I remember my preschool teachers being slightly shocked when I told them my favorite foods were artichokes, lobster, and french fries (good to know some things never change, isn't it?). I guess that's what you get from a four year old whose mother had, far before Julie of Julie and Julia did, cooked her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The other day the artichokes in Whole Foods looked so amazing that I and said mother just had to buy them, and while they may seem like an intimidating vegetable to cook, they're actually really easy (more after the jump).
We dipped the leaves of our artichokes in creme fraiche, something I had never done before, because we forgot to eat it with the oysters we made last weekend. Let me tell you, I don't know why I haven't been doing this my whole life. It was amazing! The tartness of the cream with the sweet earthiness of the artichokes made me very, very happy. Traditionally, I've dipped the leaves in melted butter or a vinaigrette, but this might be my new go to.
So how do you actually get an artichoke to be edible? Follow me, ladies and gentlemen, as I (and my mother's hands) take you on a guided tour:
1. Cut the stem off the artichoke:
2. Rub a cut-in-half lemon on the bottom where the stem was so it doesn't turn brown. You're also supposed to peel off the rough outer leaves and cut the tops of the artichokes off so the prickers don't get people's fingers, but these were so beautiful that we just left them whole, fingers be damned.
3. Squirt the juice from the lemon into a pot of boiling water into which you've placed the artichokes.
4. Drop the lemon into the pot, let the whole thing boil for about ten minutes, then turn the heat lower and cover. 45 minutes later come back, take the little guys out, and put them on plates.
You eat artichokes by scraping the pieces of the heart off each leaf with your teeth (but dip them in creme fraiche, butter, or a mustard-y vinaigrette first). Then, once you've eaten all the leaves, you get to the best part: the heart itself. Artichokes are slightly tangy, earthy (as I said before), and delicious. They truly are one of my favorite foods. Now if only I'd gotten to have them with lobster and fries the other night, too!