Artichoke Fritters with Sorrel Aioli
It’s a perfect summer day here today and I was lazying in the hammock for a while reading a book but soon visions of the kitchen lured me in and I stepped inside to see what I can make. I am (almost) always ready to cook something. No need for dinner today as we are off to a Joy Road dinner in Penticton so I thought perhaps a little appie to have before we leave may be nice.
Many people find working with artichokes intimidating and it’s true that they a little more labour intensive than other vegetables. In this recipe you can skip the fresh and use canned, frozen or even marinated artichoke hearts, without having to go through preparing the fresh artichokes.
To go with the fritters I made a sorrel aioli (mayo) from the sorrel that is growing in my rooftop garden. It comes back every year even in this climate (cold winters) and is doing quite well. This particular variety of sorrel has red veins that can colour the aioli but I drained the red juice after steaming the leaves to minimize that effect. Of course if you want a pink aioli you can leave the juice in or you can buy the sorrel that is all green without red veins.
12 artichokes hearts, you can use them from a jar, canned or frozen.
1 cup flour
2 cups coarse bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Drain artichoke hearts and depending on the size, cut each in half or quarters and pat them dry with paper towels.
Have three bowls ready: one with flour, second with the eggs, whisked with a fork, third with the breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley.
Have a large plate or tray ready to put the breaded artichokes on.
Drop a few artichokes at a time into the flour and turn to coat them.
Transfer to the bowl with the eggs and turn them over with a fork to coat them with the eggs.
Remove from the egg plate allowing excess egg to drip into the plate.
Drop the floured and egg coated artichokes into the bread crumb and roll around to coat them well.
Place the artichokes on the plate you have prepared until you are finished with the entire batch.
Heat up the oil in a small pot. Use a larger pot to prevent splatter.
Carefully lower 3-4 artichokes at a time into the hot oil. Turn them over as they become golden to cook evenly on all sides.
When they are nice and golden remove to a plate.
Serve immediately. If you are not serving until later, reheat in 350F oven for a few minutes.
Serve with sorrel aioli or sauce of your choice.
Aioli is a mayonnaise style sauce traditionally made with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and egg yolks. It is one of those items that you “need” to learn how to make if you are a foodie (foodie “police” may check up on you). It’s a very simple process and if you make it in a food processor it takes no time or effort at all. Making it by hand is easy but takes a little while, 20 minutes or so, because you blend the oil into the yolks a little at a time, whisking constantly.
Mayo is considered a sauce but is used more as a spread or a dip. It is made by incorporating oil into egg yolks, a process that makes them expand and hold the oil in a creamy textured thick sauce. You whisk the egg yolks with mustard, salt and vinegar and then add the oil by droplets at first, progressing to a slow intermittent fine drizzle and ending with a little more oil, 1 tablespoon or so, added at a time while whisking constantly.
The measurements are pretty standard: 3 egg yolks can incorporate about 1 1/2 cups oil. If you do it in a food processor you can reduce the yolk amount to 2. Julia Child suggests to add 2 tablespoons of boiling water at the end of the mixing process to prevent any curdling from happening. Other recipes add a couple of tablespoons cream at the end. Cream sounds good but I follow Julia’s suggestion of adding water, who am I to doubt her? For the oil you can either use just olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and another oil (canola, grape seed etc.). For the vinegar I use white balsamic but if you don’t have it go ahead and use white wine vinegar instead. Homemade mayo can be flavoured in a variety of ways, from adding herbs, ketchup, curry, horseradish, mango syrup and more, creating a sauce that compliments your particular dish. For this recipe I made it with sorrel. You can add the sorrel in the beginning with the rest of the ingredients or add it at the end after the aioli is ready.Here is how I make it:
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon dry or dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt (not fine, it will be too much)
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup canola oil
4-6 sorrel leaves, steamed, excess water squeezed out and finely chopped
Making mayo by hand:
Place egg yolks in a bowl and whisk with a small whisk until they look creamy and just begin to thicken.
Add mustard, salt and 1 tablespoon vinegar and continue to whisk until nice and creamy.
Place oil in a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Begin to drizzle the oil into the yolk mixture whisking constantly. In the beginning, until the sauce begins to thicken, just pour it into the yolk by the droplets.
Be patient, the sauce will eventually thicken to the consistency of whipping cream and then get thicker. Just continue to drizzle the oil in, whisking constantly. When the mayo is thick, after about half of the oil has been added, you can begin adding it at a more steady pace but make sure it is completely absorbed by the eggs before adding more.
Half way through adding the oil add the second tablespoon of vinegar to thin it out a bit.
You can add the sorrel now or at the end.
Continue until the oil is all added and the sauce is nice and thick. It gets hard to whisk after a while but stick with it, you’ll get a beautiful homemade aioli.
Add 2 tablespoons of boiling water and stir. It will smooth out the sauce beautifully.
There you have it, homemade aioli/mayonnaise, hand made.
Food processor method:
Use the same ingredient list but use 2 yolks instead of 3.
Place yolks, salt, mustard and 2 tablespoons vinegar in the food processor and process until creamy.
Add the sorrel and pulse once or twice.
Through the feeding tube begin adding the oil as the machine is running, by a slow drizzle. The mayo will come together quickly.
When you have added all of the oil and the mayo is nice and creamy remove to a bowl and cover with plastic right over the surface to prevent a skin from forming.