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Artichokes


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Okay, I'm crazy for artichokes. Of course I love them steamed whole, with something for dipping and that's always easy. Here in CA the artichokes have been very good and not too pricey this season. Gabrielle Hamilton has a relatively novel way to steam artichokes currently, but as with some simple ideas, hers can take a turn for the labyrinthine. I swear she could write several pages on how to butter a slice of bread. Lately I came across a simple technique which is rather clever: cut off the top third and steam them cut side down over lemon water.  They cook a little faster that way.

 

But my favorite way to eat them is also the most labor intensive: peeling away a lot of the raw leaves (on large chokes), cutting them, scraping out the fuzzies, putting in acidulated water. Then I dry them briefly with a cloth and sauté them in oil or butter until they are crispy. Prepped like that they are then fabulous whether they are on top of spaghetti, in a lasagne or, my favorite way, as a pizza topping.

 

But that's a lot of work and, sadly, I'm getting kind of lazy. When chokes are not in season or I want an adequate substitute, I'm looking for a short cut. I don't want marinated in oil; I'm not after a salad. I can't stand canned artichokes. I tried the Spanish style roasted chokes from TJ's, and the texture was okay, but they were so heavily seasoned I had to wash them off. Plain frozen artichokes seem like they have more potential, but even thawed and drained they are pretty watery and flabby. How do I get them to dry out a bit without overcooking them? Are all frozen artichokes pre-cooked? Or are there any frozen raw ones? So far any artichoke that isn't fresh seems not very good. I shouldn't be surprised; it isn't as if I eat many frozen vegetables. I suffer through corn withdrawal ten months a year.

 

If anyone has a clever way to deal with this dopey problem let me know. My husband has volunteered to prep fresh artichokes so I don't have to do it, but I'm not sure he knows what a pain it is and to be honest I am worried that he will stab himself with a knife or a leaf tip or a grapefruit spoon when removing the fuzz.   

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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On 5/26/2019 at 12:57 AM, Katie Meadow said:

 

If anyone has a clever way to deal with this dopey problem let me know. My husband has volunteered to prep fresh artichokes so I don't have to do it, but I'm not sure he knows what a pain it is and to be honest I am worried that he will stab himself with a knife or a leaf tip or a grapefruit spoon when removing the fuzz.   

 

 

I don't think there is one - it's possibly the sheer hassle that makes artichokes so delicious.

 

Just get your husband a pile of artichokes, a YouTube video and a lobster glove.  Keep him in beer and he should be OK.

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I'm with @Katie Meadow on this.  I have yet to find a simple way to prep artichokes; last week, I prepped a lousy 4 fresh artichokes, and my wrist was killing me...one of the pleasures of getting to middle age.

 

And yeah, I have tried all sorts of artichoke offerings; the frozen, the canned, the jarred, the TJ's (ugh). They all pretty much suck. Well, the best one's I've found are imported from Italy, grilled, and they have really long stems, but good luck finding them regularly (I got mine at DiPalo's). 

 

"Baby" artichokes (not really babies, but you knew that) are a slightly easier way to go, though I don't think they have the full flavor that a large globe does.

 

What about cooking them to death, i.e. alla Romana.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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On 5/27/2019 at 10:25 AM, jmacnaughtan said:

 

I don't think there is one - it's possibly the sheer hassle that makes artichokes so delicious.

 

Just get your husband a pile of artichokes, a YouTube video and a lobster glove.  Keep him in beer and he should be OK.

You had me at husband. Then you lost me when alcohol joined the mix along with knives, grapefruit spoons and lobsters. I'm weighing my options. I could have the beer myself, but that might be trouble if I end up having to drive to the ER. 

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Ok, next in “MetsFan5” learns to cook is going to artichokes. Thanks to Jo, I know our local grocery store has artichokes. 
 

   I have very limited experience with them. When my husband was growing up in the Bay Area, they had plants in their back yard. He doesn’t know how to cook them (I’m assuming steaming but I do also have an unused Instant Pot) and he remembers what I’m thinking is a very lemony aioli. Besides the IP, I have a gas range and a large pot with a steamer basket as well as a Big Green Egg. 
 

   Any advice for a beginner? I know I can consult cookbooks but you all are likely to have tricks, tips and hints to make this better, easier and tastier! 
 

 

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I trim the sharp points of artichokes with scissors and then boil or steam them.  Richard Olney states:  "Do not steam" but he took his reason to the grave.

 

After eating the tender bottom of the leaves I take a knife and cut out the choke.  You would not want to eat the choke.

 

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I just take a large serrated knife and cut cross top. I think the phrasing is not "you would not want to eat the choke" more like you would choke on the the choke ;) And if you were ever able to grow them - let a few bloom - they are magnificent 

My moms first artichoke flower! I had no idea these delicious little things  could bloom this beautifully. I'm eating the next one though. : gardening

 

 

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So many ways to cook an artichoke; I'm particularly fond of one of the Roman methods; it's called, strangely enough, carciofi alla Romana.

 

Here's a Serious Eats method...https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2017/10/carciofi-alla-romana-roman-italian-braised-artichoke-recipe.html

 

They are indeed beautiful plants; here's a few in a field right on the coast south of San Francisco...

