Monday, June 1, 2015

Artichokes.

  Ages ago I was fortunate enough to be apart of a Family who loved to cook and much as I do. The Burgess Family was my saving grace and vision of what a family unit could be.. 
One of the special recipes they cooked where artichokes They taught me how to trim, cut and prepare artichokes for the best side dish or in some cases meal I love till this day.  
First, cut off the bottom of the artichokes ... don't need the stem. Next cut off the very tip of the artichoke for a flat top. Be sure you have a sharp knife. The waxy texture of the top of the artichoke can be slippery and you might cut yourself. Ouch! Last, use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the tip of reach leaf. Careful, again.... the thorn at the tip of each leaf are very, very, very prickly and sharp.
 
Now, you have a artichoke ready for the boil of their lives. Fill a pot with water and toss... and I do mean toss in  1 -2 tablespoons of salt, peppercorns, wax peppers with the juice, one whole onion peeled and quartered, one cut into quarters celery stalk, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (just a few... don't wanna over power the artichokes) and last but, not least...a splash of red wine vinegar.
Sound like too much. Not at all. The artichokes will have full flavor and irresistible taste. cook until the under belly of the artichoke is fork or knife tender. Depending on the size of the artichokes can take 45 minutes to an hour.
 
Turn off the heat, pull the artichokes out of the boiling water (tongs work well here or large slotted spoon) and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Room temperature artichokes or cold... uber delicious.
Now, the dip. I like a mayonnaise base dip with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Nothing says welcome to my mouth than a dipped artichoke into mayo. You don't have to stop at lemon juice. Go simple with just salt and pepper. Jazz it up with cayenne. Or eat them plain.
Some might ask... how do you eat these darn things? One delicious morsel at a time. Once cooled, take a leaf, tip into sauce of your choice, and place the soft base of the leaf on your bottom teeth and pull gently and chew away, tossing the remaining leaf aside. Only the underside of the artichoke leaf is edible. Not the entire leaf.... you'll be chewing for days... no, maybe forever.
 
Once you've eaten one... you won't be able to stop. At the end you'll find that your vegetable is a cooked flower and the base has thistles. DO NOT...I repeat, DO NOT eat the thistle. Can you imagine thistle stuck in your throat. Your larynx will thank you later that you didn't.  The good news is to remove the thistle use a metal spoon... one designed for grapefruits is best, and remove the thistle and clean the base of the artichoke. What you have left is the moist, tender heart of the artichoke that can be eaten, stuffed with shrimp and tarragon, sliced and put on sandwich of roasted turkey.... I could go on and on.
Thank you Burgess Family and thank you God for creating artichokes as one of my favorite seasonal vegetables.
 
Remember... cooking with love makes any recipe taste better.