Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Proverbs 31:14 "She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar"
How many of you know what an artichoke is? (raise your hand) Ok, how many of you know how to cook and eat a fresh artichoke? (I don't see many hands raised) Just as I suspected, you may like artichokes, but haven't the faintest idea of how to cook and eat a fresh one.
When I was growing up, my amazing mother made it a point of bringing home exotic foods from the grocery store. I may not have always liked it growing up, but I believe she definitely helped to shape my unique tastes today. I honestly can't think of anything I don't like. My mother instilled in me the importance of eating healthy, and thinking outside the box when it came to food.
The first time she brought home fresh artichokes, I looked at them with amazement. These prickly green flower like vegetables were supposed to be eaten?? She steamed them and wow, I couldn't stand the smell. She then proceeded to show us how to eat them. I thought they tasted horrible, but found them to be so intriguing, that I kept eating them! Needless to say, I grew to LOVE them and now consider them to be one of my favorite vegetables!
Here's a little tutorial on how to cook and eat them.
First, wash them, then proceed to place your knife underneath the bottom leaves and cut the stems off. The pictures is pretty self-explanatory. Some people also cut off the tips of the leaves, but I find that only useful if you're going to utilize them in a way where you'd need to do that - aka, stuffed artichokes, fried, etc. Or if you're VERY accident prone and think you'd hurt yourself on the spines. ;-)
Once you have the stems cut, they should sit nicely on their bottoms. :-) If you have a steamer, this is the time to use it. If not, then place a small amount of water at the bottom of a saucepan and steam them that way. Artichokes need 30-40min depending on their size. Sometimes they need even more time, depending on how stubborn they are.
**They'll turn an olive green color and the leaves will come off easily, when ready.
Once they're cooked and ready - you're at the fun part - they're ready to EAT!!
Now, this is the part that intimidates most, or people whine about it taking too long. I am here to tell you that it is totally worth it, and you can learn to eat them quickly.
First, you'll want to peel back each leaf and scrape off the white "meat" (with your teeth) at the base of each leaf. Once you get closer to the artichoke heart (at the center), the leaves will get very thin and spiny. Most people don't eat those (I do, however -ha!) Try dipping the ends of the leaves in melted butter, lemon butter, Italian dressing, the dip of your choice - or eat them plain with a little bit of salt, as I do!
Now for the part you've been waiting for all along - THE HEART!! You can buy canned artichoke hearts, but my friends, they do not come close to comparing to a FRESH artichoke heart.
Those thin leaves shield the fuzz of the artichoke that you must scrape off in order to eat the delicious heart. Take a fork and gently scrape, it should be fairly easy. See the example below.
Once you've removed the fuzz, sprinkle some salt, dip it in butter, or whatever you prefer and enjoy the goodness of the Artichoke!
Next time you pass them in the produce section, why not give them a try? Now you know exactly how to cook and eat them!!
Ya never know, you might just end up learning to love them, as I have.