

it's text goes something like this:

who need butter with their artichokes when they could use twice as much olive oil?

--something melty

Rosiecat said...

To my dear phoenixed (who loves a little something melty),

With all due respect to the vegan contingent, can't olive oil and butter play nicely together?

Your point is well-taken! This sauce is so flavorful, I think you could use all olive oil and the difference would be hard to taste. I don't know, though. Perhaps this hypothesis is worthy of an in-kitchen experiment? I'll bring the bread! Let the taste-off begin!

Asmodeus said...

Oh Lordy. Now I want artichoke sauce, but I'm not sure my motivations are pure.

Rosiecat said...

Why, Asmodeus, what on earth are you planning to DO with artichoke sauce? And might I recommend that you let it cool a bit before using it if your motivations are more than culinary?