Awesome Artichokes for Spring

    Every spring as I start to approach that dreaded day, (no, not April 15 or the last day of spring break for my kids) where I have to make the decision as to whither or not to actually purchase that new swim suit I’ve been trying to avoid for the past 3 years (deciding to actually put it on and then go outside in it is another nervous breakdown).
    I know, that unlike my sister Lois, who’s mottos are “I never met a swim suit I liked (or who liked me)” and “Control Top forever” that I’ll inevitably get into that “Oh yeah, it’s spring, I’d better start eating right, Diet” mind set.
    This isn’t actually that much of a hardship as it might appear to be. Right now, artichokes can be mine at bargain prices (rain, floods and other natural disasters in California not with standing). Every produce section I’ve visited in the last few weeks has been full to overflowing and now is the time to grab these first offerings of spring and go for the gusto.
     When choosing an artichoke it should look compact, (not necessarily small) plump, have the leaves tightly packed and have an even green color overall. Rinse the artichoke. Cut off the tip of each large leaf. Then cut off the top 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem. Boil or steam the artichokes in a covered pot. Cook 30 to 40 minutes at a rolling boil or until the outer leaves pull away easily. Remove from heat and serve either hot or cold with butter or other sauces for dipping. To eat. Pull off the leaves, dip the meaty bottom part of the leaf in the dipping sauce and bite off. You can remove all the leaves and just eat the bottom or heart of the artichoke. You must however remove the top part of the  heart (small bitter leaves and filaments in the center) before you can eat the bottom portion.

            Fresh artichoke taste wonderful, however if you need to use a large amount for a recipe the canned or frozen variety work almost as well.

ORANGE AND ARTICHOKE SALAD

6  cooked artichoke hearts
1/2 tablespoon margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 oranges, peeled, and segmented
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
salad greens
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salad greens

In a skillet saute the garlic in the margarine and place in a small bowl. Cut the hearts into quarters and set aside. Add the oil, orange juice, grated orange rind and the lemon juice to the garlic. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the orange segments and the artichoke hearts in a large bowl and drizzle the sauce over. Let set for at least 1 hour. To serve: arrange the artichoke and oranges on the salad greens and sprinkle with the parsley. Serves 4. This can be doubled.

TICKLE MY TASTEBUDS ARTICHOKES

10 artichoke hearts, uncooked and halved
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Soak the artichoke hearts in the lemon juice, salt and water for approx 1 hour. Pour them and the liquid in which they were steeped in a pot with the oil, garlic, and sugar. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the artichokes to a serving dish. Thicken the sauce with cornstarch and pour over the hearts. Cool sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and serve cold as a side dish. Serves 4 this can be doubled.    

ARTICHOKES WITH TWO DIPS
4 Large California Artichokes

   Wash artichokes under cold running water. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and two to three inches boiling water. (Lemon juice, herbs, garlic powder or onion powder may be added, if desired.) Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Cool completely; cover and refrigerate to chill. Makes 4 artichokes.

CREAMY THAI DIP

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

In a bowl combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Makes 3/4 cup.

HONEY MUSTARD DIP

1/4  cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Makes about 3/4 cup.

CRABBY DIP

1 cup shredded mock crab

2 tablespoons water juice

8 oz cream cheese softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4  teaspoon garlic salt

Blend cream cheese and milk until smooth, add the lemon juice and garlic salt. Stir in mock crab. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about  1 1/2 cup.

CREAM OF ARTICHOKE SOUP

1 lb frozen artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced onions
3 lbs. artichokes (3 to 4 medium, trimmed of thorns)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme

croutons

Defrost the hearts and puree them in food processor with 1/2 cup of the stock, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. In a sauce pan heat the remaining broth the  half-and-half, and thyme. Add the artichoke mixture and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes. Serve croutons Serves 8.

COUSCOUS-STUFFED ARTICHOKES
4    large California artichokes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1    teaspoon curry powder
3/4   teaspoon ground cumin
1/2   teaspoon garlic salt
1    cup instant couscous
1/4   cup currants
1/2  cup sliced green onion
1/2   cup toasted slivered almonds, chopped
1/2   teaspoon lemon zest
2    tablespoons lemon juice
2    tablespoons vegetable oil

 Wash artichokes. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 to 3 inches boiling water. Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes, or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Carefully remove center petals and fuzzy centers with a spoon and discard. Keep warm or chill as desired.

   In medium saucepan combine chicken broth, curry powder, cumin and garlic salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in couscous and currants. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in green onion and almonds. Combine lemon peel, lemon juice and vegetable oil; stir into couscous.

  Gently spread artichoke leaves until center cone of leaves is revealed. Pull out center cone. With a spoon, scrape out any purple-tipped leaves and fuzz. Fill centers of artichokes with couscous mixture. Makes 4 generous servings.

COOK’S TIP: Fresh cooked and chilled artichokes are easy to keep on hand for quick meals. Refrigerated in a covered container, they will keep up to a week.

Recipe Courtesy of California Artichoke Advisory Board

© Eileen Goltz artichoke

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirit Guide
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 15:43:58

    Great stuff. I loved artichokes, especially stuffed ones. Love the salad idea.

    Reply

  2. Recipe Chefs
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 22:50:02

    Excellent recipe. Thanks for sharing this post. I really enjoy reading your blog. Feel free to check out our recipes.

    Recipe Chefs –

    http://recipechefs.wordpress.com

    Reply

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