Cooking School – Artichokes
At first glance, artichokes seem too troublesome to bother with, (what do you do with that inedible choke anyway?). But take a closer look at those thorny leaves, and you might find yourself wondering what succulent delights they have to offer. Granted, the exterior shell is a little intimidating. But, once you get to know one, you’ll see its inner beauty shine through. Most supermarkets carry a variety of sizes from giant Jerusalem artichokes to baby artichokes.
1. With a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut the thorny tips off all of the leaves. Cut about 3/4 inch off the tip of the artichoke.
2. Pull off any small leaves that have grown around the base and on the stem.
3. Cut about a 1/2 inch off the bottom of the stem, making sure to leave up to an inch of stem still attached to the artichoke. Whether you’re planning on slicing them or serving them whole, use a small spoon or a melon-baller to scoop out the fuzzy choke in the base.
4. Fill a bowl with cold water and juice from half of a lemon. Immediately place the artichokes in the water. Once cut, exposure to air will cause them to turn brown.
Steaming or Poaching
Place a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf in a pot. To steam artichokes, add only about two inches of water, and place the artichokes in a steamer basket. To poach them, add enough water to cover the artichokes. In both cases, cook them for 30-50 minutes, or until the outer leaves can be easily pulled off. Cooking time will depend on the size of the artichoke.
Pre-cook the artichokes by steaming or poaching them. Then, brush them with olive oil and grill until char lines appear. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Place cooked artichokes in a sauté pan with about two tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the pan, and sauté on medium-high heat for about five minutes, or until they begin to brown. Season with sea salt, pepper, garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Season cooked artichokes. Dip them first into beaten egg, and then into flour. Allow oil to reach a temperature of 350°F. Drop artichokes carefully into the oil, turn once, and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Hot or cold, eating artichokes is an art in itself. Pull off each leaf, one at a time. Dip the thicker end into melted butter or a flavourful cheese sauce. Place it in your mouth, and pull it through your teeth to remove the soft portion of the leaf. Discard what remains of the leaf. The artichoke heart and stem can be sliced into bite-sized pieces and eaten.