On November 1, Evan and I celebrated our fifth year “together.”
I say “together” because it was not the traditional meeting/dating/moving-in-together scenario. We began by meeting about 15 years ago, by chance, just outside of the county courthouse. I was a Legal Aid attorney and his friend was an assistant district attorney. My friend, Colleen, also a Legal Aid attorney, and I bumped into them as we were walking out and they were walking in. We were introduced, and, as Colleen has reminded me ever since, he and I were transported elsewhere for the few minutes we spoke. I think he told me about his job in the film industry, which his friend had immediately volunteered as, I guess, his most admirable attribute. His job wasn’t what drew me to him. It was a combination of his radiant blue eyes and the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.
So, we stood there, according to Colleen, lo, these many years later, flirting. We spoke for only as long as Colleen and Evan’s friend could stand being ignored, and then we all walked off into our separate directions, he and his friend in one direction, and Colleen and I in another. I glanced back just as he did the same, but that was it.
About 10 years later, we bumped into each other again. That’s a story in itself, for another time, but I found out then that he had wanted to pursue the contact, all of those years ago, only to be told by his friend that I was married. Although I was in a relationship, I was not married. Hmm.
We ended up “together” this time, amidst disintegrating relationships and entangled in bad timing. The end, so far, though, is happy. The world continued to spin, everyone went on living, and, despite one incredibly pissed off old girlfriend who, like The Thing That Refused to Die, just would not go away (our fingers stay crossed), life is good.
And, so, here we are, happily “together.” Dinner needed to be special, but simple. The house is in the middle of renovations, and the construction site involving the leaking and disconnected washing machine had to be resolved on “our night.” So, in honor of the moment, and the long night ahead, I made a simple dinner of stuffed artichokes and salad. It was delicious (one of Evan’s favorites) and so simple.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to take my word for the beauty of the dish since, in my rush to feed my hard working sweetie, get his ass back to work and then make good on our traditional celebration of this anniversary, I failed to take photographs of it (“it” being the dinner, not the romantic night…).
2 medium to large artichokes, washed and prepared as below
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup large onion, chopped
5 medium mushrooms, chopped
1 stale good roll (large, or two pieces of stale good bread), cubed into small pieces
extra virgin olive oil
good red wine
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Prepare the artichokes by snipping the tips off of the leaves and cutting the stem off, providing your artichokes with flat bottoms. Wash the artichokes well, turn upside down to drain all of the water out.
In the meantime, prepare your pot. I use one of those metal steamer racks and fill the pot with enough water to touch the bottom of the rack. If you don’t use a rack, put about two inches of water in the bottom of your pot and set the artichokes in the water.
Steam the artichokes for about 20 minutes.
Melt a bit of butter in a hot pan. You can add some extra virgin olive oil to help keep the butter from burning, but we prefer the taste without the oil.
Saute your garlic; remove from heat and set aside in bowl. Do the same with the onions and mushrooms, separately, adding butter to the pan before each addition, and placing each in the bowl with the garlic when browned. Lower the heat and place the bread in the pan, allowing it to absorb the butter. Put all of the sautéed ingredients in the warm pan. Add enough good red wine to cover the bottom of the pan, stirring constantly, and allow the flavors to mix until no liquid remains in your pan.
Remove from heat. Stir grated cheeses into the mixture.
You will have removed your artichokes from their pot and allowed them to drain and cool enough to touch. Put the artichokes, bottom down, in a baking pan.
Gently pull the leaves out as you fill each section leaf base with filling, using a small spoon. Use every bit of stuffing—there is no such thing as too much with this recipe.
Sprinkle more of your grated cheeses on top of the stuffed artichokes, cleaning the droppings from the bottom of the pan before adding about 2 inches of water to it.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. Perfect with a salad.
Delicious. And it looks like you went to mounds of trouble.