21 February 2013

Oh boy, do I have a great recipe for you today!  It's reveal day for this month's Improv Challenge.  I love participating in the Improv Challenge, but didn't post last month because the dish I made didn't turn out well and since I was in the process of moving, I didn't have time to try something else.  Not a problem this month!  

The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.  

Our clever hostess, Kristen, came up with a theme of "hearts and flours" for this month.  Cute!  She said, "You can make anything as long as it is either heart shaped or served/photographed in a heart serving dish and contains at least one flour of some sort."  I decided to veer from her guidelines just a bit, but I think you'll agree that my dish does contain the two ingredients: hearts and flour.

Instead of doing something heart-shaped, I thought it would be fun to make a recipe with artichoke hearts.  The only thing I could think of that combined artichoke hearts and flour would be some kind of fried artichoke hearts.  After doing some research online, I ended up adapting two different recipes and came up with a yummy crispy-coated artichoke heart with a super tasty dipping sauce.  The artichoke recipe is adapted from this Sandra Lee recipe, and the dipping sauce is adapted from one I saw on Big Oven.

Crispy Coated Artichoke Hearts with Gorgonzola Dipping Sauce

½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ tsp dried dill
2 cans medium-sized artichoke hearts
½ cup flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp salt
4 cups canola oil

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, Gorgonzola  vinegar, and dill in a small bowl.  You can leave it slightly chunky, or pulse it in a food processor or stick blender to make it smooth.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Drain the artichokes. In a small bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, Italian seasoning, and salt.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil on high until hot. Dip each artichoke heart into the flour mixture, tossing to coat. Drop a few at a time into the hot oil. Fry, turning once, until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining artichokes. Serve immediately with Gorgonzola dipping sauce.

Makes 14-16 artichoke hearts and about 1½ cups dipping sauce. About 8 servings as an appetizer.

They turned out amazing!  I never fry things, and I was reminded of why, because it does make quite a mess, but it was well worth it.  The thing I like most about this recipe is that there is no heavy batter on the artichoke hearts.  Just dusting them with flour, cornmeal, and seasonings gives them a nice crispy coating instead of being wrapped in breading.  The flavor of the artichoke heart itself shines through.  I love the beautiful golden color they turned.  

Aren't they beautiful?

This is the Gorgonzola I used for the dipping sauce.  It's a very mild Gorgonzola; not super strong-tasting like some can be (although I love those too).  This would be a good one to use for people who aren't huge fans of bleu cheeses.

This dipping sauce is so good; I think I would eat it on anything.  I had to restrain myself from not eating it just with a spoon!  I had some of the leftovers with crackers the other day.

It paired so perfectly with the artichoke hearts.  

My daughters really liked these artichoke hearts.  Lena, almost 5, commented that they were a little "sour", referring to the marinade they come in.  But not so sour that she wouldn't eat them.

Eva, 2 and half, had no problem gobbling hers up!  My husband was at work when I made these, so I saved two for him and he reheated them.  I don't know if they were as good reheated, but he raved about them.

See how light and delicate the coating is?  It doesn't fall off too easily either.  Just perfect!

I had so much fun with this month's Improv Challenge!  Check out the links below for all the other "hearts and flours" recipes.

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  1. I ♥ artichoke hearts! Who would've thought you could fry them up that beautifully & pair them with a yummy sauce? Definitely pinned to my "must-try" list!

  2. Love your Crispy Coated Artichoke Hearts with Gorgonzola Dipping Sauce! They're the perfect for a quick snack. What a great idea for the Improv Challenge! Hope you have time to stop by and check out my heart-shaped gingerbread cookies.

  3. I love that you went savory instead of sweet. I've never had an artichoke heart, I may need to try these.

  4. How clever of you to use artichoke hearts for the 'heart' requirement! These look great!

  5. I applaud this! I'd wondered if anybody would do artichoke hearts or hearts of palm, but it wasn't my thing. You may have convinced me that there are formats in which I'd eat an artichoke.

  6. Wow!! Talk about creativity!! Love that you didn't go heart shaped. This recipe sounds amazing too. I love artichokes and I've never had them this way. Need to make these! PS... Your girls are beautiful!!

  7. Oh, how I adore artichoke hearts...and these crispy ones look AMAZING!!! I could eat the whole bowl...so yummy!!!

  8. These look amazing. I love artichoke hearts, I love breading, and I love gorgonzola. You certainly know the way to my heart :)

  9. Great minds really do think alike! I'm going to have to make these for my dinner club the next time I have to make the appetizer...these look so good! I love the sauce!

  10. These look so good. I love artichokes and just love Gorgonzola. There's a restaurant need me that makes Gorgonzola dip and serves it with waffle fries. So delicious. Will definitely get my husband to make your recipe. Can't wait.

  11. You weren't the only one to use artichoke hearts! I love how your imagination was working this month! Those little poppers look like something I need to be eating right now!!

  12. Haha, I thought of doing something with artichoke hearts, but hubby hates them. But I think these sound yummy!

  13. A ha! The first (and perhaps the only one) who did not post a baked entry. Clever use of hearts and flour ;-)

  14. What a great use of the ingredients!! I just love this recipe, and it is going on my "must make" list. The sauce sounds fantastic too!