From: Executive Chef Nathan Hood, Next Door Bistro, Mount Pleasant, SC. Yield: 8 servings.
Pistachio Sauce (yields 2 cups):
2 cups pistachios
1 Tbsp. salt
½ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. shallots
4 cups water
1⁄3 cup chicken stock
1 cup peeled and diced russet potatoes
1¾ cups (8 or 9) whole large eggs
1¼ cups light cream
5¾ cups shredded Manchego cheese
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 cups pistachio sauce
as desired for garnish, 8 thyme sprigs
4 fresh baby artichokes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
For pistachio sauce: Spread nuts on baking sheet and toast at 300°F for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Turn nuts and salt into blender or food processor container. Then, while adding oil in a slow steady stream, blend until smooth. Strain through fine mesh. Set aside.
For the artichokes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove all outer petals from baby artichokes by snapping them off at the base until only top half of the leaves are green. Cut green portions from remaining leaves and remove stems from bottoms; cut in half lengthwise and set aside.
Heat oil in medium saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add garlic clove. Then, brown artichoke halves on one side; turn and place all in oven at 350°F to roast for 5 minutes.
For custard sformato: Increase oven temperature to 375°F. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepot, melt butter. Heat and saute shallots until translucent. Add water, stock and potatoes. Heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender; cool slightly. Turn potatoes into blender container with ½ cup hot potato water and process until smooth, adding additional potato water as necessary.
Combine remaining sformato ingredients in 3-qt. mixing bowl and whisk together well. Very slowly, stir in hot potato mixture a little at a time, whisking constantly until cheese melts completely. Divide evenly and portion into 8 6-oz. ramekins or individual souffle dishes greased generously with butter. Arrange filled ramekins in shallow baking or hotel pan and add hot water to pan until it’s ¾ of the way up the sides of ramekins. bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until centers are set but still jiggle slightly. Remove from oven and let stand in water bath until cooled.
To serve: Unmold and gently arrange individual sformato on 8 small plates. Top each with artichoke half, ¼ cup pistachio sauce and a sprig of thyme. Serve warm.
Suggested beverage pairing: Blood Orange Bellinis, Light European-style lager, or Pinot Grigio.