Artichokes are probably one of those veggies that you don't make at home all the time, but you definitely should! An absolutely delicious winter veggie that is actually quite fun to eat, too. You pull off the leaves, one at a time, dip it in the sauce and then scrape off the soft fleshy base with your teeth.
There are several things that set off my love of cooking and being in the kitchen: My mother and grandmother who have always brought us up learning how to cook, my best friend Simone and also the movie Julie & Julia.
I couldn't tell you how many times I have watched the movie and read the book, but when the DVD came out I couldn't help myself but go out and buy "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. I have made a few recipes from this book and despite it being old-fashioned and in American measurements, I love it! It's a great go-to guide for old classics, like this one.
Artichokes filled with Hollandaise Sauce (serves 2) 4 artichokes (look for heavy and compact ones with fleshy, closely clinging green leaves) A slice of lemon 1/4 cup of vinegar 4 egg yolks at room temperature 200g butter cut into 1cm cubes juice of half a lemon salt and freshly cracked pepper
Put a large pot of water with 1.5 tsp of salt on the stove and bring to the boil.
To prepare the artichokes, remove the stem by bending it at the base of the artichoke until it snaps off. Break off the small leaves at the base trim it with a knife so the artichoke will stand solidly upright.
Lay the artichoke on its side and slice three quarters of an inch (about a thumb width) off the top of the center cone of leaves. Trim off the points of the rest of the leaves with scissors. Wash under cold running water and then rub the cut leaves with the lemon slice.
Drop it into a bowl of cold water containing the 1/4 cup of vinegar. The acid prevents the artichokes from discolouring.
Drop the artichokes into the boiling water and cover with a clean tea-towel or cheesecloth, this will keep their exposed tops moist. Boil artichokes on a lower heat for about 35 to 45 minutes.
The artichokes are done when the leaves put out easily and the bottoms are tender when pierced with a knife.
When done, remove immediately from the water with a slotted spoon and drain them upside down in a colander.
To make the hollandaise put the yolks in a bowl and suspend the bowl over a pan of cold water. The base of the bowl should be above, not touching, the water. Put the pot on the heat and whisk the yolks while it comes to the boil. When it does, reduce to a steady simmer and start whisking n the cubes of butter one at a time. As one piece is absorbed, whisk in the next an, by the time they have all been added, you should have a bowlful of thick sauce. If you feel it's reached that stage before you've added all the butter, don't worry, just stop. And throw in extra if you feel it could take extra. Still whisking, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and add salt, pepper and more lemon juice to taste.
To fill the artichokes, stand them on a plate, spread the leaves slightly apart to reveal the core, pull it out and scrape off the hairy base with a spoon. Make sure to leave the heart in though (located directly underneath the hairy base). Put the core in again and fill it with the sauce.
Now, if you have never eaten a whole artichoke before, here is how it's done: Just pull off one leave at a time, dip it into the sauce and scrape off the fleshy bit at the bottom of the leaf with your teeth. Ones you've scraped off all the leaves you can cut the heart with your knife and work, that's the most tender bit.
Gosh, I love artichokes, just writing about this makes me hungry again!
And for those wine lovers amongst you, apparently it's not advised to enjoy wine with artichokes, as the taste of the artichokes alters the taste of the wine.