Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The art of enjoying an artichoke

Artichokes are, to many, an ingredient yet to be discovered. They are the ultimate slow food, as it takes time to eat them. During the process of dismantling and devouring one, you will have time to socialize while grabbing the grub concealed in these large flower buds. As artichokes are flowers, cut before blooming. They are a giant species of the thistle family, so well known to many of us. If left to bloom you would clearly recognize it as related to one of the species thistle growing where you live.

My friend Dagfinn Skoglund brought two beautiful artichokes to be prepared in my country kitchen. Before I give an instruction on how to cultivate the art of enjoying this treat, let me tell how to prepare them.

Artichokes are clearly not edible as raw, but has to be boiled in a large casserole with enough water. Some take the opportunity to trim the outer parts of each leaf with a pair of scissors. before boiling them. Unless the tips are brown and dry, this is not necessary. If the leaves are in this state, do not buy the artichokes.

Add a little salt and allow the artichokes to simmer for 40-50 minutes. It is ready to be eaten, when the outer leaves slips easily.

The guide-on-how-to-eat-artichokes for dummies

First and foremost prepare one or two dipping sauces you like. You may use cold mayonnaise, hollandaise, a sour cream sauce or a vinaigrette. I made a garlic and herb vinaigrette. Start by removing the first leaves by the stem of the bud. The edible part is the base of the leaf. Simply dip it into your sauce and suck out the meaty base, using your lower front teeth. Continue by eating leaf by leaf. When you get the hang of it, you may free your mind and start socializing.

As you work your way into the flower, you will find that the inner purple leaves are softer and will have less and less meat. There is always a question when you should stop, but at the point that you find that the effort does not pay off any more – do so. If you think this is it, think again. It is the beginning of the quest of the real treat, the artichoke heart.

Remove the last parts of the leaves, and you will find the thin sticky threads that are the centre of the flower. Start removing them, but be careful, as you may remove much of the heart if you are not careful. When you have removed it all, you will find the delicious meaty artichoke heart. Cut the stem off, cut it into small bits and enjoy slowly with your favourite dip. Or you can place them in oil to use in other dishes as pizzas or salads.

I had two hearts, and as I was planning a tapas party, I decided to make a tasty dip.

Artichoke and anchovies dip

2 artichoke hearts, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil (to match the consistency you want)
6 salt anchovies
Salt and pepper

Mix artichoke hearts, garlic, and oil with a hand mixer until smooth. Add anchovies. Season according to taste with salt and pepper. Be aware that anchovies may be very salt. Keep refrigerated in a jar.

Other social foods on Enjoy Food & Travel

Five delicious tapas to gossip over - see story here

Escargots - mouthwatering slow food - see story here!

1 comment:

Susi said...

Stunning photo at the top, my friend!