I heart film. - A little over a year ago I bought a Canon Ae-1 and last week I found the first roll of film I shot on it and finally had it processed (Its been a crazy year ...
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Artichokes are complex, withholding, and stubborn vegetables. And yet...they are also beautiful, delicate and delectable. One of the greatest pleasures of one of the most pleasurable seasons is enjoying a steamed whole artichoke, leaf by leaf, slowly making your way to the soft, silky heart. Dipping each bit in a garlicky lemon butter and pairing with a glass of Provençal Rose outside on the terrace as the sun sits low in the sky, and you will have experienced the sublime.
The simple joy of a whole steamed fresh artichoke is something I had never experienced until my mid-twenties. Growing up in a mixture of the midwestern United States and Scandinavia, they weren't exactly readily available. My husband however, grew up in the mediterrean-like climate of California and has fond childhood memories of scraping mayonnaise-dipped artichoke flesh off spiny green leaves until unearthing the heart like a hidden treasure.
The first time I took a few irresistible artichokes home for the market I set them on my counter and wondered what on earth I was going to do with them. I had enjoyed artichokes hearts so many times in so many ways, but looking at this spiky green and violet cone I had no idea how to get to it. While it does take a slight bit of preparation - its really quite simple. Steamed artichokes can make the ideal appetizer at a dinner party, slowly shared around a large table while the main dish finishes cooking, they are simple and can be prepared and served with relatively little fuss. We had ours as the accompaniment to some simple grilled chicken, enjoying them on the patio with some wine while the chicken smoked on the grill.
Steamed Artichokes with Garlic & Lemon Butter
3 to 8 medium to larg-ish whole fresh artichokes
120 grams butter (like one stick in the US)
3 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced and crushed
300 ml fresh lemon juice (like one lemon)
a few sprigs fresh thyme
Prepare the artichokes: Cut the stems about 1/2 inch from the base of the choke and slice off the top of the choke (about 1 inch). Remove the most outer dark leaves. With a pair of kitchen shears, trim the prickly tip from each leaf. Rub lemon on the cut edges to keep them from browning.
To cook the artichokes: place in a steamer basket over lightly boiling water and steam for 30 to 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can place directly in the water. They will bob up on the top of the water, so they will kind of half boil/half steam. Remove the artichokes and place upside-down on a kitchen towel to drain while they cool.
While the artichokes are steaming, prepare your dipping sauce. Place butter in a small saucepan over med-low heat. Add the garlic and the whole thyme sprigs after its mostly melted and slowly cook the garlic. Let cook this way for a few minutes, until the garlic and thyme become quite pungent (don't let it get to hot or the garlic will burn). Remove the thyme and whisk in the lemon juice. Let cook another minute or two. Remove from heat but keep warm until serving. This sauce is probably enough for 4 to 6 people to share.
To eat the artichokes, pull each leaf off, dip it in the sauce then scrape/suck/bite off the tender green part of the leaf at the bottom . As you get further in, each leaf will have a bit more of the heart on it. When you get to the heart in the center, simply cut off the fuzzy stuff on top of it (you can remove this before cooking if you want as well) and eat the rest (remaining stem included).