In marriage, cooking is a bit like poker. If you produce an ample array of satiable meals that successfully quench the appetites of those you love with many of their favorite flavors, then you are able to throw in a raise here and there.
I'll see your stack of pancakes, grilled salmon, brussel sprouts, apple pie, etc... and I'll raise you one artichoke dish.
Perhaps this is more like bartering than poker?
Regardless of the terminology, artichokes are a valued chip in my stack of flavor plays. I adore them... my husband not so much.
I love large artichokes steamed and served up simple with a little vegan "butter" or dipping sauce. I love the little marinated ones straight out of the jar. And... most of all... I love the baby artichokes you can get this time of year. With no fuzzy choke to fiddle with and their delectable delicate nature, they are good in so many ways. Sliced ultra thin and served up as a fresh salad with lemon, olive oil and a little seasoning; halved and grilled; roasted; or slowly braised to perfection.
Recently we ate at a great little spot called Terra Plata, a lovely restaurant nestled on an unusual triangular block in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. Literally, its front door is the only door on the corner and the building fans out to a "V" from that point. It is flanked with walls of windows that open to the sidewalk on one side and a quiet little alley on the other, letting in abundant light and the world passing by. It is backed by a group of buildings that make up the Melrose Market, housing Seattle's well-known Sitka & Spruce, along with a handful of fun retail nooks, specialty food spots, and a great little wine bar.
We had a number of delicious little plates at Terra Plata, including a braised artichoke starter that literally melts in your mouth it is so smooth and perfectly simmered. While I was able to discern many of the flavors in this dish, there was one that was particularly distinct and unknown to me. When I questioned our server he immediately noted the addition of ground sumac, a seasoning that is not in my everyday repertoire. A minute or two later he returned to our table with a small plate topped with a little sprinkle of this seasoning for us to taste. That was major points in my book. I love it when restaurants (staff, chef, etc) are eager to share their knowledge with you.
I didn't want to press my luck and ask for the recipe... so, this is my own little take on Terra Plata's lovely rendition.
I started with a good drizzle of olive oil heated in a large skillet, to which I added a few smashed cloves of garlic and a little sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Once the garlic is browned and has infused the oil with its wonderful aroma and flavor you pull it out and it gets discarded... happy to have played