Tuesday, January 4, 2011

my very first artichoke

went to the store today and artichokes caught my eye. they truly are giant thistles! a cone of sharp leaves shaped somewhat like a club, it really hit me how unusual these vegetables are in appearance. compelled, i purchased one and decided to try cooking it for my first time.

artichokes are delicious, but i've only had others cook them for me or had the delicious marinated hearts from jars. their soft flesh fills your mouth with richness and warmth. the strong flavour lingers and satisfies more like a fatty cut of meat than a green vegetable.

instead of searching the internet for a guide to this new vegetable, i went straight to a source i knew was tried a tested: back to mastering the art of french cooking, by julia child et al. (still soooo glad to have downloaded this, it is a bottomless pit of priceless tips and tricks). 

 it being my first time i fumbled around with this, the sharp tips even cut me and made me bleed! ha. however i finally got it trimmed up nicely and happily boiling in salted, vinagered water. this section gave me the 101 rundown of artichoke anatomy. 

another interesting point: julia child noted that the cooked artichoke would be an olive, not bright green.. the latter an indication that baking soda was used in the water..upon which "any frenchman would look with disfavor.."

gorgeous! a blossom of divine taste
i decided to make hollandaise sauce to serve with my artichoke. i've only had this on rich breakfast egg dishes, but heavy and tangy cream sauce sounded perfect to accompany my project :)

flipped back a few hundred pages to get to the "sauces" chapter of the book, and read ALL about egg yolks and their capacity to hold butter, curdling, temperature, etc etc. despite the intimidating length of the hollandaise section, the recipe is rather simple. i made my sauce a bit thinner by adding more water and lemon juice.

after seeing the illustration in the book, i followed suit and served the hollandaise in the artichoke. makes it look even more like a flower eh? i plated the sauce and artichoke with toast triangles, for balance.

one fair warning:
if you fear butter, or have sworn off such treasures in the new year (hmm! we'll see how long that lasts :D) .... avoid hollandaise sauce, at all costs. it is buttery, lemony, creamy... all things good in life.