Artichokes Spells Green Goodie for St. Pat’s

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Frost Kissed Artichokes are in town—just in time to celebrate the GREEN of St. Pats (PART ONE)

This is the first of a two series presentation of Artichoke Recipes—so stay tuned!!

 

I do really enjoy artichokes and have had a lot of fun with new comers in the instruction of the “how to eat” an artichoke.  When I resided in CA I used to grow these edible thistles in my yard so I garnered very fresh chokes that barely needed to be cooked.  Here our chokes are usually a bit older however the ones I picked up the other day at the Bellevue Atkinsons’ for such a good price were the frost kissed variety so I knew that they weren’t very old. Sure enough, when cooking them I started smelling their fragrant aroma in 20 minutes and 5 minutes later, they were done and delicious. Frost Kissing occurs when the temps drop below 32 degrees resulting in an enhanced nutty flavored artichoke. So if you like this veggie, hurry and get some.  They also make great appetizers.

 

There are a myriad of ways to which to treat this thistle in a culinary fashion.  I’ve even been given a recipe dealing with using raw artichoke strips in a salad.  Sad to say, I was very disappointed with that recipe. Below is the way I’ve always cooked my choke plus another easy greener recipe I thought you might enjoy.  Next week will be another very tasty recipe that my editor, Leslie Thompson, a terrific cook, is offering for the followers of this column.   

 

Basic Instruction for Prepping an Artichoke:

Hold the choke by its long end and with a scissor, cut the individual leaf ends off so that the thorns are removed; next, with a serrated knife, cut both ends of the choke: the stem close to the choke bottom and the very top off about 1/2 inch.  Now wash them and they are ready to be cooked.

Margot’s Favorite Way:

Cooking instructions:

Place the chokes in a tall pot that accommodates your chokes and fill the pot with water (I put in warm or hot water) that goes about half way up. In the water add a dash of olive oil,  one or two bay leaves, one or two whole peeled or even unpeeled garlic cloves, some pepper corns and a dash of sea salt and a squirt of your favorite vinegar or lemon juice.  You can also add some fresh tarragon or thyme.  Put the pot on the burner and when the water comes to a boil, turn it down to a rolling simmer and place a top that will fit in and not on top of the pot. This will keep the chokes under the liquid and from discoloring. If you don’t have that size top, just put a regular top on the pot. Start testing in 25 minutes by trying to take a leaf off with ease to see if it is tender. I use tongs to do that. Also I’ve noticed that when the choke starts smelling good, that’s when you know that it’s about done.  An artichoke can be done in as little as 20 minutes or as long as a bit over an hour—depending on size and age.  When done, turn the choke upside down in a bowl to drain. If you have left over’s, they can be stored in the frig for several days and reheated in the micro or just enjoyed cold or stuffed for hors d’oeuvres. Oh my, so many options with a choke—————–

I like to eat my chokes plain but many people like to dip the leaves in melted butter, olive oil or mayonnaise.  You can even combine the butter or olive oil you are using as a dipping sauce with a dash of minced garlic, lemon juice and S&P or/and some grated Parmesan or some dill or Dijon mustard.  And if serving the choke cold as an hors d’oeuvre, mayo with a dash of curry or other powder is a breeze to whip up. Well, you get the idea—- imagination is the ingredient here.

Lastly, no matter how you cook and eat your choke, don’t forget to remove the uneatable furry/fuzzy part to get to the best part—the heart. Also remember to provide an empty bowl on the side of the artichoke for discarded leaves and when guests are present, I usually put one discarded leaf in the bowl as an example.

Thinking of St. Pats, here’s an extra green to stuff in your choke:

  1. When choke is cooked, remove the interior including the fuzz and heart and fill it with 1/2 C. of frozen peas. Place a bit of butter on the peas and add some fresh mint, garlic or other seasoning.  Microwave in a covered dish for about 1 ½ minutes.  The peas will be done. If your artichoke had been refrigerated, the micro waving time may take a bit longer. Garnish with fresh mint and serve with fresh mayo and a shamrock.

There are so many choices in cooking a choke and as time goes on, I’ll pass on some more yummy recipes concerning this wonderful thistle.  However, don’t forget, if you have a special recipe concerning the artichoke or anything for that matter, be sure to pass it on directly to me or Leslie and you’ll get a nice Albertson’s $20 gift card.

