We were leaving the next day for San Francisco and the opening of an exhibition of the monoprints Mildred Howard made with Bud this spring. I needed to empty the fridge. In it were the remains of a container of ricotta and a big, fat artichoke that I had bought, forgetting we would be away. I couldn’t waste it so made it the star of our last dinner before flying off to the show and a visit with our Bay area pals.
Above is a drawing from a get-together at Hung’s Oakland studio a few years ago. Probably more than a few but who can count? We were excited to see everyone, Mildred and John, Hung and Jeff, Kara and Enrique, Hardy and Francesca.
But back to that artichoke. I remembered a recipe I had made several times from a wonderful cookbook by Evan Kleiman called Verdura, and pulled it off the shelf to remind myself of the ingredients. Great, I have everything.
First I prepared the artichoke by pulling off the small, dry leaves, halving it, and cutting out the choke, rubbing the cut areas with lemon as I went. I dropped the halves into boiling water with the chunk of lemon and cooked them until tender, about 12 minutes. I tested them periodically with a skewer to be sure I didn’t overcook them.
The drained artichoke halves went into a baking dish. I preheated the oven to 375° and prepared the filling.
In a small bowl (made by Setsuko Morinoue) I combined a crushed clove of garlic, the zest of half a lemon, and a couple tablespoons of parmesan, a little salt and pepper with a cup of ricotta. Then I lightly toasted a small handful of pinenuts in a dry iron skillet, watching carefully and shaking the pan so they didn’t burn. It took about 3 minutes. (Walnuts would be a good substitute.)
This stuffing went into the artichokes, topped with panko, a little more parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. They were ready to bake at 375° for 20 minutes until hot and browned.
To accompany the artichokes I made a simple green salad topped with a few grilled shrimp, some julienned radish and sliced avocado. I squeezed the bald lemon half to make a dressing with olive oil, salt and pepper.
The artichokes perched on dragon plates made by Priscilla Cohan of Lyons. To eat, a messy proposition, we pulled the bottom leaves off the artichoke and scooped up some filling. When we reached the heart, we used fork and knife to finish the delectable dish.
Top: Hung’s Party, pastel and charcoal on paper, 30 x 42 inches.
(Hung Liu and Manuel Ocampo)