Your regularly scheduled Druid blog will be back after a brief hiatus. Please enjoy this food blog in the meantime. For some reason, food posts are the only things I am managing right now.

I am involved in an Artichoke Battle with two friends. We decided to do an Iron Chef thing and had a fourth friend pick the ingredient, which for this round is Artichokes. Recipes are allowed, though even when I try I find I can’t follow a recipe – there’s always something that seems like it would be better some other way, or an ingredient I don’t like that I want to substitute, or something. Below is my first entry into the competition. It’s an appetizer that I pretty much made up based on the fact that I had this great horseradish cheddar from the CSA that seemed like it would be beautiful with artichokes.

I am already assuming that kwitchery will win this contest – 1. because she’s an amazing cook, 2. because she is willing to tackle much more elaborate dishes than I am and is actually capable of following a recipe and 3. she takes fabulous food pictures and so will make her food look even better than it already is (which is pretty damn good to begin with). Maebius is also an excellent cook and is very creative. Having already assumed this, and also lacking the gene for competitiveness, my goal is to get original and fun without worrying about perfection. I’m not all that creative or artisanal about cooking, but I am super-functional, so I chose to stick with my strength and make functional, simple dishes mostly from stuff that I already had on hand or could reasonably expect to have around.

Horseradish-Dijon Artichokes

1 clove garlic
A few twists of pepper
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2-3 tablespoons white cooking wine
1 egg
1 can artichokes
Grated horseradish cheddar

Put garlic, pepper, salt, mustard, wine and egg in blender. Blend oil in slowly until sauce gets creamy. Stand artichokes up in deep baking dish (small enough that they all support each other.) Pour sauce over artichokes. Top with cheese. Broil 15 minutes.

It came out all toasty and yummy looking. I gave some to Mr. Nettle for the initial tasting. He said:

“Yum. Unexpectedly creamy texture – I expected something a little chewier from artichokes, but instead it has a melt-in-your-mouth kind of thing. Fabulous sauce – what is this? it’s really good. Very long-lasting, complex flavor. Excellent.” He ate it all and looked happy about it, and then asked for the pan and a spoon so he could eat all the sauce out of it.

The sauce was in fact amazingly good. My opinion is also good, though not as good as his. I thought the texture thing he pointed out could have been brought out more if I had chopped the artichokes – it would have come out more as a dip sort of thing. It would be the Best Thing Ever done that way and served on rice crackers, or chopped even finer and used as a pasta sauce. As an appetizer on its own, it was very, very good but needed some sort of other texture like a cracker for a contrasting texture.