This dish is inspired by the all too many artichoke and crab dips I have eaten over the years. It also borrows from the great fried Camembert at the Fort in Springfield Massachusetts.
1 pound of Jumbo lump crab meat
6 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed
3 ounces of grated Parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Zest from two lemons, minced
2 tablespoons of minced cornichons
1/4c minced celery leaves
12 baby artichokes
3 cups water
2 bags Earl Grey Tea
2 ounces of dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of agave nectar
1 whole lemon cut into quarters
1/2 cup of flour
2 whole eggs beaten
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
One Quart of olive oil
Puree the brie cheese, ketchup and mustard in a blender until smooth. Fold in the lemon zest, celery leaves, cornichons, smoked paprika and Parmigiano cheese. Mix this base with the crabmeat. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Bring the three cups of water to a boil. Add the tea bags and let steep for five minutes. Remove the tea bags and add the dried mushrooms, soy sauce, agave nectar and the lemon. Set aside. Clean the artichokes. Remove the outer leaves of the baby artichokes until the tender inside leaves are revealed. Use a pairing knife to peel the base and stem of the artichoke. Trim the top and stem of the artichoke and then place into the tea mixture. When all the artichokes are cleaned, bring the tea mixture to a simmer and cook the artichokes until they are tender. Use a pairing knife inserted into the base of the artichoke to test for doneness. When the artichokes are cooked, let them cool in their braising liquid.
Remove the artichokes from the braising liquid and pat them dry. Use a melon baller to remove the small choke of the baby artichokes. Divide the crab mixture into 12 equal portions and then mold each portion in and around each artichoke, leaving the stem exposed. Stand the crab-artichokes on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. Set the flour, egg and panko in three separate dishes, arranged for a breading station. Have a clean sheet pan at the end of the station. Take each crab-artichoke and dip first in flour, then in egg and finally in bread crumbs. Take care to cover the crab mixture but to leave the artichoke stem clean and exposed. Once the breading is finished, place the fritters in the refrigerator to set up once again.
Heat the olive oil to 350 degrees in a pot large enough to hold the oil and four frying fritters. Also turn the oven onto 200 degrees and have a sheet pan with a cookie rack on it to place the fried fritters. In batches, fry the fritters until they are golden brown and warm on the inside. Remove the fritters from the oil, drain off any excess oil and then place in the oven on the rack set up while the other fritters fry.
When all the fritters are cooked, place three of them on a plate. The cheese will be molten on the inside, acting as a seasoning and sauce for the fritters.