Experiments with Arthichokes Part 1: Steamed Artichokes

I have avoided cooking artichokes for a several reasons. They’re kind of scary looking – I mean in a strange and beautiful way.

I always wonder who ever discovered that they are at all edible, I mean looking at them, you don’t actually see something obvious to eat.  I can imagine the first hunter-gatherer’s conversation “trust me dear, it looks weird but its edible.”  In fact, there isn’t very much edible on the mature artichoke.  Which brings me to the other reason I haven’t made artichokes recently. My memory of making them many many years ago has to do with copious amounts of butter – or perhaps butter with a bit of lemon juice.  After cooking the artichoke, you sat around delicately peeling off each petal and dipping the fleshy end in melted butter, and then stripping each petal of its bit of edible flesh with your teeth while butter dripped down the chin, until you reached the soft, delectable heart. This was a rather lengthy and erotic activity to be shared with a friend, the details of which, for propriety’s sake, I shall not share here.

Artichokes, however, were bargain-priced at the supermarket, and they looked lovely in their weirdly beautiful way. So I bought two to see what could be done with them, sans copious amounts of butter, or necessarily, a friend.

Steamed Artichokes

Wash artichokes by plunging them up and down in cold water. Cut off the stem end, and trim about 1/2 inch from top of each artichoke. Remove any loose tough-looking bottom leaves. With scissors, trim away one-fourth of each outer leaf so that the sharp, often yellowed part is gone.

Rub top and edges of leaves of each artichoke with a lemon wedge to prevent discoloration (I more or less squeezed a quarter of the lemon over the artichokes.) Place artichokes in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Simmer 40 to 45 minutes or until leaves pull out easily. Remove the Artichokes from the pan. Spread leaves apart; remove fuzzy thistle center (choke) with a spoon. Count on one artichoke/person – the artichokes themselves have no fat. The fat is in any dip you use.

This what the inside of the artichoke looks like. The purple insides, tiny inner leaves, and fuzzy “hairs” are what needs to be removed.
This is what the inside looks like with the choke removed. The sturdy-looking part on the bottom is the heart, which you may have purchased canned or frozen as a separate vegetable.

Alternatively, you can eat your way around the artichoke, pulling off each petal, dipping it, and stripping off flesh with your teeth until you reach the choke, then cut away the fuzzy innards, leaving the sturdy artichoke heart at the bottom. Cut up the heart to dip and eat.

As a dipping sauce, I mixed ¼ cup of low fat mayonnaise with the juice of a lemon, garlic, and herbs, for about 2 grams of fat/serving. I think they would be good with a curry mayonnaise, too. I even think melting a couple of tablespoons of light butter would be good, and give you the butter dripping down the chin feeling. Just count the fat grams accordingly.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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