Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to Cook an Artichoke

Our family rather hesitantly approached our local farmer's market this Sunday. The air was cold, there were fewer stands than usual and there was hardly any one around.

Then we saw it- the wooden table laden with green, glossy artichokes. The kids ran up, and like most regular kids in a candy store, started hastily grabbing their favourite food- at the farmer's stand (ah, it makes my heart proud!)

After stuffing eight large artichokes into a bag, we immediately headed home for a decadent lunch of butter-dipped artichokes.

We were not disappointed! They were so fresh, they sang of the wonders of this fall harvest. We greedily plucked at our little lovelies, slurping up the lemon buttered artichoke leaves as fast as we could. It really is sad that not more of it is edible, but that is also the joy of working your way through the plant to the jewel of the artichoke- the heart.

After my four-year old declared this "DEELICIOUS!", we all agreed that this was definitely our favourite vegetable. We are sure hoping that the artichoke farmer is there next time we go and that frost holds off for a few more weeks. I can't bare the thought of not having one of these astounding artichokes for another year.

If you haven't attempted attacking an artichoke before, this is what I do...

1. Get a bowl of lemony water ready and a knife and a pair of scissors.

2. Cut off bottom end and top quarter or fifth of the artichoke (a serrated knife works best).
3. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut the prickly tops off of the exposed leaves on the sides. Rub tops with a cut lemon and toss into the water bowl.
4. Cooking time: Steam or boil the artichokes. My steamer basket can't accomodate 4 large artichokes, so I resort to boiling them. I start on a rolling boil and then reduce heat to about medium for the remaining time. Cook until you can easily pull a leaf from the artichoke- about 20-30 minutes, depending on size.
5. Greedily eat your artichoke, plucking a leaf, dipping in mayo or lemon butter (our top choice), pulling the end of the artichoke leaf through your teeth. Need help eating it? Check out youtube and find a video on "How to Eat an Artichoke"!
6. When you get to the hairy bits, pause. Get a spoon.
7. Scoop out the hairy "choke" (compost it), leaving behind the glorious heart- cherish this gift.