Work of Art(ichoke)
Please forgive the painfully obvious pun in the title – I just couldn’t help myself! But to my own credit, last night’s dinner truly was a work of art. I’ve been eyeing gorgeous blossoms of artichokes all summer, but I haven’t had the time or courage to buy them… until yesterday! And I must be honest, the most motivating factor was a recipe I’d found at sarerinthal that was so irresistible, I just couldn’t let it sit in my “recipes to try” folder any longer. So I invited some friends over, planned the menu and got cooking.
The artichoke recipe could not have been easier and surprisingly, I had little trouble cleaning them as well. For those of your who don’t know how to clean an artichoke, I’ll give a quick tutorial:
1. Prepare a large bowl of cold water and lemon juice. Artichokes turn brown very quickly after being cut. This will help halt the process.
2. Cut off the stem at the base of the artichoke. If it’s not too woody, this can be stripped and cooked, if you’d like.
3. Peel off the outer layers of leaves until you reach a layer that’s more tender and slightly yellow.
4. Using a large, sharp knife, cut off the top 1 to 2 inches of the artichoke in as straight of a line as possible.
5. Use a scissors to trim any other sharp or uneven leaves.
6. Place in lemon juice-water mixture until ready to cook.
Note: if you do not plan to eat the artichoke whole, you may need to take out the heart and choke as well.
Once the ‘chokes were clean, they cooked for 45 minutes during which time the entire room filled with the aromatic scent of herbs and spices – it was heavenly. Timing-wise it worked out perfectly because I was able to prepare the other elements of the meal: Parmesan Chicken and Quinoa.
The entire meal was a huge success and the artichokes were the stars of the show. (The chicken was good too, but I think the breasts were too large and I was forced to overcook them a bit to ensure doneness.) The leaves of the artichoke were so flavorful from all the herbs, spices, lemon and garlic that they hardly needed a dipping sauce. But like Sarah, we chose to melt a wee bit of butter for an added indulgence.
The artichoke season may be coming to a close (and the prices may be going up), but if you have the chance, try this recipe – you wont’ regret it!
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/8 C. olive oil
1/2 Tbs. oregano
1/2 Tbs. tarragon
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Wash, clean and trim artichokes. Fill a large 2 quart pot 1/4 of the way full with water and bring to a boil. Add all ingredients to the water – squeeze the lemon first and then put the whole thing into the water. Return to a boil. Add artichokes stem side down (to moisten) and then flip so that the stems are up. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for about 45 minutes. Use tongs to remove artichokes when done and strain upside down in a colander.