Monday, September 19, 2011

Another case in which simple = delicious

Being a California girl at heart, I have a soft spot for artichokes, especially during the summer. Growing up, dinner and/or dessert in the summer months was often very simple: a big slice of watermelon, an ear of buttered and salted corn, or a steamed artichoke with mayonnaise.

As I've grown, I still find pleasure in these simple summer treats. This summer I didn't have a lot of any of them, though I have indulged in one watermelon, one bundle of corn, and tonight for dinner, my first and last artichoke of the summer.

Artichokes are very simple to prepare. Simply cut off the stem as close to the body of the artichoke as possible... they are very fibrous and basically inedible, so no need to keep them, get rid of 'em. Trim the ends of each of the leaves with a pair of kitchen shears. This isn't strictly necessary, but it removes the sharp point at the end of each leaf which makes eating them later a much more pleasant experience! Once it is trimmed and ready to go, simply put it in a pot of boiling, salted water and let it cook until the bottom leaves can be pulled off easily. (the total time will, of course, depend heavily on the size of the artichoke)

While that cooks, whip up a small batch of mayonnaise. You can certainly use store-bought stuff, but i find it tastes better when it's homemade in this case ;) Since my post about DIY mayo, I seem to have found a better recipe, thanks to this one over at Beantown Baker and a few tweaks of my own.

You will need a blender or food processor or a whisk and some serious upper body strength ;) To the bowl/container you will add 1 egg, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, and 3 tbsp vinegar. Turn the motor on high and with it running, slowly drizzle in 1 cup of oil. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides, but always make sure the oil is added slowly and constantly as this is what gives that thick, well-blended end result. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired and you're done!

Once your artichoke is done, just drain and set in a bowl or plate. On the side, add a dollop of the mayo (you can put the rest in the fridge and use it in a tomato sandwich later) and you're ready to go. Peel off the leaves, give a quick dip in the mayo and enjoy! You have just enough time to get to the market and grab one before summer is over for another year. If this is your first time eating an artichoke, you can find detailed info on how to do it here and don't worry, we won't judge ;)

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