Lemon & Garlic Stuffed Artichokes
A couple of weekends ago I went to a food styling and photography course with Billy Law from A Table For Two workshops. I have done a bit of photography before and thought this food blogging thing would be a breeze, until I realised two things. Firstly, I haven’t done any photography for a long time, I had barely used my SLR camera for 3 years and couldn’t remember how or why to use half the settings. I had the camera set to a certain setting that was obviously good when shooting portraits, but terrible when photographing inside and I couldn’t remember how to change it. And secondly, I really suck at taking photos of things. With people, I can get a reaction, capture a real smile, or the look of concentration on a toddler trying to catch a butterfly, but food, well it just sits there. It is much more difficult than I expected it to be.
I highly recommend the course I did if you are in Australia and wanting to do a photography course. Day 1 would be great for anyone wanting to learn how to use their camera better, understand lighting, composition, etc. I’ve done a few courses and I have to say that Billy explained things in a way that I found really easy to understand, it was one of the best ones I’ve done. Day 2, was more for food styling, and I felt completely out of my depth. Other people were arranging food items and props, and making them look like something out of a food magazine, I just stood there looking lost & confused most of the time. But I did learn lots & it made me look at how to arrange things differently. I found it really inspiring and went home determined to get better at it.
Anyway, how this relates to this post, is that one of the props we used on the day were artichokes. This weekend, I decided to have practice weekend, so when I saw some artichokes I bought them, and used them to practice getting my camera settings right. The most important thing I have learnt is how important natural light is. I had a ‘duh’ moment, I knew how important it was when doing portraits, why did I think food was different? I have been taking my photos at night after I cook dinner, and struggling to get the photos to come out how I wanted them to, but taking them during the day, made such a difference. And has given me a new dilemma, how to take photo’s and work full time during daylight hours – I think Saturdays will be re-named Cookingdays.
So after hours spent photographing these artichokes, I decided to turn them into a super yummy dish. I hadn’t cooked with fresh artichokes before, only the pickled, in a jar variety. I’ll definitely be buying fresh ones from now on! They were tender, juicy and delicious.
I still have lots of practising to do, but I am loving the challenge, and will hopefully get there eventually.
Suitable for: vegetarian & gluten, egg, soy, nut & cows dairy free diets
4 large, fresh artichokes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups gluten free rice crumbs (or breadcrumbs if you can have them)
1 cup finely grated pecorino (I use sheeps milk pecorino)
1⁄3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf continental parsley leaves
2 teaspoons finely ground sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken stock (or water for a vegetarian option)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
- In a mixing bowl, add the lemon zest, rice (or bread) crumbs, pecorino, parsley, salt & pepper. Mix until well combined.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the bottom of the artichoke, flush the the outer leaves, so that they will sit flat. Then slice the top 1/3 of the artichoke off, to expose the inner leaves. Rub some of the lemon juice on the cut leaves, this will stop it from turning brown.
- Gently prise the leaves open, starting from the outside leaves, so that you have gaps to push the stuffing into. Then press the mixture in between the leaves. Continue with all the artichokes, leaving some of the mixture to add later.
- Place the stuffed artichokes into a oven proof dish that has a lid. See note if you don’t have a lid.
- Pour the lemon juice over the stuffed artichokes. Then drizzle with about half a tablespoon of olive oil per artichoke.
- Pour the stock or water, around the artichokes, so that it comes up to half way up the sides of artichokes. Place the lid on the dish, and place in the oven for 40 mins.
- Remove from the oven, and then sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture, drizzle with another half a tablespoon of olive oil per artichoke. And place back in the oven, without the lid. Cook for approx. 10-15 mins until the crumb mixture turns a golden brown.
Notes: Use a dish that holds the artichokes snuggly if you can, to stop them from falling open and into the liquid. If you don’t have a dish with a lid, you can use foil wrap instead. You will need to push the foil in around the artichokes so that it can create a steam lock inside. Make sure the liquid doesn’t evaporate during cooking, if it does, put some more in while it is cooking, otherwise they will be really chewy.
For info on the photography course, click here.
Source: Adapted from Saveur website