Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let's get to the HEART of the matter...

I think I was a weird child. Did anyone notice? I recall my mother once telling everyone in earshot on Mother's Day that my stories of everything I looked at and considered in the Rexall Drug before I decided on something I felt was perfect were more interesting than the actual gift. I was crushed - of course when you're a kid, you can't see the positive for the negative, and realized that less is probably more when it comes to yammering on about stuff around adults. I recall being somewhat introspective, but my siblings will surely step up and tell me I"m full of it - it just seems to me I spent a lot of time by myself, which in a family of 5 kids, with 5 next door, 3 across the street, and untold legions if you ventured further down the block seems kind of odd.

My neighborhood was quiet, and was bordered on one side by a fairly busy highway, but stretched out a long way in the other direction through a comfortable patch of suburbia. We walked to school, which you had to go through town to get to, rode our bikes even further - once I remember someone breathlessly telling us that the store over by Gabriel Park had avocado's for 10 cents each, and we rode all the way there with our berry picking money and spent the rest of the afternoon eating that creamy green deliciousness with salt. 10 avocado's can make you really sick, BTW. We used to go to that park, and my dad would push us on the giant swings...I always wanted to go over the bar, but he always stopped pushing before I could make it. And no matter how hard you pump, you need an extra "oomph" to get over the top.....I'm sure it's been done by kids with crazy dads.

Once I was invited to the neighbor's house for dinner, and I can only remember one thing they served...a whole artichoke. You had a little cup of melted butter, and you picked the leaves off one at a time and dipped the bottom in the butter, then scraped it with your teeth...how weird was THAT?! No one believed me at home....I don't think I ate them again until I was dating Handsome Stranger and his mom made them. Now I love 'em...butter and Best Foods are both good, but homemade hollandaise is the BEST!

So how about a recipe with artichoke hearts? Are you game, or did you just think "If there isn't a can of SOMETHING in this, I'm NOT eatin' it"? That's OK...you can go pout in the corner while we have fun. I love artichokes AND hollandaise, so why not mix it up a bit? I can make the best damn scrambled eggs on the planet, but I don't anymore because I'm off real mayo...but this is a great dish for you who are not chronic users of butter, mayo and cheese - just remember it's a special treat not to be abused.

Eggs Benediction

OK, sorry if that seemed a bit irreverent...it's not though, because after the first bite you will close your eyes, make the Sign of the Cross, and give thanks to your Maker that He created the ingredients you just put in your mouth....

6 white corn tortillas, cut in 1" squares
10 eggs plus the 4 whites you'll end up with after making the sauce...
1 can artichoke bottoms, drained and chopped coarsely
3 T. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Hollandaise sauce
4 egg yolks (save the whites for the scramble)
2 tsp. lemon juice (this is to taste - add more at the end for more tart)
1/2 c. butter (a whole stick...) cut into 8 squares
Salt and a dash of cayenne pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, whisk yolks and lemon juice until blended, then put the pan on the stove over medium heat and add 4 squares of the butter. Start whisking as the pan heats, continuing as the butter melts - if it looks like the yolk is congealing, use a spatula to scrape the pan so you get it all whisked in. It should melt and become part of the sauce, and be completely smooth. At that point you want to add the rest of the butter, one slice at a time, whisking until melted and smooth. When all the butter has been melted and incorporated, continue to whisk (and scrape occasionally) until you see it trying to bubble remove from heat immediately and continue to whisk for another minute or so, or until the pan starts to cool. Set aside, but NOT on the warm burner.

Put eggs in blender or use a hand blender, add mayo and a couple pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper and liquefy. In a large skillet, melt a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat, then add corn tortillas. Spread out and let stand for a couple minutes, stir and continue to cook until they soften and start to brown a bit. Sprinkle just a little salt on them, then add drained artichoke heart pieces, and stir until warm.

Pour eggs over tortillas/artichoke hearts and start using a rubber or metal spatula or flat edge paddle to scrape the bottom of the pan - keep scraping every square inch so nothing sticks to the bottom. Use a rubber spat to scrape the sides occasionally, as the eggs form curds it will thicken slowly - the more you stir in and the slower it cooks the finer the curd. I like my eggs still creamy - damp not so much wet, and if you think that's undercooked you're mistaken. Mayo changes the texture, and they will never get to be the squeaky lumps of what appears to be pieces of a rubber chicken, so if you like your eggs like that you may want to skip the mayonnaise and abandon any idea that you have good taste. (Sorry...I have to stop being so judgemental - if people want to eat crap, it's their right....the 8th Amendment say's it's OK as long as they only require their kids to follow suit.)

When the eggs are done, divide into 4 servings and plate em up. Rewarm the hollandaise on the burner, whisking madly until smooth (sometimes it will separate a bit, but whisking it over a little heat will bring it right back) and spoon over each serving, using as much as you dare. Serve with sourdough English muffins, perhaps some home fries or hash browns, or if you don't want to curse the dryer for shrinking your pants again, maybe a nice big side of fresh fruit. And you probably think the tortillas are weird, but toasting them in a little butter softens them and gives your eggs a nice nutty flavor, with a little more texture - I tend to pick pieces out before I pour in the egg so should probably start with a couple more tortillas..but I'm sure YOU have more restraint...yeah, I'm not buying that either.

AND...if you can find avocados for 10 cents, slice a few of those on top too - what the hell.

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