Artichokes. A rite of Spring.

14 May

Buying, cooking and eating an artichoke is my rite of spring. Sure you might find artichokes in your grocery store throughout the year – but they are generally at their all-time freshest in the spring. Sadly I struggled to find any decent ones this spring.

Artichokes are the ultimate finger-food. I prefer them simply cooked and either dipped into melted butter, leave by leave, or into a mayo-based sauce. And yes, you need to use your teeth to catch every delicious bite of the cooked artichoke. Sure you can stuff them with breadcrumbs and anything else you like, but if you haven’t indulged in a freshly prepared artichoke previously, start with one au natural! I found this basic preparation in The All-New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Wilma Lord Perkins (1972). This popular cookbook is still available in bookstores and on used book sites.

Artichokes

Allow 1 per person.

Wash thoroughly. Cut off the stem close to the leaves. Pull off the tough outer leaves. Cut off the prickly tops with scissors. Put in a deep saucepan with 1½ inches of boiling water (I have one of those collapsible metal steamer inserts that I use so the artichokes are not directly in the water). Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar. Cover the pan. Cook until you can easily pull on an outer leaf (25 to 45 minutes – my artichoke was on the small side so it was ready in not quite 25 minutes) Drain upside down. Set upright on a serving dish. Serve hot with individual dishes of melted butter or Hollandaise in which to dip each leaf as it is eaten. Or serve cold with a Vinaigrette sauce or mayonnaise seasoned with lemon juice and prepared mustard. I made a sauce with a ¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Garlic Aioli Mustard.

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