Well, the day that has seemed so far ahead of me for the last couple of years is finally here. The New Persian Kitchen comes out today, and I couldn’t be more excited. As I’m sure everyone is feeling, my happiness is muted by yesterday’s tragic events in Boston. I send my most heartfelt wishes for healing out to everyone who was affected, and I say a prayer for the well-being of the whole country, because we have all been hurt by what happened.
This Saturday I travel to Los Angeles for the LA Times Festival of Books, where I’ll be signing books with the folks from the excellent Traveler’s Bookcase bookstore. I just got word that on the following Sunday, my beautiful cousin Shirin, whose entire family helped me in more ways than I can name during the writing of the book, will be gathering the extended LA-area Shafia clan at her house so we can all celebrate. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen these folks, and way too long since I’ve had homemade Persian food. Bring it on.
Meanwhile, I’ve been eating well in San Francisco, where I can’t get enough of artichokes. The novelty of ever-abundant California artichokes has not worn off for this East coast native, no sir. I eat them at least twice a week.
Last Saturday at the Ferry Plaza farmer’s market — where I’ll be doing a cooking demo on May 4 with Chef Hoss Zaré — an artichoke vendor told me his favorite way to prepare baby artichokes. He trims them down to the tender, inner leaves, slices them in half, and sears them in a pan. I decided to try his method, and he watched over me to make sure I picked the smallest artichokes in the bin, because those work the best. The pan-seared chokes came out crunchy, caramelized, and tender. Below is the recipe. I wanted to take pictures, but I was so hungry when these were ready that I ate them first, couldn’t help it.
I’m looking forward to my upcoming book events, and it will be a blast to finally meet some of the lovely people who’ve been saying such kind things online about my book. Thanks everyone for being so supportive and enthusiastic, and I hope to meet you soon!
Pan Seared Baby Artichokes
1 pound very small baby artichokes
Pull the outer, tough leaves from the artichokes, so that only the tender inside leaves are left. Trim the stem part of the artichoke, but leave a small, flat base. Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat, and add a couple of glugs of olive oil. Place the artichokes cut side down on the hot skillet, and allow them to cook undisturbed for five minutes. It’s important that the bottoms cook until they’re golden brown, so they get crunchy and flavorful.
Turn the artichokes and cook until they’re fork tender, about another five minutes. You can tun down the heat and cover the pan for a minute or two, if necessary. Transfer the artichokes to a plate and season with salt and lemon juice. Cool slightly and eat with your hands, or a fork., depending on your mood.