About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, September 21, 2007
I'm not sure why I like artichokes, but I do.

For one thing, you throw more into the compost bin than you eat. The other thing is the weird way artichokes alter flavours of other foods and liquids. For instance, try drinking some water directly after eating an artichoke and it will taste slightly sweet. This is the reason why the vegetable is generally shunned by wine connoisseurs, some normally fine wines taste frankly quite awful when partnered with them.

But the thing that really gets me about them is, I never really know when to stop stripping those tough outer leaves. My pile of compost material gets so large that I just stop, but it always seems that I leave a couple of tough leaves still attached. Those countless times I've watched other people peeling and trimming artichokes and yet it seems I'm no closer to the holy grail of a perfectly tender artichoke with no tough bits.

There was one time I came close. It was a bit later in the season and I was using the smaller side buds, which incidentally aren't as strongly flavoured as the main choke. You don't always see these smaller specimens, but they are worth looking out for, try Italian greengrocers, that's where I found them. Anyway, when these buds were cooked, there were only a couple of inedible bits.

I kind of suspect that tough bits are just a part of the artichoke experience, but I'm not really sure, so I'm asking, is there a way to tell when you are trimming up the artichoke that only tender leaves are left? Also, I would love any links to any killer artichoke recipes, or if you have a recipe not posted, would you be kind enough to pass it on?

Off to the compost bin now, we had just four artichokes last night and filled a plastic shopping bag with detritus.
  posted at 8:07 am

At 9:35 pm, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My favorite way to eat them is still just steamed, pulling the leaves off one by one and dunking them in melted butter. To prepare, you trim the stem so the artichoke sits flat, then pull down the outer leaves one by one, towards the stem, letting them break off where they want to. Usually after two rows or so, the leaves stop breaking, and that's where to stop.

At 11:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post Neil! My relationship with artichokes seems to be the same. I can hear a small voice in my head saying "do I stop removing leaves yet, do I, do I? Oh, none left..."

At 11:06 pm, Blogger Anh said...

Neil, I absolutely adore artichoke. My rule when preparing them is "what is green is tough and what is yellow is edible". But sometimes I do feel like I throw so much out....

I have heard that steamed artichoke leaves are nice. Wonder how they taste?

At 3:12 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I think I'm in your boat. I love them but cooking them always seems a mystery to me; so I seldom try cooking them but order them out every chance.

At 2:25 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi lydia, and thanks. I think that I've pull off a few more than two rows! There is a bit of yin & yang about your prefered method of preparing them...steam-yin, butter yang.

Hi duncan, I had the feeling I wasn't alone in all this and could quite easily finish up with not much at all.

Hi anh, I've noticed that change in colour too, I'll pay more attention to it now.

Hi tanna, maybe yours is the best way to go!

At 12:02 am, Blogger Jeanne said...

I never really ate artichokes until I met my husband, who adores them. They do tend to do the weirdest things to your tastebuds - I also find they make me salivate. Little more info than you wanted, I'm sure!

As for recipes, I have not made these, but had them in Rome earlier this year - Jewish-style artichokes. You flatten them and deep-fry them - and let me asure youi it is delicious!
http://www.recipeland.com/recipe/820/ The most unusual way I have ever seen an artichoke served.

At 11:16 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi jeanne, well, I won't die from curiousity, that's for sure! The recipe sounds yum and I love the way they describe the artichokes as opening up like roses.

At 2:29 am, Blogger christine said...

You are definitely not alone. I am so intimidated by artichokes and preparing them from scratch that I've never actually done it. So this is my confession for the day, I've only ever used canned or bottled artichoke, how sad is that! But ok, you've just inspired me, I'm dying to try it steamed and buttered now. :)


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