Preparing and Cooking Artichokes

Preparing and Cooking Artichokes

First twist off the stalk which should also remove some of the fibers at the base and then cut the base flat and pull away any small base leaves. If the leaves are very spiky, trim them with a pair of scissors if liked, then rinse under running water. Cook in boiling water, acidulated with the juice of half a lemon. Large artichokes need to be simmered for 30-40 minutes until tender. To test if they are done, pull off one of the outer leaves. It should come away easily and the base of the leaf should be tender.

Artichokes and Drink : Artichokes contain a chemical called cynarin, which in many people (although surprisingly not all) affects the taste buds by enhancing sweet flavors. Among other things, this will spoil the taste of wine. Consequently, don't waste good wine with artichokes but drink iced water instead, which should taste pleasantly sweet.

Eating Artichokes : Artichokes are fun to eat. They have to be eaten with fingers, which does away with any pomp and ceremony, always a handicap for a good dinner party. Serve one artichoke between two, so that people can share the fun of pulling off the leaves and dipping them into garlic butter or vinaigrette. If you want to serve one each, serve them in succession. The dipping sauces are an essential part of eating artichokes; people can either spoon a little on to their plates or give everyone a little bowl each. After dipping, draw the leaf through your teeth, eating the fleshy part and piling the remains of the leaf on your plate. When most of the leaves have been eaten, a few pointed leaves remain in the center, which can be pulled altogether. Then pull or cut away the fine prickly choke and discard, to reveal the heart. Eat the heart with a knife and fork, dipping it in the garlic butter or vinaigrette.

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