PREPPING – COOKING – EATING ARTICHOKES

PREPPING – COOKING – EATING ARTICHOKES

Slice stems off flush with artichoke bottoms. Trim stems. Peel off and discard large, blemished outer leaves.

Slice off 1 inch from top of artichokes.

Using kitchen shears, snip off 1/4 – 1/2 inch from tip of each petal, removing prickly tip.

Place artichokes and stems in large pot of salted water. If desired place 1/2 fresh lemon in water for a citris flavor, but it’s not necessary. Contrary to what most cooks say, lemon in the water will not prevent artichokes from turning dark olive green.

Bring to boil, cover and cook till petals separate easily from the crown when pulled – this could take 20 minutes or 40 minutes. The fresher the artichoke, the quicker it cooks. If you’ve cooked the artichokes an hour and the inner side of the petals are still dry and rough, then you bought old artichokes that had already started drying out. Look for crisp and firm, not soft and dry when purchasing.

When done, lift artichokes from water and drain upside down on wire rack for several minutes to remove excess water, then transfer to plate till ready to eat plain, or stuff and bake.

If eating artichokes after boiling them, serve ‘as is’ in a bowl with a side of melted margarine for dipping each petal in, before scraping the inner side of the petal against your teeth. If desired, add fresh garlic or lemon to the melted margarine. You might also want to try half margarine and half extra virgin olive oil.

If stuffing them to bake, place cooked artichokes in baking dish along with the stems. Gently spoon stuffing between petals.

Add about 1/3 cup water to bottom of dish.

Drizzle tops of the artichokes and stuffing with a little olive oil.

Using 2 pieces of aluminum foil, wrap tightly around dish, going in opposite directions, to keep the steam generated while baking from escaping.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Using large spoon lift artichokes gently from baking dish, to serving bowls – along with stems. Serve immediately.

Boiled artichokes served with melted margarine as a dip are most often served as an appetizer.

Baked stuffed artichokes can be served as an appetizer or main dish vegetable. Check out the recipes below.

  • BAKED STUFFED ARTICHOKES  Artichokes stuffed till bursting with an aromatic Kalamata olive, garlic, pine nut and lemon bread stuffing, then baked till steaming hot! Makes 2
  • BLACK & WHITE BAKED STUFFED ARTICHOKES Black and white fresh breadcrumbs mixed with cashew crumbles, garlic and lemon. Stuffed in pre-cooked fresh, whole artichokes and baked till steaming hot! Makes 2
  • BREAD STUFFING FOR ARTICHOKES  A fresh lemon, garlic and dill seasoned bread stuffing with sautéed mushroom, onion and celery! Makes enough to stuff 5-6 artichokes
  • BAKED STUFFED ARTICHOKES WITH COUSCOUS  Fresh cooked artichokes stuffed with a sweet onion and fresh garlic couscous, flavored with extra virgin olive oil and poultry seasoning. Baked till piping hot! Serves 2

ARTICHOKES, HOW TO EAT. Peel petals, one at a time, from crown. Then, while holding tip between forefinger and thumb, draw petal through clenched teeth, while scraping tender inner side over bottom front teeth. It may take two or three times to get all the meat off. Then discard petal and take another. You may also split petal in half lengthwise and follow the same procedure. The petals become more tender as you approach the center. Yet, at the very center they become bitter and unsuitable to eat; discard these.

After removing all petals, notice a circle of hair-like fibers running perpendicular to the rim. Cut under these with a knife; lift out and discard. The artichoke bottom remains. Trim; cut and eat. Now, peel the stem; cut and eat as you did the bottom. Although a bit more fibrous, the stem is tender and as flavorful–an added treat that some chefs discard. If you notice that your grocer cuts these stems off when prepping the artichokes for sale, request that she/he not.

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