Monday, 26 December 2011

How to: Artichokes

It's so nice at the end of the year.  People go crazy over preparations for Christmas, and once Christmas is over it's New Year's.  Two big celebrations, one after the other, it's nice.  It keeps your mind off other things.  Like the fact that Economics is driving me off the edge,  the fact that I'm surrounded by negativity, the fact that the heating doesn't work.  Yea,  it keeps my mind off these things.

Christmas was nice this year.  I perhaps ate a bit too much, as usual, so here's something you might consider eating to keep fit.

I like artichokes, I especially like those small marinated artichokes actually.  It's so nice in salads, pastas and pizzas.  It really does steal the show from the other ingredients even when it doesn't even mean to.  I remember once buying a whole box of those canned artichokes -- I put it in everything.   A lot of people don't like artichokes, surprisingly.

For the sensible people out there: here's how you prepare fresh artichokes.

What disappoints me the most is when I buy these huge globe artichokes and by the time I'm done with all the prepping it ends up being half the size I bought it for.  They've got these tough outer leaves that are unfortunately inedible, which you have to peel off.

Actually, not leaves, petals, I believe.



Step 1. Cut off the stems and remove all tough outer leaves.  Yes, you may end up with something very small, it's layers and layers of those tough leaves.

Step 2.  Cut off the stems, and a couple of cm off the top.   Just cut a big chunk off, don't worry. Yes, I know, it's a lot of waste and it can be worrying.  Also trim the stems.



Step 3.  You then want to cut around the head to make sure you've cut off all the tough tips from the outer leaves.

Step 4. Rub all the cut edges with a slice of lemon.  This prevents them from browning.



Step 5.  Fill a pot with an inch of water, add some salt, a whole lemon, cut into 4 slices.  Place the artichokes in, head down.  Cover, and put it over high heat for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your artichoke. Check frequently to see if the water's dried out, if it has, add more water (obviously).  They're done when they feel tender on the fork.

Dressing:  I love it with just some good olive oil and some capers. They've already got the acidity and the saltiness from cooking.  You can also do a nice herby dressing with oil, mixed herbs (like parsley and mint), minced garlic.  Keep it simple.

Tip: I find it easier to cut with like a serrated knife or with scissors.



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