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The Vegetarian

Artichokes Are Fit for Dignitaries

May 14, 1987|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

When I was a college undergraduate, I used to pick up a few dollars by serving dinner at the home of a professor of international affairs. Since this professor was an activist as well as an academician, I was never surprised to find myself waiting on visiting heads of state. But I was often surprised--horrified--by what I was expected to serve to them. Plain boiled ham and instant rice seasoned with "flavor packets," for example.

Nothing beat the night in February when the hostess had me set out 22 freshly steamed artichokes for a formal, sit-down dinner. Thirty minutes later, I cleared away 22 not-so-freshly steamed artichokes, intact. No one was up to scraping the scaly leaves with their teeth, at least not in front of a prince and an ambassador.

Here's a more elegant way to serve artichokes. You'll need the largest you can find.

EGGS LAUREL

1 small white onion, minced

1 tablespoon butter

1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and finely chopped

Dash nutmeg

Dash white pepper

4 cooked fresh artichoke bottoms

4 poached eggs

Hollandaise Sauce

Dash paprika

Cooked rice or hash brown potatoes

Saute onion in butter until translucent. Add spinach and stir until soft but still bright green, no more than 3 minutes. Add nutmeg and pepper, then stir.

Spread layer of spinach over each artichoke bottom. Top each with 1 poached egg, then cover with Hollandaise Sauce and sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately, with rice or hash browns. Makes 4 servings.

Hollandaise Sauce

4 egg yolks

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/2 cup butter, melted and bubbling

Blend egg yolks, lemon juice and orange juice in blender or food processor. With motor running, add bubbling butter in single stream. Use immediately.

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