For easy access and printing of this and past recipes, visit Margot’s blog http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com  Call Margot for personal cooking help @ 721-3551.

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.

Frost Kissed Artichokes are in town—just in time to celebrate the GREEN of St. Pats (PART TWO)

This is the second of a two series presentation of Artichoke Recipes

 

It’s amazing when looking up the history on various vegetables how very long ago they were mentioned in the discovered writings of ancient times.  The artichoke was mentioned by the Greeks and the Romans and even in the excavations of the Roman-period in Egypt.  So I imagine that  Cleopatra and Julius or Mark enjoyed them at one of their soirees.  Later in time, they found their way to France (Avignon) and Italy and down to the hinterlands of Holland.  The Dutch introduced them to England and they grew in Henry VIII”s garden at Newhall in 1530. He also probably dined on them at one of his lively soirees.  Then by the French immigrants coming to Louisiana, the choke was introduced; it also was introduced to California by Spanish immigrants.  Presently, can you believe, 100% of the U.S. crop is provided by California (if they aren’t torn up for vineyards—I hope not) and 80% is grown in the Steinbeck country of Monterrey County. Castroville, on the Pacific in Monterrey County proclaims itself to be “The Artichoke Center of the World”.  They hold a very fun festival there each year.  Don’t miss it if you are in the area.  If I remember correctly, there’s even artichoke ice cream to be tasted.

Leslie Thompson’s (the Weekly Sun’s Editor) Favorite Way (when time allows):

Preheat oven to 425.  Prep them as above, THEN, take loads of fresh minced garlic; pull the leaves back and sprinkle the garlic among the leaves. Then, add some Parmesan cheese in the leaves too (stuff down anything that’s left sticking up). Next lightly sprinkle them with a favorite herb mix (I usually make a thyme and sage blend that I mix myself) and S&P. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice and drizzle some olive oil over it all. Then wrap them up in a double layer of heavy tin foil making sure that they are totally sealed. Bake them in a 425 oven for an hour or 45 minutes for small ones.

There are so many choices in cooking a choke and as time goes on, I’ll pass on some more yummy recipes concerning this wonderful thistle.  And don’t forget, if you have a special recipe concerning the artichoke or anything for that matter, be sure to pass it on directly to me or Leslie and you’ll get a nice Albertson’s $20 gift card.

Roasted Red Pepper/Artichoke Dip: (a very colorful dish when placed on cooked artichoke leaves)

Ingredients:

  1. 4 Artichoke hearts (fresh is preferable of course)
  2. 1 leek, diced
  3. 2 Tblsp. butter
  4. 1 C. of roasted Red Peppers (from a jar) drained
  5. 3/4 C. Grated Parmesan
  6. 3 Tblsp. mayonnaise

Instructions:

  1.  In a small sauté pan over medium high heat,  add the butter and when it’s melted and warm, add the leeks.  Cook until leeks are tender. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add artichoke hearts, peppers, cheese, mayo and cooled leeks to food processor or blender.  Pulse until dip is smooth and well combined.
  3. Serve with artichoke leaves, chips or fresh veggies.

 

For easy access and printing of this and past recipes, visit Margot’s blog http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com  Call Margot for personal cooking help @ 721-3551.

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.

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About TempInnKeeper

Margot loves people and is very energetic and organized. She is also a quick study. Her background includes having renovated, owned and operated an 1887 Victorian bed and breakfast in Paso Robles, CA for 5 years. Her guests loved her and she loved her guests. What a perfect combination. Margot’s marketing skills and love of people also was used in her career as a Realtor and in participating in many charitable non-profit organizations. Margot loves to cook and to offer concierge services to people. She was born in Geneva, Switzerland.; has lived all over CA. including Beverly Hills, in the Silicon Valley area, Paso Robles, the San Joaquin Valley as well as in Sun Valley, ID. She has traveled extensively throughout the world; is a CAL alumni (go Bears!); and also speaks French fluently and Spanish semi-fluently. Her interests are people, cooking, arts, books (look at the blog book club and join if you wish), travel, sports, gardening, painting, music, playing classical piano and animals. Margot Van Horn 208-721-3551 PO Box 3788, Ketchum, ID. margot6@mindspring.com TempInnKeeper@mindspring.com

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