I love artichokes in any shape or fashion– added to green salads, as an ingredient in dips, in New Orleans Eggs Benedict or as a whole boiled artichoke. One of my favorite recipes combines chicken, artichokes, pearl onions and wine. Yum! Marie made an artichoke appetizer recently at a dinner gathering for a small group of friends and she graciously shared the recipe. This appetizer blends artichokes, mushrooms and cheese into bite-sized balls; perfect for the holidays. For a “Cajun” kick, it contains garlic and cayenne pepper.
This is an extremely easy appetizer to make. The hardest part of the recipe is deciding what size container of artichokes and mushrooms to use. As with many “Cajun” recipes, you can vary the ingredients slightly and add “a pinch more of this” or “a little less of that.” Cajun cooking is somewhat by taste, experience and instinct. The second hardest thing is to stop eating the small artichoke balls before it is time to serve them.
Here are the ingredients for the recipe. The original recipe called for a 7-oz jar of marinated artichokes. I couldn’t remember the size when I when grocery shopping and purchased a 12-oz jar. Oh well, more appetizer for me! Marie likes mushrooms and she used used an 8-oz can rather than a 4-oz (3/4 cup) can drained, mushrooms. The recipe contains both black pepper and cayenne pepper — one or both are optional. – the dish is about the artichokes and mushrooms and the peppers simply dial up the heat of the appetizer. Also note that this recipe contains both grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses.
For a real Louisiana flair, (along with garlic and cayenne pepper), I used Reisling’s Seasoned Italian Bread Crumbs. This New Orleans bakery makes the best French bread that you can find. Why not used their seasoned bread crumbs, too. I’m glad that we now have a grocery store which has deliveries of this authentic New Orleans French bread daily to the store. However, any Italian-style bread crumbs works in the recipe.
Making the Recipe
To make the recipe, add the marinated artichoke heart quarters with the liquid to a food processor bowl. Drain and add the mushroom pieces and stems, but reserve the juice separately. Add the garlic cloves, too. (These are essential!) Pulse and blend the mixture until the ingredients are chopped evenly, but not to the point where they are pureed and mushy. Scrape down the sides several times as you go.
In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs (save out 1/2 cup), eggs, both cheeses and black and red pepper (if using). No need to add extra salt as the jar of artichokes and cheeses contain plenty of salt.
Add in the artichoke mixture and stir to combine. If the mix is too moist, add more bread crumbs. Too dry? Add some of the reserved mushroom juice. Then form into small balls, roll in additional bread crumbs and place on oiled baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned.
Here’s a favorite kitchen gadget which makes forming the balls much easier. It is a stainless steel kitchen scoop and might make a great holiday gift for the cook who “has everything.” The spring on the scoop helps get all the mixture out of the scoop and in uniform sizes. I use mine for forming cookies, too.
A note about scoop sizes. The # or number written on the scoop tells how many scoops you need to make one liquid quart. So, a #4 scoop means that there are four scoops in a quart. Since a quart contains four cups, then the scoop is equivalent to one cup. A #64 scoop means that it is one Tablespoon (0.5 fluid ounce) since there are 64 tablespoons in a liquid quart. The larger the scoop # or size, the smaller the scoop. A typical cookie scoop is a #40 scoop which is 3/4 ounce and makes a ball about 1.5 inches in diameter. I think that I probably have a #64 scoop although I couldn’t find the size number engraved anywhere.
These are delicious appetizers. They are especially great when served with a Ranch-style dip. Although we are all supposed to “social distance” this year and avoid large (family) gatherings, there may be some small events along the way. Here’s a tasty appetizer to bring along. This Covid-19 pandemic means a new way of thinking. But, we can still enjoy good company and good cuisine while keeping safe!
Marie's Artichoke & Mushroom Appetizers
- PAM Original Cooking Spray
- 1 (12-oz) jar marinated artichoke heart quarters with liquid*
- 1 (4-oz) can mushroom pieces and stems, liquid reserved*
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 tsp)
- 1-1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs, divided* (plus a few extra, if needed)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
- pinch black pepper, optional
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional
- Ranch-type dipping sauce, optional
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with PAM cooking spray.
- In medium-sized food processor bowl, pulse and process artichoke hearts (including liquid), drained mushrooms and garlic for about 15 seconds until evenly chopped but not mushy. Scrape sides of bowl down several times during processing. Set mixture aside.
- In a separate, large bowl, combine 1 cup bread crumbs, eggs, both cheeses and black and cayenne peppers (optional)..
- Add artichoke mixture and stir to blend together. If needed, add additional bread crumbs if the mixture is too moist, so that the mixture will hold together and form small balls. If too dry, add some of the reserved mushroom liquid.
- Place remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs in a small, separate bowl. Form into balls about 1″ in diameter (I used a #64 kitchen scoop) and roll in bread crumbs.
- Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes until brown on top.
- Remove from oven, transfer to serving platter.
- Serve with Ranch-type dipping sauce, if desired, optional.
*NOTE: For fewer appetizers, reduce artichoke hearts to 7-oz jar and bread crumbs to 3/4 cup. For mushroom-lovers, use an 8-oz can of sliced mushrooms.
Note: Marie doesn’t remember the source of the original recipe; but I can assure you that it was a good Cajun cook!