7 October 2012

Artichoke harvest

I harvested these beautiful vegetables, along with some coriander that thrives at this time, and again in autumn.

Here's how to prepare them - well, how I do it, anyway.

Firstly, constantly watch out for their brutal prickles. I peel back about half of the leaves (which from a botanical point of view are certainly petals). The first ones to come off are at the base, and you move up towards the tip of the 'flower'. But only go up about half way, so the upper leaves are left.

The area at the base of the artichoke where it perched on its stalk will still have some of the outer skin attached. Peel this off, along with any stub of stalk.

The upper leaves need to be cut off, so that just the fleshy part of the artichoke is left. Then cut the artichoke in half, so now you can see the hairy bit inside the artichoke. Scoop this out with a teaspoon.

Get everything you're keeping underwater as soon as possible to minimise browning. Have a pot of water ready. Then, with chokes in pot, add a bayleaf and half a lemon and a garlic clove (or none of these, if you don't have them) and bring the pot to the boil. Add a teaspoon of salt.

Boil for 10-15 minutes until they are soft - so that a knife slides through the same way it does with a finished boiled potato.

BUT I have just read in the New Zealand House and Garden magazine (my mother subscribes - it's gorgeous and the recipes are always amazing) that kiwi chef Peter Gordon does it in a different order, and I intend to try his way next time.

He leaves a bit of stalk on the artichokes, and chops off the top half of the artichoke first. Then he turns them upside down (so that the stalk pokes up) and puts them in water, pours 50ml or so of white vinegar over them, adds 1/4 tsp salt, and boils them, unpeeled. Later, when they are tender and cooled, he does the other steps: pulls off the outer leaves, cuts them in half and scoops out the hairy bit with a teaspoon.

Peter knows a thing or two about cooking. I met him about 12 years ago at the Edinburgh Festival when he signed the cookbook I bought from him. Thrill, thrill. I never used the cookbook much though.

Our favourite ways to eat them are just plain, dipped in aioli or mayonaise, or on pizza or in calzone. Such a delicacy.

Roll on the next batch - the wonderfully ornamental plants already have babies artichokes at the ready.

1 comment :

  1. I've just put 2 of these in I cant wait to eat some!!! Thanks for the tips. M xx


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