All About Artichokes

Cooking Whole Artichokes | Roasting Baby Artichokes

Artichokes

Artichokes Baby Artichokes

Artichokes take a little effort when it comes to preparation and cooking but yield a mild, nutty flavor that compliments a variety of foods. Artichokes are used for main dishes, side dishes, appetizers, and as an ingredient in dips and sauces.
The versatility of the artichoke is limitless.

How to buy an Artichoke
Choose an artichoke that is compact and heavy for its size. Stay away from any that are slightly purple in color or budding. These are signs that the artichoke is over ripe. Many artichokes have brown patches on the leaves, these are usually
just frost marks and are perfectly good to eat. Using good judgement
is best when selecting any produce.

Storage:

Artichokes can be stored for up to 5 days. Keep them kept in a plastic bag, lightly spray them with water and place in the crisper of the refrigerator. The quality will always be better if used within the first 2 days after being purchased.

Cooking Artichokes

There are different methods of cooking artichokes. Boiling, steaming, roasting and grilling are all common methods. The preparation changes depending on how the artichoke will be cooked.

Whole artichokes are commonly boiled or steamed. The leaves, or bracts, are pulled from the artichoke, dipped in sauce or butter, and then the meat of the leaf is eaten by pulling the base of the leaf between the teeth. Baby artichokes can be grilled or roasted. Unlike the regular artichoke, the entire baby artichoke is edible.

Cooking Whole Artichokes:

Cleaning

Wash each artichoke under cold running water or by dunking them several times in a container of water in order to get any dirt out from under the leaves. The leaves of an artichoke are close together and can be difficullt to clean.

Preparation

Cut the stem of the artichoke off at the base so that it will sit upright easily. This helps when cooking and also for presentation.

Using a kitchen sheers or sturdy scissors, snip the top points off the leaves
Hold the artichoke tightly and cut the top 1/3 to 1/4 of the artichoke off using a sturdy kitchen knife.
Place artichokes that have already been cut in a bath of water and 1/4 cup lemon juice or water and 1/4 cup white vinegar. This helps to eliminate the browning process that rapidly takes place in artichokes. Keep them in the water until all are ready to be
cooked.


Tip: Artichokes are very bouyant and have a tendency to turn upright in the water. Keep the cut tops turned in the water by holding them down with a heavy object. A plate placed on top works well.

Boiling and Steaming

Select a pan large enough to hold the artichokes upright. Lemons and garlic are commonly added to the cooking process. The process of boiling and steaming artichokes are the same except when steaming them, place the artichokes in a steaming basket before placing in a pot of water.

Artichokes are done when a fork easily slides into the center. The leaves will have fallen slightly and be darker in color.
Turn artichokes upside down on a paper towel after boiling to eliminate
any water from inside the leaves.
Gently pull the leaves back to to expose the choke. The choke is the very center of the artichoke and is not edible. This choke is what would be the flowering portion of the plant had it been allowed to mature. Use a spoon, scoop or grapefruit spoon to gently scoop out the choke. Keep scooping until all the fuzzy sections are eliminated.

To eat the artichoke, simply pull off the
leaves, dip in a favorite sauce and enjoy.
Roasting Baby Artichokes:
The preparation methods for roasting baby artichokes are similar to preparing whole artichokes in that you need to cut the stem and top 1/3 off of each one. It is important to remember that the choke does not need to be removed when eating baby artichokes. All is edible since the choke hasn't fully developed.
After cutting the stem and top, start and the bottom of the baby artichoke and begin snapping off the leaves. Continue doing so until the center pale yellow leaves are reached. At this point the center can be cut in halves or quarters and placed in lemon water until ready to cook.

Ingredients:
12-15 baby artichokes
1 lemon - sliced thin
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlice - peeled and chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse artichokes by running under cold water or dunking into water several times. Set aside a large bowl of water mixed with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Place artichokes into water as soon as they are trimmed to prevent them from turning brown. Cut the stems and the top 1/3 of each artichoke off. Begin snapping off the leaves starting from the bottom and keep going until the light pale yellow leaves are showing. Cut these into halves or quarters and place in lemon water. In a roasting pan, toss the artichokes with lemon slices, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast until they are almost tender, approximately 20 minutes. Uncover and stir, roast another 15 minutes or until the artichokes begin to brown.

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