 

270716135_2011_05_31ArtichokePlant.jpg.e0ac95a50fc7e18f8633459e90992b53.jpg

 

And a classic trivia question is who was the first artichoke queen at the festival in Castroville?

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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15 minutes ago, weinoo said:

So many ways to cook an artichoke; I'm particularly fond of one of the Roman methods; it's called, strangely enough, carciofi alla Romana.

 

Here's a Serious Eats method...https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2017/10/carciofi-alla-romana-roman-italian-braised-artichoke-recipe.html

 

They are indeed beautiful plants; here's a few in a field right on the coast south of San Francisco...

 

And a classic trivia question is who was the first artichoke queen at the festival in Castroville?

 

Well, it sure wasn't Castro!

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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7 hours ago, heidih said:

I just take a large serrated knife and cut cross top. I think the phrasing is not "you would not want to eat the choke" more like you would choke on the the choke ;) And if you were ever able to grow them - let a few bloom - they are magnificent 

My moms first artichoke flower! I had no idea these delicious little things  could bloom this beautifully. I'm eating the next one though. : gardening

 

 

 

I approve of the bottle tree, too.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I grew up  in artichoke country + plants in backyard, etc     Until recently I have soaked them raw in salt water, to encourage any critters to exit, used kitchen shears to cut off barb on each leaf, boiled them in salted water, serve with mayo or aioli.

 

In modern times, I simply rinse them and boil in fresh water.    Like last night796184232_ScreenShot2020-09-09at8_27_11AM.thumb.png.0dfbc7ff8a03e15198c70572c4da9ae7.png

 

Trimmed with aioli  

33312133_ScreenShot2020-09-09at8_49_47AM.png.a3c6417a2a98c8df81068bb8b8250b5f.png

 

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)
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eGullet member #80.

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26 minutes ago, kayb said:

 

I approve of the bottle tree, too.

 

 

That is not mine - stock photo. My friend does bottle trees but only those intense blue bottles. She has a sign at garden entrance - "Rust Lives Here" - vintage and distressed item collector. I had cardoons which are similar. Love the huge dust gray-green leaves and of course the blooms. I had a crazy gardening neighbor who collected my seed and strew it round the hood. She was intent on promoting thistles.

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Mostly I use canned artichokes, as I'm a bit intimidated by them and too lazy. My last artichoke supper was a combination with a lemon-ricotta ravioli, which we liked and will repeat.

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3 hours ago, CeeCee said:

... I'm a bit intimidated by them and too lazy.

While one can spend much time prepping artichokes for complicated dishes,  as I wrote above, you can just plop them in a pot with water to cover and boil until tender, usually about a hour.    Freshly cooked and cannned are two distinct and entirely different animals.   

eGullet member #80.

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I can't recall seeing canned California artichokes ever. Maybe cooked and marinated and sold like that in jars or cryo.  I have purchased grilled Italian artichokes, sold loose and by the pound at a couple of gourmet shops - that's a product I can eat.

 

Usually, the canned I see are from Peru or some such...not a great product, in my opinion.  In dire straits, frozen can work, if they're being incorporated into something where texture isn't that important.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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19 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

While one can spend much time prepping artichokes for complicated dishes,  as I wrote above, you can just plop them in a pot with water to cover and boil until tender, usually about a hour.    Freshly cooked and cannned are two distinct and entirely different animals.   

 

I guess I have no excuse left to find out for myself how much it differs😋 Great suggestion, thanks!

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59 minutes ago, CeeCee said:

 

I guess I have no excuse left to find out for myself how much it differs😋 Great suggestion, thanks!

 

Oh you must! Even more profound than the difference between canned asparagus (run!!!)  and fresh. 

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4 minutes ago, heidih said:

 

Oh you must! Even more profound than the difference between canned asparagus (run!!!)  and fresh. 

 

Now that is something I have succesfully avoided! I didn't even like asparagus up to a few years back, their limp look when pulled from a can pretty much described my feeling towards them.

Green are my favourite, but white is de rigeur around here. I think the Dutch have that in common with the Brits.

 

Ontopic again, to my defence I was told by a professional not to bother with fresh artichokes. Maybe the fresh produce wasn't that good here back then? Artichokes have since become more well known and appreciated. They seem to be grown locally now, that might make a difference.

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If you want to try frozen artichoke hearts, I can recommend these 2 brands:

 

Birds Eye / C&W (I guess these 2 companies merged).

 

Signature Select (used to be called "Safeway Kitchens," this is the Vons / Safeway store brand).

 

Both come in 8-oz. boxes. Little bit expensive, but when you think about how many leaves & how much refuse artichokes have, it makes sense.

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On 9/11/2020 at 11:50 AM, MokaPot said:

If you want to try frozen artichoke hearts, I can recommend these 2 brands:

 

Birds Eye / C&W (I guess these 2 companies merged).

 

Signature Select (used to be called "Safeway Kitchens," this is the Vons / Safeway store brand).

 

Both come in 8-oz. boxes. Little bit expensive, but when you think about how many leaves & how much refuse artichokes have, it makes sense.

 

Why I like Trader Joes IQF ones - use as many as you like without the "box issue"

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On 9/11/2020 at 6:57 AM, Margaret Pilgrim said:

 

With apologies for sounding flip, a professional what?    That is an extraordinary statement.

A professional frozen food CEO? If I could think of the vegetable that suffers most when not fresh it would be artichokes. 

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